Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tom & Atticus

Water Street Bookstore in Exeter was packed last night, filled with people eager to meet Tom Ryan and Atticus M. Finch. We arrived early but not as early as most everyone else. One benefit of our timing was that Atticus suddenly appeared trotting down the sidewalk, a few yards ahead of Tom. I bent down to rub his back and ears; he ignored me but I think appreciated the rub anyway. It was my first in person encounter with Atticus, a handsome, confident, miniature schnauzer and Tom's best buddy and hiking companion. Meeting Tom would have to wait, as he and Atticus needed more walk time before the event started.

We settled into our seats not long before Tom and Atticus entered the bookstore to great applause, especially when Tom lifted Atticus into the crook of his arm.

 Tom & Atticus are introduced at Water Street Bookstore
(Photo by Dale Wisler)
I first "met" this extraordinary pair more than three years ago through their blog, The Adventures of Tom & Atticus. It was Tom's writing and their adventures together that inspired me to start a blog. I've been so humbled by Tom's support of my own Spicebush Log. What an honor to finally meet them both last night at the bookstore.

Last night Tom re-told stories of his life, about his family, his Newburyport newspaper--the Undertoad, life with his adopted miniature schnauzer Maxwell Garrison Gillis, and the special bond with Atticus over the past 10 years. Tom and Atticus are on book tour for Tom's book, Following Atticus, forty-eight high peaks, one little dog, and an extraordinary friendship, which was published last September. A book that is receiving well-deserved rave reviews.

Atticus is part of the star attraction of this duo, although on book tour Atticus rests or sleeps on a soft blanket beside the lectern while Tom tells his story that extends all the way back to his own childhood. Tom was funny and entertaining and enthusiastic about being in front of a large crowd, even though by his own admission it hasn't come easy. After-all, he and Atticus often prefer to be out on the trail by themselves hiking in the wilds.

At one point Atticus requested a drink of water and another time Tom picked him up while he was narrating part of his story. Atticus laid his head down on Tom's shoulder, perhaps a tender hug and reassurance that they both need during these public talks, which must require some stamina by both.

Tom & Atticus at Water Street Bookstore
(photos by Dale Wisler)

After Tom finished speaking, there were a dozen or more questions from the audience. Importantly people asked about their health -- good for both. Many of us then formed a line for the book signing. I was feeling a little nervous, like I was meeting my in-laws for the first time. I had not met Tom yet, although I knew them both so well through emails, Tom's blog, and his book. And I had already introduced myself to Atticus on the sidewalk. When I introduced myself to Tom at the signing, he gave me a big, gentle hug and one for Srini too. Any nervousness on my part disappeared as I felt the warmth and grace of this man who cares so deeply about a little dog named Atticus.

Following Atticus generates almost as many tears as smiles, but this is an upbeat story, about overcoming, or at least confronting, fears, family dysfunctions, illness, and other life struggles. I look forward to following Tom and Atticus on more of their adventures together and Tom assured us last night that there is more to come.

Happy trails Tom and Atticus.


  1. Wonderful account -- thanks for sharing with all the Tom and Atticus fans out there.

  2. What a wonderful post. Many blessings to you.