Prairie to Peak

The trail up Mt. Sabattus, which I've climbed every year since before I was born.
The trail up Mt. Sabattus.

I grew up in South Dakota, where the horizon rolls indefinitely in all directions. Hot summer days bred lightning storms and tornado warnings, whose zap and buzz and chartreuse cast I could see from miles away. Despite my Midwestern roots, however, I’m most content at the seashore or—better still–atop a mountain, drinking the view like water for my soul. My first hikes were before I was born, and I’ve sought them ever after–laughing, sweating, berrying, eating warm grapes and half-smashed sandwiches, uttering marriage vows, and spreading a few of my father’s ashes before God and Shawnee Peak.


©2011 Beret Olsen
©2011 Beret Olsen–Not Piranha. I couldn’t make myself photograph a frozen fish.


Yesterday I found one of our goldfish in the freezer, nestled between the breakfast sausages and a pint of mocha ice cream. She lay awaiting proper burial: a tiny coffin, a moment of silence, a cozy hole in the yard.

But Piranha has been stuck in purgatory for two or three weeks now, while her surviving compatriot circles the tank and gives me the stink eye.

I briefly consider her stiff corpse–recalling her five-year sentence of dry fish flakes and fake plants–before tossing her regretfully into the compost bin. Here’s hoping she doesn’t haunt me for too long.

How Dead Norwegian Pets Reach the Afterlife

I got up at 5:20 today, and haven’t stopped since, so I would rather poke my eyes out with a hot stick than sit down and try to write something right now.

You might also be wishing that I never, ever pledged to post daily for thirty days straight; apologies in advance.

In the absence of any other coherent thought, I have decided to pass along a valuable piece of information that I received a couple of days ago.

I had mentioned a dead hamster in a post–“Hamsty”–who was well-photographed before we laid him to rest in a Hamsty-sized sleepsack, with a tiny pillow, in a tiny coffin.

It was tasteful and surprisingly moving for a rodent funeral.

I have recently been informed as to how real Vikings send their dead pets to Valhalla, however:

From which, incidentally, has a lot of interesting ideas. I'll be better prepared when our next pet kicks the bucket.

I’ll be better prepared when our next pet kicks the bucket.