What's All This Then?

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What's All This Then?

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My Side of the Moutain
by Jean Craighead George

Field-Tested by Cathy Scott

in La Mesa, California

I recently stumbled across one of my all-time favorite childhood books: My Side of the Mountain. As a child, I was captivated, literally, by 12-year-old Sam Gribley’s year-long escape as a pre-teen to the Catskill Mountains. I devoured his descriptions of his hollowed-out tree home, picking berries, eating nuts, and getting up close and personal with wildlife.

Growing up, my neighborhood friends, my sister and I built what we called a fort at the base of a eucalyptus tree in a canyon just behind my house in La Mesa (California). I loved the idea of living off the land, living free.

I was the same age as the fictional character Sam when I first read My Side of the Mountain. Every child daydreams about spending time on his or her own, and that was my dream. My twin sister and I were the youngest of five children. I could lose myself in the pages of My Side of the Mountain. I’d travel through the book in the wooded wilderness to Sam’s mountain escape. I read the novel over and over when I should have instead been doing homework, following Sam, who, at a young age, found solace in fending for himself.

Today, the book reminds me of an early version of Into the Wild, only with a happier ending. Through author Jean Craighead George’s words, I fell in love with the wilderness, and I dreamed of one day living in a log cabin.

I now have my own cabin in the mountains — not the upstate New York Catskills, but in southern California — and will be living there once it’s renovated. It’s not a log cabin, and it won’t quite be like Sam’s huge hollowed-out tree, but that’s fine with me. I plan to be as green as I can — including going off the grid and using solar energy. The property is loaded with lots of oak trees, wonderful boulders, and tons of birds on my own side of the mountain.

Now that I’ve been reminded of my escape into the pages of author George’s novel, I plan to re-read it. I just need to find a break between writing.

Cathy Scott is a true crime author based in Las Vegas. She can be found here.

Buy My Side of the Mountain