Following Atticus is an autobiography and an adventure story about a muckracking Irish newspaperman, whose life is transformed by a small dog and their winter adventures together. Set in the high peaks of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, they battle disease and nature’s wrath in their quest to redefine themselves and find new meaning in life.
Our heroes, Tom and his mini schnauzer named Atticus, set out to climb all 48 of the White Mountain 4000 footers in calendar winter not once, but twice, to raise money for charity. Climbing the Whites in winter is no joke, but Tom and Atticus do it without fanfare, battling the elements, illness, and other adversities with the help of their community and the friends they’ve inspired with their quest.
It’s a gripping, heartwarming story and one that I could identify with myself. Walking in those White Hills can change you forever and bring you a new peace.
My Interview with Atticus
(Disclaimer: this is fiction, but it’s how I imagine Atticus would respond after I read Following Atticus.)
I caught up with Atticus the other day at the Peaches restaurant in North Conway for a quick interview before his upcoming book tour with Tom. Here’s what he had to say
Philip: How do you feel about the fact that your middle initial stands for Maxwell, the name of the dog that Tom had before you?
Atticus: I’m honored to tell you the truth. Maxwell taught Tom that you need to let a dog keep his personality, not train it out of him. Tom gave me freedoms growing up that I know he yearned for himself when he was a boy, and I think we’re both the better for it.
Philip: You and Tom climb a lot of mountains. What do you see when you look out from the top of a peak.
Atticus: People ask me that a lot. I’m not looking at anything in particular, just taking in the whole thing. I feel this incredible sense of peace when I’m on top of a mountain. Peace in the company of Tom and a sense of communion with the rest of the world.
Philip: What were you thinking when you and Tom were caught in that terrible snowstorm on Mt Bond?
Atticus: I knew we had to keep moving or we would freeze to death, so I put down my head down and lead the way. I knew that if I could still walk through those snow drifts and wind, that Tom would follow.
Philip: When you were ill you met with a Tibetan Monk named Geshe Gendum? He didn’t say anything to you, but he massaged your neck and shoulders and the tumors somehow disappeared after that. What can you remember of that meeting.
Atticus: When Geshe touched me I heard the sound of the wind and felt a warmth spread throughout my body, like I was lying on sun-baked granite. That’s the same feeling I get when Tom and I climb Mt Cannon and hang out on the rocks overlooking Franconia Notch. It’s peaceful there and one of our favorite places in the Whites.
Philip: What’s your favorite hike in the White Mountains?
Atticus: If I had to choose, I’d say that the hike up Mt Jackson is my favorite. The view the of Mt Washington cloaked in winter snow is not something I can ever forget.
Philip: Thanks Atticus! Give my best to Tom.