Last Saturday morning I was decorating the serving tables in the church parish hall for coffee after the Sunday service. Created an autumn explosion of color with all the usual fall accoutrements: pumpkins, acorns, pine cones, leaves pulsing with color, and one of my signature items scattered with abandon: river gravel instead of confetti.
My unexpected, funny elements were my trolls playing musical instruments. I love them. I have thirteen of them. I have two cellists; three sax players who may be blind because they are wearing dark sunglasses; and three beatific, angelic-looking euphonium players wearing Norse helmets with horns. I don’t know whether they play euphoniums or baritones because the instruments look the same on the outside to me. About their only difference is the shape of their internal bores. I don’t spend much time worrying about that. But I like the word euphonium better than baritone, so that’s what I choose to think they’re playing.
I also have five demented-looking drummers. They don’t look like they’re dangerous. They just look like they’re nuts. Together, I call them Five Demented Drummers and The Band.
Five of my trolls peeked out from amidst the leaves and behind the pumpkins on my tablescapes. Most people never even noticed them on Sunday. But I knew they were there.
I think the woods are full of trolls who play musical instruments. I think they sleep in the summer heat; their furry tails sweat, and having sweat run down your tail is most unpleasant, so they reverse hibernate. They hide in their caves in the winter, but they don’t sleep; they sit by a roaring fire in an enormous fireplace in a cavernous hall and play troll music. And dance. Eat biscuits and jam. Blackberry jam. And fried pies. Blackberry. Drink blackberry ale. I like that image.
My musical trolls come out in the spring and fall. In spring, they play music in the light of the moon. And right at dawn. You have to listen closely because the birds sing so loudly. But if you are patient, listen intently, and believe, you can hear them.
But fall is the musical trolls’ favorite time of year. They stay outside all day playing their music. You can’t see them because of the fallen leaves, pinecones, rotting logs, pumpkins. They take tiny knives and axes and burrow their way into the pumpkins from the bottom where the pumpkins are lying on the ground. You don’t see anything when you walk by; the trolls’ hiding-pumpkins don’t look like jack-o-lanterns. They look like ordinary pumpkins. But the trolls see you. They drill tiny peepholes into the pumpkins so they can watch you as you walk down the trail, enjoying the fall color, blissfully unaware of them.
I am a joyful Episcopalian, and I figure that if God could choose to make something as irritating as human beings who are endlessly troublesome, then that same Creator could choose to make something as delightful as musical trolls who aren’t any trouble at all.
So put on your favorite old sweater, grab your walking stick, and go take a walk through the woods this afternoon. Drink in the splendiferous fall color, bathe yourself in the smell of the wood smoke, and drench your ears with the sound of troll music that underlies the song of the birds and the rustle of the leaves. And when you hear it, remember to use your manners and say, “Thank you, God.”
G’fernock. That’s troll for Amen.