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.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Week on the Outer Cape

“The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly.”

Those words come from Richard Bach’s novel Illusions, his follow-up to Jonathon Livingston Seagull. Many a course in my life has been charted by the wisdom found in that little book. Recently, I found myself in need of it again. I lost a friend and I’ve had a difficult time of it. I’ve struggled, spent much time in mourning, had to remind myself to get out of bed and to breathe in and out. I’ve awakened at times like an amputee reaching for a long-lost limb.

Those who know and love me, check in on me often. And, of course, Atticus is in a league of his own when it comes to taking care of me. Lately he can’t get close enough and refuses to let me out of his sight. (Well, truth be told he’s always done the last one but lately he’s taken it to extremes. Nowadays I can’t even go to the bathroom without him following me.) Where he usually walks 10 to 20 yards ahead of me when we are outside, he’s been spending much of his time right by my side.

We have a funny relationship, he and I; we both think it’s our job to take care of the other and I’m constantly reminded that I’m no match for him.

Things had gotten so bad I needed to get out my own way. I needed a change of pace and a change of place. So I packed up my bags, my laptop, camera, iPod and Atticus and off we went to the Outer Cape. We spent nine days walking the dunes, through scrubby forests, and along various beaches. We went days without seeing a soul in our journeys and each walk went on for hours and hours. There were times we walked until I felt like I couldn’t take another step and we’d plop ourselves down on top of a sand dune. There I’d lose myself in the crashing of the waves and Atticus would sit ‘Buddha-like’ as he does on mountaintops and look off into eternity.

We were blessed with good weather and each sunset was more stunning than the last. Things started to turn around for me on the second day. My mourning eased its hold on me when Atti and I watched the sun’s last rays light the ocean afire as Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony played on my iPod, filling my ears and my soul.

We rented a condo two doors up from the main street in Provincetown but we hardly ever saw the numerous shops other than to drive by them every few days. Our time was spent in nature. This was my first visit to the Cape in 15 years and I was overtaken by the stark, naked beauty of the season. Each day I regained a bit more of myself. For the first time in months I slept through the night and when I woke up I didn’t have to give myself a reason to get out of bed and I no longer had to remind myself to breathe in and breathe out. I started to smile again. And each day Atticus let the space between us grow a bit more. He no longer felt the need to walk by my side as if ready to catch me at any moment.

One day I emailed photos to friends. One of which was Bryan Flagg, the editor of this paper, Bryan joked, “Great shots as always. However, where are the mountains? I just see flat spots!”

And that was the beauty of it – all those ‘flat spots’! You don’t get to see the horizon here unless you are on top of a mountain. And during our last hike in the Whites we stood on top of Giant Stairs and looked off into the cold, gray stubble of the mountains below and in front of us while clouds swallowed the higher peaks whole. But there on the Cape we could look off until the earth curved away and led into the sky. The sky itself was brilliant and the water sparkled. The change of scenery was good for me. The days were brighter and the sun not blocked out by forests or mountains. It was a welcome change.

Our last hike on the Cape was across the stone breakwater in Provincetown Harbor out to Wood End, which is where the Pilgrims docked the Mayflower. There used to be life on this relatively small spit of land and each end of it is marked by a lighthouse some 150 years old. But time has taken over, as has nature. There’s nothing there except sea, sand and some hardy plants. The breakwater is 1.2 miles across and when we came to the end of it we walked straight through the dunes until we reached the water. Like every other day we felt as if we had the place to ourselves. There was no one to be seen and that’s what our stay out there was all about. No, there were not mountains or thick forests, but there was Nature and Nature has a way of healing a man, even if his injuries lie in his heart.

Out there we could very well have been the only living creatures on earth. In that way it was much as it is while standing on top of Moosilauke or walking along the spine of Monroe. Winds swirl around you and the world falls away at your feet and you are as alone as can be and yet more whole then you can ever remember being. It’s funny how the seashore and the mountaintops can do that to you – wrap you in solitude and separate you from all you know and what you rediscover is that you are more complete than you were when you were in the supermarket or the coffee shop or at a dinner party.

The natural world reminds us who we are and what we can be. That whisper can come in the dense woods, on top of a stately summit, standing where earth and sea meet. It can even come in the form of a little dog who seems to understand the natural world better than I ever will.

