This past week I’ve had an Elvis song in my head a lot.  

The song is “All Shook Up.” The origin of the song is not what you think, with it being about love.

It doesn’t stem from a heartbreak experience. Otis Blackwell wrote the song at the offices of Shalimar Music in 1956.

Al Stanton, one of Shalimar’s owners, shook a bottle of Pepsi at the time and suggested Blackwell write a song about the impact of shaking it.

Who would have known that one of the most popular Elvis songs was about shaking a can of soda?

The feeling of being “all shook up” came up a lot this past week when I would think about going hiking. I would ponder a trek into the woods. Then, I remembered what happened a couple weekends ago to Don Zimmerman and his bear attack while he was running. And all my plans came to a screeching halt. 

I have been too casual during my past four-plus decades exploring this island about bringing bear spray with me while hiking.

I honestly have always thought that if it was me versus the bear, no matter whether or not I had spray, the score would be this: Me, 0; Bear, 1. And that I would then become a mortality statistic. 

When details of Don’s attack spread last week, my stomach was sick. I know so many others who still have the same sense of sickness about it.

Two days before his attack, I had happily jogged up Pillar Mountain Road. With no bear spray. Others that I talked to had the same experience of having just trotted up there or explored the area days prior.  

Maya Angelou’s famous saying sums it: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.”

Those days of being at all casual about spray are now officially over for me. Don’s story helped change my course of preparedness from now on. I now know better and will do better. Bear spray it will be for me every time I am in the wild from now on.

Don, Kodiak is wrapping their hands around you with support as you heal.

Maybe for a little while here I need to just head to the ocean. Me, my sister and her new-to-her-skiff will leave behind the thick brush, feel the wind in our hair and blasting our faces as the bow lifts up, and the only thing that will be all shook up will be our wake. 


Ella Saltonstall, born and raised in Kodiak, works as a speech language pathologist and enjoys musing about parenting, communication, music and everything in between.

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