STORIES FROM THE UNDERWORLD
A look into the lives of trolls, elves and fairies and all the other creatures in this most special place
Trying to get a straight answer out of any of the inhabitants of the Otherworld is not difficult. It's impossible. However, they do like to talk and talk and talk. As someone once said ' they are often wrong but never in doubt'.
As I'm making each piece I often ask characters in the piece what it is I'm actually making. Since all my work seems to sprout from my hands unbidden, and certainly with no advanced plan, I'm usually interested to see if they have any thoughts in the matter.
And off they go into a story or tale after which I have to close my eyes to keep my head from spinning. So I'll just relate these tales to you below and perhaps you'll have better luck.
If so please let me know. Thanks, Joe
P.S. As you probably are a bit concerned about me talking to what seem to you to be clay figures, rest assured my family and friends felt the same. However, they love me and realize I do no noticeable harm to them or others, so they just smile, shake their heads and go on with their business.
BELLHOP BRINGING FLOWERS
Romance is alive and well among the trolls
In this piece I asked the bellhop about what he was doing and how he liked his job. Here's what he told me...
Justin is the Head Bellhop (actually the only bellhop) at the Song Bird Honeymoon Cottage and Resort in Trollville.
He has been in his job since the resort opened back in 1706. He tells me that since he loves his job so much he has stayed young at heart and he is a crucial part of the team at the cottages.
One of his many duties is growing and caring for the special flowers that he delivers to all the newlywed couples upon their arrival. He also brings them a basket of their favorite foods (nuts, seeds or fruit) chosen especially for their species.
He told me you don't bring apples to bluebirds or nuts to sparrows and his knowledge in this area is renowned. And the sugar water for the hummingbirds is his own secret recipe that is closely guarded. His pressed white pants, white suede shoes and red-red jacket are his proud uniform. His wife is the other half of this unique team. She cleans the cottages, launders the bed linens (made of soft cotton fluff), polishes the water bowls and cares for the flower gardens.
Over the years they have amassed countless wonderful stories. However, they would never dream to tell them. At least not to me anyway. They would only share that the bluebirds were by far the most romantic of all of their guests but refused to expand on what they meant by that.
They are admired throughout the community for their service and plan to continue at least until 2706. Apparently, it takes up to a thousand years to train the next couple in this most important of jobs.
THE MAYOR AND FAMILY
A political family everybody likes. Really !!!!
This is a special occasion as explained to me by the Mayor's daughter (Maelynn)...
This is sooo exciting she told me. My daddy has been mayor of Trollville like forever and mommy is the official Post Master and Rumour Starter ( that's really a more important job then mayor but we don't let Daddy know that). So I forgot where I was, oh yeah so like Daddy set up this big luncheon to celebrate the first 'Two Holer' duplex bird house ever and everybody that is important in Trollville was invited. Except Rocket Johnee my boyfriend. Daddy doesn't approve of him because he has the fastest redbird in town and races him all over the place and scares old ladies and babies. But he's the coolest boy in my school and I sneak away to meet him and help him groom the redbird. He promised me he'll take me for a ride some day but he hasn't yet. Gee I got distracted again. So there was this big deal lunch and Mommy and me wore our best Sunday clothes and Daddy wore his official robe and hat with the gold tip. There was a lot of adult stuff said and a LOT of Special Elixir Gold drunk by the adults and they were sooo funny to watch.
So after the luncheon we all walked to the brand new Duplex for the ribbon cutting and to peek inside. Mommy was really silly and somehow climbed up on the roof and peaked into the second story unit. She was laughing and and waving to everyone and I was afraid she was going to fall off but she didn't. Daddy said it wasn't dignified for him to climb up with mommy ( I think he was scared) so he just looked into the first floor. But I wanted to look where mommy was looking so I climbed the rocks and peeked in too. It was really cool and I was real careful not to get my best clothes dirty or ripped or nothing. That made daddy happy. So all the adults were busy laughing and being silly and wondering when the first new bird families would move in and stuff so I sneaked away and met Johnee and he took me for a short ride on Rocket and I'm so excited and can't wait to tell Sandy Louise. She will be so jealous !!