That’s one of the blessings about living in New England: we have the mountains, great forests and the ocean all within hours of each other. It has always been this way. On a clear day on Mount Washington you can see the sea. But Atticus and I are far from the first to notice how rich we are in New England. Thoreau spent many a day in these mountains. He also stood on the Outer Cape and said, “A man may stand there and put all of America behind him.”

As for me, loss comes into each our lives and all we can do is understand that is part of the package. We have come home to the mountains to take further steps in healing, but for nine beautiful days we stood where land meets sea and put my past behind me and chartered a course towards a new beginning.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Atticus To Receive Muttluks For Life

It’s a hot chocolate day sit by the fire and read a book kind of day. It’s a snowy and windy and cold day. Winter has returned to Jackson.

The plows are busy clearing the streets and dropping salt, although they never seem to clear the sidewalks up here. That makes for a challenge for us. We have to walk in the road and the salt stings the pads on Atticus’ feet just as the heavily salted brick sidewalks in downtown Newburyport burned Max’s feet. Since we lived downtown, we had a problem. But with the problem came a solution. Friends Doug and Barbara Cray bought Max a gift: a set of Muttluks dog boots.

When I first put the Muttluks on Max I did it inside and he pranced around on his tippy toes and tried to shake the boots off his little feet. I even had to carry him down the three flights of external stairs because he was unsure of his feet. But once outside, on that salty sidewalk, he relaxed and there was no more pain. He seemed to understand the boots were a good thing and whenever I put them on him in the future he sensed they would make his life easier.

Max came to me in his old age and he only lasted two winters with me. But soon after his death Atticus arrived and when winter rolled around Max’s Muttluks turned into hand me downs for Atti. He, like Max, did the hot foot strut when I first put them on him, but once out on the salty sidewalk he too seemed to understand the boots were there not as punishment but as something that would help him.

Little did I know just how instrumental Muttluks would be in our lives. We weren’t hiking at the time but when we did start I brought the boots along on some of the rougher summer hikes. While people laughed at Atticus in his boots or talked about how cute he looked, when we encountered other dogs in the Northern Presidentials who were limping with bloody paws, no one laughed at Atticus then. He, unlike the other dogs, was prepared.

After finishing the 48 4,000-footers in 11 weeks that first summer, we did the unheard of and decided to attempt to do the same that first winter. It was unheard of because I was told overweight newspaper editors with a fear of heights and little dogs don’t belong in the winter Whites. By this time I bought a new pair of Muttluks. We didn’t need them on every hike that winter and we didn’t finish all 48, but we did reach 41 summits and we wouldn’t have reached that many had it not been for his Muttluks.

The next winter we raised money for the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute by hiking in memory of dearly departed Vicki Pearson. The goal was outrageous: hike the 48 in one winter…twice. It was an epic 90 days and while we once again fell shy of our goal we reached an astounding 81 peaks. Many of these wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for Muttluks, who when they learned of our Winter Quest, sent Atticus six sets of free boots.

Those boots have lasted us but they’ve become somewhat threadbare from all the use. He continues to wear them on most winter hikes and on some of the rockier summer climbs and has worn them down quite a bit. But even as they got older and had many miles on them, I respectfully declined the offer of a major outdoor store to supply Atticus with another kind of hiking boot for dogs. “Thanks but we’ll stick with Muttluks,” I told the store manager, “They’ve worked well for us.”

“But these are free,” he said.

“But they aren’t Muttluks.”

I was ready to go out and buy some new Muttluks when I received a wonderful email from Marianne Bertrand, the remarkable founder and president of Muttluks. In it she wrote: “I have heard so much about the two of you yet I have never contacted you directly. Your story and dedication are truly heartwarming and beautiful. We are pleased to be part of your journey. We would like to offer our support by supplying Atticus all the boots or coats he ever needs (or wants).”

And we are pleased to have Muttluks as part of our journey. We couldn’t have done all we’ve done without them.

As for a shoe deal for a little dog? Heck, if Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant can rate deals from Nike, the best athletic shoe company in the business, why shouldn’t Atticus, a driven and athletic dog also get his own boot deal from the best dog boot company in the business?

I thank Marianne Bertrand for thinking of us. But this is not the first time Ms. Bertrand has gone about helping remarkable animals. You can read much about her past and various good deeds on the Muttluk website.

