It was indeed pleasant having tea with Penny on Tuesday morning here at our home in Senoia. Such a great opportunity to bring out my Alice in Wonderland tea pot, a gift from Ruth Gray so many years ago, and to serve the delicious banana bread my neighbor Carolyn had brought to my door just hours earlier. I had planned to bake some banana muffins; I even had my recipe out and then the doorbell rang. What a nice surprise. Sometime God’s timing is wonderful; He knew that I needed muffins or fresh bread and that I would probably be too rushed to create a nice offering for my friend.
Seems I am always in a bit of a rush these days; perhaps I always have been. There is a magnet on my refrigerator which says, “Even I don’t believe I’ll be ready in five minutes!” Yes, I have lived my life just a little behind schedule. I make excellent plans to be on time for appointments or visitors and then the telephone rings. I am also someone who cannot walk away from a telephone even if I am 99 percent sure the caller is a robot. Four or five of those may come in while I am smearing eyeliner on, or trying to help Bill find his dress belt. Or his dark brown loafers. Or stop to put drops in his eyes. Or run from the master bath through the living room, breakfast area and into the kitchen where I think I left my cell phone and that is it ringing!
Bill just asked me, “Why does this house seem to be getting smaller?” I had to think for only a moment, for I realized that I was feeling the same restrictions. At first I believed that it was because since his operations the stairs were off limits and that I did not make as many trips up and down, not wanting to tempt him. It is Bill’s greatest desire these days, while his balance is still not to be trusted, to “go upstairs.” In fact he’s tried all sorts of wily tricks in order to take a trip up to that forbidden second floor. Daily, he comes up with some critical need which would make it absolutely necessary that only he could fulfill by climbing to our very own Shangri-La (a place of ultimate peace and harmony). The top floor of our house has taken on the mythical qualities of holy Mount Kailash.
In 1930 a Russian scientist discovered what he called Shambhala. In Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Shambhala (or Shambala) is a mystical kingdom hidden somewhere beyond the snow peaks of the Himalayas, and is believed to be “home to those who will save mankind when the world is beset by war and destruction. But it was precisely this tale that seemed to spark the fantasies of Western readers.” And it was James Hilton’s novel “Lost Horizon” published in 1933 that peaked an interest in this Tibetan/Hindu/Buddhist legend that many then and today find fascinating. It may have also spurred many explorer to try his or her luck at finding what Llamist had for centuries described as a Utopian paradise. This hidden city, capitol of a huge empire, was the seat of political intrigue and home to kings, princes, and prophets who were both good and evil depending on what dynasty controlled the power. Story piled upon story; legend upon legend, and century upon century; I was soon caught up in the most amazing tale that I had accidentally stumbled upon!
While I was simply checking the spelling for Shangri-La through the Look Up feature on my IPad’s Notes app, I found one fascinating story in modern times concerning an area in India bordering China that is the site of what Russian scientists decided in 1999 is not Mount Kailash at all, but is a giant pyramid surrounded by smaller pyramids built by a superior civilization. I encourage you to find the photograph of this purportedly man-made phenomenon.
I have long been drawn to strange tales such as this. Many legends which can be traced back to before written history concerns evidence of a series of subterranean caverns and tunnels and which create a honeycomb effect beneath the earth’s surface; one which is inhabited by a race of “blue men,” or demons, or gods depending on which legend or ancient account you chose to hearken to! There seems to be an entrance to this world in New York City’s cavernous sewers, another in Toronto, and several in the UFO-infested area of New Mexico. Many have been lured to attempt to find this entrance to the Netherworld. Many have met tragic death or have simply disappeared.
Now, I know we are a long way from afternoon tea and banana bread, but not from the Rabbit Hole that our Alice of the Wonderland tea set would have been familiar with. I wonder if Lewis Carroll was familiar with the legends repeated in the ancient oral traditions of faraway Mongolia and even among our Native American tribal population as well. I may have to do some more research into all of this . . . or perhaps it is really too spooky for me. Ah, but I am running late for yet another important date; a doctor’s appointment. Bill will see Dr. Bender today at noon for a “magical” Keytruda treatment. Look it up.
Happy Thanksgiving dear, dear Readers!

Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.