Untethered Dog

An Online Notebook by Tom Swift



See that black bird on high. There, above the tallest tree, against the blue forever, well beyond the orange brown leaves that fall at your feet. His wings outstretched, he glides this way. Then that way. And back again. He works not at all. He has no place he needs to be. He has nothing […]

Baby Doesn’t Need a New Pair of Shoes

It didn’t occur to me this achievement were possible. I thought the Air Jordans were a permanent part of the visual landscape.

Beautiful Morning

The squirrel, my dog’s arch nemesis, showed up first thing. So did the birds — so many small birds gathered around the feeders, on the tree limbs. And bunnies. We must have just passed mating season for we see so many young rabbits on our walks right now. This morning, we had the neighborhood to […]

Stop Signs

As my dog and I approached the street corner, a gentleman in a jeep drove through the stop sign we were headed for. We were far enough away that our safety was not in question but close enough that what I had seen was not in doubt: the guy ran the stop sign. He may […]

Let the River Run

Turns out, my sleep last night wasn’t as restful as I thought. I needed to close my eyes. I put my head on the arm of my couch. When I woke up a few minutes later, I heard the humming of engines. Our trash/recycling pickup was canceled this week. I wondered: could they possibly be […]


I took care of my fallen friend (tree) on Memorial Day. I sawed her limbs. I broke off her branches. I crushed up her twigs. There were twigs everywhere. I held in my hands her stump, which weighed more than it looked. I piled her logs, which were more in number than it appeared. I […]

The Eyes

We had a rough patch because of a sore spot. Something got lodged in my little buddy’s back right paw. Must have walked over something. Or scraped something. Anyway, it didn’t look right. Or at all comfortable. I have been learning about stoicism from books and talks and lectures of late. But, of course, I […]

The Miracle

Forty years later, the moment still gives you chills. You have been bottled up this week — literally (tension in your back and shoulder) and figuratively (lack of writing, irritability) — and you have for some weeks now felt pervasive despair over the state of our country. We are at that point in winter, even […]

A Walk in the Woods

  We were kicked out of the bird sanctuary. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that we were turned away at the door. And we weren’t even packing a hammock. We did not, in other words, have clandestine motives to steal hammock time. The sun was seriously glorious today. That is why the little buddy […]

Politically Speaking

You don’t come here for political analysis but I don’t know how we can not all be at least a little engaged in politics right now. In fact, it seems wrong not to be at least a little engaged in politics right now. The president was impeached last night. The right to watch “Dancing with […]

Hello and Goodbye

We were at the Minnesota Museum of American Art viewing an Arab-inspired exhibit — a geographic mishmash of a description if ever there was one — and the gallery guide was telling us about the painting before us. A man walked into the gallery. The MMAA is small. The man had pushed hard on the […]

The Search Continues

From our side of the river you can see a pedestrian bridge that runs parallel to the current. As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to walk it. Today was the day were going to find that bridge. After driving up and down the river parkway, we pulled over. I figured we […]

In the Beginning

On that walk this morning … we heard a baby crying. It was still dark. No sound but the crying. Sounded like the baby was alone. The crying came from the direction of some shrubs along the tree-lined street. The street was north-south. We were going east-west. Then, as if fabricated from the shadows, a […]

Take Me to the River

At this moment my little buddy and I are not on the morning walk, as we usually would be, but rather on the couch, huddled close. Specifically, he is at my hip, his butt near my pit. He is scared. We are in the midst of a rainstorm. The storm we were supposed to get […]


You can feel it on the edges of the day; the air is shifting, the sun is lessening, the heat is breaking. It was my turn to work the late shift yesterday. I do not mind being at work after the usual hours — there is calm and lightness in being part of the skeleton, […]

Life Is Easy

You think the next day of the man in the jacket on a hot afternoon standing on the pavement who turned to you and told you about his two dachshunds. He chuckled at the thought. The dachshunds are 14 and 16 and years old, respectively, he said, they are father and son, barely more than a […]

The Little Things

As you approach during the morning walk you see the man on his stoop. Your impression registers in an instant. He is wearing a ragged T-shirt. His hair looks hasn’t been washed this week, the strands look like electricity. It is unusual to be dirty this early. The takes a drag from his cigarette. You […]

Morning Light

After the morning walk, we sit on the back step. Soon, I will need to get into the shower. It is, after all, a work day. But that can wait. We have a few ticks. Thank you for coming close. And letting me look with you. At the sun coming through the tree. Thank you […]

Morning Moment

You have had a cup of coffee and you have gathered the blanket. It’s going to be a warm day but this early, well before sun-up, it is cool in the house. Your little buddy has been out to do his business and now crests between your legs, resting his head on your shin. You […]

Squirrel Crossing

He darted so fast and with so little warning all I could do was slam on the breaks. I have no idea how I missed his little head and frayed tail. But somehow he slipped by my front tires as my blueberry-and-yogurt breakfast rattled in the passenger-side seat and my phone and coffee cup sailed […]