For the first twenty minutes or so, everything is familiar. These roads are the common roads, the ones that lead to the places I go every day. These are my stomping grounds. But a few minutes later I’m in Canyonville, … Continue reading

In Defense of Traffic

The first recorded sentence in the English language was written in runes in 480 CE. It means something like, “This she-wolf is a tribute to my kinsmen.” If the dialect of the English language particular to the desert town of Los Angeles, California has such an original sentence, I suspect that is “Do not ever ever ever take the 405.”

Beetle Hunters

After government entomologists discovered the beetles, Mary Knittle got used to the sight of cranes pulling trees out of her neighbors’ yards. Knittle has lived all her life in the Burncoat neighborhood on the north side of Worcester, Massachusetts, where … Continue reading

Take the A Train

Moving three miles uptown, from southern Harlem to Washington Heights, meant more than a change of zip code.  It meant a quick, involuntarily-raised eyebrow when I told someone familiar with New York’s geography where I lived.  It meant trading in … Continue reading


I stood atop Angel’s Landing in Zion a month ago, my heart beating like a  jackhammer after climbing the knife-edge route to the summit.  I was breathless from both physical and mental exertion: not only was the trail demanding, but … Continue reading

The Flood

The Amazon came to Chattanooga in May, a brown sheet of water that sprawled under flat gray skies. In between sky and river, we Chattanoogans stood and watched: watched the rain fall endlessly, watched the forests grow lush, and watched … Continue reading


I can only drive when my skin knows the way, wrinkles and pores smudged up against the leather of the steering wheel, drawing the approaching turns out from my subconscious. When I lived in Pittsburgh this fall, I learned the … Continue reading


My aunt’s soul lives on a bridge—a small bridge tucked away in a cove at one end of Lake Placid, in upstate New York. She loved it there, I’m told. It’s become for my family an outward complement to the … Continue reading