paradise lost

Everything good comes to an end. I found out today that the rules have changed at the swimming hole I mentioned in the post below. As I made my second visit in as many days to the pond near Camden that my family and I like to frequent, I noticed some small yellow signs tacked up on the trees by the water’s edge. They read “No Nudity. By order of police.” This pond, which I can tell you now, is located in Appleton, was for many years an idyllic refuge for swimmers, both clothed and unclothed alike. One side of the pond was reserved for the “textiles” and the other side for the more adventurous types. The two groups co-existed peacefully for quite some time. When the land was eventually bought by a local man a few years ago, he generously allowed people to continue this common tradition. But this summer, everything has apparently changed. The owner, who I can’t begrudge at all, has changed his mind for reasons unknown to many of the regulars I talked to today, and decided that he can no longer offer refuge for the more liberal bathers. In other words, you can still swim in the pond (and it is a breathtakingly beautiful spot), but you had better keep your pants on. If you read this post on a regular basis, you’ll already be familiar with my agreement with the Buddhist philosophy that suffering comes from our attachment to things that are fleeting. I am living proof of that maxim today. Appleton was for me a little oasis in a world of madness. It was a place that I always assumed would be there for me, my escape from the sometimes dehumanizing world we live in…my refuge from conformity. This same thing happened a few years ago to a beach that my wife and I liked to visit in St John, US Virgin Islands. It was so out of the way, so remote, that you really had to make an effort to get there. It was our little paradise…until the National Park Service (under George W. Bush) decided to take a tougher stance against miscreants like myself. I even wrote a letter to the Superintendent of the Virgin Island National Park, begging him to reconsider…to no avail. It was illegal, and that was that….even if Park Rangers had to sneak up on you in boats to cite you. We haven’t been back since. Meanwhile, people can still ride their snowmobiles through Yellowstone National Park. I guess that kind of recreation is OK. I may still go back to Appleton once in awhile to swim, but probably not. It’s lost its charm for me now. As soon as I get over my despair for a dear friend lost, I’ll start looking for another Eden.

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