Every holiday season, the Louisiana community of Natchitoches becomes perhaps the state’s brightest beacon of Christmas. As part of a six-week celebration, the heart of the city shimmers with some 300,000 lights, a lovely constellation relieving t…
Saturday, December 08, 2018
Saturday, December 01, 2018
Shortly after my children came home for Thanksgiving week, I paused to email my office. I’d taken a few days off to be with my family, but a small work chore needed my attention, something a quick message would resolve.
Saturday, November 24, 2018
In a season that heralds peace on earth and good will toward men, maybe reading can help make us better listeners. Or so I’ve been thinking as I renew my annual tradition of offering a list of recommended books for holiday gifts.
Sunday, November 18, 2018
In this month of Thanksgiving, a season to sum up blessings large and small, I’ve been thinking about one of the more dubious assets in my life — a persimmon tree that ranks as one of the homeliest things on our block.
Saturday, November 10, 2018
Ed Cullen, whose “Attic Salt” column was a popular Sunday Advocate feature until he retired in 2013, wrote memorably about all the seasons, but he seemed to like autumn best of all.
Saturday, November 03, 2018
My 17-year-old son likes to hike, so we drove to Port Hudson last Sunday, where he walked the six-mile trail that loops around land where thousands died in a 48-day siege during the Civil War. He wanted some time alone, so I found other things to …
Saturday, October 27, 2018
While I feed the goldfish in our patio pond these autumn mornings, our terrier weaves through the shrubbery, sniffing for clues of other critters that have been there before him. I wish that he could tell me what he’s discovered, since I wonder my…
Saturday, October 20, 2018
Early autumn in south Louisiana this year started out sunny, dry and mild — the kind of days in which Gerald Durrell, in a different time and place, found his life’s calling.
Saturday, October 13, 2018
Last month, after going to the drugstore for some medicine to help my wife heal from outpatient surgery, I returned to the parking lot and found myself blocked in. A car had encroached into my parking space, making it hard for me to get out.
Saturday, October 06, 2018
Last month, as we were placing the last things in the moving van so our daughter could relocate to a new career out of state, a line of ducks flew long and low above the yard — a great quacking chorus that took us away, if just for a moment, from …
Saturday, September 29, 2018
In the early weekends of her childhood, I often took our daughter to feed the ducks at a nearby pond, the feathered horde encircling her as she doled out crusts of bread. Those trips always delighted her, and they gave her an enduring sense that l…
Saturday, September 22, 2018
A quarter of a century ago, deeply in love but without much money, my wife and I took a delayed honeymoon in Charleston, South Carolina. We went in August, which was cheaper because fewer tourists want to go there when the city is hot. Having grow…
Saturday, September 15, 2018
With help from a yard crew, we cleared some ropy vines from the base of our oaks this summer. A few dead strands still hang from the upper branches, motionless on most afternoons, like the pendulums of clocks that no longer keep the time.
Saturday, September 08, 2018
Those of a certain age will recall that Labor Day, already a bittersweet holiday because it brought the end of summer, was made even more somber by the presence of Jerry Lewis on TV.
Saturday, September 01, 2018
In my early newspaper days some three decades ago, a young woman I worked with made it known that she had a crush on Michael Chabon, who was about our age and making a splash as the Next Big Thing.
Saturday, August 25, 2018
A few weeks ago, as I was worrying over some work problem that seemed important at the time although now I can’t remember it, my teenage son texted me a picture from our goldfish pond. It was a photo of the latest blossom from our water lilies, so…
Saturday, August 18, 2018
As an old proverb goes, there are no boring subjects, only boring writers. The idea is that with enough intelligence and skill, any writer can make any topic compelling.
Saturday, August 11, 2018
We’ve come to the close of another summer, a season when librarians and booksellers often promote reading for fun. But on Tuesday, the good folks at Louisiana Public Broadcasting will host a public event celebrating the power of reading throughout…
Saturday, August 04, 2018
We haven’t needed an alarm clock at our house this summer to rouse us from bed. The blue jays wake us up each morning shortly after dawn with a ruckus we can’t ignore.
