As they watched, a wild turkey hen stepped onto the frozen riverbed. She walked carefully up the ice-covered stream, stopping occasionally to peck at a fallen leaf or twig.

Finally, she disappeared into the coyote willow at the river’s edge. Carla let out a long breath and sat back against the Model T’s battered seat. She put her bare hands to her neck to warm them, and looked at her mother. “We’re really lucky,” she said.

“Why do you say that?” Eileen poured thin tea from the thermos into their single mug. She held it for a moment, warming her hands, then handed it to Carla.

“We see wild turkeys on a frozen river in January.” Carla sipped the tea carefully. “Not many people have that.”

Eileen looked out the cracked windshield, up at the bare cottonwoods etched against clear turquoise sky. “Not many do,” she agreed. “Not many do.”

Copyright © 2015 Loretta Miles Tollefson


They badly needed the meat. Stanley had borrowed a rifle and used store credit for the ammo, but they’d had to pay cash for the license fees, and Carolyn wasn’t happy.

He studied the landscape. Not an elk in sight. He sat down on a nearby log and pondered his situation. This move had been a mistake. There was no work and they were getting deeper in debt. He’d been a fool. You couldn’t eat a Ponderosa forest or a clear mountain stream.

But the forested hillsides were green, the air scented with pine, the sun warm on his shoulders. Stanley took a deep breath and just sat, soaking it in. “It’s going to have to last me a long time,” he thought ruefully.

There was a slight rustle in the clearing below, then a six-point bull elk stepped into the open. Slowly, carefully, Stanley raised the rifle and sighted.

Copyright © 2015 Loretta Miles Tollefson

A Half-Broke Chestnut

Jerry was sitting on the top rail of the corral fence, twirling his lariat thoughtfully and studying the horses, when Betty came out of the house.

She scattered the grain to the chickens and crossed the yard to the corral.

“I don’t suppose you’d want a half-broke gelding for a birthday present,” he said, nodding at a chestnut-colored pony.

Betty chuckled. “Not ’til you break him.”

“He’s right pretty.”

“He is. And half-broke.”

He grinned. “You chicken?”

“Just smart. Married you, didn’t I?”

He smiled down at her as he unbuttoned his right shirt pocket with his left hand.

“How ’bout this instead?” He handed her a small plush-covered box.

“Oh Jerry,” she said. She opened the box. Two small diamond chips on a heart-shaped locket gleamed up at her in the sunlight.

“Oh Jerry,” she said again as he slipped down to give her a kiss.

Copyright © 2015 Loretta Miles Tollefson

Season of Mists Announcement

While G. Lowell TollefsSeason of Mists Coveron is currently on sabbatical from BQE Stories in order to focus his energies on researching and writing a philosophical work, he’s managed to find the time to complete a work that he began many years ago, a short novel titled Season of Mists. This book gives an unexpected twist to the usual war story: it’s written by a U.S. Marine from his enemy’s perspective. Season of Mists looks at the Vietnam conflict from the viewpoint of a Vietnamese peasant who joins the Viet Cong. However, while sympathetic to its protagonist’s ideals, this novel does not flinch from showing the brutality and complexities of this and every military conflict.

G. Lowell Tollefson spent his youth in Southeast Asia and East Asia, an experience that informs his depiction of the region and its people, and returned to the region as a Marine during the Vietnam conflict.  Season of Mists complements his work in Vietnam War Elegy (poetry) and What is War? (essays). Together these books provide the record of one man’s attempt to come to terms with war in general by grappling with the issues raised by his particular service. All three books are available at and


And then there was nothing but him and the wooden skis and the snow. The trees came at him and he moved effortlessly away. A hillock appeared. He took it without thinking and moved smoothly on, ever downhill.

When he reached the bottom of the slope, he came to a stop in a flurry of powder and looked back up the side of Agua Fria Peak. Now that was some skiing! He was breathing hard, cheeks numb with cold even as the sun warmed his back. His mind was perfectly happy and clear. He shook his head in wonder, took a deep breath of the clear mountain air, and began the long trek back up the mountain so he could do it again.

Copyright 2015 Loretta Miles Tollefson

On the Lake

They motored the boat slowly away from the dock. The sun overhead was bright but the breeze on their faces was cool. Cynthia tied her sunhat ribbons more securely. At the wheel, Harold turned and grinned at her. He’d suggested something with a narrower brim. She scowled and looked away.

Harold headed the boat toward the deep area near the dam. Cynthia hadn’t really wanted to come fishing, but she hadn’t wanted to stay in the Lodge by herself, either. She leaned back and closed her eyes.

The boat slowed, then stopped. She could hear Harold arranging his fishing gear. The sun felt good on her legs. An eagle cried overhead. Pine scented the air. She took a long breath and pulled the brim of her hat down, covering her face.

When she woke up, Harold was counting his fish. Cynthia smiled at him. “This is nice,” she said lazily.

Copyright © 2015 Loretta Miles Tollefson


The rain was behind him and gaining fast.

Timothy looked back, down the valley, and kicked at the mule, but it was hot and the mule had been going for a long time. Its pace quickened for a few yards, then dropped back into an easy trot.

The boy groaned and looked back again. His mother had told him to take his slicker, but he’d been in a hurry. “C’mon Boss,” he begged, but the mule just flicked its ears and jogged onward.

Somehow, they made it to the barn before the clouds reached them. Timothy turned the mule into the stall and made a dash for the house. The first raindrops bit into the dust as he reached the steps.

His mother opened the door. “Get wet?” she asked meaningfully.

He grinned at her. “Dry as a bone!” he said.

Copyright © 2015 Loretta Miles Tollefson