Shot Heard ‘Round

I’d not even known there was a debate; I’d just assumed that the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” referred to one unambiguous report of gunfire in the American Revolution, the definitive first, but it was Shane, fantastic docent at the Concord Museum, who informed me otherwise. There was the gunshot that started the donnybrook in Lexington, but the “shot heard ‘round the world,” refers to the first shot fired some ...

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Litter and The Rock

The McDonald’s sack tossed into a grassy ditch, the brown bottle of Molson Beer chucked into a patch of wildflowers, the tennis balls that dogs failed to fetch floating at river’s edge, the Styrofoam worms-container abandoned by fishermen on the banks of a lake, the Pepsi can flattened in a parking lot—I despise litter. In one of the places where I hike, massive car parts such as bumpers and hoods ...

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Mother Bethel A.M.E.

If you happen to be in Philadelphia at the terrific new Museum of the American Revolution and, like the modern GOP, are tired of the Constitution and ready to leave it behind and try something new, rather than visit the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall, go a little further, about a mile south, to visit Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church. (But then do be sure to circle back and hit the ...

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Jumping Off Places

          This past summer it was Moxie Falls, Maine, in the remote northwest region of the state, a little over an hour south of the Canadian border and west of Moosehead Lake. The trail to the falls was level and well-worn, mostly dirt but with occasional sections covered in pine needles or leaves. The place to jump off was at a swimming hole below the falls, which required a descent ...

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Mystic Seaport

In college, I was forced to see the movie Mystic Pizza, and I have resented the coastal town of Mystic, Connecticut, ever since. The assignment was to write a movie review, but rather than each of us students picking the movie we wanted to see, the professor mandated we all see the same movie so we could better compare our reviews. We had a vote. I wanted to see the new Woody Allen movie. The class ...

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Detasseling Corn

          Senator Ben Sasse has written about detasseling corn, calling the job a rite of passage in his small hometown in Nebraska; perhaps it was that as well for us teens and pre-teens in my small hometown in Illinois, but mostly it was just a job, and after forty years of jobs, not one of which I’ve particularly liked, I can say without hesitation that detasseling corn still stands out, by far, as the worst ...

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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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