The winter was as long as the cement ribbon running from east to west. I purchased a new heater to fight the old man from the north with his big fat cheeks blowing a cold change across the mid-west. As the grey winter sky passed serenely though frigid above, I ingested as much literature in my brain as I did kerosine fumes into my already aging lungs. I envisioned myself becoming a coal miner when I was a youth, but that would have to be in another lifetime. Maybe if reincarnation was real, I’d slip into a life of breathing black dust till I had that old mans black lung. Help raise six or seven little kids and die a happy man. I’d be a young corpse, though they would have to carry on without me. Or maybe they’d write a song about me as they did Big Bad John. Jimmy Dean wrote and sang it. That wasn’t my favorite one though, it was “Sink The Bismarck.” Johnny Horton did that one.
They didn’t write a song about me nor did I ever descend down into the bowels of the earth to do my part in keeping folks homes warm in the wintertime. I didn’t get the dreaded black lung the Kentucky coal miners are famous for.
I did write a story or two however, after devouring as many books as possible to springboard my own. Some writers will tell you they know exactly where their stories hail from, but they’re lying. My stories come floating in on dreams. Day dreams to be exact. Sometimes they smell sweet like the perfume of a freshly opened flower and at other times they smell funny like a quart of whole milk left outside on the porch step in the afternoon sun. You won’t smell it unless you take the time to open it and get a whiff. Or when a backhoe accidentally finds a casket in the library park left over from the days it was a graveyard.
In this case it was a cemetery there being a church on the property before they built the library. They just forgot one when they moved all the slumbering inhabitants. That smell rose straight from the depths of hell. I know because I was the backhoe operator.
Ironically the church had those nasty looking gargoyles protecting it’s faithful inhabitants. Little did they know the true meaning of those watchful eyes as they serenely passed over the threshold and into the loving arms held tightly to the bosom of the lord of the people.
I was never one to stay inside for very long and winters were my nemesis. Hibernation is like researching the interior walls of hades looking for a window. I didn’t soar very far though. The apron strings of mother city seem to be made from an invisible main sail stay, thick nylon but still invisible. More like a quarter inch stainless steel cable that doesn’t give much room for play. I did however manage to scour the countryside for places to explore.
It was on one such excursion I found myself in what I can only try to describe with the limited bag of words I keep for stories such as this.
It was a stream of crystal clear water with a slight blue hue to it that caught my eye. I followed it for a quarter mile or so and came upon an opening to what looked like a forest. Not the norm for this area of the country. Large green leaves hung down almost covering the opening. As I approached the entrance I felt a wobbling sound of maybe nine or twelve cycles per second but I’m just guessing about that. What I did feel was my insides were pulsing. It wasn’t a bad feeling, it was more like a healing vibration where everything inside seems to adjust itself back to where it had been in the early stages of development of the human body before all the viruses and disease from pesticides and tainted foods were ingested. Before all the radiation took it’s toll on the skeletal bones and marrow and life blood pushing the immune system almost to the breaking point.
It was a strange sound like that of a rubber cork pulled from an unwilling half filled wine bottle reverberating through me as I crossed the threshold. The light changed too. It was instantly softer and a kind of ivory as it seemed to float down from the ceiling of the trees above me. There were tinkling sounds like tiny wind chimes playing a melody that also had a healing character to it. This sound engulfed my ears like tiny warm blankets and the harsh sound of a world gone mad faded away.
I breathed in the fragrance of thousands of flowers with colors I had never seen before nor since. The floor of this enchanted forest was a rich dark soil that gradually changed from a french roast coffee color to the finest twenty four karat gold.
The water falling seven foot or so landed in a pool with the muffled sound of eiderdown when your head softly hits the pillow. I sat on a rocky surface that felt like a cushion of foam.
I felt the silence from the inside out. The place where the incessant chatter of the mind is finally quenched. I then heard the whisper of a voice from an eternal source and knew in an instant, that I was home. If only for a short moment in time I knew from whence I came and that one day, I would return to that silence. The stillness, that passes all our human understanding.
After a time, of which I had lost all track of, it was time to retrace my steps back to the coffee soil, past the flowers to the threshold and slip out the entrance to what I believe was my personal tour of the garden of eden.
I don’t profess to be a spiritual man or even a religious man but what I experienced was nothing short of a miracle. A gift from heaven.
Upon returning home that night I located an old metal chest in the attic of this old house I lived and took a thin piece of canvas and drew a map as best I could from memory.
I used black indian ink and a red ink I believe was a permanent ink as well. When the canvas was completely dry I carefully folded it and placed the map in the box and put an old pad lock to keep it closed. I found a spot out in the back yard and dug maybe ten or twelve inches and carefully lowered it into the earth for a future treasure hunter to find.
Never again was I to retrace my steps to find this garden of enchantment, nor did I ever unearth that old steel box once buried. I left it for another adventurer to find.