The Tragedy of Metaphor

My old friend Henry, as a young Georgia boy, served in the Vietnam War during the late 1960s, at a time when the fighting was reaching new levels of intensity. Most Americans still did not understand the scope or complexity of the war. They believed that since the United States had never lost a war… Read More »

Cold, Cold on the Range

Well, there was this cowboy a long time ago who lived in Montana, where life was lonely and the winters were bitterly cold. He was a good cowboy, young and full of vigor, and he loved to ride the range. One day, though, with another winter approaching, he decided he couldn’t stand any more of… Read More »

Winter Solstice

On the winter solstice, an hour before dawn, the declining moon is full and flooding our west-faced room with light. I am propped up and watching, while Anne snores softly next to me with an untroubled heart. The cosmos is alive and so, for a time, are we.  

Yellow Leaves

Vanderbilt defeated Tennessee 42-24 yesterday, for a joyous ending to an otherwise lamentable season of losing football for the Commodores. With its high academic standards, Vanderbilt has never been a power in football, especially among the behemoths of the Southeastern Conference. And yet for decades its teams have drawn an unusual band of lifelong followers.… Read More »

Biting the Rock

It seems I begin many of my journal entries with: “I spent my summers during college working in the US Forest Service in Leadville, Colorado.” Well, here’s another—about a fall I took during a mountain climb. One summer, we moved our Leadville guard station about 30 miles south to the tiny hamlet of Buena Vista,… Read More »

October Light

Today is the last day of October, when the season pauses as it passes toward darkness and cold. And in this moment of passage, there is time to breathe deeply, and to  savor the beauty of the harvest just passed– a fermata for reflection. Here is how the late John Gardner described it, in Vermont,… Read More »


Many years ago, I had occasion to hike from Moab, Utah, through the desert to the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers– about 10 miles from the nearest road. Moab has become a vacationing and recreational destination in recent years. But in those days, before the development of the nearby national park and the… Read More »

The Fabled Fred Norton

              Through the haze of forty years, I remember a man named Fred Norton. Baseball player. This was in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the 1970s, back when I was still disguised to myself as an attorney.               Knoxville had a AA baseball team in those days (two steps removed from the magic of the big leagues)… Read More »

Joe DiMaggio

I wrote this essay in 1999 when Joe DiMaggio died, a time when I was undergoing electroshock treatment for depression, and I needed courage. Joe DiMaggio died today.  When I heard the news I began to cry, and I experienced an unexpected flood of emotion and sadness that I rarely feel in these drab and… Read More »

Ol’ Shot in the Ass

Back in the 80s, when I was trying lawsuits for a living– before the appearance of metal detectors in courthouses– there was a hunting preserve up on the Cumberland Plateau called the Chatooga Hunting Lodge. It wasn’t a hunting “preserve” exactly, it was a place where animals exotic to Tennessee–  like moose and caribou–  were… Read More »

Deer Repellent

For years, we’ve kept a flower garden down by the road. Anne has made it beautiful with phlox, daisies, cone flowers, petunias, and wild pink primrose. But last week she discovered that something had been biting the buds off the taller flowers. It could only have been deer, though we’d never had that problem before.… Read More »