For me, paradise allows bare feet and requires binoculars. That means the soil is soft and sensual, beckoning toes to burrow, and it means the details are worth getting a closer look. If you drive north of Sandpoint on the International Selkirk Loop along scenic HWY 95 you might see me, barefoot with binoculars just as you pass the Elmira sign.
I'm looking at the pond. And singing to Blue Heron. Somehow, I believe if I make up a song to the tune of "Moon River" (insert "Blue Heron" instead) he might not flap away to the next pasture when I cross the fence. I'm just looking Blue Heron!
Looking is a part of paradise. We long to see paradise, feel its promised peace, kick back and take a breather from the grinding world of busyness. Do you remember what the Eagles sang in "The Last Resort"?
"They call it paradise
I don't know why
You call someplace paradise,
kiss it goodbye."
And it feels that way, that the mountains have been laid low and the rich men came and raped land. Global warming or climate change, whatever you call it, it feels like a kiss goodbye. Cars zoom past, big-rigs pound the pavement and trains drag cargo from the Seattle seaports across rails headed east or north into Canada. Corn syrup, petroleum, even coal has passed by paradise, riding the rails of someone else's fortune.
But I don't believe that paradise is lost.Traffic, trains and the travesty of corrupt systems only distract us from paradise. If we give into despair, it is only because we choose to see the ills and not the thrills.Consider another perspective, this one older, wiser and rooted in soul-purpose.
"The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters."
Verses one and two from Psalm 23 express that we are made to experience paradise. It was this scripture that seeped into my heart as I watched geese bed down in the fresh green pastures next to the quiet pond. Ah, paradise...be still my wriggling toes.
But wait. Verse four recognizes the traffic, trains and modern travesties:
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..."
You aren't kidding. In a world full of people capable of melting ice caps, innovating conventions like fracking and corn-mongering GMO food, it's easy to recognize the shadow. Yet, pause to think that we are made to experience paradise not in some remote pristine bubble but within the shadow.
And I have experienced the disappearance of traffic noise when I spy the osprey hunkering 100 feet above the pond. We choose our focus.
Truly my "cup runs over" with Elmira Pond. I dare to call it paradise, even so close to a major highway, so close to an era of climate change. The pond is healthy--proven by a variety of waterfowl and frogs--and I focus on the joy that wings past every day.
Paradise can be distracting. My writing office is on the second story of a rented house on a little ranch in northern Idaho, yet I have a tripod, three bird books and binoculars prepared for viewing paradise at any given moment. I write in between Blue Heron's morning prowl and the oft-quick visits of the osprey.
Are you ready to meet Elmira Pond? Come spot with me! (Shoes optional.)