Tales of a
21st Century Gypsy

May 5, 2006.
Paradise in Oklahoma





I left Texas and unexpectedly found myself in paradise.

As they describe it in the Qur'an, paradise is water, flourishing green plants, an oasis in the desert. Well, the Chickasaw National Recreation area isnít surrounded by desert Ė in fact, itís surrounded by extremely verdant Oklahoma countryside

- but after three weeks in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, it felt as if it were. And all at once I felt as if Iíd just gone through three weeks of bad hair days, though I hadnít known it at the time. My system seems to flower when thereís water abounding.

Of course, as soon as I left Chickasaw Ė as I write this Iím in a diner in Sulphur, Oklahoma, eating scrambled eggs and grits Ė the magic of the place had become a memory, something I know I experienced but could no longer feel. This morning, though, I was there. I sat cross-legged on a rock at the head of a stream, the water of Antelope Springs flowing out from under me. I listened to the bubbling of the water emerging from under my rock, mixed with the higher-pitched tinkling as it bounced over

stones in the stream twenty feet away. Birds called in the trees, insects buzzed. The air was still, but cool currents drifted up from the surface of the water. Being there involved all the senses, and changed constantly. The movement of the water gave the stream its beauty even more than its meandering form, the flowers on its banks, or the trees shading it. The music changes as you move through it. At one moment itís a concerto for waters and spring, the upwelling form the ground dominating the concert. But then it shifts and the riffles in the stream play their part, then the deep tone of falls plunging out of the pool. The smells changed; honeysuckle in the woods, moist earth near the stream bank, an indescribable cool water smell that tingles in your nose by the pools and waterfalls. And the feel of it Ė the water soft and gentle, the air fresh like the newness of spring.


I couldnít sit there all day Ė breakfast was calling me Ė but I wanted to be there all the time to feel the place. Photos just show a stream like any other stream, and some typically 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps landscape design. Words can only try to create an illusion. Perhaps you can imagine yourself there, perched on the rock over Antelope Springs, immersed in that world, with its sounds and smells and moving water. But I canít go back Ė and if you go there, donít go with my words in mind. I wonít find paradise again just because it was once there before, and you wonít find it just because you read about it on my website. Youíll find your paradise somewhere else when you least expect it, as I did in Oklahoma.





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