“The city of feeling rose out of the city of fact like a definite composition.”
—Willa Cather, Lucy Gayheart
“The calendar of facts doesn’t correspond to the calendar of feelings.”
—Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time
Outside of Chico, CA, there’s a town called Paradise. It’s a perfectly delightful name, to be sure, but the town itself is nothing, really, apart from some beautiful trees and some impressive valleys and gorges that have been shaped by the Feather River. At the end of a steep and unimproved dirt road, there’s a flume that hugs the side of a mountain, and even passes through the mountain by way of a narrow dark tunnel, reappearing a quarter of a mile later in the sun. In the summer, the path along the flume is bursting with vegetation, with splashes of green and yellow and purple. The names of things don’t matter, because the place is filled with echoes of the past, and the past, even if it’s 20 or 30 years ago, suddenly feels like the present. The same sense of overpowering joy that was felt years ago is felt now once again, as though not a minute has passed. The greens and the yellows and the purples swirl and there’s a flash of recognition and something like timelessness is touched. If only there were Feather Rivers everywhere, pleasant reminders at every turn that life isn’t always measured in years.