A tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle

Regarding "A Refuge Off the Beaten Track" by Robert Smaus (Feb. 9): It was a couple of years into my life as a rent-controlled apartment dweller when I began a search for land. Price was a big determinant. Eventually, an unusual piece of land was hesitantly suggested by a broker -- back land, no facilities or neighbors, and only an "abandoned town road" providing access. He seemed skeptical. We thought it was perfect.

It's been a marvelous part of our lives ever since. First as an escape for me from the city, and later as a getaway for our family, setting up tents beside the pond, sharing the woods and meadows with deer, turkey, twilight bats and nighttime horned owls. I've enjoyed the many hats I've worn, as logger, steward, gardener, tourist, improver of vistas, duckweed remover, picker of brambleberries.

Very recently we built a cabin, unfinished on the inside, which in the settler tradition could one day be expanded into a house. It's basic shelter. No utilities. Aladdin kerosene lamps for light, and a swim in the pond instead of a hot shower.

The wonder of the place is not the human dwelling, but the intense beauty of the land and the amazing way its secrets and intricacies are only very gradually revealed.

It's a fine and important tradition, getting our urban roots into a long-term association with a bit of land.

Paul Morgan

Los Angeles

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