It's very cool being the Mayors and the Postmaster's daughter because I get to hear about all that's going on with the new bird houses and the bird families before any of the other kids. After all, our little town takes care of all the birds in Troville. We make sure they have clean and safe houses and stop in to visit them all the time. They are all very grateful for that and are our friends. And I almost forgot on every big bird house we build we add a little hummingbird house on the roof too. Don't tell the bigger birds but I like hummingbirds best. They are so pretty and zoom all over the place. I think they can fly even faster than Rocket, but don't tell Johnee I said that or he'd be mad at me. Well I have to get over to Sandy Louise's house and tell her about Johnee and me and Rocket.
This has just been the best day of my life. Bye
SAYING HI TO THE NEW BABY BIRDS
How yours truly got roped in to this wonderful world
A common scene in Trollville is the residents visiting the bird families in their care. Their friendly, loving nature and sense of duty and pride in what they do is infectious when you are lucky enough to spend time with them. A while back now (I can't seem to remember when) I had been on a two day hike in the forest near my home. After a really tough climb I laid down to rest and fell into a kind of lazy sleep.
I awoke to faint voices coming from a copse of trees not far away and went to see what was there.
And here was a tiny village tucked under a dense canopy busily going about their happy lives. There were smiles all around and laughter and whistling that sounded like the most beautiful music I had ever heard.
What I had come across, I later learned, was a town of trolls whose whole purpose in life seemed to be taking care of a whole lot of birds.
I'm not sure how much time went by before I took a breath, but I did notice that I had become very dizzy (no wise cracks please). In any case, I was able to observe for a considerable amount of time before a lookout sneaked up behind me and about caused my heart to stop. After making sure I was alright she (it was a little girl) asked if I'd like to join her and her friends for tea.
Entirely at a lose, I nodded, and followed her.
Since I rather stood out being a good five foot eleven inches taller than the tallest troll, our arrival was quickly noticed by all and in moments I was surrounded by a few hundred good souls all talking at once. It seemed best to just wait it out, which I did, and it was then that a very formally dressed (person?) troll welcomed me and introduced himself as the Honorable Mayor of the Hamlet of Trollville in Charge of the Care of All Birds. A rather daunting title indeed.
He than introduced his wife the Official Post Master and Rumour Starter of the village.
The mayor then told me it was also his wife's job to introduce me to all the residents and resident birds as well as those now occupying the honeymoon cottages. He quickly realized this would take some time and ordered up some lunch. And some Special Elixir Gold to drink. Needless to say the portions were rather small but quite tasty and even small quantity of Elixir caused me, over the next few hours, to completely forget the names of everyone I met. Except for Maelynn, the mayors daughter and village lookout, and of course the Mayor and Mrs. mayor.
On my tour I was amazed at every turn. Here were folks taking care of lost baby birds and putting them back with their moms, other cleaning and painting the bird houses, trolls gathering seeds and fruit and nuts for the birds who were too old or sick to gather their own and just visiting and checking on them all with a smile and a song.
During the tour they were also asking me a lot of questions about myself. Things like was I handy, was I good at making small things, was I detailed and precise and most importantly to them was I busy with anything at the moment. I answered yes to the first questions and no to the last and a hush fell upon the forest. Everyone seemed to be holding their breaths, me included. Having a rather vivid imagination (suprised) I carefully looked around me to see what I was missing. Then Mrs. Mayor stepped forward and began to tell a story..
Up until a year or two ago the village had a tinker (of my size and species) who built their bird houses and cottages for them. And then the 'Woman' had come along and whisked him away. (They asked if I was in danger of being 'wisked' and I informed them that had already occured and so was unlikley to occur again). So while the houses and cottages they had were well built and would last for many, many years, there were no new houses or cottages for their ever growing community.
Although it took me a minute I could see where this was headed. I wasn't born yesterday. But they pulled out all the stops, parading all the baby birds, then the baby trolls and as you've guessed by now they had me.
They only asked that when I returned to my home I gather up some bits of this and that. Then if I had the time could I just pick up some say stones or wood or clay and fiddle around with it and see what happened. And here I am and the best part is you're here with me.
THE GOOD WITCH
A visit with the Good Witch- Part One
One beautiful Sunday afternoon while visiting my newly discovered world of Trollville I happened to hear some whispers coming from the edge of the woods.
I slowly crept towards the faint voices only to pop around the corner and finding five children talking about school in quite normal voices. My new friends seem to have a very sensitive radar that tells them when I'm about. I've yet been able to overhear any conversations that they are not ready to share with me.
