A Rhumb Line into the Wilderness

The Forest reads like a heady and roving literary essay, whose forays into art and environment have a “blink and you’ll miss it” quality to them.

Courtesy Princeton University Press

I drive to upstate New York often these days. Chances are that you have as well. And maybe you too feel as if the drive has become muscle memory, flexing with each voyage, allowing a movie-like reel to unspool in your field of vision as it does in mine. The winding roads, the changes in elevation, the stone embankments that restrain the hills: all of these are imprinted as images onto my own brain, so much so that with each drive along the Saw Mill Parkway through Yonkers and onto the north-blazing Taconic on a rhumb line toward Albany, I focus on details. The carmine rust-proofing on the bridge spanning the Croton Reservoir; small houses perching on tree lines as if they were anticipating daybreak over the Hudson River. It feels like traveling back in time, because every crossing from Putnam to Dutchess, and finally arriving in Columbia County, is a journey through the lands of various nations. Wappingers, Lenape, Sepasco, Algonquin—t…

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