I thought of Marianne and her company when Atticus and I walked through the snow this morning on the way to the post office. It’s not climbing a mountain but walking to the Jackson P.O. during a full winter storm has its own challenges. And they are made all the easier thanks to Atti’s Muttluks.

Leash & Collar...We Think Not

The problem with Provincetown, as far as my friend Atticus is concerned? It’s the leash law. He stopped in front of this P-Town storefront just long enough to prove his point. (Notice he is sans leash and collar in the photo.) His pausing at that specific spot seemed to say, as he peered over his shoulder at me, “If I’ve got to wear a leash and collar then you have to wear ‘this’”.

Luckily for all involved neither one of us went the bondage route. This photo was taken at one of the only times we were in the downtown even though we stayed in a condo just a few houses off the main drag – pun not intended. We spent our days in the local woods, hiking across dunes, strolling along the beaches and on rare occasions even stopped by the town’s dog park. Yes, a couple of these places had signs saying dogs were not allowed, or they had to be on leash. But winter on the tip of the Cape is different than other times. It appears dogs are allowed pretty much everywhere – including some stores and restaurants.

When we return to Provincetown, and I imagine there will come a day when we will, it will be in winter again, so Atticus can remain free and unfettered. (And so can I, thank God!) Luckily for us we are residents of the ‘Live Free or Die’ state.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Spectacular Day on Wood End

Tomorrow we return to Jackson. It's been a wonderful getaway and I'm sure we'll be back. (It will be in the off-season again. I don't think I'd enjoy the crowds of Provincetown during tourist season. As it is during our eight days here other than the Stop & Shop we only went to one other store and that was a visit to the Wired Puppy coffee house this morning.) During our last full day we crossed the 1.2 mile stone breakwater that spans Provincetown Harbor and made our way to the Wood End Lighthouse. Wood End is a remarkable place, as are all the natural spots we visited this week. Better yet, while we saw a couple of people on our way across the breakwater, we didn't see a soul once out on Wood End and it was a great photo day. Check it out here. (The first person to name the song and composer gets a $10 gift certificate to the JTown Deli.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

One More Sunset To Go

We're heading back to the mountains on Sunday so this was our next to the last seaside sunset. We'll miss them. While people gather in their cars to watch the end of daylight, Atticus and I leave them behind and take off down the beach and walk far away. We walk until the sun has been swallowed whole and the temperature drops. Then and only then, with the beach to ourselves, we take the long beach walk back to the car. It's a wonderful ritual and we've not missed a sunset since we arrived last Saturday.

Between sunrise and sunset I write a lot, we walk quite a bit, and we listen to classical music and jazz. It's been a productive week. I feel on course for the book. The manuscript is due in the hands of my editor by the end of May. There's a lot of work to do between now and then but I feel ready for it. These numerous walks through the dunes, along the beach at sunset, and through the local forest have been calming, therapeutic and peaceful and I think we'll return to Provincetown in coming winters for the solitude, the freedom and the dog-friendly community.

The top two photos don't capture the scene very well, but there was an amusing checking out process going on between the flock of gulls and Atticus. Both were curious but neither bothered getting closer. They just watched for the longest time. In the last photo, when Atticus was doing his 'little Buddha' thing watching the sun slip away, a couple of gulls came closer and Atticus turned his head to check them out, but he wasn't about to get up from his meditative position.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cape Light

The problem with the ocean is that there are no mountains. Other than that we're liking it out here at the edge of the world. It's a special place and each day we discover beautiful natural settings. This afternoon we were charmed by a walk through the woods in Spring-like weather. This morning we had the beach to ourselves at low tide for miles on end. These are enchanting times and exactly what we needed. Okay, it's exactly what I needed. The Little Bug was doing just fine the way he was. I, on the other hand, was more than a little fractured. I needed to put myself back together. The tip of the Cape in midwinter is a perfect place for solitude with limitless doses of nature all around.

By the time we return to Jackson on Sunday we'll have accomplished much of what I wanted to do. It will also be good to see 'home' again. We will miss the sunsets, though. And no one captures the sun at such times like Provincetown poet Mary Oliver...

