- Mike Lunsford
The Off Season: Why I went to the woods …
I first met Henry David Thoreau as a young man in college, when I was most often in blue jeans and flannel shirts and in need of a haircut. I carried his most famous book, “Walden,” in my ratty red backpack, not to be different or to transcend reality, but because he wrote from the heart, simply and honestly. There has been a copy of it on my bookshelf ever since.
The Off Season: I have a grabber and I’m not afraid to use it
It may sound odd, but one of my favorite film scenes comes early in “The Straight Story,” the true but offbeat tale of 73-year-old Alvin Straight, who in 1995 drove his John Deere lawn tractor 240 miles across Iowa to visit his ailing brother in Wisconsin.
The Off Season: The ‘Queen of Clean’ hangs up her mop …
If Moni Thomas looks a bit startled in the photograph that accompanies this story, it’s because I caught her with the camera as she worked in the hallway at my school. Moni wouldn’t have wanted to be seated, wouldn’t have wanted to be still, not for one minute. There’s too much for her to do.
The Off Season: Irises possess all the colors of the rainbow
My son surprised me with a gift a week or so ago. He may be headed for a life in business suits and appointments and lunches with clients, but for now he mows grass and pulls weeds and trims shrubs to make ends meet. Among other lawns, he mows our church yard, the cemetery included.
How about ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,’ partner?
Just a little way off Indiana 63, just a few miles north of Terre Haute, sits the sleepy little town of Shepardsville. Like most towns its size, it has seen its heyday come and go, and virtually every business that once made it a place to be on warm spring nights so many years ago is gone.
The Off Season: Let me tell you a little, dirty story…
Until just a few days ago, it had been at least four months since I’d gotten really dirty.
The Off Season: Making myself at home in ‘Nowheresville’
Every time I hear someone whine about the Wabash Valley and Terre Haute as being a desolate entertainment wasteland, that “there’s nothing to do around here,” that they’re bored, my head begins to hurt.
The Off Season: It just so happens that I have a good story for you
This is a story about two men who made a good decision, who did the right thing, who decided that being good coaches happens by caring more about their players than about just winning games. It’s also about a little boy who has had a moment in the sun, an instance that will probably stay with him for the rest of his life, and who, hopefully, knows that even though there will always be good people nearby to help him, the best things in life often start with having the courage to take a chance.
- The Off Season: The mostly cloudy with a chance of snow times have changed I spent a while tonight shoveling snow, a ritual to which I have grown quite accustomed this winter.
- The Off Season: Temptation sometimes comes in a 12-cent package The comic books in Wilbur Hickman’s grocery store always sat in a spinning, white-metal rack that was tapered like a Christmas tree, and no less inviting than one. The rack stood just a few feet inside the glass doors that led into Wilbur’s Rosedale IGA when I was a kid, and it was a monument to boyhood temptation at 12 cents a copy.
- The Off Season: Going on a search for ‘Rosebud’ The following story should come with a “spoiler alert,” one of those pulsating red neon scroll bars that allows the reader to know that the writer is about to give away some critical piece of information — a joke’s punch line, a novel’s resolution, a movie whodunnit’s killer…
- Sidelines: Feeling cold? Here’s a story that just might warm your feet Despite a glowing space heater that hums near my chilly feet, I still hug my arms and rub my legs as I sit to write this story. The sub-zero temperatures this weekend have brutally reminded us all of our human frailty, of our dependence on stoves and furnaces, electricity and natural gas, on blankets and fleece and wool and warm water.
- The Off Season: Mr. Lunglard’s incomplete education I had a very interesting week in early November, and I’m happy that I had so many other stories on my writing plate at the time that I’ve waited until now to tell you about it.
- The Off Season: ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas…’ A cheap string of Christmas lights frames my big office window in these days leading to the holidays.
- The Off Season: Prospecting in the fields of gold Every few days I stand at the base of one of our front yard maples and push a fresh ear of field corn onto a squirrel feeder my friend Joe made for me a few years back.