Saturday, July 28, 2018
In a column last week, I touched on the legacy of Fred Rogers, whose life and work are the subject of a new documentary, "Won't You Be My Neighbor?," that’s been playing in theaters this summer.
Saturday, July 21, 2018
As “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” gained a legion of viewers in the 1970s, I wasn’t among its fans. When the iconic children’s show made its national public television debut in 1968, I was 4 years old, presumably the ideal age to enjoy it.
Saturday, July 14, 2018
Returning home a few days ago, I found our teenage son’s cello lying on its side in the dining room, like a cat curled for a nap. Just beyond the window, a hoe rested on a bale of straw waiting for our daughter to resume the new garden she’s been …
Saturday, July 07, 2018
When a copy of Peter Mayle’s latest — and final — book crossed my desk the other day, I thought of my friend and newspaper colleague Laurie Smith Anderson, an avid follower of Mayle’s writing until her death in 2007.
Saturday, June 30, 2018
When we visited Philadelphia on family business last February, my wife and I decided to take our teenage son to Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution had been debated.
Saturday, June 23, 2018
If you want to know how dependent you are on your smartphone, then try doing without it for a while, as I did one afternoon this month while mine was being repaired.
Saturday, June 16, 2018
In the weeks before I became a father some two decades ago, my wife and I prepared the baby’s room, a task that seemed to promise a pleasing sense of boundaries. Those words, “baby’s room,” suggested that our newborn daughter would have her privat…
Saturday, June 09, 2018
In last week’s column, I mentioned the virtue of reading small books over the summer, citing my “Pocket Robert Louis Stevenson” as an example. It’s a tiny volume that seems perfectly matched to a man who often tackles only a couple of pages a nigh…
Saturday, June 02, 2018
While returning some overdue books the other day, I was happy to see that the gelato cart had returned for the summer to its usual place by the front door of the local library. After paying my fine, I still had enough cash to buy a bowl of strawbe…
Saturday, May 26, 2018
Our family returned from out of town last weekend to find the latest edition of The Wall Street Journal in the driveway, soaked clean through by an afternoon rain. I put it in the oven to dry on low heat, which took a while since the paper was big…
Saturday, May 19, 2018
Saturday, May 12, 2018
As another Mother’s Day approaches, some of us will wistfully recall moms no longer around. But before she died in 2008, my mother taught me a valuable lesson about the limits of living life in the rearview mirror.
Saturday, May 05, 2018
Last month, my wife and I left work one evening and drove two hours in the deepening dusk, headed to the wake of an elderly loved one who had surprised us all by dying in her sleep.
Saturday, April 28, 2018
Restoring Louisiana’s coast is such a hard job that real progress sometimes seems impossible. So I welcomed the arrival of “Saving Tarboo Creek,” a new book by Scott Freeman, as a reminder that ecological damage isn’t necessarily irreversible.
Saturday, April 21, 2018
Saturday, April 14, 2018
While my teenage son was home for spring break last month, we went to the New Orleans Aquarium of the Americas, which offered the usual miracles.
Saturday, April 07, 2018
In her final Easters with us, my late mother liked to end her holiday lunch with coffee in the garden, where she could see what was new in a world resurrecting itself from the dull, brown grave of winter.
Saturday, March 24, 2018
My wife now enjoys most of her books on a Kindle, so she no longer needs a lamp to read in bed. The mild glow from a screen illuminates the words, which allows her to read in the dark, something she finds soothing.
Saturday, March 17, 2018
Three Saturdays ago, the postman brought me an oblong parcel, addressed in a familiar hand, that I quickly recognized as a package from my friend Betsy. Inside was a new copy of “The Emperor of All Maladies,” Siddhartha Mukherjee’s Pulitzer Prize-…
Saturday, March 10, 2018
While brewing coffee the other morning, I looked out the kitchen window and saw Sam heading toward the park. It was a glorious gift of a day — the sun bright, the air balmy, the neighborhood shaking off the dull sleep of winter. Many other walkers…
Saturday, March 03, 2018
When the Academy Awards are presented this weekend, there won’t be a category for Best Movie Scene. But if there were, I know which one I’d want to take home the Oscar.
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.