Winter Water

Winter Campfire Coffee

The air was cold, a few degrees above freezing. A north wind tried to aggravate us, but Cora blocked its best gusts. Cora is the island on our port side. We’d survived the toughest part of the trip: launching a … Read More

Locked Out Again

Locked Out Again

Connie stays across the river from downtown Kansas City at the old municipal airport. She’s known more formally as a Lockheed Constellation, the airline workhorse of the 1950s. If you saw her, you’d instantly recognize the plane, with her curvy … Read More

Empty Faces, Hollow Eyes

Damn depressing. But they deserve a shout. Thousands of these old family farmhouses sit empty and decaying. Each house was a setting for love, laughter, life. But during the 1980s and thereafter, thousands of families were driven from their homesteads. … Read More

Yard Bargains

“How much for books?” “Fifty cents.” Dan didn’t quibble. He knew what he wanted. Hard back classics. He rummaged through several cardboard boxes and plucked out a half dozen keepers. A collection of Jack London short stories. Aldous Huxley’s Brave … Read More

Prolificrat

My bookshelf welcomes Hannibal’s favorite son; his complete autobiography serves up riveting entertainment that cements his legend. He reveals as much about himself as Walter Williams could dig up about the rest of Northeast Missouri. Twain wallows in more than … Read More

Crossing the Lexicon

“…ours is a mongrel language,” Mark Twain said about the world’s most expansive tool kit, “which started with a child’s vocabulary of 300 words and now consists of 225,000; the whole lot, with the exception of the original and legitimate … Read More

Winter Camping Alone

If you wanted to hide from creditors or a hit man, Lake Wappapello would do nicely. Isolated in rugged hills, wholly surrounded by the thick woods of Mark Twain National Forest, the lake stands apart from the crowd. Driving to … Read More

Wilderness

Downriver, I found a suitable gravel bar where I beached my canoe and set up camp deep in the Irish Wilderness. I sat alone by the campfire and thought about the strange evolution of this area: wilderness, then settled and … Read More

On Seeds

There are seeds in every abandoned house, in the dry rotted floorboards and the mildewy walls, in the moss on the roof where sunlight doesn’t reach. The seeds are in the windowsills, in the clawfoot tub with as many rings … Read More

A Tale of Two Stacked Ladies

1961. The first photo I ever took. I was much younger than Leonardo in Titanic. But at nine years old I knew this: a cabin-class kid would never make it past a vigilant crew to get to the first class … Read More