In his own words

Honoring the life of C.W. Gusewelle with a collection of memorable columns


If words were bricks, C.W. Gusewelle would have built cities.

Instead, his legacy is the thousands of columns he wrote for The Star, the dozen books and more. His words resonated with readers who treasured his work. He was writing about his life, and theirs.

We asked readers and Charles’ family for suggestions for this section, and we picked a few of our favorites.



A sly affair

Our relationship — well, why not finally just be forthright about it? In a word, our relationship is clandestine. To friends and others who may be shocked or saddened by this revelation I can only say that I am sorry and ask their understanding.


Always October

Autumn is the season I would miss. Rich in the moment, and rich in memory, there is nothing about it that does not stir me to the heart.


Morning in the country: First light tells of another renewal

In a single hour, the world goes from sightless dark to the color of emerald — color so vivid that the sunlight through the leaf canopy is stained green, like light filtered down through seawater.


In happy hindsight, failure turned out to be a friend

In this frozen season I find myself remembering the cold and stillness of a winter spent in a rough cabin at the woods’ edge when I was in my 20s, alone and aimless, still undecided about what work I cared to do.


Unchanging and unceasing joy envelops this intimate universe

Astronomers calculate distances in trillions of miles and light-years. But when I am here at the cabin, the universe contracts to a more manageable scale — only what I can see immediately around me, or can reach in a few minutes on foot.


Fellowship at the lake, even with the finned

It was a day of utter perfection, uncommon in this disordered time of year. The lake was mirror-still, its surface broken only by the splashes of rising fish.


The death of a beloved pet takes with it a piece of your heart

Originally published on June 16, 2012.


Generations span the century

The earliest memory is of a strange man bending to suffocate me with an evil smelling cloth — and parents allowing him to do it! A moment’s struggle. A sudden sleep. And waking then with the awful sore throat of a 4-year-old just separated from his tonsils.


Even the deepest friendship cannot match the bond of kinship

They are sisters, also best friends. And in some small way I envy them that. It’s the nature of us all to covet the thing we cannot have.


At start of summer in their lives, a morning to remember

Time, stand still. Stop just here, just now — on this cool, green morning, with the early sun pale through new leaves and my small garden flourishing and the children awake in their rooms and the gray kitten, Roosevelt, marching along the top of the board fence.


A webbed reminder to slow down and this, too, shall pass

It was only a small event on a busy city boulevard in the middle of afternoon — incidental, really, in the cosmic scale of things. But in these senseless and dangerous times, something about it was oddly reassuring.


Long after days fade away, memories return in full color

Autumn is rich in mingled images. Leaves driven by an evening wind take to the street together — rushing columns of them, swirling mobs, a dry brown confusion flying on ahead, hesitating, then turning furiously back upon itself.


Mel and Jo

From “Another Cat at the Door”


Even as memory betrays us, it also yields great gifts

Memory is an unruly servant, like the butler in one of those dated English comedies. For years you imagine that he is in your employ, then one day you discover he has really become master of the house. You issue commands, but they are ignored.


Marching alone, through the challenges of life, the true test

He was only one man, not a million. His marches made no headlines, got him no fame.

He marched four blocks down the long hill to the bus stop, and at the end of the working day marched up the hill to supper.


Trip to France comes complete with rich recollections

A bank of gray clouds rolled up from the south and west, across the English Channel, and the weather turned dampish, as autumn in Paris is wont to do.


One day, one sublime day, to recall the glory that was youth

He woke in darkness and had his moment in the yard, then stationed himself inside the front door, keening softly. With eyesight dim and hearing all but gone, he would take no chance of being left behind.


A good life, not long enough, for a pretty good dog

“The pup has style,” a man once said, and I thought I’d won the lottery. He also had much courage, and a ruling passion. If I’d ever gone at writing with a dedication like that, there’s no knowing what work I might have done.


Just a pup, but already an uncommon companion

Teal season in the Midwest arrives oddly out of time. The days still are warm and the leaves have not yet started to color when the early flights of green-wings and blue-wings come racing down the continent to linger a few weeks, then hurry on ahead of the cold.


An ill-omened start, saved by a gesture both grand and humble

A plane delayed in leaving meant that at the other end, the next midday, the Paris train was missed. The station board showed another train three hours later, so it was an inconvenience, nothing more.


Carving the Thanksgiving opossum

The festive spirit has claimed our house. The floors are polished. The rugs and upholstery have been cleansed of the malfeasances of dogs and cats. Friends will be joining us at the holiday table, and I have risen in darkness to stuff and bake the Thanksgiving opossum.


The joy of a simpler type of writing

A couple weeks ago, my computer died. And my printer, useless without it, is moribund as well. So I am writing this on a typewriter, one of the 23 archaic machines that clutter an upper-floor room in our house. But who needs a printer anyway? The typewriter prints as it writes.