A brief vacation in Paradise

Today I found myself staring into this painting.

Welcome to Paradise Terry Redlin (1989)

Welcome to Paradise
Terry Redlin (1989)

After navigating staircases and a skywalk to get from my office to the Sasquatch Café across the street, I caught myself melting into this scene. I had placed my order for a Bacon Vacation (salad, bacon, corn, bacon, some other stuff, and bacon) and I stepped back from the line. I turned and saw this painting erected on an easel where it was displayed for the purposes of being auctioned for some cause or another. I’d seen it for the past few weeks, but today was slightly different. You see I’m worn down, way down. I’m beyond mentally tired and looking for an escape. Where some choose other means of escape such as drugs, alcohol, or sex, others check out by distracting themselves in the inanities of everyday life such as social media. I used to check out by reading about the news and current events. Only I can feel I’m in danger of being consumed by it, just as other addicts experience the same by other means.

And then I saw this.

I should mention that I’ve been an admirer of Terry Redlin’s paintings for over two decades. He hails from South Dakota, not far from the neck of the woods (or prairie) where I grew up and so I “get” it. Or he gets me. I can remember as a young boy traveling with my dad down dirt roads that wound around the rolling hills and gentle valleys until you came upon such a scene. Perhaps not as idyllic as painted here, or perhaps even moreso.

This is where I want to be today. Right now. Tonight.

Look closer...

Look closer…

Look closer and you’ll see that recent rains have left puddles in the road in front of the store, just past the woodpile and sign informing you that you’ve reached Paradise Lake, population 13. The jeep tells you that an old friend is here, and the corners of your mouth turn upwards slightly as your last conversation or tall tales comes to mind. Or the jeep is owned by a stranger who might become a friend and share new stories with you and the store owner that you will rehash in the future. An Irish setter is resting in front of the store, the same dog that you pat on the head each time you take the first step up towards the door or sit on the bench beside him to shoot the breeze before heading inside for supplies and easy conversation. He sees you and does not get up, but you note his tail wagging in anticipation of your arrival.

The sun is setting. The lights of this outpost of civilization are aglow. You can hear the wind rustling through the trees, the ducks flying overhead, crickets chirping and the gentle lapping of the lake’s waters. Behind the green bench you can see the table and chair where I’d be found on summer and fall evenings. This evening.

This is where I wanted to be today………

Brittany calls my name to indicate that my salad was ready. Taking a deep breath and casting one last, long look at the painting, I turned to retrieve my Bacon Vacation and enter back into the present. It was a different vacation I had in mind when walking back to my desk.

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