-By Orv Alveshere-

We climbed into a horse-drawn hayrack. We selected a straw bale seat.
With a ‘designated driver’, that outdoor festival was a treat.
I joined him for the familiar, nostalgic rear view of his team.
He cracked the reins and that people hauler moved in a retro theme.
Demonstrations by three-Percheron teams pull one-bottom riding plows.
True horsepower leaned into harness collars. We gazed in awe as time allows.
Dismayed I couldn’t identify that team’s breed. I could for the most part.
Dark dorsal stripe, “Fjord Horses,” he said. I would have needed an equine chart.

In moments my mind went back to Norway, on a Juven Travel tour;
Visiting high mountain seters, watching my Grandmother, as it were.
High altitude pastures were summer homes to young girls, goats and cows.
Thin air and lush green grass provided grazing as snow melt and climate allows.
The milk was stored in cans in a dugout by a cold running mountain stream.
Milking chores completed, there was nothing left to do, but day dream.
Her thoughts turned to her loving family back home. She was bored doing her part.
A long week since her parents drove her up that mountain with Fjord horse and cart.

Grandma dutifully milked the cows sitting on a stool, at her young age.
She straddled goats, leaning to milk backwards. That night, she’d reengage
Her job of storing and keeping the goat’s milk separate for making cheese.
She’d cover with quilts in her stone hut to keep out the cool mountain breeze.
She sang, talked to the cows, petted the goats, lonesome to the enth degree.
A trip home was a long winding road, forbidden by parental decree.
She was longing to depart. She planned her route with a homesick heart.
She longed to see her family…and get a ride back by Fjord horse and cart.

She would receive hugs, a warm meal and a mandatory ride back.
Fjord horses steadily pull up the mountain and through switchbacks.
Another lonesome night, summer duties were the custom for the young.
Grandma told her story in half-English, mixed with her native tongue.
Alas, she knew of a short cut. She would need to jump a chasm of 6 feet.
They warned Grandma if she missed on that jump, her life would be lost.
Later, so homesick, she left, jumping the chasm with a running start.
They sensed she came home early. Without question they hitched the Fjord horse and cart.

Grandma Mallen’s parents must have known she jumped that crevice. Looking down
That chasm seemed two hundred feet, or bottomless, and she’d never been found.
So, back to her milking duties, singing to the grazing cows and goats.
When I view a Fjord horse, my mind goes back to my Grandma and her quotes.
Her homeland custom for girls, was in high mountains. To ‘get away from it all’
I’d seek a lake or spa, not a mountain retreat with a waterfall.
Grandma was lonesome on mountain seters, I’d feel lonesome too. For the most part
I’d insist on a round trip, but prefer a trip with a Fjord horse and cart.

© copyright 4-2008, All rights reserved.
By Orv Alveshere, Fargo