Man and Bird, 2 of 3: Friendship

Often in the mornings, the old man went out to greet his friend the bluebird. The bird always waited for him and did not fly off when he approached.

The bluebird found a mate, and the man built them a house. They moved in without question. After that the man would come in the mornings and peer into the hole. There were eggs, and then there were chicks, young helpless things. The older birds did not mind.

When the chicks fledged, they knew the man so well, they would come and sit on his porch rail. He would talk to them in a low voice, and they would turn their heads, as if carefully listening.

Winter arrived with harsh winds, and piled snow against the house. The man trudged out into the snow and chopped wood. On occasion, a bluebird would come and watch him. The man was rarely alone.

Copyright 2014 George Lowell Tollefson

Family Mystery 2: Family Mystery

“When your mother was young, unmarried pregnant women didn’t keep their babies,” their father said. “And they didn’t tell anyone. We were married almost seven years before she told me.”

Dani and Kari looked at each other, then at him.

“And now she’s passed away, so we can’t ask her about it,” Kari said.

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Dani demanded.

“It was her story, not mine.” He shrugged. “She didn’t tell even me much. Just that it happened.”

“Too ashamed,” Kari said.

“A brother,” Dani said. “I wonder how we could find him.”

“I wonder what else is in the box that I found those photographs in,” Kari said.

“He may not want to be found,” their father warned. “And this was all long before I met your mother, so I don’t know anything about it.”
“I still think we should try,” Dani said.

Loretta Miles Tollefson © 2014

Man and Bird, 1 of 3: Old Man of the Mountains

He was an old man, and he lived in the mountains beside a lake. In the summer, the sun would come up and warm his bones, and in the winter the wood from the trees that grew on the mountains did the same. For he had a wood stove, and he laid the wood in carefully on his long porch, so that it would be within easy reach when the snows came.

It is said that one morning he went out and met a bluebird. The bird was sitting on a post, surveying the grass for insects. When he approached, the bird did not fly off. He stopped a few feet away and said, “Good morning.”

The bird hopped down into the grass. It returned to its post with a grasshopper. The man reached toward the bird, and only then did it fly away. But a bond had been formed.

Copyright 2014 George Lowell Tollefson

Family Mystery I: Revelation

Dani lifted the photograph from the pile on the kitchen table. “Who is this?”

Her sister turned from the stove. “The old woman? It says ‘Grandma Sally’ on the back in Mom’s handwriting.”

“There isn’t a Sally on either side of the family,” Dani said.

Kari lifted a lid. “I know. It doesn’t make sense.”

Their widowed father came into the room, his walker bumping the tile floor.

“Dad, who’s Grandma Sally?” Dani asked.

“That was someone your mother knew when she was a teenager.” He eased himself into a chair. “She helped her through a rough patch when your Mom ran away from home.”

“Mom ran away from home?” Dani asked. “You’ve got to be kidding.”

“She didn’t talk about it,” he said. “She didn’t want to remember giving up that baby boy.”

The two women stared at him.

“Are you telling me we have a brother?” Kari demanded.

Loretta Miles Tollefson © 2014

A Question of Being

“How long does it take for a fly to die?” asked the frustrated housewife. She was standing by the kitchen sink, brushing her face with her hand. “Disgusting.”

“A few days,” her husband answered from the kitchen table. He turned to look at her. “Unless of course you smash it. Then the disassociated parts won’t bother you. Whether or not they are alive is another matter.”

“Don’t be gross! Why do you always have to find the worst possible way to look at things?”

“It’s a family trait. We’re dying off one by one, and I’m wondering what that means.”

“People aren’t flies.”

“Piranha do the same kind of work as flyswatters.”

The wife left the room.

Death had always been an interesting proposition to the husband. It was as mysterious as life. Which was which, and what did it mean? He sighed. It was all a question of being.

Copyright 2014 George Lowell Tollefson


Alison straightened and put her gloved fists on her hips, pushing her shoulders back. Ten two-hundred foot rows of potato plants stretched before her. She twisted her torso, looking behind her and stretching her muscles at the same time. She had dug up the potatoes from about half a row. Full bushel baskets marked her progress. The yield was good this year, but her back was tired already.

She looked up. There were no clouds at the moment, except for a small gathering over Cimarron Canyon. An east wind was starting up, which meant rain at some point this afternoon or evening. She turned in a slow circle, looking up at the peaks surrounding her high Rocky Mountain valley. Snow dusted the tops of Baldy Mountain to the northeast and Wheeler Peak to the west. She went back to her digging. She didn’t have much time.

Copyright © 2014 Loretta Miles Tollefson

Mountain Moods

The afternoon light fell out of the clouds and lay down upon the mountains like a mood.

The rivers were not happy because the light was bright and warm. They thought it might make life difficult for their trout because, if it got any warmer, it would deprive them of oxygen. They complained to the mountains.

So the mountains sent up a column of air. Hawks drifted high above in its warm currents.

The sun noticed them and withdrew behind a cloud to consider the matter. “Should hawks be this high?” it asked itself. “They should be hunting down below.”

While the sun considered these matters, the light on the mountains miraculously vanished. The valleys let out a sigh of relief, sending shadows over the tree sided slopes.

Meanwhile, among the rivers hidden deep in the valleys, a dipper bird entered a stream and found it quite cool.

Copyright 2013 George Lowell Tollefson