I’m a Jersey Girl recently transplanted to the Midwest. I’ve traded ocean views and parkway exits for cornfield landscapes dotted with red barns and cows grazing. My first winter here, I was surprised to learn that not every Midwesterner likes the cold and snow. So I asked around to anyone who had a moment (and most people out here will always give you a moment and a smile), “Why live here? It gets so cold and the winter seems to last forever!” The best explanation I received was, “Have you seen our spring and summer?” Yes, I have, and it really is gorgeous around here once the trees begin to green and the flowers and warm-weather birds return.
People are out walking and biking, kayaking and canoeing. Kids are outside until dark, returning fresh-air exhausted with dirt between their toes. The sky out here is so big! I have seen my fair share of full moons over the ocean – magnificent! but I have to say, never have I felt so small as when I stood on a dirt road and saw that same full moon light up a cornfield in July.
When I think of paradise, I think of an island somewhere in the Carribbean, lush with hibiscus and palm trees – I think of mangoes, I think of sipping a mojito at a bar on white sand under a thatched roof – my eyes closed beneath the wave of a tropical breeze. I’ve learned that paradise is a feeling that I carry with me. And I can feel that state of bliss deeply no matter where I am – whether it’s the Jersey Shore, driving on long country roads, or sitting at my kitchen table deciding which recipe from my newly purchased Cuban cookbook I’ll try first.
So while I decide between Avocado and Mango salad or Black Beans and Rice, tell me, where is your paradise?