A Life Lived Like a River Flowing

My mother-in-law Bette Wakefield died last week after several years of decline. She taught me how to seize life and not let go. During the diminished vitality of her last years I often thought of Dylan Thomas’s famous line of poetry, “Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.” Bette was a Connecticut Yankee who came south in 1946 to Converse College for health reasons, met...

What’s in Your Paddleshed?

I crave contact with the basic elements. I need mud on my boots, sun on my skin, rain on a jacket, or, better yet, water moving under a boat. Thermodynamics is fine, but gravity’s the one natural law I can’t seem to go too long without acknowledging. Lawson’s Fork flows through the trees behind our house. Not a day goes by that I don’t gauge the clarity and height of its...

Coyotes

Out here our house is turned to the linear wildness along the creek like a big ear. We listen for what happens in the timber and thick undergrowth below us with the fascination of someone sampling a new CD. If I hear a bird I don’t know, I try to track it down for identification, adding its name to our “play list” of what this place might spin in our direction. I scribble the...

Knee-Deep in Learning on Lawson’s Fork

I’m a Wofford College English professor, and most of my classes are traditional, me in the front of the room, or at the head of a seminar table, writing on a blackboard, with students in rows of desks taking notes. The discussion is about books, and the issues rise from reading sentences, paragraphs, pages. Every fall though I get to take freshman humanities students down to Glendale to...

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