An excerpt from Sarah Stonich's 'Vacationland'


Fetching her Sunday paper from Pavola's Diner the day before, Meg had watched the old boys mimic the latest hypothermia victim, a Chicago bond trader found on Wikiwashi Portage, speaking into a chunk of pine bark the size of an iPhone as if calling for a quote. Wheezing with laughter and the gunk of Camel straights, they put on such shows when tourists are within earshot, debating whether January is more dangerous than July, usually calling it a draw, for there is peril year-round here on the wrong side of the Laurentian Divide, where straight-line winds toss pine trunks onto sleeping campers like Scottish cabers, flash floods dissolve trails from under hikers' knobby soles, and drownings are so routine their mention might elicit a shrug. And since there is water, water, everywhere, canoeists go right ahead and drink, inviting parasites to rue their days from the inside out, when even the toddlers over at CubCare DayDen know better, having been taught, along with the alphabet song, the rhyme about moose poop soup. Things that do not look dangerous are. Wide-eyed does nicked by cars have been known to kick-box through windshields, and while only two hunters have been fatally hooved, both were from Minneapolis and perfect examples of why one might think twice before just showing up here.