“When I first met Eric Motley,” says New Orleanian and bestselling author Walter Isaacson, “I knew there must be a wonderful backstory.”
Saturday, February 24, 2018
Saturday, February 17, 2018
Earlier this winter, with Christmas only days away, I ended up where I always do near the bottom of December — at the herb table of my neighborhood nursery, looking for a few green and living things to leave for my wife beneath the tree.
Saturday, February 10, 2018
About once a week, as I’m scrubbing a pot, reading the newspaper or watching TV, my wife asks me to hand over my eyeglasses, which I do without question, like a tourist surrendering his passport to a border guard. She wipes the lenses clean and re…
Saturday, February 03, 2018
I was returning a Willie Morris book to the living room shelf the other day when I spotted a slender length of cardboard wedged inside. It was the folded pair of paper eyeglasses I’d used last August to view the solar eclipse, an event I had gone …
Saturday, January 27, 2018
As a child, I often heard my parents preach the virtue of visiting shut-ins, a curious, cloistered tribe I couldn’t quite understand. Who were these sad souls sequestered in their living rooms — prevented, perhaps by some fairy tale curse, from cr…
Saturday, January 20, 2018
Last month, after former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco published a newspaper column announcing that a cancer in her eye had moved to her liver, I thought of Oliver Sacks, who faced a similar diagnosis in 2015.
Saturday, January 13, 2018
Here in the middle of January, we’ve already had time to break — or completely forget — those New Year’s resolutions made at the first of the month.
Saturday, January 06, 2018
In the winter week between Christmas and New Year’s, I thought about my early days of parenthood two decades ago, a time when I’d occasionally take a break from Saturday chores to watch Book TV.
Saturday, December 30, 2017
Saturday, December 23, 2017
When he was smaller, my son attended an elementary school with a curious picture near the carpool line. One Christmas, across the street from campus, a homeowner had drawn a large mural of the Nativity on an outside wall of the garage. Perhaps bec…
Saturday, December 16, 2017
My late mother’s handwritten recipe for cornbread dressing had been missing for several holiday seasons, and I was afraid that it was gone for good. But last month, while combing through one of our cookbooks, I noticed with relief the two yellowed…
Saturday, December 09, 2017
As the recent controversy about Confederate monuments in New Orleans and other cities makes clear, opinions can change about the people our ancestors once regarded as worthy of remembrance in marble and bronze.
Saturday, December 02, 2017
Before I visited British Columbia a few weeks ago, my only sense of it had come from what American naturalist Edward Hoagland wrote about the place a generation ago, when he went there to clear his head.
Saturday, November 25, 2017
In “Do I Make Myself Clear?: Why Writing Well Matters,” author Harold Evans recalls George Orwell, who argued that if we wrote better, we’d learn to think better, too, which would make us better citizens, voters and human beings.
Saturday, November 18, 2017
As thousands of travelers fly home this week for Thanksgiving, I’ve been thinking about my own recent flight and what it told me about American life these days at 30,000 feet.
Saturday, November 11, 2017
Last weekend, I tucked away the trimmings of Halloween, a holiday that heralds three others crowding the horizon. Like a trio of Magi, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve plod toward us, the final characters of a calendar rapidly depleting …
Saturday, November 04, 2017
Saturday, October 28, 2017
As another Halloween arrives, I’ve been thinking about an earlier All Hallow’s Eve I spent in Houston and what it taught me about the fragility of life’s gifts. It’s a lesson that’s returned to my thoughts this autumn, as Americans enter the final…
Saturday, October 21, 2017
As a forensic scientist at LSU, Mary Manhein spent her 30-year career honoring the dead. As head of LSU’s FACES Lab, she helped identify victims of murder and disaster so their families could have closure.
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Our house painter came a few weeks ago to give the bricks and siding a fresh coat of color, and putty and paint the windows to give them courage against the coming cold.
Saturday, October 07, 2017
In a recent newspaper essay, George Ball, of the Burpee Seed Co., writes to remind his fellow Americans that in this country, autumn isn’t often autumn at all, but merely summer by another name.
