Through the Ice

A young mother stopped the mules and me this week and asked, “why do you travel with a top hat on your pack mule?”

Bernie Harberts, bamboo, trailer

The top hat that rides atop my pack saddle.

She asked, “Is it in memory of someone? Is it like putting an empty pair of boots in an empty saddle when somebody dies?”
She was giving it way more symbolism than I did.
“No”, I said. “It’s the top hat I got married in.”
“Oh”, she said. “It reminds me of my son. He was 8 years old. He fell through the ice and drowned on January 22. That hat makes me think of him.”
It makes me a bit sad looking at my top hat now.
I think of that young boy going through the ice. Of how he drowned and now his mother would stop to ask a man with a mule what his hat meant.
Here’s a cheerier chapter from my top hat’s life.


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