- The Off Season: A night spent exploring the universe Despite being reared in an age of great scientific and technological discovery, I have always believed that walking into a breeze or looking up at the stars trumps the laboratory explanations for their being. That idea was reinforced in me again a few nights ago.
- The Off Season: Proving persistence, one pull of the rake at a time I have spent much of the past few days raking leaves and cleaning my yard. The yearly ritual burns my time like cordwood, but it’s not really work at all when I compare the clear blue skies and cool breezes of late October to the sweaty miseries of July and August workdays.
- The Off Season: Improving a social grade: Mr. Lunsford goes to town I have no problem in admitting that I am not the most urbane man you will ever meet. I have only basic knowledge of the social proprieties, often fail to have my shoes polished, and have a hard time getting the part in my hair to come out straight. There’s no doubt that I prefer faded cotton to Armani any day.
- THE OFF SEASON: In praise of old men I remember the days of driving into town with my grandfather many years ago, sometimes on a Saturday morning to the lumber yard or over to his church to mow grass; he would often comment on the people he waved to from the rolled-down window of his pick-up.
- The Off Season: Reminiscing on a birthday brings back fond memories of trees It is a lazy late-summer Sunday afternoon as I write this; it is also my birthday, and as I sit at my desk today and watch through my window as warm breezes sift through maple leaves, memories of trees other than those in my front yard come back to me, and I open them like brand new gifts.
- The Off Season: A pair of boots worn well… It was on a breezy Saturday morning trip through our barn’s double doors that I happened to notice a pair of my old work boots in the trash barrel we keep there. It is in that place that much of what we have worn out or used up ends, just junk taking a last bow before meeting up with landfill dirt.
- The Off Season: The size of a heart does matter We had a medical emergency at our house a few weeks back, but fortunately, after a little first-aid, an all-night nursing vigil, and a trip into town, we’re feeling a little bit better about things now.
- THE OFF SEASON: Taking the ‘Tin Lizzy’ for a spin I can laugh about it now, but I actually saw newspaper headlines flashing before my eyes for a few seconds last week: “Writer dies in Model T test drive crash.”
- The Off Season: The life of and the life in a barn… One of the things my wife and I most wanted when we moved to our place almost 30 years ago was the barn that sat behind the house.
- The Off Season: Shaking hands with Mr. Lincoln On a blistering hot afternoon a few weeks back, my wife and I knocked on the door of sculptor Bill Wolfe’s workshop on the west side of Clinton. We were there to meet Abraham Lincoln.
- The Off Season: After a good run, ‘Mr. Fix-It’ hits the wall I should have known when I sat down at the kitchen table one night last week to use our old typewriter on an application — just for a name and a few sentences on one of those pre-printed forms — that the whole thing was going to blow up in my face. We seem to be in the same rut right now that all homeowners face from time to time: Everything we own is falling apart. Anyway, I rolled the form into the typewriter and started on my name: M-i-c-h-a-e-l L-u-s-f-o-r-d … no “n”— the “n” wouldn’t work…
- The Off Season: The happy ‘tail’ of a dog named ‘Clark’ We were never quite sure where he came from, but some weeks ago a big black dog ambled sideways up our drive, his huge pink tongue hanging askew in search of a good drink of water. He promptly sacked out on the steps near my front door, and there he stayed, sleeping near our potted plants.
- The Off Season: Helicopters in the gutters, and other imponderables… It is raining on this warm spring morning, and although it may sound a bit strange to you, I am comforted by the sound of the water running free in my gutters toward their downspouts. It was just a week or so ago that I cleaned the last of the maple seedlings out of them.
- The Off Season: Are literature and poetry headed out for recess? I posed a question to one of my English classes the other day: “Have you ever read something that touches you? That inspires you? That has changed you in some fundamental way?
- The Off Season: Celebrating the power of memory We sat in the pews of our small country church sanctuary a few Sundays ago, and before long our class was deep into a discussion about memories and how the prophet Isaiah reminded us that we were to “forget the former things,” that we are “not to dwell on the past.”
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- The Off Season: Why I went to the woods …