As my regular readers know, I’m a small-town girl who grew up in Kankakee by the Sea. Early in my first marriage, when we were too young to be wary, destiny carried me, my late husband, our two young daughters, and our pooch Mahalo across the Sea to Honolulu, Hawaii. There, I was deeply inspired and enriched by the aloha spirit of the people, the ever-changing sea, and the glorious natural assets of the land. From orchids and palms to Technicolor rainbows more vivid than any I have seen.
Moving to Chicago
When I left the Islands to remarry and move to Chicago, part of me to this day remains in Honolulu. In Chicago, I’ve found comfort in the beauty of Lake Michigan as I glance out the windows of our apartment in the sky and in the beauty of a cityscape of stunning high-rises.
I walk my pooch America along the lakefront in the fall, spring and winter or sit with him in the park across the street from my apartment. That was until the recent destruction of my neighborhood for the third time… this is my new life.
As a child I recall my father talking to me about his love of nature and telling me, “When I was a little boy I would walk the golf course, barefoot, before going to school because I loved the feel of the dewy grass on my feet.”
I am my father’s daughter—and a trip to Garden Valley, Idaho drove that fact home more than before.
Nature has been a grounding force in my life for as long as I can remember. And, today, so many years later, if I were asked, “What in life gives you the greatest pleasure, outside of your family and pooch.” Without hesitation, I would answer nature.
A Story From The Past
When my darling daughter-in-law, Jami, told me she and her beau were moving to Garden Valley, Idaho, I smiled. I fell in love with the name even before I laid eyes on the little community nestled in the mountains of the “Gem State,” so named for its wondrous natural deposits of nearly every type of gemstone. The name cried out to me: “A garden with gems of every ilk in the middle of a valley.” I felt my whole body relax. “Nature at its best is even reflected in the names of this geographic paradise,” I thought, smiling.
When we eventually traveled to Idaho, for what turned out to be an idyllic four days because Jami, a widow, had asked my Ultimate Concierge, her father-in-law, to officiate at a commitment ceremony uniting her and her longtime beau, Dale. Little did I know I would leave the small community in the mountains of Idaho a richer woman. Thank you, Garden Valley.
The Ceremony and Family Time
My Ultimate Concierge officiated at the ceremony. We wrote their vows together. It was special. He told me he could not marry anyone. I told him he could and should and would. And, he did. And, he was so good.
Many family members flew in and what a time we had.
In Garden Valley, life is centered around nature, friends, and family. I was as happy as I could be. Why? I could “simply be.” I reveled in the stillness of the day and the tranquility of the night. Darling, I was intoxicated with its silence; I found comfort because I am my father’s daughter. I met interesting women and obviously thought of my friends and compared their differences. They are as different as the sun is from the moon. Both special.
The Women I Met
I enjoyed the women I met.
There was Martha, the owner of the bed and breakfast that became our home away from home for four days. We had breakfast each morning with Bill her beau of several years. She had lived in Saudi Arabia (her ex-husband was with the US Government) before moving to Garden Valley. I could relate to her stories about her Middle East experience since my Ultimate Concierge and I had spent time in Saudi Arabia. She had an MS in Occupational Therapy.
Then there was Sherry, a stained glass artist. I am a lover of the arts. I liked her studio and I liked her. And I met the woman who leads the Sunday meditation class in a tiny dwelling that runs along a bubbling brook on Martha’s property. By chance, or perhaps by fate, she had lived in Hawaii. And I met Shari, Jami’s cousin, whose depth is deeper than the deep blue sea. And I spent time with Jami, who I love like a daughter.
I felt a bond with these women for many reasons. They made no attempt at inward or outward pretense. In other words, they were comfortable in their own shoes. No mascara yet sparkling eyes, no lipstick yet smiles from ear to ear, no hairspray as the wind blew through their natural hairdos. And they shared similar emotional make-ups. They were open books expressing their feelings on many different topics.
Women Can Be Compared With Nature
Each of these women moved to Garden Valley with a purpose, and each was in possession of their own inner style. Think about the women you have gathered into your lives. Remember, darling, women friends can be compared to nature. After all, they are part of your environment. Are they Mother Earth types? Do they inspire you? Comfort you? Make your heart sing?
The women live in a remote area in the mountains of Garden Valley. In earthy, country west style homes. The town has two restaurants, one general store, one gas station, a local hardware store, and an ice cream shop that has a sign on the door that often reads: out of ice cream. Inhabitants drive their SUV’s up narrow pebbled mountain roads to their interesting and beautiful homes that cling to the cliffs dotted with firs and pines and Elk and deer and beautiful morning glories.
A Wonderful Group of Inhabitants
Garden Valley’s populace is an interesting and accomplished lot. They are writers, artists, techies, attorneys, retired doctors, and woodsmen. And they are grounded and introspective. They know exactly what they need. As well, they live a peaceful life in a natural setting, surrounded by all forms of nature. They hear the elk and the rippling springs, watch running deer and blooming wildflowers, have long conversations with interesting people and hunt, ski, and snowmobile. And they take in the natural hot springs all year round.
It’s not that they ran away from the big city. They prefer to live in a natural setting in order to live a peaceful existence. And, to “simply be” with nature.
I felt Shelly take my hand as our flight touched down in my beautiful Chicago. As we walked up the ramp to face the roar of the crowds, I thought about a question friends always ask me due to my extensive travels: “What’s your favorite place?” And I always have the same answer: “I don’t have one. I love all the things I see or experience.”
And when I think of my time in Garden Valley, Idaho, the name of the town expresses everything. A valley filled with flowers from a garden.
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