from newlywed to retiree: on places, and what it means to love them

It's interesting what we block out when we dream of or anticipate a place. We must ignore the great unspooled ribbon of mind-numbing highway. The ugly big-box stores. The cloud cover that renders a day as colorless as a lump of pizza dough. Sometimes I think we reserve those kinds of stringent observations for home: to criticize what we are used to and tired of.

travel notebook: alone in italia, day two

Cinque Terre teems with tourists. Scattered about the rocks like camera-happy penguins, people are: sinking into squats for the photo angle showing their 'best side' crunching on fried things served in cones dripping gelato (and offering bites to their dogs) brandishing walking sticks like weapons, the hallmark of the serious hiker carrying hot cardboard boxes …

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attention abeilles: hiking the massif de l’esterel

The best thing about waking up in the morning–or returning to my petit chez moi at any time of day–is the view from my balcony: the brilliant bay outlined by mountains. I come from the part of Missouri that's just barely not-Kansas. Deprived of elevation for so long, any hint of it makes me giddy. Mountains comfort …

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no shortcuts: on making friends in France

One thing that makes the experience of short-term teaching in France complicated is the simple fact that it's short-term. And the French are not. As an American, I'm accustomed to a sense of easy, immediate friendship. When I look back at my college years, sometimes I ache for the simplicity. How easy it was, the …

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