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, May 11, 2010

Still Life with Woodpecker*

It's a writing is every day between now and our June 1st deadline. But it's also a beautiful day. With spring greening up the backyard I've forsaken my writing room as of late and set up a small table by the window looking out into the backyard. Often Atticus sits on top of the table next to the computer and watches the birds come and go. Or on a pleasant day, like today, the door is left open so he can come and go as he pleases. Since I'm sitting right here he's never out of sight when he goes out.

The open door policy and my temporary writing desk is throwing off a few of the birds who aren't sure what to make of Atti and me being so close to their food. Even the bold woodpeckers are a bit leery about us. But not dear, sweet Amelia, who is used to being around us by now.

These are not the best photos but it gives you an idea of how comfortable she is around Atti and me. The door is open and Atticus is right there while Amelia is on the suet feed above him. She thinks little of coming and going and there are times she'll spend a couple of minutes at the suet feeder and not bother eating. Instead she just looks over at me just two feet away.

The other day I didn't have the suet feeder up yet - I take it down at night because of the bears - but the door was open and she landed on the sill of the window in the door and gave out a squawk. When I hung it up she was the first one in line.

Now many of you might think this is all kind of silly but my father would have loved it. For years his best company were the birds that came to the feeder outside his kitchen window. He'd sit at the kitchen table smoking his cigarettes, having a cup of tea, writing and listening to classical music on the radio. (Other than the cigarettes that's what I'm doing today.) Jack Ryan loved the little interaction he had with the birds and enjoyed when a few were bold enough to come close. He kept a small disposable camera near for such occasions. Boy would have have loved the digital cameras of today!

*A tribute to Tom Robbins.

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