Great Graves: Robert Frost

          I had been to Robert Frost’s grave before, but never in snow, and he’s always struck me most as a winter poet. Yes, he addresses autumns and apples and mud season and boys swinging on birches on warm summer days, but so much of his work is in winter—the woods where he stops on a snowy evening, the old man alone on a winter night, the patch of old ...

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Thanksgiving with the Von Trapps

It is strange indeed to be at the Trapp Family Lodge in northern Vermont as the world is chaotic with conditions not unlike those that forced the Von Trapps to flee their native Austria for Vermont in the first place. We arrived two nights before Thanksgiving, and it was already a cold and exquisite snowscape. We like to go at Thanksgiving because the restaurant there serves up an incredible meal, ...

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Clue Connections

Scrabble is to board games what The Beatles are to rock groups, that is, so superior to all of its peers that it’s simply not fair to include it in the discussion. But once we remove Scrabble from the fray, out of all that remains, what is the best? Is it Life, with its plastic car game piece and plastic sticks that represent children and its cool board that includes ...

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Convenience King

America turns everything into a competition, absolutely everything, and nothing is off-limits, even the sacred, like marriage. Given the rising cost of funerals, it is not hard to imagine in the near future a Home Makeover Death version in which producers come turn your Uncle Al’s humdrum funeral into something spectacular with a shiny new casket and a reception complete with open bar and buffet. It’s also simply a matter ...

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Rowan Oak

I’ve always assumed Faulkner was drunk when he named his house because there is no such tree as a rowan oak. There is a rowan tree, also called a mountain ash, and sometimes it’s referred to as rowan ash, but that’s as close as we get. It’s a bushy tree of northern climes with red or white berries, and in some myths its reputed to ward off malevolent spirits, and ...

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Those Whacky Reenactors

Those folks who wear period clothing and reenact famous battles—I’m not sure I ever verbally poked fun at them, but I’m sure I spent some time thinking they were a tad goofy. But then again, maybe I didn’t. I’ve always had a quirky hobby or two myself, and for a long time I’ve openly admired anyone who did something, anything, rather than sit on the couch and watch TV and ...

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Hyper-Content in Big Sur

The first time I’d ever heard of the Big Sur was my freshman year in college when I picked up Richard Brautigan’s novel A Confederate General from Big Sur. Brautigan was a writer who came just after the Beats but whose work resembled some of theirs, that stuff you love when you’re nineteen and even feel rebelliously deep and profound just reading in large part because it contains so many ...

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A Lynching Near You

In yet another stroke of genius in the fields of reconciliation and redemption, Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, recently opened a national memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, which, among other things, pays homage to the history of lynching in America. Stephenson and his colleagues have cataloged nearly 4,400 lynchings across the country, and while some historians estimate the total number could be a couple of thousand higher, ...

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Children and Ovens

Arriving at the border seeking asylum is an ancient practice among civilized societies, one that has been legally sanctioned in society for decades, in some cases centuries. If you have found a way to justify children being torn from their parents at our border, rest assured you will find a way to justify when they are all sent to the ovens. You won’t be the first in the crowd to send ...

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Moose Safari

It was not in my youth that I developed a lasting affection for the moose, and that is not unusual, given that I grew up in southern Illinois where any sighting of a moose would have been a harbinger of the apocalypse. It’s possible that my first taste of moose love began in college when I was introduced to Moosehead Beer, my favorite, but I suspect my deep and durable ...

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