More Columns

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Around five o’clock last Sunday afternoon my wife Wendy and I were watching a late afternoon football game when I was suddenly felt overcome by a chill and uncommon queasiness and needed to go upstairs to lie down for an hour before friends came for supper.

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Ignoring a rapidly approaching thunderstorm, I pulled off the road to sit and look at the house, wondering about the people who once called such a beautiful old place home.

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By the time we reached the empty parking lot, the snow was really coming down, coating the forest in a mantle of white.

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Sometimes I still dream about that house, that garden, that quiet place in the forest — wishing, I suppose, that I could go back and hear those sounds again, feel that golden winter silence, simply be there for a while.

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Because I grew up in the rural South before the coming of mass air-conditioning, I learned early from a wise and unexpected source the many benefits of staying as still as possible on a broiling August afternoon.

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I heard a first whisper of the news — literally, an Open Secret — from a grizzled character in pink Bermuda shorts standing in the checkout line at Lowe’s garden center three Saturday mornings ago. I was buying composted cow manure. He was holding a worried-looking spider plant.

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These midsummer mornings are the ones I like best, the last cool, wet mornings in my garden before dawn, when plants are at their peak and months of toil pay off with blooms and foliage that will surrender soon enough to the heat and drought of August.

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This past week’s news out of the University of Oklahoma, where pin-headed members of the Sigma Alpha Episilon fraternity were caught on tape chanting a racist song while en route to a party, rightly shocked America and stirred outrage from the school’s administrators who’ve moved to boot the…

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To many people, the unsettling feeling that life speeds dramatically up as you age is a very real phenomenon and apparently quite commonplace among all of us as we age.

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The big winter Nor’easter that briefly shut down New York City and New England and gave CNN anchors something to hyperventilate about for three solid days this week made me nostalgic for our old place — and snowy winters in Maine.

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When I was young, the only thing harder than the coming of Christmas was saying goodbye to it.

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In our house, saying grace at Thanksgiving — anytime, really — is something of a cosmic adventure. Like Forest Gump’s box of chocolate, you never quite know what you’ll get.

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Time is, they say, our most precious commodity, a fleeting resource, tomorrow’s memory.

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Like my father before me, it’s the rare morning when I’m not up by four o’clock. The dark hours before dawn, I find, are the most peaceful and productive of the day, the time I read and write or sometimes just sit and think and drink my coffee and try to make sense of the world.

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This Sunday essay will be fairly short and sweet. That’s because I’m writing it at 3:49 on Friday morning, just hours before the results of Scotland’s historic vote for independence are known.

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“Golly, what a long hot summer it’s been,” a new friend sighed the other evening over her wine glass at my elbow. We were sitting together at the end of a lively dinner table on a long screened porch overlooking the Pamlico River at sunset.

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Last year at this time, I told to my wife that next year I planned to spend the month of July either sitting in a volcanic fumarole somewhere in the hinterlands of Iceland or golfing in the Outer Hebrides.

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For the first time in weeks — a small lifetime, it feels like to me -— this column (most of it, anyway) won’t have anything to do with the U.S. Opens.

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All caddies have golf dreams. Marc Kourie, who is caddying this week for veteran tour player Irene Coe, has especially big golf dreams.

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Friday was her lone day at the Men’s U.S. Open. She intended to make it count and had one objective in mind.

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Geography, one of the last Caesars of Rome observed, is destiny.

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Something happened this week I vowed would only happen one more time before I die.

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This past week was the start of Lent, the six-week run up to Easter Sunday when practicing Christians are traditionally expected to atone for their sins and wayward habits by prayer, alms-giving and acts of self-denial.

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I just read where the current Congress passed fewer laws last year than any body of Congress since the highest court ruled that Adam and Eve could no longer walk around in their birthday suits lest they offend the good Lord and their nosy neighbors.

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As I was leaving the Chapel Hill Country Club following a dinner talk the other night, heading home to the Sandhills with car windows open to the first balmy night in months, a wonderful sound stopped me in the middle of the road. It was music to my ears.

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For the record, I officially got fed up with the winter of 2014 at 2:27 a.m. Friday morning. That’s when the last piece of oak went onto the roaring fire that was keeping our old place about as warm as could be expected for a lone fireplace working overtime for eight hours straight.

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It was a moment that would change America forever. A cute girl named Trudy McGivern in Miss Esther Christianson’s Sunday School class leaned over, bit her lower lip and whispered excitedly: “Are you going to watch them?”

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Two thousand miles over four days is probably a crazy thing to contemplate by anyone’s standards to travel. Yet over the past 30 years I’ve made the drive from North Carolina to Maine — or there to here and back — close to a hundred times, I suppose, the curse of having a heart planted in two places.