While my wife and I were walking around Balboa Park, we came into an area that we both instantly recognized as the Reality Version of a fantasy place we dream about all the time.

“Whoa,” said Cat, stopping.

“Whoa,” said I, bumping into her back.

And there it was. Our Hill With The Tree.

Now we’re getting into some pretty personal stuff here, so of course I’m naturally hesitant to say too much. But the gist of it is that Cat and I often talk to ourselves about a place we’ve been imagining together for so long now at this point it’s as real to us as not. This … Magical Dream Place of ours consists of a grass-covered hill in a meadow. On the hill is a single, huge old tree, with branches so thick and low you can actually sit under there in the rain and not get wet. In this spot it almost never rains, though. On our hill (which we call “The Hill”) it’s always a perfectly clear, perfectly warm day. There’s a soft breeze blowing. Everywhere around us brightly colored butterflies flitter amongst the flowers of the wild, soft field.

Ahhhh. Just feel the lovely loveliness of love.

Anyway, it’s a place we’ve dreamed up, and often take joy in imagining ourselves.

And then we actually came upon it! In real life! Our Special Secret Dream Place! Right there in Balboa Park! It was as recognizable as the house we live in.

Frozen in place, Cat whispered, “It’s The Hill.”

“It is,” I said.

Without saying a word, Cat reached out and took my hand. Barely breathing, we walked up a slight slope into the shade of the real life version of our dream tree.

Cat, looking dazed, turned slowly toward me. I looked into her eyes. The whole world seemed to stop. Except for the breeze. Except for the butterflies. Except for songs of the birds, and the gently swaying flowers.

Cat moved toward a place she’d spotted, which looked like a spot Mother Nature, being the perfect host, has had cleared for exactly two people to sit. No flowers. No rocks. No sticks. Just a perfect little patch of soft, smooth grass in the shade of the most perfect tree in the world.

We both stood on that spot for a moment, holding hands and wondering if somehow, somewhere during this walk, we had slipped from this world into the next. That sure was what I was wondering, anyway.

Moving with slow care, as if engaging in some sort of sacred ceremony, we sat down.

Maybe an hour went by. Maybe a minute. All I know is that at some point it began to feel like it was real, like it was actually happening. Like we were really and truly sitting on The Hill.

“This is amazing,” I said.

Cat slowly turned to look at me with her jaw-dropped, wide-eyed, “I actually cannot believe this” expression.

I turned to revel some more in the view of the meadow. I leaned back on my arms, and straightened out my legs on the ground before me.

And that's when the killer squirrels attacked.

Next time: Do I sound like I’m kidding?

johnshore@sbcglobal.net

www.johnshorebooks.com