Don Williams
Photo by Justin Williams

Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

Insights navigation:

[ Insights ]

RSS feed

Don Williams comments

On things contained in the merry old month of May
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   06/08/2001)

Friends at a recent party were singing the praises of May, 2001. With summer solstice two weeks away, it's still early enough to savor one of the most beautiful springs in memory. Mother nature's been a temperamental lass of late, offering a succession of sunshine and showers, turning the countryside green and florid. The sky's been a staging ground for double rainbows; for rose and coral sunsets; for a binge of intoxicating cloudscapes brewed with a child's conjuring imagination in mind. "Look, up in the sky! It's a whale!"

Usually, by May, my house is battened down by day, with central air sighing and blowing in the face of heat suited for summer. Not this year. This has been a season of open windows and doorways and fans. A season for jogging through city parks and running down country roads; for counting newborn calves in the fields; for admiring gardens of friends and neighbors; and the way shadow and light play across broad escarpments of mountains. It's been a spring for freshening the birdfeeders. For counting goldfinches and titmice. For savoring the bold, bright phrasings of cardinals, the coos of doves. For spotting hawks and owls that parcel the skies.

I find myself bringing that poet-and-monk Gerard Manley Hopkins down off the shelf to read celebrations of nature-and-God he penned 125 years ago. Even when I called myself an agnostic I liked reading Hopkins. I always found it worth the challenge to puzzle out the word-play and sprung rhythm and odd spellings of lines like these from "Pied Beauty":

"Glory be to God for dappled things--/ For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;/ For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;/ Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;/ Landscape plotted and pieced--fold, fallow, and plough;/ And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim./ All things counter, original, spare, strange;/ Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)/ With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;/ He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:/ Praise him."

A dead starling was found at the door of St. Joseph the Carpenter Episcopal Church just before our friend Charlie Fuller died, Monday June 4. On Wednesday the church was filled to overflowing with admirers, friends and family. Images from that memorial remain strong: A photograph of the white-bearded blacksmith striking gold vermilion from hot metal. Another of Charlie on his and Karen's wedding day, his face full of contentment. How light danced upon the alter through prisms in the diamond-shaped window Charlie's friend and fellow artisan, Bill May, created. The way voices rose to recite the Lord's Prayer, to sing the Twenty-third Psalm. The graceful phrasing of the Rev. A. Robert Rizner's eulogy, which, like Charlie, exhibited humor from the start. The sound of a choir elevating its song. The reassuring voice of the Rt. Rev. Charles Von Rosenberg administering the Holy Eucharist: Rite II.

This service, like Charlie and Karen's wedding almost two years ago to the day he died, was steeped in the traditions and rituals of a faith he lived and loved. I thought you should know.

Four friends sitting in a restaurant on Tuesday--disagreeing energetically over a number of issues before agreeing to disagree--pointed out that I had been unusually quiet about national politics of late. Asked why, I had to think for a moment. George W. Bush, for better or worse, is my president, I said. I've allowed him his honeymoon. Then I realized that's really not it. The reason I'm so quiet about national politics--such as the recent power inversion in the Senate--is that frankly I'm bored. The amiable Bush has been so predictable--nothing more nor less than the kind of president I imagined he would be--that his actions fail to engender words and concepts. He's been so... obvious... that to point it out seems redundant, almost silly. Its almost been a relief to have a president we can ignore, in a way we could never ignore Clinton. I do have more complicated thoughts about Bush than I've shared so far. I'll doubtlessly trot them out in some future column, for whatever good they might do. For now I'm enjoying the non-political variety of bush that grows in my backyard. Like my rosebush.

Which was glorious in May.