Guest Columns



The Pocket Shrine: Mom in a Matchbox

In my hand I hold a matchbox. The old school kind — wooden matches with cherry red tips inside. But that’s not all that’s in this matchbox, nor is setting a fire its function.



Choice of Hubert Davis Inspires

Growing up as a kid in the nineties, Allen Buansi remembers watching Hubert Davis, then a member of the New York Knicks, on TV…



To India With Love

As the pandemic rages across India, I find myself worrying about a perfect stranger. Her name, where she lives, her situation in life now — of these facts I am totally ignorant.


What on Earth Did I Order?

In the delirium of winter, I tend to go on an ordering spree of plants that will arrive the following April. It’s a good time to order because the nurseries haven’t yet run out of the hot new plants; the winter garden looks relatively bare; and there’s nothing much to do in January…


Sleeping On It

We wake up in the morning and talk about how we couldn’t sleep during the night. My wife notes that she woke at 1:45, 3:19 and for good at 6:53. Competitive as always, I counter…



An Open Letter for the Open Road

I write to you as a neighbor, fellow road user and cyclist. In 30 years of riding in and around Chapel Hill, I have seen and, at times, nearly been the victim of some awful driving behavior…


An Elusive Bird Draws Crowds

The Brumley Nature Reserves (North and South) are popular recreation sites for walkers, hikers, nature observers and birders. Springtime is especially nice when the birds fill the air…


Taking a Busman’s Holiday

With shots in arms and no ill effects and, thus, feeling giddy with liberation, good wife Lynne and I have done what so many other pent-up septuagenarians have done…


Beware of Some Pass-Along Plants

Last week I extolled the virtues of the Southern tradition of pass-along plants. Sometimes the only way to acquire a plant that is no longer at the…


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…


Our Southern Spring Unfolds

I love the long unfolding of our Southern springs. My daughter, Lilli Brown, and I recite all the multisyllable Greek goddess-like names of the flowers as they emerge — camellia, hellebore…


Little Big Man 1967

The young boy sits astride his tricycle like a judge holding court. Barefoot, he affixes the photographer with an intelligent, penetrating gaze. Maybe he is thinking…



Buildings Emerge from Model Collaboration

In 2008, the tree-covered and spacious Glen Lennox neighborhood was jolted out of its 1950s family atmosphere when the owner, Grubb Properties, put forth redevelopment plans for the entire 66-acre, 440-apartment property.


The Real College Deadline

By now, most kids in Chapel Hill and in other quaint little towns and big cities across America have already chosen their college. Or, if they’ve decided not to attend college, they’ve joined the military or, at the very least, have planned their next big bank heist.



Falling Into Place

As we get older, there are many challenges we have to deal with, including fading eyesight, failing memory and an inability to break dance. Then there is the risk of falling.




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.


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.


Echinacea

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…