The children are exceptionally adept at this but have been slowly letting me share some of their secrets. I've kept my word in not ratting them out to their parents on some marginally acceptable behavior so they are letting me deeper into their magical children's world.
On this lazy afternoon while their parents were doing whatever it is that parents do they were about to hike into the woods to visit their very best, best, best and secret friend. Of course they were led by none other than Maelynn the mayors daughter. Leadership seems to run in the family blood. She called the other children a ways into the woods to vote wether or not to allow me to come along.
Maelynn returned with a very stern face and made me promise never to tell anyone of what I was about to see. She told me that if I did the children would never again trust me with their secrets.
This sounded like a big deal so of course I promised and spit on my hand before shaking with each of the kids.
We set off and were soon enveloped in a rather deep and dark forest that didn't look anything like the one I had just traveled through to arrive in Trollville.
THE GOOD WITCH-PART TWO
I meet the Good Witch
The children followed a path well known to them but a mystery to me. Left at a patch of mushrooms, right at the stream and then another left (I think) at the dead palm tree. ( What was a palm tree doing in this forest). And then a solid wall (I thought) of oak trees as high as the sky. The kids giggled at me and the smallest went to the wall and pushed and then pulled a tiny handle and a small door opened.
What should have been a very dark place was glowing with a soft inviting honey colored light coming from a small black stone cottage. At the top of the cottage was a bright white light shining from what looked like a very large sea anemone ??
And there in front of the cottage stood the Good Witch with open arms and a very large green nose. The children ran to her with hugs and kisses and then whispers as they pointed to me. The Witch turned to me and said welcome Joe (how did she know my name) to this haven of love and acceptance. Here those who are different, with green noses, only one eye (the ladybugs), red faces, big ears and even the rare creature with a white face and giants like you are welcome, kept safe and loved.
Even in this mystical place it was clear that the tea I was invited to would not take place inside the cottage. Maelynn led me to a clearing behind the cottage while the other kids helped the Good Witch with the tea and biscuits. As I mentioned in another story the food was troll and witch size but somehow managed to fill me up and quench my thirst. Another mystery of this place that I will probably never understand. As often happens in this special world everything became very quiet and still. The Witch stood and smiled and waved her hand at something unseen in the shadows. I was about to meet the one eyed ladybugs....
continued on next page..
THE GOOD WITCH- PART THREE
The Ladybugs Appear
Slowly at first ladybugs began to appear all around us. In only a few minutes there were hundreds of them resting on the Witch, the children and every surface in sight. Except me. The Good Witch addressed one of them who came forward and sat on her hat. After a tense moment he began to tell the story of how it came to be they had found the Good Witch and came to reside with her in this place.
Many hundreds of years ago the witch was sitting sad and alone in her cottage and she heard what she thought was crying outside. When she went out she saw a lone ladybug on her step weeping. She gently sat beside the sad ladybug and asked why it was so sad. She went on to tell her that there were many ladybugs born where she came from with only one eye and they were shunned and made fun of because they were different. All those born this way eventually left the towns and villages and fled to the forest. There they were cold and hungry and felt hopelessly lost. She said she had wandered away from the others and had seen the Good Witch's light and hoped to find shelter and perhaps some food. They went inside where the ladybug ate her fill and warmed up but she was still sad because she was worried about all her friends. The Good Witch then told her story to the ladybug.
She too was born different from all the other witches as she had a big green nose and all the others had normal purple ones. She too had fled to the forest and built her cottage but she was all alone. The witch told the ladybug that she had many special powers and could protect all the other one-eyed ladybugs if they would like to come and share her home and refuge.
The Witch was overwhelmed when the ladybug returned with hundreds of her friends, but overjoyed to have company and not to be alone.
As good news usually does, word spread, and the first thing she knew there were tiny small eared donkeys, cows
that couldn't moo, birds that couldn't sing but could speak french and all manner of 'different' creatures. To this point however I was the only giant. As the day wore on more and more of these wonderful and loving creatures came out of the shadows and I was overwhelmed by the sheer joy they expressed in having learned not to be ashamed of their differences but to be accepted for who they were and not what they looked like.
I left with a renewed conviction to be the best I could be and to look at those different from me as fellow travlers on the same journey through life.
I just hope I can be as true to this noble goal as those I met in the forest that day. I plan to go back soon, so if you'd like to go and promise not to tell, I'd love the company.