Most of us, if we are lucky, have one place in our lives we have seen that exceeds all expectations, that we keep in our minds like an escape hatch from the dreary routine of daily existence or failed dreams.
As soon as the heat dropped below 90 degrees one recent late afternoon -- about 7 o'clock, really -- I moved the CD player to the front porch, adjusted the fan just so and put my feet up on a coffee table. I played "Sunday Morning Coming Down" and "The Pilgrim" and "The Captive."
A Wellesley College English professor, Katharine Lee Bates, made a journey by train to Colorado Springs in 1893 and was so inspired by the sights that she wrote a poem.
I wonder if the governors of Mississippi and North Carolina and other states where gay, lesbian and transgender citizens have been targeted, usually in the name of religion, have any idea that the taxpayers they are maligning have been through many other battles. And survived.
President and Mrs. Obama reportedly are about to join a club in which I'm glad to no longer hold membership: They are about to become renters.
I like to go back to Metro Atlanta often enough to remember why I left. Atlanta, of course, is now one hellishly dense suburb that stretches from Chattanooga to Columbus with a tightly stitched tapestry of chain crap and traffic snarls in between. I creep along and remember.
There are still a lot of overgrown Katrina lots on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, green ghosts left from a decade ago when the driveways led to houses and the concrete slabs held homes.
The civil-rights movement wasn't just "Rosa sat down, Martin stood up and the white folks came down to save the day," the photographer Matt Herron quips.
When I was a kid in knee socks held up with rubber bands from the produce aisle, my fourth-grade teacher scribbled a note on my report card. Rheta has a flair for drama.
When I moved to Monroeville, Alabama, in 1975, it was because of Bill Stewart, not Nelle Harper Lee. Stewart was the publisher of The Monroe Journal, an excellent weekly run by Bill Stewart's son, Steve, and his daughter-in-law, Patrice.
The heft of the gold felt good in the palm. A smooth, super-size coin was passed from person to person. It was the Pulitzer Prize. A real one.
It is Twelfth Night. Beneath a balcony in the French Quarter, we listen as dignitaries high above welcome Joan of Arc and the start of Carnival season.
I was making a gingerbread man, a ginger-Trump-man, using candy orange slices for the infamous hair, all the while trying to figure out why a smart friend the night before had said what everyone and his brother keeps declaring with conviction: The Donald is sure to lose steam any day now.
She is a brindle mix. When I ask what kind of mix, the veterinarian says, "Well."
Somebody kept the puppy about a year and a half -- again, the vet assigned an age -- found her a bother and drove to my woods in the North Mississippi hollow to put her out. In a poor county with no animal shelter or conscience, it happens.
One of my best friends in the world is going "under the knife" today, which is what my mother would have said if someone she knew was about to have an operation. I never once heard her say "procedure," which sounds more like a tax audit or a recipe for making cheese.
The world's problems are best solved with old friends around a warm fire in the kitchen stove in Fishtrap Hollow.
I am in my quiet spot on this earth today, but thinking only of another place, another country, a good friend.
PARIS, Kentucky -- The smallish Eiffel Tower snug to the chamber of commerce office isn't exactly what put me in mind of the other, more famous, Paris. It was the giant sycamores lining the narrow lanes of this town that did the trick.
BAY ST. LOUIS -- There must be something satisfying about the care and feeding of a car. I don't know a Maverick from a manifold, but I can tell when people are happy. Car people are happy people.
I devoured the recent biography "Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker," hoping to find secrets about writing. Nobody wrote nonfiction better than Joe Mitchell, who for decades enthralled readers with his profiles of barkeepers, carnival freaks, fishmongers, homeless intellectuals and other noncelebrities.
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