Little Compton letter writer publishes book from the 'Back 40'

Sidney Tynan, 100, has long written about her view on nature, and the world, behind her home

By Ted Hayes
Posted 5/24/22

Little Compton resident Sidney Tynan, whose letters on nature and life have graced the pages of the Westport Shorelines for years, has published some of them in a new book, "More Country Letters," …

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Little Compton letter writer publishes book from the 'Back 40'

Sidney Tynan, 100, has long written about her view on nature, and the world, behind her home

Posted

Little Compton resident Sidney Tynan, whose letters on nature and life have graced the pages of the Westport Shorelines for years, has published some of them in a new book, "More Country Letters," which will soon be on sale at the Brownell Library and benefits the Friends of the library.

"More Country Letters" introduces readers to the endless things that bring Tynan joy as she walks through the fields of her "Back 40," a roughly two-acre stretch of path, pond and thicket behind her Tompkins Lane home.

Among those unending and varied joys are frogs, bluebirds, the changing seasons, squirrels and magnolia and color and pheasant — there are many others.

That her letters have brought others joy wasn't something she really considered until recently.

"This one daughter of a friend wrote to me and said, 'I showed your letter to a friend who has been very ill, and it made such a difference to her.' This was the first time anyone said a letter of mine had made a difference."

"So I said, 'Well, if that's the case, I'm going to put some together.'"

"That's all we can hope for, is to make a difference in our lives."

As the title suggests, this isn't Tynan's first publication. At 100 years old (she'll be 101 in a few weeks) she has written a detailed family history, a children's book on identifying birds, and "Country Letters 2001-2007, which contains dispatches to friends.

Born in Massachusetts, Tynan is a retired teacher and book store owner and has lived in Little Compton since the 1970s. She still finds immense joy and inspiration in the flowered fields of her "Back 40," and this time of year tries to get out every day to see what's new.

One recent morning, she took a visitor on a tour of the property, stopping to note recent changes. Bullfrogs ribbited back and forth at the pond that was once a cranberry bog. Bleeding Hearts had just popped up, and the scent of Lily of the Valley hung in the air as the "Back 40" paths burst with a brilliant carpet of Buttercups. Hinkley, her spaniel, bounded back and forth, fetching a tennis ball thrown by a visitor, and only stopped when an errant throw sent the ball into a thicket, never to be seen again.

"I don't need to go anywhere," she said. "I can go out and listen to the sounds and see this beauty."

Tynan has printed 50 copies of her latest book, signed them all, and they are available at the Brownell Library, to benefit the Friends of the Brownell Library. They're $15 per copy.

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