500 Words

Wide Spot: Cook Your Potatoes

It’s a fallacy that deer don’t eat potatoes, or at least strip the plants naked. I guess I should be grateful for the stalks and tubers left behind, and hope that the deer get sick enough to discourage further nocturnal raids. It’s another fallacy that talking about how we feel always results in connectedness, support, … Read more

Wide Spot: Fresh New Hell

The line “What fresh new hell is this?” was famously coined by the American critic Dorothy Parker when her writing was interrupted by the telephone. There’s something deeply true captured by Parker’s flippant phrase, that oh-so-human experience of feeling overwhelmed by one calamity while still in the throes of previous one. I prefer numbness to … Read more

Wide Spot: Moral Proximity

I am an avid reader; unlike my high-minded family and friends, however, I prefer novels to non-fiction. A well-written novel can introduce me to a whole new way of understanding the world, like Richard Powers’ The Overstory. Even the deceptively simple novels of the ethicist Alexander McCall Smith—such as The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency … Read more

Wide Spot: Close the Language-Door

I thank my lucky stars (as my mom used to say) that I have a dog. Among other things, having a dog means that I am committed, no matter how somnolent, to an 11 p.m. walk every night around the front yard. Last week’s yard visits included views of the full moon—more accurately, the Pink … Read more

Wide Spot: Proximity Incontinence

I remember walking home from school through the autumn leaves and sunshine, hurrying a little. Six years old, I had a full bladder and 8 blocks to cover. Things were fine until I reached the notoriously-hard-to-open back door. I yanked; it stayed shut. After a few more fruitless tugs, there on the concrete steps, urgency … Read more

Wide Spot: Feeling or Fact?

Two conversations and two questions: in the first exchange, a woman assured me that she was right in her stance about wearing/not wearing a mask because she could “feel it in her body.” In the second, a man said that when someone criticized him, she was being abusive—he knew this to be true because of … Read more

Wide Spot: Holding the Post

I recently went up Red Mountain Road to drop off some jam for friends. Their driveway being an impassable pile of snow, I parked below and followed a trail up the side of the mountain through a tract of mature forest. I felt those woods before I really saw them. Something made me stop, take … Read more

Wide Spot: Contagion

In a photo that went viral recently, an elderly man with COVID-19 is seen from the back. His head is buried in the arms of a physician as he weeps. The hospital gown gaps, his scalp shows through thinning hair: a vision of naked vulnerability. The doctor who hugs him is fully garbed in PPE: … Read more

Wide Spot: A Certain Kind of Blindness

If the recent snowfall made you dream about mai-tais on the beach or desert hikes; if you’re longing for the simple joy of hanging out; if you’re craving dinner parties and indiscriminate hugs; I say, join the club. I am yearning to stand too close, to reach out and hold a hand. I’d like to … Read more