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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Just another day in paradise

Just another day in paradise. It's true. The Denver paper has on its masthead, "It's a privilege to live in Colorado." It is. Oh, we have our days like everywhere else. But not very many of them. And the good ones are spectacular. Like today. Snowcapped mountain peaks pop up behind crenulated hills under a 'true blue dream of sky.' I could live in a day like today. It's the kind of day you want to share. If you were here you would have traipsed through the pumpkin patch with us, a unique and wonderful American tradition. We found two sincere and perfect pumpkins. Lots of kids explored the corn maze and a smaller straw maze, stuck their heads through cutouts of giant pumpkins and scarecrows for pictures, took a ride on the haywagon. I found an old Farmall tractor like the one my father used on the farm in LaPorte in the late 1930's. In fact, pumpkin farms are one big excuse for those of us who have rural routes to revisit our past. The smell of oats in a barn. That is a definition of childhood for me. I stepped inside and was transported in an instant, back to a musky old barn with a basketball hoop in the hayloft. What is it for you? Poland gets some days in paradise too. A year ago today I wandered for hours through Lazienki Park on a similar day in Warsaw. That defines childhood for some Polish friends of mine. Hand-feeding the squirrels. Begging for ice cream. Leaning in close, using a magnifying glass to examine the veins on leaves. Five years ago I brought a photograph of myself to my therapist and told her that "I want to be her again. I want to feel that alive, that free, that much at peace." The photograph was taken in Lazienki Park in July, 1982. I was happier and more vital than I had ever been. And it shows on my face, in the early evening sun. We can't go back. And I am not really interested in being twenty-eight again. Well, if I could be that age and this age, off and on, with the wisdom and the kids I've got now, I'd go for that. The woman in that old photo has learned alot, endured alot, loved a lot. I don't want to go back. But I do want that joy and vitality back. I got it. Not all the time (who does?) but enough. And growing, getting stronger, fuller, freer everyday. A year ago, in Lazienki Park, I got a new photo of that woman who was young and is now older and she looks pretty good. Silvery gray hair. Glasses. There's more of her than there was before. Inside and out. I'm not where I want to be but the road ahead is open.

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