Culture Shock by Rachel Lutwick-Deaner

Photo of kayaker on water
 

Fifteen years ago, I knew that moving to the Midwest would be a kind of culture shock. I knew it because I googled “Regional Food of Michigan” and the first thing that came up was “cereal.” But I didn’t know then what I know now, that Midwestern Nice was going to be the real shock. I always felt shy growing up on Long Island. Part of that shyness was that I was an outsider from the start. We started our lives as a family in Palo Alto, Calif., where I was born at Stanford University … Continue reading Culture Shock by Rachel Lutwick-Deaner

Beware the Feast by Fred Wilbur

Repeating pics of turkey, pie, stuffing
 

  Between the two American holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas, it seems appropriate to write about one aspect of both: food. Traditionally the first Thanksgiving was a celebration of a successful, or at least adequate, harvest with the hope that such would carry the Pilgrims through the hard winter to come. Occasions for such thoughts, no doubt, are ancient and center around family and tribe sustainability. An official thanksgiving holiday was not celebrated until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln declared one, a few hundred years after the “first” Thanksgiving in 1621. We collectively count the blessings … Continue reading Beware the Feast by Fred Wilbur

Missing by Ruth Spack

Silhouette of truck against cloudy, dark blue sky
 

  I found my calling on a bleak Sunday afternoon in the fall of 1958, standing at the edge of a fetid swamp, questioning why bad things happened to little children. It was the day four-year-old Billy Flynn disappeared. I was nine at the time, living in Pawtucket, Rhode Island with my mother and grandmother, in the kind of friendly neighborhood that was pretty common back then. That afternoon had started innocently enough, in the Flynns’ backyard, right after Halloween. Decked out in Stetson hats and feathers, a bunch of us boys were playing Cowboys … Continue reading Missing by Ruth Spack

A Special Day by Miles Fowler

Black and white photo of the liberty bell
 

Was I crazy to want to attend two different public events on a single hot summer’s day? Maybe, but after two years of the Covid pandemic, there were a couple of Fourth of July events I really wanted to attend. The first was two events in one: the July Fourth Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony at Monticello, which is the historic home of President Thomas Jefferson, located just outside of Charlottesville. And this year, I actually knew someone who was taking the oath of citizenship, a woman who goes to the same church we … Continue reading A Special Day by Miles Fowler

Serenity by the Sea by Virginia Watts

Photo of orange suitcase on beach
 

  Today is Nora Richard’s seventy-fifth birthday. She sighs, blows her nose, rests her head back against the scratchy, cheap couch that came with Apartment 205 inside Serenity by the Sea, an assisted living community she and her late husband moved into six years ago. Another long day stretches ahead of her like a superhighway to the moon. Mornings are the worst without Harvey brewing eight cups of Chock full o’Nuts drip coffee instead of two cups because a full pot of brewed coffee really makes this place smell like home. Harvey’s baritone voice talking … Continue reading Serenity by the Sea by Virginia Watts

Whiskey Island Mango Salad by Janine De Baise

Photo of salad with fruit
 

Whenever I say that my extended family camps together in the summer—living in tents, cooking over the fire, and bathing in the river—someone will ask, “And you all get along? For a whole week?” Sure, I say. Of course, I’m lying. My family includes my seventy-something father who loses his temper if he doesn’t get an afternoon nap, my sister Carroll who just stops talking at the first sign of trouble, my sister Laurie who has been known to threaten family members with a sharp knife while making fruit salad, my brother Kevin who refused … Continue reading Whiskey Island Mango Salad by Janine De Baise

Happy Trails (and Other Lies I Tell Myself) by Amy Bee

Two hikers jumping on large rock
 

I wasn’t going to make it. I’d made a mistake; this whole stupid backpacking thing was a mistake. I trudged a step further. A young guy, about thirteen, with Keanu Reeves hair and an Osprey backpack loosely perched on his shoulders made eye contact with me. He winked, gave me the “we’re in this together” nod, and flashed a peace sign as he loped past. I looked away, crushed. It’s almost funny now, how I gave up not even fifteen minutes into a three-week backpacking trip. I mean, in redemption stories, the part where the … Continue reading Happy Trails (and Other Lies I Tell Myself) by Amy Bee

What the Land Holds by Kelly McGannon

Photo of a ram with large horns
 

  We met the ram yesterday. The one we were warned about but had forgotten was loose in the world. After the biblical rains, the world felt charged as if pages in time had fallen open. With gaps just wide enough to slip through, we stepped sideways into the crackle to spook around for a bit. There’s a quality to this land that I’ve noted over time. It’s a thin place where spirits on walkabout wag their tongues, the river carries old hymns, and reality bends. On days like yesterday, when forgotten doors to hidden worlds … Continue reading What the Land Holds by Kelly McGannon

Time Suck by Erika Raskin

Photo of old vaccuum
 

  Here are things that I have done to avoid writing: chase my recalcitrant dog around the house for an entire afternoon trying to clip his nails, read all the comments on an article I wasn’t even that interested in, and although the effect would be transient at best, close my laptop to reorganize the kitchen cabinets. Last week, as I was struggling with the same sentence for more time than is either normal or healthy, the doorbell rang. An enthusiastic man introduced himself and his assistant. ‘I promise we’re not here to change your … Continue reading Time Suck by Erika Raskin

The Swordfish by Leslie Middleton

photo of boats on water at dawn
 

It is well into night, and she moves slowly. Her sword pierces the water that slides away like sheets of ice. Bubbles spin into small vortices that carry her forward. She pushes the water, and the water pushes back. The long barrel of her body arcs from side to side as she swims, propelled by her tail fin, scalloped and black, sharp as a sickle. Water, eye, and brain, are all one. Her looking links intention to muscle. Specks of life—the tiny jellies, the embryonic fish and crabs and eyeless shrimp—crowd together into the layer … Continue reading The Swordfish by Leslie Middleton