Paradise – Left in Our Care

The weekend is behind us again [sigh], but Lake Park can be a paradise waiting just outside our door every day of the week. It’s a beautiful ward in our custody and worthy of devoted thought and protective care. For despite the soaring potential of this seaside charmer, it’s in need of our constant attention.

I mention this because while passing the window to my favorite view, my eye is always drawn to what unfolds on the other side of the glass. I’m astounded daily by the tropical paradise on display; and I’m a sucker for a good show.

It’s easy to pass the sights and chalk them up as “everyday”, because even the remarkable becomes commonplace out of repetition. Yet there is something of a story always brewing in the landscape of Lake Park.

For instance, just outside my backdoor, Hawaiian pink hibiscus become a sultry, swaying  backdrop to roses dressed like southern belles at a Summer evening soiree wearing periwinkle and shades of pink.

Orange and magenta snapdragons are chic accessories striking an alluring pose, winking in the sunlight, aiming to catch an eye or two. And it works. An assortment of pesky rogues are buzzing in close.

They flit about, but the little lovelies pay them no mind. After all, they’re surrounded by an entourage of burly, outstretched branches with weathered gray bark and broad, shiny leaves that play the role of strapping bodyguard to their delicate beauty. Towering on high, above the fashionable parade, these giants affect an air of protective authority. Meanwhile there’s a carpet of green laid out before them announcing to the neighborhood (but mostly to me) that these are celebrities, all.

I rest my elbows on the chest-high sill and with chin in hands soak it in. A sigh escapes me. The Summer heat is brandishing a threatening cloak and scowling demeanor, and I retreat, self-barricaded behind the panes. Yet a tempting locale lies just beyond, here within the boundaries of my own piece of the American dream. Free-of-charge, no need for airfare, and front and center, this God-made view is a gift I’m meant to enjoy.

That’s it. I’ve had it. Time to quit wishing for cooler days or I’ll be standing here for another season watching through the window like its a show on the travel channel. If I wanted that, I could enjoy TV scenery from the couch where it’s much more comfortable.

I push open the back door and before I can even step out, eight to ten curly tails of every size make a run for cover, hightailing it from all across the patio where they’ve been perched in their camouflaged zones of semi-protection. When I show up, they take off; this one dashing behind a planter, that one beside the grill, and several under the lawnchair like kids in a game of hide ‘n seek running to the safety of a home base. Stragglers scatter to their not-so-secret-under-patio hideout where they’ll sleep off the day’s work, praying the neighborhood raccoon trio out on a food run won’t ruin their beauty rest tonight.

Once the lizards take cover, I face my nemesis, the taunting humidity. After a deep breath, I step down to the patio deck. The air is thick. Typical of it’s kind, it lunges, hoping to make a coward of me once again, thinking I’ll retreat to the relative cool inside. Not this time. A lilting Lake Park breeze is also on duty and comes rushing to my side; its protective bluster defends against the intimidating heat. It too owns a stake in this turf. I relax in its company and take a seat, immediately caught up in the endearing perspective this side of my backdoor. Like a visitor to a friendly island, I’m wooed as beauty dances in and among the landscape, all for what seems like my good pleasure. The colorful array of floral prints lends a heavenly fragrance to the a salty breeze that’s traveled East to see what all the fuss is about. I become a devoted audience and settle in to enjoy whatever story this “paradise found” decides to tell.

Sinking into my patio chair, I put my feet up and listen. Across the neighbor’s fence, up high, the rushing breeze tickles the branches of a nearby fruit tree and they rustle in playful response. Somewhere hidden deep within the branches above me, an incessant summer cricket orchestrates a background tone, never pausing to give it’s wings even a moment’s rest. It sets the mood with an electric charge. The air is thick with it, enough to soften the whoosh of passing cars not too far away.

A lone squirrel bounds in, stage left, hesitating, then hopping like a rabbit across the lawn to a piece of fruit dropped like a handout from the thoughtful tree above. He’s not picky; leftovers will do. The squirrel, like me, is grateful for a weekend break from from meal preparation.

A company of black birds launch out of nowhere to the south and right. Up and over a nearby roof, they fan out over the treetops as if a choreographed troupe that’s been together for years. They soar off to cares of their own, limited only by the reserve in their wings after a day of airborne summertime pursuits.

Shadows have been inching their way across the yard, stretching and tiptoeing as if trying to slip into place unnoticed. They join the sea breeze to cool the scene and set the stage for the final act. Puffy white clouds scurry into place to the West. They’ve been cast to open and close the final scene of the day where the sun will make a theatrical exit, plunging into the trap door below the stage.

The clouds meet on cue, convening like a chorus line draped in chiffon and melding into a vast expanse near the bottom of the backdrop. It’s a changing scene and the story unravels quickly now. The beam of evening sunlight strikes shades of glory onto the sky during this limited time engagement. Timing is everything, but the sun has done this once or twice before, and it seems to have it down pat. Then just like that, the soft curtain closes across another day in paradise.

As usual, it leaves the audience “oohing and ahhing” and longing for more. The light has fallen, the curtain’s gone dark, and the ciccada song raps the dark stage with a final tza-tza-tza that calls for a rousing applause. The evening show is over way too soon.

Paradise morning awaits.

Ah, but not to worry, for the curtain will rise on a whole new version of paradise tomorrow morning at 6:45. If you haven’t seen it lately, the sunrise showing is spectacular in its own right; you simply must see it. Arrive early and get a good seat. It’s new every morning. You never know what interesting twists and gorgeous turns the cast and crew will lead with. I have a feeling you won’t be disappointed.

Lake Park can be a paradise show that’s easier on the pocketbook than a bargain matinee, and I’m also thinking it’s worth preserving. I hope you do as well. Take a stroll down the street where you live or at the water’s edge and maybe you’ll renew your concern for our little town, from the surface view right on down to the rarely noticed under-workings where the strings are pulled which can change the scene.

The landscape has already been changing, and how it will be altered or preserved from here on out is up to you.  This little bit of heaven at our fingertips has been left to our care. What will become of it in the days ahead? Competing voices are always at play. We can hope to stumble along hoping for the good fortune of paradise by default or we can purposefully stand and have our say. We choose.

The street where you live; it’s what you make it.