Growing up, I had a special
place to go for solitude. It was
an island in the North Fork River.
Here I watched the beaver build
his dam, listened to the shriek
call of the kingfisher as he
plucked a fish from the water,
watched deer bounce from the
My place was filled with
flora and fauna. I had my own
biology class filled with crayfish
and minnows in the river, observed
what animals had visited the area
with tracks left by them in the
muddy riverbanks, saw beautiful
small and large plants, amazed by
the mushrooms and fungi that grew
in many shapes and sizes, turned
black and returned to the good
earth, and stood among the tall forest
and observed its height and
I strolled the trails and
heard sweet melodies from crows,
cardinals, bluebirds, juncos,
wrens and many more. I learned
how to make their calls and had
them respond when I called.
I skipped rocks across the
river from one bank to the other.
These were the best kind of rocks
because they had been eroded by
the water and were smooth and
On many days, I dug out a pit
away from bushes and trees. I
filled the hole with small twigs
and built a fire. I roasted hot
dogs and warmed pork and beans. I
smelled the smoky wood scent
dissolve into the beans and hot
dogs. Usually, I ended my cookout
by toasting marshmallows on a
stick. I pulled the sticky gooey fluff
from the stick and washed it down with
ice cold tea.
Together, the cookout, my island,
and nature's bounty made this the best
place on earth.
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