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4200 FIFTH AVENUE




I work in an office with people whose love for bird and beast is generous and unflinching. Alumni editor Sally Neiser, for instance, one morning got off the elevator with a stray dog she had found moseying across Fifth Avenue rush hour traffic, keeping the dog in her office a few hours until she located the owner. Assistant vice chancellor Mary Ann Aug, an inveterate birder, is one of the thousands of steadfast volunteers for the annual Audubon bird count who spend the day after Christmas shivering in parks, fields, and wildlife areas across America.

Our newest staff member, assistant editor Alan Friedman, a young man of quiet dignity and alert mind, entertained us recently with a tale of the travels of his housemate's dog. Seems Gulliver, that's right, has taken his name as birthright. His heart's desire is to wander the world, or at least the farthest reaches of Squirrel Hill. Gulliver, Alan says, is shrewd, ready at all times to take advantage of a door cracked open. The other night, when Gulliver solved the physics of the garden-gate latch, Alan was determined that for once this roving rover was not going to get the better of him. The chase was on. Alan tore off down the street with neighbors on porches cheering him on and pointing out which way the dog had gone. Racing through back yards and alleys, Alan even kicked off his sandals to see if running barefoot would make his footwork more fleet. But it was all for naught. A six-foot wall gave Gulliver the final advantage. Still, the vision of this chase warmed my editorial heart, confirming my sense of Alan's willingness and determination to get his story, no matter what it takes.

My own heart was broken a few weeks ago by the very baby blue jays that hatched in a nest on my backyard deck. I had noticed, with mild interest, the female jay stoically roosting. But one Sunday afternoon I looked up from my yard work to see the first hatchling, whose most obvious feature was the heart that wracked its tiny frame, pulsing through the naked, leathery skin with wild, not-to-be-denied throbbing. After that, I watched over them intently, even keeping my aged cat indoors so as not to excite them. Three birds in all, they quadrupled in size and sported the faintest of blue feathering in their 10 days in the nest. While checking my garden one morning I heard a soft puff of a sound at my back. The first bird had fluttered itself to the ground. I could not have been prouder. The last I saw of the birds, they had laboriously hopped all the way to my neighbor's driveway. Later, I could hear their now-familiar, raucous call several yards up. But my own yard had never been so quiet and still. Having watched for their big moment , I wasn't prepared for the sad lesson that birds don't necessarily fledge in their own back yards.

Associate editor Vicki Glembocki has left the Pitt Magazine nest for the mountains of Colorado. Her tenure here, although brief, was memorable. She received a Matrix Award from Women in Communication for her very first feature story here, a historical look at the presence of women at Pitt, "They Might Be Giants" (December 1995). We wish her well out West.

A final note: Gulliver, who did return, is a German short-haired pointer with black and brown spots, Alan says. In case you see him someday.


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