Every now and again, I get a little frustrated with everything going on in the world - the election mess, the terrorists, the wars, the earthquakes - and I take a little break by going to what is known in the modern day vernacular as my "happy place" in the hills of north-central Arkansas.
Once there, I find myself sitting on the front porch of the cabin at Shiloh, looking out across the hay field toward the giant Sycamore tree. I survey the timber around the home site to see what might need to be taken out - for safety's sake - and turned into firewood for the woodstove standing in the corner of the cabin; I smile with satisfaction as I look at the firewood cut, split and stacked by my son and his wife during their recent visit to the family farmstead; I look across the clearing in the woods toward the majestic, ancient Oak tree around which we have created this "place to be" for those moments when we need some time away and, ultimately, when we retire.
As I walk the land, I see the remnants of the rock wall that once surrounded the old home place and the barnyard; I see the old road behind the woodlot that used to be the public byway so many, many years ago; I see the creek bed, now dry but full of rolling rapids and gently moving pools during the rains of spring.
Looking even more closely, I see the old foundation - now mostly covered with dirt and grass and barely visible - that once anchored the footing of the house dad built so many years ago. The house is gone now, but the memories of that place our etched in my mind. I lived there for a summer while grandma and grandpa built the house - further up the road - they lived in during grandpa's retirement.
Across the road the hay waves golden in the sunlight, waiting to be harvested.
As my mind takes me back to my "happy place" I realize some might say it's not all that much of a place; that living down in a "holler" filled with old timber and rocky ground and ticks and snakes might not be their idea of the fulfillment of the American dream. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
As for me, well, I'll just keep traveling back there in my mind - slowing my heart rate and easing my stress - until that day when I'm sitting on that porch looking out across the hay field toward that giant Sycamore tree.
And not just every now and again.