When I was a child, I imagined angels like the ones in sentimental postcards, those romanticized winged guardians walking alongside a blond, middle-class boy and girl whose aggressive normality rendered them as iconic as their protector. [Read More]
Back in 1986, I was browsing my university bookstore when someone yelled, “How dare you wear that?!” Before I turned around, I glanced down to make sure my pants matched my shirt. What could I be wearing that was so offensive? Was this hostility even directed at me?The scowling woman was dressed in a black […]
With an honesty that’s redemptive rather than brutal, Ms. Brown recounts how she “awakened to the goodness of being a sensual, sexual creature…”, a painful journey for which most of us growing up in the United States—inheritors of the Puritan worldview as we are—receive little support. [Read More]
The epic travels of birds on their annual migrations once prompted a group of ornithologists to observe what happened as migration season approached, not to birds in the wild, but to captives. While their free brothers and sisters flew off to their winter homes, the caged birds became agitated, even when kept in a climate-controlled […]
My two-year-old daughter, Luthien, and I enjoyed sharing the adventures of Sydney, a little boy with a big imagination. With his admiring father as his audience, he transforms his six-year-old self into Samson, the biblical strongman, and his toys become the fierce beasts and armies Samson defeats. All the while beaming approval of Sydney’s exploits, […]
One of two old Sitka spruces,
The stately old lady we call Iluvatar
Shades the east side of the house.
Where roots meet earth, she is an altar—
To approach her, you must ascend.
As a teenager visiting Spain, I encountered a series of still-life paintings that astonished me. Instead of the usual perfect fruits laid out in state on starched tablecloths or gilded plates, galaxies of mold damaged these fruits, the tablecloths had been scorched in the act of ironing them, and the plates were cracked. I stood […]
At the age of 23, Addy Taylor still feels too awkward and half-grown for adult responsibilities. Yet here she is on her first day teaching English at Oceanside High School, and she has already fallen prey to a trick chair that collapses under her, becomes drawn into adolescent dramas not too different from her own young-twenties troubles, and lets the bossy assistant principal inflict on her the role of reviving the school’s long-defunct speech and debate team. [Read More]
It’s a blustery night on the largest of the Orkneys, a group of islands far off the northern coast of Scotland. Finn, a reporter from Ireland, plagued by ulcers and a moribund marriage, has taken temporary refuge in this remote agricultural community. Traveling on foot to attend a musical performance, he takes a shortcut through a cemetery and discovers the body of a murder victim… [Read More]
Imagine a secret society devoted to rain, rooted in the rich, sodden soil of the Pacific Northwest. Members recognize one another by the soaked state of their outerwear, hair plastered to glistening foreheads, eyes wild with the prophetic water that they invite to run down their faces. They exchange secret handshakes with slick hands and wrinkled fingertips. They gather in cabins moldering beside rivers, where rain infiltrates through a fallen roof and slides down walls padded with moss. [Read More]