Saturday, September 30, 2017
I like to take a break from the news when I’m on vacation, which is how I missed learning that Don D. Moore had died in July at 83. The only comfort in his passing is the chance now to get a word in. Don was one of life’s great talkers — a man who…
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Family business has kept me on the road this month, shuttling between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, west to Acadiana, north to Natchitoches. Long drives through Louisiana in September mean hours behind a windshield flecked with white — the leavings…
Saturday, September 16, 2017
Parting the bedroom curtains last weekend on the first cool Saturday of September, I noticed that the patio was alive with birds. Two robins bathed in the backyard fountain, and a couple of mourning doves, solemn as Pilgrims, sat on a low-lying li…
Saturday, September 09, 2017
On the night before Labor Day, as our family gathered in the backyard to catch a few more moments of a dying summer, we finally glimpsed The Croaker, an outdoor visitor that, for the length of the season, had routinely been heard, yet never seen.
Saturday, September 02, 2017
Last month, standing in a park outside Chattanooga as the afternoon sun went dark, I could easily think that nature was mine to shape. I’d traveled to Tennessee with my brother and his friend to watch the solar eclipse, which obliged us by perform…
Saturday, August 26, 2017
With the kids back in school and the suitcases of summer travels emptied and shelved in the closet once again, I’ve been quietly haunted by the words of Henry Southworth Allen, a gifted cultural commentator who worked for many years at The Washing…
Saturday, August 19, 2017
In the early days of fatherhood, I began the school year with a five-minute drive to the carpool line down the street. Now, the trip takes three hours. My teenage son attends a boarding school for gifted kids nearly 300 miles from us. The long dri…
Saturday, August 12, 2017
Saturday, August 05, 2017
Since travel is supposed to bring a change of pace, we thought about going someplace new this summer — maybe the Texas prairie, the caves of New Mexico, the California Coast.
Saturday, July 29, 2017
Saturday, July 22, 2017
As a grade schooler in the 1970s, I stayed at LSU a few days one summer for a 4-H program, my first chance to see the campus of Louisiana’s flagship public university up close.
Saturday, July 15, 2017
Some summer reading has reminded me that I might belong to the last generation with any direct memory of party lines, a form of phone service that required customers to share the same line with their neighbors, depending on an honor system to limi…
Saturday, July 08, 2017
My wife and I were watching TV in the den a few Fridays ago when a thump at the front door told us we had a visitor. I could see no face through the top door pane, which meant the presence was low to the ground, and possibly of the four-legged kind.
Saturday, July 01, 2017
We’re keeping a terrarium on the kitchen counter, something our son brought from his dormitory when he came back home to live with us for the summer. In a lidded glass globe that looks like a cookie jar, a bed of chocolate-dark potting soil nouris…
Saturday, June 24, 2017
For Father’s Day, I got a new hammock, a present that stormy weather prevented me from trying out. Even so, the idea of the hammock has been good enough. It promises what we all want from summer — a chance to rest within the folds of some private …
Saturday, June 17, 2017
We decided to visit our friend David in the country last weekend — to putter around the barn, to look at the cows, to watch the birds, to see what else there was to see. The only problem was picking a day when it wouldn’t rain.
Saturday, June 10, 2017
A hundred things tell me that summer is here — the empty schools, the rising heat, the blooming of beach balls and flip-flops from the shelves of the drugstore down the street.
Saturday, June 03, 2017
Last month, thousands of commencement speakers told this year’s graduates how to succeed in life and work. Now, a few weeks later, does anyone remember what they said?
Saturday, May 27, 2017
For Mother’s Day, we gave my wife a patio table, a beach bag, a suspense novel, a travel magazine, and a gift certificate for something new and bright to wear in the sun.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Saturday, May 13, 2017
For several years, my morning walk took me past a house where two young girls stood at the corner of their yard, backpacks at their feet, waiting for the bus to school.
Saturday, May 06, 2017
I was sitting at my desk a couple of Mondays ago, quietly grumbling about the workweek ahead, when word came that my friend Curt Eysink was in trouble. He’d fallen gravely ill on a drive to New Orleans and was in the hospital fighting for his life.
Saturday, April 29, 2017
As a journalism student three and a half decades ago, I thought of newspapering as a kind of transcription, the making of stories with quotes from other people.
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Even if the IRS didn’t cast its long shadow over the middle of April, other duties of spring would remind me that the march of the calendar brings plenty to do.
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
A few weeks ago, as part of a newspaper assignment, I read Florence Williams’ “The Nature Fix” — a task I first undertook because I had to, then quickly came to enjoy.
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.