The Sun
by Mary Oliver

Have you ever seen
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone--
and how it slides again

out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance--
and have you ever felt for anything
such wild love--
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
or have you too
turned from this world--

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Walk on the Outer Cape

We arrived on Saturday of the long holiday weekend. (It was also Valentine's Day weekend.) Because of this it was a bit more crowded than I expected on the Outer Cape. But once Monday rolled around it quieted down. And it's not like Atti and I are spending time in the popular downtown hot spots - we've not even been downtown other than to drive through it - even though we are renting a place right in the beautiful West End just a few houses up from Commercial Street. We're either spending our time in the condo, the beaches or along the bike path which loops through some remarkable scenery and has access to both Race Point and Herring Cove. After a little exploration I found a way to turn the five mile loop we've been walking into an eight mile circuit and today we enjoyed the entire eight miles in splendid isolation. It's just what the doctor ordered.

And today, graced with a dusting of snow, we enjoyed the longer loop, which included a lengthy stay at the breezy beach on Race Point. With the help of Josephine Baker I put together a slide show. You can see it here.

"Little Buddha" Sits with the Sea

Today we cobbled together various sections of the Provincetown bike path to create an 8-mile loop through the dunes. We started at Herring Cove, made our way over to Race Point and an hour long visit sitting on the breezy dunes watching the ocean, towards the Beech Forest and then headed back to Herring Cove.

The loop offers a little bit of everything (woods, ponds, dunes, ocean views, wonderful twisted pine trees) and the rolling hills offer a great walking workout. It was made all the prettier by a little fresh snow here and there.

When we reached Race Point it was windy but that did not deter Atticus from his 'little Buddha' sitting. (Notice his ears in the photo.) I didn't time him but he was in front of me for about 20 minutes watching the waves crash and the water recede. I'm not sure what he sees or looks for when he's doing this but it's clear it's not just a mountaintop thing. It happens wherever he has a view. As for what he sees, Atticus had a follow up with Dr. Dan Biros at Angell last week and all is well with his eyes. This is evident not only in this photo but in the photos you'll see in the slide show that's about to be put up. Check out some of the close ups and the intensity of his gaze and you'd never guess he was once nearly completely blind.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

You Think It's Easy Being A Writer?

You think it's easy being a writer? Try concentrating while this face is looking at you. He's bored because it's raining and we haven't been able to go for our usual five to six mile walk through the dunes. When it became clear cuteness was not cutting it he stood up and gave me a look that says, "Hello! Can you see me now?"

Oh, and by the way, he won. We're going for a drive so we can take a walk in the woods.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Herring Cove for Sunset

We started the day when a shock of pink sunlight flew in our bedroom window and lit up the loft. I got out of bed and saw the sun rising out of Cape Cod Bay and over the rooftops. It was a beautiful sight; a stunning way to start the day. We were soon out the door but there was no more sun. Instead clouds hung low and made the day seem dreary. And yet there was nothing dreary about our five mile walk along the bike path that loops through the dunes at the Cape Cod National Seashore. The rolling hills and the distance gave us a great work out. At one time we left the bike path and climbed up through the scrub pine and to the top of a dune. Here we sat looking out at the Atlantic Ocean laying beyond other layers of dunes.

After our walk it was back to the condo where I wrote and Atticus napped. Around 4:30 he broke me from my trance with a nose to the leg, letting me know it was time for our walk. We drove to Herring Cove and took in the sunset, although just before the sun sank into the water it was obscured by an off shore storm. Nevertheless we weren't disappointed as the sun cast its rays on the remaining clouds and gave us quite a show. It was a good 90 minute walk made easier by the receding tide and heart lifting by Beethoven's Ninth rising up out of my iPod. It's hard not to feel the miraculous walking on the beach with Atticus, watching the sun set and listening to the symphony Beethoven miraculously created when he was deaf.

I don't imagine we'll have any sun tomorrow as snow is predicted to start around 2:00 a.m. and last through the morning. It will then turn to rain. At least it will be a good writing day.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Morning on Race Point

Early this morning we braced ourselves for a walk along Race Point. It was as cold and windy as it was on Mount Jackson last Saturday. Luckily, having spent many a winter day on top of mountains these past few years I had the right clothes for a long walk on the beach.

Not only did we get to see the sun set into the water, we also got to see it just after it rose out of the water. Such is the angle of beaches on Cape Cod.

