birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Richard Robertson

It easier to describe my friend Dick Roberson’s personality than his appearance so I guess I will start with the hard part. Richard Robertson is an American man in his very early 70’s. Like many men in this age bracket, his once brown hair is slowly turning white and it is thinning on top. That fact doesn’t appear to bother him. In fact nothing about his hair bothers him and as a consequence the back of his hair wants to wave at his ears while the thinner strands on top dance in the breeze. He would probably get a haircut less than twice a year if his most lady-like wife Brenda didn’t insist on a barber visit at least twice each winter.

He has the still youthful body of a lifetime athlete. His torso is slim, his shoulders are broad and his long, tan, well- muscled legs are only slightly marred by the new knee scar. It is easy to imagine him dribbling the basketball down the court as a college player and pacing the sidelines as a high school coach. Now that he has retired after more than 40 years in public education, his athletic focus is golf. Robbie really loves to play golf—at least 3 or 4 times a week-- but that obsession does not mean he is a one-sided person like some sports fans I have known.

He also likes to hike wherever he finds himself. During the Tucson winters he often hikes in the Catalinas on Sundays. On Kauai, bob and I ferried him and Brenda to some famous hiking locales. And last June they hiked in areas of England that were practically off the grid. Of course, down and up the Grand Canyon almost every year.

He can be almost equally passionate about books and good conversation. He has a magnetic personality created by his genuine love of other people. This is reflected in the wide grin and the one-armed hugs he generously distributes among his friends. When Robbie is in the room, everyone wants his attention. I want to talk to him about the books he has read recently or the latest political fiasco in the news. But even though I despise listening to the hole-by-hole replay that some golfers dish out over after golf drinks, even I find it fun to listen to Robbie banter with the other golf buddies

It is easy to imagine Dick Robertson in the classroom and the locker-room. Did I mention that he was an English teacher in his former life. He looks at you when he’s talking. He asks questions about you, your life, your books, your family. He listens when you respond. For just a moment, he can make you feel like you are one of the most interesting people in the world. His high school students must have followed him around like baby ducks imprinted on their mother.

Waste of Space

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