Guest Columns

Bringing Tourism Back

Like spring itself, the world feels like it’s rising again, about to bloom in the coming summer sun. In this new and brighter light we have an opportunity to see what’s changed and how we can do what we did before in new and better ways…

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Comfort Foods – Vegan Style

It is said that food is medicine. But food also brings with it powerful connotations and memories that may be unrelated to health. How many of us have parents who were experts at plant-based…

Beware of the Floozies

Sex is rampant in my garden, and I’m getting sick of it. This is the time of year that the hellebores wave around their promiscuity as the plants flaunt their swollen seedpods. Soon you begin to realize that there are probably more seeds on one hellebore than there are people in the Triangle. After a couple of years of hellebores taking up residence in the garden, you begin to fear that they will overtake the world.

Easter 1950

All dressed up for Easter Sunday church and holding a Bible, Nick Lauterer, posing heroically in a hand-me-down suit, grins at the camera with confidence and happiness.

Spring Garden Safety

It’s a dangerous world out there. In the past few weeks, Kit and I have both been injured — nothing life threatening, but ego bruising. I share this because we both know better.

Mobile Home Zoning Succeeds Elsewhere

Opinion: On March 10, Chapel Hill Town Council Member Hongbin Gu petitioned the council to consider a zoning change that would restrict the use of certain land, including the mobile home park on 1200 MLK Jr. Blvd…

The Boom in Zoom

Can you hear me? We’re Zooming for a friend’s virtual birthday party. We’re Zooming after months and months of Zooms — family Zooms, business Zooms, book club Zooms, doctor Zooms.

You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught

As I was raised in the shadow of World War II and the Korean War, my first childhood impressions of Asians were negative: They were the enemy and to be feared.


I wish I could grow echinacea as I’m a great admirer of this native prairie plant. It’s a great accent plant in the perennial border, and there’s a spartan quality about it that appeals to me.

The Eno River’s Ribbons of Color

In 2020, a time of deep reflection, recovery and desire for open spaces, more than 1.1 million people took to Orange County’s great outdoors and…

Hearth and Home, of Thee I Sing

It’s been raining now for three days straight — that cold nasty chilly winter rain. I’d prefer honest snow any day — the kind we had during my 10 years at Penn State, where Pennsyltuckians understand the…

What’s the Fishy Smell? It’s an AURA.

Opinion: Have you heard of Trinsic Residential Group? It’s a pretty considerable Texas real estate outfit seeking to build a large mixed-use development (400 apartments and townhouses; 650 parking spaces) called AURA…

Start With Your Soil

Right now, it’s all about the plants. We’ve sat inside long enough reading catalogs and cleaning our tools. Our fabulous friends are arriving at nearby garden centers, and we can’t wait to bring them home. But wait.

What We Owe Our Dogs After the Pandemic

I never had a dog when I was growing up. For years, we left Chapel Hill to spend summers in the U.K. where my father taught at a university, and a dog was too much of a complication.

We are off to another season.

In Orange County we are feeling a renewed appreciation of spring. Sun and longer days bring hope and light of better days ahead.

Anyone seen my vaccine?

I’ve gotten my vaccinations. I was fortunate because I had finally qualified for the shots, having been moved from Tier 2, subdivision C, paragraph 9.1, footnote j, to Tier 1b, folder 3D, group IV6, Boy Scout Troop 384. Signing up for the shots, as most of us know, was a fairly easy process, assuming…

‘Reelin’ in the Years,’ Senior Night 1984

Last Saturday’s drubbing of Duke on UNC’s Senior Night conjured up a similar image from years past. It is March 3, 1984, and that year’s farewell men’s basketball game celebrated seniors…

Back to Basics: The Need for Well-Draining Soil

This past winter, I began to think that it would never stop raining. Now, rain can be a gardener’s best friend, but a rainy winter can ruin a garden. How can that be? After all, aren’t many of our plants sound asleep in winter?

Soil. The stuff of life.

The future of the Earth and the people who live on it is dependent on the management of land and water. This is essential and something we can all agree on.

Spring Migration is Coming Soon

The change of seasons “officially” begins on March 20, and we’re still waiting to see whether the continuing cold rains will make this the wettest winter on record in our area.

COVID & College

It’s not the junior year of college that I was expecting, that’s for sure. This time last year, I was going home for spring break thinking I’d be back at UNC the very next week. Then the pandemic hit, and I was forced to move out and finish the semester online at my parents’ house.

What We Celebrate Between Birthdays

The idea of the “un-birthday” was first presented by Lewis Carroll in the book we know as Alice in Wonderland (properly, Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There, published in 1872).