Thursday, November 28, 2019


Thankful for so many things.

I am thankful most for my beautiful daughter, Becky. The best thing to happen to me in my life is being the father of this radiant, brilliant young woman.

I am thankful for being alive. For my good health.  

For light; The English language; olive oil; Thoreau; pencils; walking; kissing; travel; reading; Hemingway; museums. 

For laughing; storms; Paris; writing; birds; learning; the ocean. For outdoor showers; Maine; surfcasting; Henry Miller; Willa Cather; Flaubert's letters.

For peaches; the moon; The Great Gatsby; Southern food/soul food.

For my memory.

For music; M.F.K. Fisher; Giotto; books; Van Gogh; French bookstores; the smell of moist soil.

For the sound of rain; dogs; New York City; fall, winter, spring, summer. For walking in Paris; Ralph Ellison; Velรกzquez; Verdi; back country roads; blues music.

For my sister; snow falling down; road trips; going to sleep when I'm exhausted; tea; kayaking. For Van Morrison; the Italian language; my bicycle; Michelin maps; Francois Truffaut; tomatoes; tall, slim pine trees; Tennessee Williams.

For old docks; going barefoot; women in summer dresses; friendship; work; porches; the songs of birds; Balzac; my body, every supple, practical, miraculous part of it; for water. 

For sight.

For garlic; Cole Porter; West Fourth Street in New York City; John Waters; libraries; the smell of hay; sweat; the Seine; Rome; the stillness of early morning; Pablo Neruda's poetry.

For Langston Hughes; Greenwich Village; warblers; kindness; pastrami; bellylaughs; breathing; Lucinda Williams; the smell of suntan lotion at the beach; dusk; coffee; soft breezes.

For brilliant sunsets; Central Park; Wellfleet oysters; stretching; friends' voices; affection; holding hands with a woman you love; the release of crying; watching my daughter grow up; John Lennon; truth.

Thursday, November 14, 2019


Quincy was my best friend Alex's cousin.  She came, with her Greek boyfriend, Christo, to stay with us in Paris when we lived there in 1972.  They also brought their black lab, Orion.
You can see her here, in the murky photo--God, I wish we'd taken better pictures--in a white sweater, her right hand resting on Orion's side.  We're sitting at our table at 43 bis villa d'Alesia in Paris.  That's me, on the right, long hair and all.

Quincy was a bright-spirited, highly-energetic woman who loved to walk around Paris.  She was relentlessly cheerful and all but unstoppable.  I would walk with her from time to time.  She had a quirk of rubbing her thumb and forefinger together as she walked, the rubbing faster as the pace became more brisk.  And it always did.  She was slim, with long, fine brown hair and a ready smile.  She had a sly sense of humor, and she was kind.

A few years after all of this, I was living in Cambridge, MA.  Quincy came for a conference and visited me.  It was so good to see her.  We walked together around a lake, and I had a hard time keeping up with her.  "What's the matter, Rich--have you let yourself go?  Come on! Let's go!"

A few years after that, I got a call from Alex.  Quincy had been in an automobile accident.  Her spine had been severed.  She was paralyzed from the waist down.

The great walker would walk no more.

Nothing makes any sense sometimes. 

But in my mind's eye, I still see the Quincy from Paris and Cambridge.  This is who will always be Quincy for me.  The relentless walker, moving swiftly on the balls of her feet, on and on and on, urging me to keep up with her, and I can't.

Monday, November 11, 2019


A strange thing has happened to me.

Not bad, just strange.

I remember when I was a kid, small kid, I read about a guy named Albert Schweitzer.  I know who he is now, but back then, he was this white guy who went to Africa to help people.  I don't think I even really knew where Africa was.

This was all in Life Magazine.  Too bad for you who never got to experience that publication.  It was a sprawling, lap-sized magazine that, really, told the story of America.  Or part of it.

Schweitzer.  A Life reporter asked him about his reverence for life, his belief of not killing any creature.  He said something to the effect, "And that would include even a flea."  I thought he was crazy.

Now, at 74, I'm finding that I find it hard to kill anything--yes, even a fly.  If it's a moth or a spider or a wasp, I'll do my damndest to capture it with a paper towel and release it outside. Didn't do that before.

Perhaps getting older makes one sharper and clearer about life, being alive, what it is that makes someone or something alive.  It is the great mystery.  Holy, if anything.
Albert Schweitzer