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The Flower That Came Back From the Dead
The New York Times, 24 June 2019

Certain old-fashioned words from fairy tales and storybooks still cling to me from childhood. MoorValeBogGlade. For a child, such words conjure magical places — untouched, holy lands where fairies might live and animals might speak in ways I understand. Not long after I moved to Tennessee, I heard the term “limestone cedar glade” for the first time and immediately thought again of magic. (more….)

I Turned My Back for a Second, Half a Second, and He Was Grown
The New York Times, 10 June 2019

Driving due south in spring is like speeding up time. My mother, who grew up on a peanut farm in Lower Alabama, believed that the growing season expands northward at the rate of a hundred miles per week. I thought about her theory as I was driving south last month, watching the new-green leaves near home fast forward into a denser, darker verdure. I had set off from Nashville in springtime, but when I arrived at my sister’s house near Birmingham, it was already full summer. (more….)

Waking Up to History
The New York Times, 1 April 2019

Like many girls of my generation in the rural South, I learned every form of handwork my grandmother or great-grandmother could teach me: sewing, knitting, crocheting, quilting. I even learned to tat, a kind of handwork done with a tiny shuttle that turns thread into lace. Some of my happiest memories are of sitting on the edge of my great-grandmother’s bed, our heads bent together as she pulled out my mangled stitches. (more….)

Legislators Are Not Stupid People. So What’s Behind Their Stupid Behavior?
The New York Times, 18 March 2019

The 111th General Assembly of Tennessee convened on Jan. 8, and it will disperse on April 26, not a moment too soon. Already, its Republican supermajority has introduced bills that would further weaken lax gun laws, increase campaign-donation limits and undermine a progressive Nashville law passed by public referendum, among other assaults on democracy and good sense. (more….)

The Eagles of Reelfoot Lake
The New York Times, 28 February 2019

In the far northwest corner of Tennessee, just this side of the Mississippi River, lies a landscape like no other. Reelfoot Lake is less a lake than a system of bayous, creeks and swampland connected by areas of shallow open water. It was created in the winter of 1811-1812 when a series of powerful earthquakes and aftershocks caused 15,000 acres of cypress forest to sink. The waters of the Mississippi River rushed into the depression. (more….)