Peter knew he should have started on his journey home well before the sun had slipped past mid-afternoon. The laying out of the hay to dry on Farmer Nilsson’s ancient fences took longer than he had planned. But, he nearly burst with pride when Farmer Nilsson paid him three whole kroner for his labors. This was his first venture to earn money outside of his own valley. His mother would be proud of him and want to give him a stor klem, a great big hug, but he would refuse it. He was a man now. After all, he was in his fourteenth summer.
Peter could feel his cup tapping the side of his leg as he took long strides to shorten the distance home. His cup was his treasure. He had looped a piece of rope through the handle and tied it to his belt. He wore his cup proudly, like a knight wore his sword. His father had carved it from of the burl of a felled birch tree. Peter had watched as his father whittled a design into its wooden sides. Then, with a heated tool, he burnt Peter’s name, letter by letter, into the wood. The cup was all he had to remember his father by. He and his mother ran the farm all alone now. They struggled to pay the rent.
The sunlight got weaker as Peter strode deeper into the forest. He heard the welcoming sound of water as it dashed and played among the rocks of a nearby stream. The stream was pure blue-green glacier water, cold and refreshing. Peter untied the rope from his cup. He dipped it deep into the icy flowing waters. As he drank he watched the last golden-orange crescent of the sun before it disappeared behind the mountaintop. Peter set his cup on the top of a fallen log. He had forgotten that darkness came earlier on this side of the valley.
A Joyful Nose
The five of us kids poured out of the old Ford station wagon. Excitement crackled in the air as we headed into the park for Dad’s company picnic.
I spotted the gargantuan stuffed dog from a distance. He was deep pink with white shaggy tufts and a satin ribbon tied around his neck. His eyes were covered by hair, sheep dog style and his nose was black, like a dogs nose should be. He had to be three feet tall. And he smiled, or at least he smiled at me. His tongue hung out of the side of his mouth all pink and sloppy. Love at first sight!
“Dad, Dad! Who is the pink dog for? Is it one of the prizes? Which race is it for?”