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By Peter T. Macy

Heavenly is a 110-mile long 6-mile-wide island in the Bahamas (from Columbus’ comment “Baja mar” — shallow sea) called Eleutheria (from Greek — freedom). So let’s find out what the characteristics of this “heaven” are.

The first characteristic is relie which appears in two parts. The first part is the effect of the tropical warmth which melts the ice in our muscles and bones which have been steeled against the cold for months. The second effect is the feeling of freedom driving out of the airport, freedom from the indignities and difficulties (the Miami Airport for one) of air travel. Eleutheria really is the appropriate name for this place.

Heaven is not without an ideal topography. It has a central spine, sometimes reaching 200 feet with miles and miles of beach on either side – Atlantic Ocean (East Coast) sheltered by an outside reef and the Caribbean Sea (West Coast). Beaches were child-friendly: 70-degree water, pure sand, gradual depths, little surf and a large variety of tiny, colorful shells, some of which were removed for further employment.

The people: We should have expected the ideal place to be sparsely populated and well-integrated. Eleutheria enumerates 11,000 multiracial, amiable but not necessarily sophisticated people with a laissez faire (hands-off) attitude, exemplified at the weekly town fish fry where everybody is invited and many come (including us). It’s a fundraiser but there are no distinctions (i.e. town vs. tourists/guests). We all stood in line, ate, sat, conversed and danced together.

Heaven should also spare mother from homemaking: cooking, laundry, cleaning and child care. Let us have her presence and wit. We all shared the work and ate out or took in. The restaurants were off the beaten path, like Italy; but of necessity the paths were short and naturally on the water. We even went through one of them to get to the beach and returned to a long, late lunch. Most menus range from pizza to native fish. They seem organized to care for families. The wine people in the family found a good selection and we all found food we liked. We had one or two meals catered and we all took turns at breakfasts. There is one caveat: except for foods essential to the natives’ diet, grain and grits, etc. which are price controlled, food, all imported, is expensive (a half-gallon of organic milk $8).

Now the house. The heavenly house would be wide open and filled with sunshine every day, built atop a rise to catch breezes, within walking distance of town, have a swimming pool and a nearby tennis court. There would be a separate space for grandparents, two master bedrooms and one big bunk room for children. This dream became a reality.

Finally there was one characteristic we overlooked — the hews. There wasn’t any. No words about the world’s: wars, political posturing, uprisings, natural disasters, etc. In lieu of these worries we had 16 videos of the Brady Bunch; truly a week back in time. Sometimes it’s great to be a carefree kid again.

If we ever get to see Saints Peter or Gabriel we’ll recommend Eleutheria to them.

Columnist Peter Macy lives in Groton with his wife, Clare.

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