We ended in Pepin, Wisconsin, which was full of bikes and bikers. But only a couple of the bikers came into the local art gallery we like so much. I had come down to get some of my earrings altered, since I now have pierced ears.
On the way back, we started talking -- I'm not sure why -- about ideas of heaven and hell. We both agreed that floating on a cloud and playing a harp didn't appeal. That idea of heaven must have come from people who did hard physical labor with no relief, except on Sunday when they sang in church. For old time farmers and workers, heaven must have been rest and music.
Anyway, we put together our idea of heaven. We should be in our bodies, but they should be strong and healthy and free of pain. We should be able to do the things we always enjoyed or dreamed of doing -- garden, make art, build houses. Everything should turn out well. Our art would be good art. Our gardens would flourish.(Remember, this is heaven.) There would be plumbers in heaven, maybe working with golden pipes, architects, carpenters, potters, gardeners, quilters. Everyone would be doing work they enjoyed doing. Everyone would get along. Patrick smokes a pipe. In heaven, no one should object. After all, no one is going to die of secondhand smoke. Everyone is already dead. And if people didn't like the smell of a pipe, they would smell it as something else -- freshly cut grass or lilacs in bloom.
People would have the kind of weather they liked. Some people would be walking around in a hot, humid cloud. Others would feel the crisp air of autumn.
If people liked hunting, they'd be able to do it and bring the birds home and cook them. Then, they'd put the bones outside, and a new bird would arise.
You'd get the chance to meet people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi and Badshah Khan, all the people who have worked for peace. The angels would be simply walking around among us. God wouldn't be sitting on a throne. You'd be working in your garden and look up, and there he or she would be, leaning on your fence. "Those are really fine nasturtiums you have there."
What about hell? It would be similar, except the people that people in heaven wanted to avoid -- Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Ted Bundy, Dick Chaney -- would be there; and they would have no power and wealth and no possibility of getting any. No one would take them seriously, even the kind of people who -- in life -- were natural followers and suckers.
Maybe, in the end, they would change. Patrick thought they might become better people. I imagined them turning into animals or plants. Imagine feathers appearing all over Dick Chaney, till he finally becomes a red-tailed hawk.