Monday, November 01, 2010

The River Paradise

It was little over a year ago, in August of 2008 when I first went down by the river. It was my friend Amy whom I met on “Evansville Moms” just couple of weeks before who called me to go out and have lunch with her and actually meet in person. She was a newcomer to Indiana as much as I was. I came to live in Newburgh with my family just a month prior and she had already been there for three months. After we were done eating she asked me if I knew about the little thrift stores located in the downtown Newburgh.
“No” I replied. I didn’t even know where downtown was located.
“You want to go now?” she suggested.

That was enough for me. I eagerly accepted the offer. I followed her in my car and I tried to remember the way so I could get back home. It turned out to be a straight shot from where we were. We visited all the stores in the downtown area and I got really excited about “The Secret Garden” store. I still go to that store from time to time just to check all the new merchandise and of course to daydream. But it wasn’t until she took me all the way down State Road where it crosses Water Street that I completely got lost in the beauty of the river front.

I stood there on the edge of the little cement wall under this beautiful gigantic tree which was so full and so green, that you could not see any light peek through the branches. This gorgeous tree stood there on top of that steep hill, an epitome of time. To the left of me there were eight sets of stairs, each set made up of ten steps that lead down to the shore. I stood there blinded by the beauty surrounding me. I watched the sun reflect from murky water. The gentle breeze constructed the ripples in the river which in return fashioned the dancing sunshine over the surface. The sky was lovely shade of darker blue with large white clouds sporadically placed across. I even saw one that resembled a dolphin. It made me smile. I took a deep breath which gave me this resilient feeling of calmness. I knew I was coming back to this place.

The next time I decided to visit the river it was autumn. Beautiful earth colors encircled me. I stood there in amazement looking up at the immense tree. The leaves were now beautiful shades of red and yellow with some green ones showing through. I wouldn’t say it was exceedingly windy but it was definitely windswept. The murmur of rather dry leaves swaying in the tree and others fallen and dancing on the ground was very familiar and yet so new again. The color of the river remained the same, muddy and still wavy and hoven. I couldn’t tell which way it was going. This time the sky was gray with infrequent sunlight coming through. The clouds were darker gray and flowing rather fast up there. But the feeling stayed the same. I was at peace.

For the next couple of weeks life got busy, there was a lot to do in a new place. During this time there was this yearning urge to go back to the river front and this time I wanted to share my experience.
“Hey Alice, come with me, I want to show you something!!!” I told her one day.
“Where are we going?” she whispered.
I smiled, “Come and you will see”.
Needless to say, Alice fell in love with this enchanted place too. It was a mutual agreement between us to start walking right here along the side of the river. We walked every day for about an hour and half. This became “Our Special Place”. We talked, we walked and we bonded. Our schedule changed and we switched to walking at night. Usually it was just the two of us there at night. Not many people are around during night hours. Nights here were very different…

This particular night we came for a walk and we went on, like we normally do. It was very cold and we walked faster than usual. Half way down our path it just became slightly creepy. The air became stagnant and eerie. We heard strange noises, creeks in the naked branches of the trees, unfamiliar squeaks of an animal. There was wailing coming from afar. We kept looking back thinking someone was following us. The cold wind on our face had burning sensation. After a brisk walk we turned around to go back home. Even though the night gave us adrenalin rush we still felt we belonged there. After all it was our place. As we approached a fenced part of the walk we saw a man in his late thirties sitting on the bench and smiling at us. I smiled back as I was passing by him. We walked about 15 feet and we stopped to take a look at the river. The water was dark, almost black and calm. It stood there as an immense, smooth sheet of glass. Something made me turn around to look at the man that was sitting near us. He wasn’t there. I looked in every direction and could not find him. He disappeared.

Another night as we walked a little kitten ran into us. Alice actually walked right into it. He had bright white spotless fur. He let us pick him up and carry him. Very interesting thing about him, he had six toes on his front paws. A strange thing happened next. This little kitten started following us. It walked with us for about three miles. The few people who happened to be there were amazed at how trained he was. I kept telling everyone it was not my cat. We couldn’t resist, we named him Max. A couple tried to get him to go in the car with them, Max followed them but stopped in his tracks right next to my car. He smelled around the car, left his mark and came straight back and joined us for the rest of our walk. Mind you, we were about 100 feet from the car. It was later we heard from some locals that the place where we walk is haunted.

So, I sit here today, 17 months later, in my car and I keep thinking about all the “cool and extraordinary” things I have seen and experienced here and I smile. Rain keeps falling from the sky and everything is sort of gloomy and dark. I watch the rain drops fall and make a beautiful design on the windshield of my car. The river is disturbed, its high tide is reaching up as if to scream ‘look at me, take notice, relish moments like these “. Even though I am not a huge fan of rainy, melancholy days I truly can appreciate the beauty of this place. It gives me immense peace and calmness. When I need to clear my head I come here. As soon as I get stressed and just need some quiet I come here. I cannot explain why, but I am taken by the astonishing beauty of this place and I keep returning to the River Paradise.

“There is always light at the end of the tunnel”, I would say. Even though things sometimes appear to be very dark and scary I try to find at least one good, positive thing in my life and I focus on that. It can be as simple as sunny day, or someone smiled at me at the grocery store, or sometimes I just tell myself “It’s going to be a great day today”, and I try to remember that throughout the day. We all need “something” to get us through, something we can take in and carry on through our days. That something we can only find within ourselves. No one person can tell us what it is, it is different for everyone. This river brings me the peace I need in some of darkest times in my life, but first and foremost you need to look deep inside your soul to find it. As one of my favorite songs “The Greatest Love of All” by George Benson says:

“… I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can't take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all
And if by chance, that special place
That you've been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love.”

copyright 2010 by Sanela Kubiak. All rights reserved.


  1. Loving the way you flesh out your narrative. The attributes given to the different characters gives the reader a sort of 'first-hand' feel of the environment. Pretty cool