Took my 16-year-old grandson to a remote lake in the Arizona mountains to fish and sit around the campfire at night; it was a heavenly retreat.

It had rained for hours before we arrived, finding dry kindling was a challenge, and then we enjoyed my signature first night dish, Mac and Cheese Hamburger Helper, which my grandson thought was an epicurean delight (all food tastes better in the woods). We sat around the campfire and talked about everything from family to philosophy. In between we’d look up at the night sky, and before our eyes accommodated from the dazzling flames to the darkness we could see only a few of the brightest stars. Then, more and more stars emerged until the sky exploded with light. The Milky Way was so thick with stars it became a celestial highway on which chariots rolled, warriors marched, and shooting stars drifted downward bringing us messages from on high. It was a magical evening.

We fished the next day taking a midday break for lunch after which watched my grandson become absorbed in the whittling of a marshmallow stick. He carefully removed all the bark, and crafted a tapered point carefully leaving a little bump to prevent the marshmallow from falling off the tip when it became soft and mushy. Gazing at his handiwork, he decided it needed some notches into the handle so that he could grip and turn the stick more easily. Finally, he carved his initials into it.

This process took an hour and a half, and it was the finest marshmallow stick I have ever seen. During the whittling he said to me “this is the ultimate irony”. I asked “ what do you mean?” and he said, “ in the city I have my laptop, cell phone, IPod, access to friends, movies, games and I still get bored. Here in the words there’s no reception and there is nothing to do, and I don’t feel bored at all. How am I going to explain to my friends that I spent an hour whittling a stick. This is the ultimate irony, when you have everything you can get bored, and when you have nothing you can find everything to do”.

In the midst of governmental ineptitude, fiscal despair, and random acts of mindless terror, with tears in my eyes I thought that our civilization may yet survive.

Get away to a place without wireless access, and you can whittle away at the familiar and with nothing to do you can see everything.