Saturday, April 22, 2017
Saturday, April 15, 2017

In 1943, Betty Smith published a novel, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” that mentions a little tree thriving against the odds in its urban landscape. I think about Smith every time I see some wild thing trying to make a go of it in a city setting.

Saturday, April 08, 2017
Saturday, April 01, 2017
Saturday, March 25, 2017

Into the first days of spring, I’ve carried a slender volume, called “Grumbling At Large,” that had landed under last year’s Christmas tree. It’s a small collection of writings by Englishman J.B. Priestley, who was nearly 90 when he died in 1984.

Saturday, March 18, 2017
Saturday, March 11, 2017
Saturday, March 04, 2017
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Saturday, February 18, 2017

A few weeks ago, while returning some pliers to the backyard shed, I saw on the shelf a small figure perfectly made in the image of an owl. It looked like one of those plastic predators some gardeners place on poles as a scarecrow to keep pest bir…

Saturday, February 11, 2017
Saturday, February 04, 2017
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Saturday, January 21, 2017
Saturday, January 14, 2017

In the Sunday afternoons of my adolescence, when there was no football to watch or much else to see on TV, our household viewing typically turned to “Firing Line,” the public television talk show hosted by conservative commentator William F. Buckley.

Saturday, January 07, 2017
Saturday, December 31, 2016
Saturday, December 24, 2016
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Saturday, December 10, 2016

Maybe you won’t think me a terrible father for those Decembers, not many years ago, when I might briefly wish for the serenity of decorating a Christmas tree without kids.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

A season of political strife has reminded us that we generally don’t do a very good job of listening to each other. One way to learn listening, as Will Schwalbe noted in a recent essay in The Wall Street Journal, is to open up a book and read.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Men aren’t known for remembering special occasions, so only recently did I realize that you and I have a silver anniversary. This autumn marked the 25th year that I’ve been meeting with readers through “At Random,” which debuted in The Advocate in…

Saturday, November 12, 2016
Saturday, November 05, 2016
Saturday, October 29, 2016
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Saturday, October 08, 2016
Saturday, October 01, 2016
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Saturday, September 17, 2016
Tuesday, September 06, 2016
Saturday, September 03, 2016

A couple of Fridays after the Great Flood of 2016, as I was in the yard with our plumber discussing a repair, a monarch butterfly landed on the shrubbery near the porch. It was a lovely thing, black, gold and pumpkin orange, its wings shimmering l…

Saturday, August 27, 2016

As a scholar who had studied the 19th century remarked some years ago, when people asked you how you were doing back then, they really wanted to know how you were doing. At a time when death and loss were all too common, a friend or neighbor’s wel…

Saturday, August 20, 2016

More than three decades ago, as a cub writer for a small-town weekly, I was assigned to cover the local drainage board, a penance almost too hard to bear. Like most young reporters, I had entered journalism with dreams of doing the big stuff — nuc…

Saturday, August 13, 2016
Saturday, August 06, 2016

How bittersweet to return to this keyboard after a few days at the beach. When we packed for the drive home, there still seemed a lot of loafing left to do, more hours when we gladly would have done not much at all.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Among the unlikely bestsellers this summer is “Seven Brief Lessons in Physics,” Italian physicist Carol Rovelli’s slender introduction to a branch of science that often leaves most of us furrowing our brows in befuddlement.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

In the 1970s, novelist Anne Rivers Siddons published a collection of essays called “John Chancellor Makes Me Cry,” a title that compels me to offer a quick disclaimer to my younger readers.

Saturday, July 16, 2016
Sunday, July 10, 2016

Visit a hotel these days, and you’re quickly reminded that vacation season is in full swing across America. Guests pad down the halls in swimsuits and flip-flops, beach towels in the crooks of their arms. They’ll return from the hotel pool in an h…

Saturday, July 02, 2016
Saturday, June 25, 2016
Saturday, June 18, 2016

For a Father’s Day story, we asked readers to share the best advice their fathers ever gave them, a request that yielded lots of meaningful responses. But what looms largest in my memory of my own father, gone these many years, is what he didn’t s…

Saturday, June 11, 2016
Saturday, June 04, 2016
Saturday, May 28, 2016

Nearly two decades ago, one winter of my daughter’s toddler years, we decided she should have a sitting place of her own — a tiny table and chairs where she might go to draw, color or have her breakfast while she watched cartoons. There was just s…

Saturday, April 30, 2016