Atticus is happiest when we are together. But maybe that’s not happiness. Sometimes I think he believes it’s his job to make sure he’s looking out for me and if I’m happy, he’s happy. But nothing makes him happier than to be out in nature. Give him the mountains, a good field or a sandy beach and you see a jauntiness to his step. He gallops with all four legs leaving the ground at the same time, throws his head back and opens his mouth to drink in the world and if there is a good wind all that better!

He knows things I don’t know. I don’t pretend to know what they are, I simply allow him to have his secrets. I’m not sure he’d tell me if he could, but I’d like to think he would. This morning as I was watching him run around on the beach as if playing tag with the wind and teasing the breaking waves I thought of those lines from Mary Oliver’s poem ‘Her Grave’:

“A dog comes to you and lives with you in your own house, but you do not therefore own her, as you do not own the rain, or the trees, or the laws which pertain to them….A dog can never tell you what she knows from the smells of the world, but you know, watching her, that you know almost nothing.”

So it is every time I’m out in nature with Atticus. Watching him I realize I know very little compared to what he knows. Luckily I’ve got a front row seat and I do my best to pick up a tidbit every now and again.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, we have a rule to break.

PS: My favorite contemporary poet is Mary Oliver. As fate would have it she lives in Provincetown.

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. ~ Einstein

Saturday, February 13, 2010

''A man may stand there and put all America behind him.'' ~ Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau was writing about the beach out here at the end of America: Provincetown. Yes, I wrote "out here" because this is where Atticus and I are for the week.

We've come to the tip of the Cape for some quiet writing time. It's not like one has to escape from Jackson, New Hampshire all that often but today marks the start of February vacation and Jackson will be filled with our former Massachusetts brethren. That's reason enough to go to a more peaceful place. Hence Provincetown in mid winter.

We will spend our days walking the dunes and writing. As for our nights, we'll do what we are doing now, lounging in the living room in front of the fireplace of our perfect little rented condo (thank you We've just finished dinner, which was prepared in a great kitchenette. (Let me tell you, this place we're staying in is wonderful. It has everything and we could quite happily live in this space.)

I haven't been to Provincetown in 15 years and as soon as we arrived I wondered why it had been so long. We pulled into town just before sunset and our first stop was Race Point to walk on the beach. It was warm and comfortable and the scent of the sea filled our lungs. Atticus romped on the sand and as we walked towards the sinking sun I realized this is our first time out of the White Mountains in the past two and a half years (other than quick trips to Newburyport.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Night, the beloved.

When Atticus and I lived in Newburyport we often took lengthy nighttime walks weaving our way through the tightly-knit South End of the city. There was something soothing about those strolls. As we walked up and down the streets nearly every house looked like a warm and inviting home as the lights glowed within. When I owned my own newspaper at the same time, every two weeks we would venture out delivering my papers, starting at 9:30 at night and going non-stop deep into the next afternoon. Those loneliest of hours were often the most peaceful I knew.

Lately I’ve been getting reacquainted with that nocturnal peace. On a very windy night under a nearly-full moon we hiked Moriah. Then came a hike to the top of Mount Hale. Once on the summit we sat on top of the giant rock cairn with only the moon and a few stars overhead. Off in the distance we could see the spine of the Willey Range and the bulges of the Twins. It was cold but we were warmed by the beauty and the quietude. With no wind the only thing I could hear was the beat of my own heart.

During the next week we climbed Black Mountain and gazed out at Carter Notch and towards Mount Washington and then we climbed North and South Doublehead. Once on the ledges of South Doublehead I felt like a woodland spirit stuck between two heavens – that which flickered above me and the lights of Jackson below me. I didn’t want to leave and we would have sat there until daybreak had we not been spurred on by the cold.

In each of these instances it was only Atticus and me but there was not a thread of loneliness to be tugged. There is something different about the night and when tucked comfortably away as a member of society we’re taught to fear it. But far away from neon signs, the sound of rushing traffic and even the comfort of our own homes there’s more peace in the woods at night than any other place I’ve ever known. Sure, there is the occasional unsettling unidentified sound in the forest at night and the narrow beam of light from my headlamp lights the way in such a way it casts haunting shadows and brings tree branches to life. But even though I may be far away from my fellow man I feel comfort there. Once I surrender to the darkness and the quiet and being out there by ourselves something wondrous happens: I get closer to myself. I begin to understand more about my life. Things I’ve puzzled over or prayed about become clearer and I feel renewed. It’s as if I needed to pull myself away from all the comforts I know to be out in the dark and the cold.

