Pine Nuts: Rollin’ on the river |

Pine Nuts: Rollin’ on the river

Leaving home, I traveled by Uber at 60 miles an hour to an airport, climbed on a plane, ramped it up to 500 miles an hour, and boarded the sternwheeler “America” on the Mississippi River as one pooped-out puppy, limp as a noodle.

Then came an enchanting sensation. The boat began to move upon the water at an unhurried pace, the pace of a mermaid … a sleepy mermaid.

The majesty of the Mississippi causes one’s very river of blood to slacken its course and meander aimlessly. Concerns that had been darkening the mind like nimbus clouds are converted to cirrus clouds before drifting silently away, supplanted by a blissful serenity found in watching the river roll by. I no longer know if it’s Thursday or a week from Thursday, nor do I care, for every day is Sunday, and every night is Saturday night.

Riverboat travel is a clearing house for mind and spirit. Temporary memory files that were merely taking up shelf space are mercifully jettisoned, freeing one’s mind and spirit to store more helpful and worthwhile information. Seven deadly sins are tossed overboard and disappear in the foamy brine of the paddlewheel. Yes, it’s goodbye pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. Dante’s purgatory no longer holds the mortgage on me. I’m now a free man and glad of it.

Lake Tahoe (home) is, as Mark Twain described it, “…the fairest picture the whole earth affords.” But beautiful as she is, Tahoe does not move like the Mighty Mississippi moves, and this movement has a subliminal rhythm that massages one’s soul. While Golden Eagles soar across the Mississippi flyway, the river provides a healthful palliative that when tapped into will cure whatever ails you.

Remember when family doctors used to send patients to the ocean’s shore to cure the consumption? No, how could you, you’re too young. But they used to do that, and it worked. I only had two years of pre-med, but I can tell you, the Mississippi River, when traveled upon, is the best medicine Mother Nature has to offer.

Yes, there is much to recommend in a week of river tranquility. The disembarking traveler is fully outfitted and equipped to deal with the many challenges of today’s society. And there is comfort to be found in the confidence that a sound heart is a better guide than sullied scruples.

This morning, as we disembarked, a hearty fellow was helping a wheelchair bound traveler down the gangway when I overheard him say, “On the river you can fully appreciate being alive in the midst of such a beautiful day as this.” And the cheerful fellow in the wheelchair responded, “It amounts to solid happiness, mate, solid happiness.”

Yes, the Mississippi is a tonic that will put a spring in your step and a song in your heart. Get yourself out on her if you can, breathe deep her restoring spirits, and you too will be singing her praises, while attending to the world’s challenges.

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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