We are going home today from Sandpoint to L.A. Maybe I have that wrong. Maybe now Sandpoint is home. But we are going south, like the osprey, as even Indian summer promises to wane.
So, goodbye to our condo with its views over the lake and the comforting 24 hour a day roar and rumble of Mr. Buffett’s trains. Goodbye to the prime rib at Trinity on the lake at the Edgewater. Goodbye to the glorious meatless pasta at Ivano’s and Gabby, my economist-parented friend there. Goodbye to the friendly girls at Vanderford’s where I get my Wall Street Journal every day.
Goodbye to Tim Farmin, my boating guru and guide and friend who can fix everything and anything. Goodbye to Penny, his lovely wife, who is one of the most insightful women I have ever met.
Goodbye to Starbucks and Coldwater Creek, where my wife found a jacket that looks like Chanel but only cost a hundred bucks.
Bye-bye to Wendy, the bakery manager at Safeway, who sold me fabulous chocolate cakes for my bride and agreed that these are the latter days and that our refuge is in the Lord.
Goodbye to the great people at Sandpoint Super Drug, who actually know their customers and care about them. (They also have the best air conditioning in town.)
Adios, muchachos, to the men and women at Bottle Bay Resort and the Falls Café. Please, don’t go there. I would like it to be my secret. Those places are too cool for school.
Goodbye to the people at the Laclede Store in the middle of nowhere but that stocks everything. Goodbye to Mama Mac’s gas station and eatery and to the Priest River Police, who keep a close eye on me.
Goodbye to Ivano’s in Hope, with the best steaks and the best sunsets on earth. Goodbye to the chef there who asked me if I would give her a “fellowship” to culinary school. Goodbye to Hill’s, far, far away from Beverly Hills, but worth the trip.
Au revoir cute girls at City Beach who show me their ice cream confections and want photos with me and who all remind me of the girls I had crushes on at the Silver Spring Armory in 1959. Please remember to stay forever young. Don’t leave Sandpoint. Go see “Lost Horizons” and you’ll see what I mean.
Goodbye to the refreshment stand at City Beach where the high school girls who work there make me fresh popcorn and smile and all have haunting blue eyes. They keep a salt shaker just for me. Goodbye to the girl on the swing who wants to be a lawyer. Good bye to the Dairy Depot and their moose tracks chocolate milkshakes.
Goodbye to watching Tim fly his remote control seaplane. Good bye to the Cobalt cutting through the water at 60, 26 feet, three inches of pure pleasure. Goodbye to the Vissers, my pluperfectly beautiful and polite neighbors and friends.
In Fiddler on the Roof, a Jewish shtetl dweller in Russia asks the rabbi if he has a prayer for the Tsar. “Yes,” says the rebbe. “May God bless and keep the Tsar… far away.” That is my prayer for our President and Sandpoint. To keep Barack Obama and modern America far from Sandpoint.
Now, I have something to live for: to come back to a place where no one brags, no one cuts you off in traffic, where you do not hear one car horn honking at you all summer, where everyone has an absolutely unreserved love of America and no one starts an argument. Where you race in your boat under osprey and bald eagles that are impossibly powerful and swift and yet real and not in captivity.
Dear, dear Sandpoint, stay as magical as you are, stay free and far, far away from the captivity of the modern.