One of my favorite writers is the late Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of “The Little Prince” (and other books). He had a thing for the night as well and summed up its enchantment: “Night, the beloved. Night when words fade and things come alive. When the destructive analysis of day is done, and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again. When man reassembles his fragmentary self and grows with the calm of a tree.”

“When man reassembles his fragmentary self…” That says it. In order to become whole again we need to get far enough away from our comforts and feel what it is like to simply breathe and move through the forest as the simplest of beasts do.

I used to be afraid of the woods at night because it’s nothing like walking through the neighborhoods of Newburyport at night. And yet even though an excited trill and a glimpse of uncertainty courses through me when I enter the forest, I feel like I’m on my way back to myself. When I was first out at night I was always relieved by returning to the safety of my car but that’s now changed. The return to the car almost comes too soon now, as does arriving at home. Adventure is where we grow and live and thrive. But more than adventure it’s about the seclusion.

After those series of nocturnal adventures we hiked Mount Jackson last Saturday. We started at the more conventional hour of 9:00 in the morning. It was cold and breezy but we were dressed for it. What we weren’t ready for was number of people we saw that day. There were at least 40 coming and going on this little trail. One Appalachian Mountain Club organized hike had 19 members! I suppose some find comfort in numbers but I couldn’t help wondering what these people get out of being out there in masse.

When the trails are that busy it’s difficult to find wilderness within you or around you. If anything it’s more like walking in a shopping mall. Occasionally you leapfrog a group and eventually they pass you back again. It goes on and on this way until eventually you all end up at the summit around the same time and politely you chat with each other, maybe make a passing joke or two, and eventually turn to head down and by the time you’re back at your car you think and before you know it you realize you’ve missed most of the reason for heading off to the mountains in the first place.

I’m not so arrogant as to think Atticus and I own these mountains, but there’s a reason we enjoy night hikes and day hikes where other hikers aren’t. Alone with each other the mountain reveals much more to us and of us. When it’s crowded like it was on Mount Jackson it’s simply more of what we are trying to get away from.

This is as perfect a place to end since the sun has now set and people are making their way home or are already home. That means it’s a perfect time for Atticus and me to head to Mount Pickering and Mount Stanton where I’ll “reassemble my fragmentary self.”

Monday, February 08, 2010

We're Off to Visit Angell; You Should Visit Spicebush Log

Two days ago we stood in surprisingly bitterly cold summit of Mount Jackson. Yesterday we walked the 6.8 mile loop around the bucolic country roads of Jackson. Today we drive into Boston. It’s three hours by car, but a world away in attitude.

Atticus has an afternoon appointment with Dr. Dan Biros, his ophthalmologist.

Nothing to worry about, Atti’s eyes are doing well.

This is a follow-visit to our first appointment with Dr. Biros two months ago. At the time he plucked a few small lashes that were irritating Atti’s eyes and he gave us medication to moisten his eyes. When they tested his tear production in early December his eyes were only producing about a third of what they should have.

I’m no doctor but from the look of things, his eyes seem moister and to be doing well.

While we’re on the road today, fighting traffic before escaping back up to Jackson tonight, I would like to direct you to Spicebush Log, my favorite regular blog read. Today Ellen Snyder, a wildlife biologist and writer, is celebrating her one year anniversary of blogging. It’s been a successful year and I’ve enjoyed following along.
Today’s post concerns her first year and morphs into a touching piece on Bella, their late dog.

Onward, by all means.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Mount Jackson, February 6, 2010

Today we hiked Mount Jackson. As we got off the mountain and into the car, while Atticus was cleaning his boots, I checked my email. I didn't realize the Dogs 1o1 piece on Animal Planet was replaying this morning. There were 27 emails from people who had watched the show and were introduced to my diminutive friend with the big heart. (Thanks to those of you who emailed us with your warm wishes!) So, while they were watching footage of him climbing mountains, he was on top of one of our 4,000-footers. It was a beautiful day and the view of Mount Washington, our highest peak, was stunning, but the summit was colder than I expected and there aren't as many photos as I would have liked. (My fingers were numb.) The slide show is here.