Ross Mackenzie

And, lolling in one of the riverbank hammocks, watch autumn arrive -- a mottled leaf here, an early red there, bright gentians and cardinal flowers of life stitching into the tapestry of a dying season's yellows and browns. Oh, and cogitate the river of mysterious spirit flowing by.

Hemingway's real-world big two-hearted languishes along not far away. Likewise, this river -- there below the birches, knows no politics or ideology. It baptizes an occasional swimmer. It floats a canoe or kayak through the cathedraled forest, but slowly -- taking its time. It testifies that only in total aloneness is one truly free. It bears witness that there, in the solitude of the forest's majestic simplicity, the biblical bush still burns.

An annual sojourn in the electricity-free cabin allows one literally to unplug -- to escape for a while the civilizational squirrel-cage across the river and the follies of the self-important strutting the corridors of power. It allows for reflection, recalibration, and restoration before returning to Dodge and resuming the fight.

THE GOOD place....

Wrote the estimable naturalist Joseph Wood Krutch:

"How long will it be before...there is no quietness anywhere, no escape from the rumble and the crush, the clank and the screech...? Perhaps when the time comes that there is no more silence and no more aloneness, there will also be no longer anyone who wants to be alone."

And so wrote Thoreau:

"Alone in distant woods and fields,...I come to myself....In my case, (I suppose this) is equivalent to what others get by church-going and prayer. I come to my solitary woodland walk as the homesick go home. I thus dispose of the superfluous and see things as they are, grand and beautiful....It is as if I always met in those places some grand, serene, immortal, infinitely encouraging, though invisible, companion, and walked with him."

..Through the forest. Along the river. In the good place.

Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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