Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan is published by William Morrow. It tells the story of my adventures with Atticus M. Finch, a little dog of some distinction. You can also find our column in the NorthCountry News.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Nice Spot for a Daydream

While waiting for Jeff to go up and tag North and South Hancock today, Atticus and I spent much of our time sitting by streams. This was my favorite setting. It was refreshing and cool - just the setting my daydreams needed.

Just because we were sitting there doing nothing, it doesn’t mean we were actually sitting there doing nothing. Not really. This is actually how I do my writing. The notes I take, the drafts I write, they are in my head and not on paper. I either walk or mosey or hurry along; or else I sit by a stream or on top of a mountain; or lay on my back counting clouds. Thoughts come to me this way. And if someone were to come up and surprise me, they might actually be surprised because when I write to myself, in my head I mean, there are times it spills out and I’m talking to myself.

Today, while sitting there, that wonderful poem by Provincetown poet Mary Oliver kept nudging its way into my daydreams. It’s called The Summer Day and can be found in her book The Truro Bear and Other Adventures: Poems and Essays. © Beacon Press, 2008

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention,
how to fall down into the grass,
how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed,
how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

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