Burning the Christmas Greens

Most years on Dec. 21, on winter solstice, we’ve burned the previous year’s Christmas greens. Some years we get our act together and have a solstice party where I read William Carlos Williams’ poem “Burning the Christmas Greens.” We drink hot cider and mulled wine. We watch the first sun of the new season go down with our friends, and note the descent into the early...

Kudzu Kollege

Last week I attended the Spartanburg Kudzu Coalition’s “Kudzu Kollege.” Newt Hardy, the coalition’s founder and one of the organization’s directors, has been after me for years to “get my degree” in advanced kudzu removal, and it finally worked out. The Kudzu Coalition is a nonprofit organization founded in 2001. It’s run exclusively by volunteers....

The Smoke-free View from Austin

Our city has some unfinished business. Spartanburg City Council needs to pass a long overdue non-smoking ordinance for our bars and restaurants. It’s not an economic issue. Other communities have banned smoking in bars and restaurants without gutting their downtown economies. Starting Jan. 2 the entire state of North Carolina, the former epicenter of cigarette manufacturing, will ban...

The Climate Crisis Heats Up

It’s time for a little upstate update on climate change. Don’t worry, I’ll try not to mention Al Gore. What got me started on one of my favorite subjects was that Friday morning a friend wrote to say: “Even as scientific evidence for global warming grows dramatically stronger, popular belief that global warming exists has undergone a precipitous decline–apparently...

Tower Weekend

For 14 Octobers we’ve scheduled a weekend with a small group of friends at our place in the mountains. We’ve called the get-away “The Tower Weekend” since the beginning, a name derived from the unique hand-built wooden tower that was once the only structure on the property. Going to the Tower is not for uber-urban types. It’s a half-mile off the paved road up and...

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