I’m so excited about my husband’s new book! Reviews have been fantastic. Life is short and if you are worried that you are squandering your days with surfing and tweeting, your eyes always fixed on a screen– and desperately hoping to find happiness there — this book will inspire you.
. . . If we’d tried to come by car, we wouldn’t have been allowed to park until after five without a beach sticker. But arriving by boat, the dreamlike Lambert’s Cove and its sandy beach are ours. Brad sets up a halyard on the bow, and we swing on the line like Tarzan, soaring into air so soft that it feels like fur. And then, one by one, we fall into the warm water and linger there. Back on the boat, we change our minds about dinner again: The Blue Whale is too good to leave, and everyone has arrived with food. Instead of a beach picnic, we have a loud and rather raucous feast of smoked mussels and sushi from Martha’s Vineyard, smoked bluefish and bread from Nantucket, cheese from Chatham, and ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil from my garden. Our towels and swimsuits, pinned to the railing of the boat, flap in the balmy night air.
(Excerpt from Briny Flight to Summer, Conde Nast Traveler, August 2010)
I’m not sure if I should be flattered — or very troubled — that I am the only woman writer in the new Esquire collection or that the subtitle is “What it Means To Be A Man.” Hey, I may not be a porcelain doll but I’m not a man, either! Seriously, though, I’m very happy to be in great company, and to be able to read Tom Junod’s great essay again about his father’s fashion tips. It is one of the best things he’s ever done.
I was recently asked by Patagonia.com to write about a “backyard corridor” experience for its environmentalism campaign. If you don’t know what a backyard corridor is, read on . . .
By Martha Sherrill
He was so huge, the biggest green frog I’d ever seen. And he was sitting – utterly motionless — on a stone step leading down to our front door. He was a long way from the upper pond. Was he okay? Our spaniel was barking at him, barking and barking. But the frog was strangely calm. I wondered if he was sick.
Maybe he’s dying, I thought. He’s so huge. He must be a million years old.
I dragged the dog by the collar to get him into the house. I was afraid he’d pick up the frog and start tossing him in the air, the way he tosses around half-dead mice, chipmunks, the occasional baby skunk. By the time I returned to the stone step — to bend over the big frog, to swoon at him with my human pity, my ideas about his advanced age and imminent death — he began to hop away.
His hops were high and long. His sense of direction seemed flawless. A frog in his prime. He was aiming for the southeast corner of our house. He landed gently on the grass, where he blended in, and then he exploded into the air like a green missile.
He turned the corner, almost hugging the curve in midair. He continued on, down a slope of ground that let to another pond, below our house. I’d come across other frogs in our south garden and figured they were lost hikers. But now I realized there was a frog highway that connected the two ponds.
Later that summer, when ducklings were born in the lower pond, their mother would lead them through the woods on the north side of our house. They’d walk in a row, single-file, like obedient school children, heading toward the upper pond to swim.
So we had two corridors, as far as we could tell. The ducks, before they learned to fly over us, traveled on the north side. The frogs use the south. Had they worked out a traffic flow pattern between them? Our house began to feel like a toll booth, except there’s no toll to pay. They just have to get by our dog. And they always do.
Hachiko: A Dog’s Tale is coming to movie theaters on December 18, 2009.
For those who aren’t familiar with the story, Hachiko was an Akita puppy who was owned by a Tokyo University professor in the early 1920s. A special bond formed between them, the sort of bond that Akita dogs are known for. Each morning, the dog walked with the professor to the train station in Shibuya, now a crowded neighborhood of Tokyo. Each afternoon, the dog would return to meet the 4 o’clock train, knowing his owner would be on it. When the professor had a stroke at work, and later died, the dog continued to return to the train station, every day at 4 o’clock, for the next nine years.
As the years passed, newspaper accounts were written about Hachiko, postcards of the aging dog and other souvenirs were sold at the train station, and a bronze sculpture was erected while the real dog was still alive to pose nearby. Tourists began gathering there (it is still a popular gathering spot in Tokyo), a Hachiko fanclub was established, and soon afterward the ministry of education had a song written, Chu-ken Hachi-ko, or “Loyal Hachiko,” which was taught to schoolchildren nationwide as a lesson in the importance of loyalty.
Morie Sawataishi, the hero of my book Dog Man, was just a schoolboy growing up in the far north of Japan, the snow country, when he was taught the song about Hachiko, and told the story of the famous dog. Years later, his memory of the story led him to illegally hide an Akita puppy through-out World War II, feeding it and keeping it alive, when food was hard to come by and even his own family members were hungry. For Morie, the Akita dog stood for something honorable and important, a part of old Japan that was vanishing. Morie thought about the value of that kind of loyalty and faithfulness, and the preciousness of it. Who would be loyal as an Akita if there weren’t any Akitas left?
The good news is that Dog Man is now available in paperback. The sad news is that Morie Sawataishi, the patriach of the Sawataishi family and the man who almost single-handedly saved the Akita breed from extinction in Japan during World War II, died on October 22, 2008. He became ill shortly after his 92nd birthday and, when hospitalized, refused life-saving treatments and intravenous medications of any kind.
His wife, Kitako, is now living with her daughter Ryoko Ando in Oyama City. After 68 years of rugged mountain life, she is enjoying her time in the city.