Friday, July 25, 2008

A MUST READ – "The Last Wild River"

Do whatever you can to get your hands on the Summer 2008 issue of Oxford American. Proceed immediately to page 62, for The Last Wild River, by Bronwen Dickey. The story recounts her visit to the Chattooga, the river made famous by her father James Dickey in the novel Deliverance.

From The Last Wild River:

When I read some months back that a lawsuit brought by a boating organization called American Whitewater had prompted the Forest Service to consider opening the river’s headwaters to boaters, an unexpected sadness came over me. It was a variant of what I felt years ago when I learned that my childhood home had been torn down and rebuilt into something I couldn’t recognize….

…Could I really blame anyone in techno-heavy 2008 who longed to “get back to nature”? I’d do it more if I could. But I also thought about the Nantahala and Ocoee Rivers near the Chattooga, two once-wild rivers that are now essentially water parks, clogged with tourists looking for “wilderness adventures.”...

Bronwen Dickey’s story is poignant and authentic and humorous and poetic. On a mid-winter hike to Rock Gorge she reflected on the scene:

I wanted to lock the wildness of the river into the sandstone somehow so that it couldn’t be touched by men, and climb back out – straight up – though the mud and undergrowth, crawling over decayed logs, tripping over vines, my lungs burning from the effort because there weren’t any roads. In my heart, if not my head, I wanted the glittering, jade eyes of the last cougar in the south to study me from under a ledge. I wanted to feel that cold fear that sluices through your veins when you realize you’re truly alone out in the wild – or that you aren’t….

The Last Wild River, by Bronwen Dickey, in the Summer 2008 issue of Oxford American. Get it! Read it! Today!

[And thank you, GC]

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