It’s quiet here, peaceful… almost too peaceful, after the madness of the
outside world. It is so wonderfully locked in another time and place, there is a
sense of culture shock when one first arrives here. The air smells fresh
with pine, freshly-cut grass, fruit trees and ocean waters. The gentle, cooling
breeze is reassuring, a whisper of safety, continuity. The light cloud cover breaks,
revealing a warming sun, then more clouds drift over. The water down in the cove
reflects the changing sky, the blues and grays. A birdsong fills the air and
two white butterflies dance past the apple tree. Have we perhaps stumbled
upon another Paradise?? Yes.
Turns out it is, indeed, a paradise. And because it exists in the physical realm,
it has what all paradises necessarily have, that negative aspect which protects it
from being overrun by humankind. It has an active Naval airbase, 15 miles away.
Just as Montana has the long, cold winters to buffer it from being overpopulated,
so does North Whidbey Island have the roar of the AE-18 Growlers passing
overhead from time to time.
I’ve heard several interesting comments about the jets from the residents
“Those jets are slowly ruining this place for me.”
“They make me feel a little safer.”
“Anyone who lives here and hates the jet noise is an idiot!”
“I hate them and I serve on a committee to get the base closed down!”
It’s all perception, after all. I used to think that a *paradise* must surely be
in the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, maybe an island off the coast of Greece,
Spain or somewhere in the South pacific. Then, in time, it became evident that
my paradise was not your paradise. You wanted the warm, balmy weather
all the time while I wanted some definite seasonal changes. You wanted
the seaside, I needed the mountains… and so on. And now, later in life,
I have also changed from needing the mountains to wanting and needing
the ocean breezes… and the warmer clime. Make up your mind, Buddy…
exactly where in the hell is your paradise, and, better yet, does it even exist
I’ve written about all this paradise stuff before, in my previous blog,
The Sagebrush Chronicles, which you can find over there on the right sidebar,
called “Sagebrush Chronicles Archives.” The concept of paradise is somewhat
fascinating to me, plus the fact that a few of my friends seem to think that
I’d found it in Montana when I retired there ten years ago. At the time,
they were right. I was home, I was happy, life was so good.
So what happened?? Simple, I got older and colder. Ignoring, for the moment,
the fact that nothing is permanent and nothing is perfect, I began having to
make certain changes in my lifestyle and daily routines, changes which led me
to conclude I could not continue to live in my present paradise, at least not in
the matter to which I’d become accustomed.
Two examples – I was fishing the Madison River one beautiful fall afternoon,
and had waded out into the river maybe 40-50 feet. The water was just above
my knees at that point and I began to slowly slip downstream. I tried to brace
myself from the current, as I had for the previous 60 years. But my legs began
to shake and I damn near fell in before I was able to get turned around and
back into the more shallow waters. Once back on dry land, it became
painfully obvious that I was no longer able to wade the river the way I had
all my life. I threw my tackle in the back of the truck and drove home,
totally upset and depressed.
The second example – As the winter of my 7th year back in Montana settled in,
I began to hate going out to the woodpile to chop a load of wood and bring it
indoors for the evening’s heat. Several nights I didn’t get wood, but sat in the
cold cabin, blankets wrapped around me, feeling miserable and realizing at
long last, that sometime in past year, I had finally gotten old and weak,
and had not realized it. First the fishing episode on the river, then this
wood thing… I finally understood that I could no longer do some of the things
that had sustained me in Montana. Someone had moved my cheese.
Okay, that was the bad news. The good news is also twofold… I now fish
from the bank and catch as many and as big as I did before. I had a
propane insert placed in my fireplace, which heats the cabin beautifully.
The wood stove now has chopped wood waiting, waiting for those few nights
Actually, the good news is fourfold.. I met a woman whom I fell in love with,
and who has changed my life in the past 4 years. And 4th, I embraced
the change, and found new cheese! My cheese has moved to Whidbey Island,
Washington, and I like it as much as my old cheese. It actually suits me better,
mostly because I’ve changed and my needs are different. But that’s the thing
about change – it affects us all, and whether it’s good or bad depends
entirely upon how we perceive it and how we deal with it.
So here I am, out on the bleeding edge of a new Paradise… a paradise that suits
me very well indeed. Now this is the kind of change a person can relate to, to go
with, to dive into with comfort and confidence, the kind of change that appears
nearly guaranteed to suit, to be a good, healthy & timely change. And that’s hard
to beat, in a world of constant chaos and moving cheese…