Category Personal Reflections

An Homage to Durham Weather, One Year In…

When I went out at 10 p.m. last night to walk the dog on our evening constitutional, my phone told me it was 90 degrees with 95% humidity. I didn’t catch the “Feels like” temperature estimate below that data because my head was by then lolling down around my navel somewhere as I prepared to drop down to all fours.

My intention was to see if I could clear a path through what felt like thick, suffocating butter so my dog could follow in my wake and we could stagger safely back to our air-conditioned house, despite the threat of a heart attack which could easily ensue from the shock of crossing the threshold from the hotbox on one side to the icebox on the other.

And you know something else?

I really, really love living in North Carolina, and am very glad I came (a year ago as of September 1).

And some of that love has to do with the weather.

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See that snowman at the top of this post? It was not 90 de...

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Saving the Caterpillars

I have taken to spotting the sudden August profusion of caterpillars making their way across the park path before the sun makes it over the trees. Danger is everywhere, a veritable Omaha Beach, but with unwitting enemies. A steady fusillade of pedestrians, drivers and cyclists go about their morning through the park, unknowingly poised to crush the hapless creatures in but one more episode of natural, deadly roulette. Deliberating hardly at all in my mission of mercy, I begin scooping up first one, then another and another caterpillar and depositing them on the grass three feet and an eternity away, abutting the forested hillside. Then I turn back to espy two more, just a few feet ahead as an SUV turns in from the street coming at us...

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On Lives Mattering

Domestic tranquility has been taking a beating lately. Ditto the “pursuit of happiness,” and any number of other noble sentiments enshrined in the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence that preceded it by 11 years.

“In a dark time, the eye begins to see” wrote the poet Theodore Roethke in 1960. Assuming he was right, what we are seeing now is the eye of a hurricane, only metaphorical at the moment, in which there swirls interpenetrating currents of a pandemic, a violently imposed upheaval in race relations, a worldwide economic slowdown, and a presidential administration defined by chaos, conflict and calumny.

And an election (in less than five months!) that will surely be among the most bitter and strange ever conducted.

People die every day in horrid circumstances, but to behold it specifically, visually, individually, is to move beyond abstraction and thrust it into the particul...

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Taking a Knee

Just as we cannot truly love ourselves until we reckon with the whole of ourselves—our wounds, conflicts, vulnerabilities, aggressions both overt and passive—neither can we truly love our country until we have looked long and hard and beheld its shadows. This is where the “Love it or leave it” sensibility has always been so woefully off base, revealing a shallow patriotism, bathed in stagnant waters of denial.

To acknowledge faults is not weakness but strength and fortitude for the long haul, putting us in right relation with others and the world. This redounds ultimately back to ourselves, the circle of love, acceptance and forgiveness complete.

Yet here we are, 50+ years along, eight of them under a historic first black president—and the catalog of martyrs to the cause of liberation continues to expand.

Willie Brandt knew this, and he carried that knowledge into one of the historic moments in histo...

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The Longing for Normal

I have felt a longing these recent fine spring days for a wide variety of pre-virus pleasures, but perhaps none more so than Monut’s, a buzzy daytime eatery in Durham that makes distinctive New Agey donuts and sandwiches with perfectly balanced ratios of condiments to bread to fillings, along with a convivial, clattery atmosphere provided by young hipster servers, Duke students and professors, and friend pairs huddled intimately over tables trying to make themselves heard above the din.

Also: Ponysaurus, a local brewpub featuring my favorite crisp pilsner, where children and dogs romp across lawns dotted with picnic tables through the warm months, above which we climb metal stairs to a veranda, strategically parking ourselves to watch the sun set amidst the ever-changing cloudscape to the west.

These are among a host of local establishments whose “brands” have inculcated themselves into my life, reliable p...

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