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.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pudding Pond

On writing days Atticus and I seek out any number of woods walks in our area. One of our favorites is the two mile loop at Pudding Pond in North Conway. The trail does not go around the scenic pond, thankfully. If it did I'm sure we'd see more people. Typically, however, we don't see another soul. This constantly amazes me because I think of the area as a hidden treasure that's not too far from the main drag in town.

It lies off of Thompson Road, which is just off of Artists Falls Road. This area was once the North Conway center for the great White Mountain artists who proliferated here during the 1800s. An inn was run by a fellow named Thompson (Thompson Road) and it became the lodging of choice for some of the greatest landscape artists in the world at the time.

This morning, after a night of rain, the forest's floor - a rusty red due to the years' worth of fallen pine needles - looked richer than normal, and felt more spongy. The bark of the trees, soaked through, looked nearly black. In contrast, the lone remaining leaves (elm leaves) seemed to shine. They exist in three bright hues: a brown, that is anything but dull; a soft mint green; and an electric yellow. They almost seem unnatural and there are avenues where you would not realize the forest is nearly bare of all leaves because your eyes are drawn towards these colorful characters. I find myself wondering how and why they hang on longer than the rest of the leaves. No matter the reason, I'm glad they do for in a dark and naked wood they are a touch of the sublime and bring to mind those words written by Tennyson in his Ulysses: "How dull it is to pause, to make an end, to rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!"

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