[Source: google search.]
I tried to be as quiet as a cat as I approached the Barnum Brook Bridge. I put my foot on the first plank and sure enough, my stealth was inadequate. Out from under the bridge, so fast I missed it because I had blinked, emerged the Troll, blocking my way.
“Who is crossing my bridge?” He attempted a snarl and a roar. Instead, only a squeak. He rubbed his eyes. Apparently I had interrupted his nap. “Oh, it’s you again,” he said as his large eyes took focus.
“Hey, Troll,” I said, with some sadness.
“Get ready for the Three Riddles.”
“Do we really have to do…?”
“You know the deal. It’s in your book of Norse Mythology.”
I sat down on the leafy trail. “Okay, let me have it.”
First riddle: “What has hands, but can’t clap?”
“You’re kidding…a clock.”
Second riddle: “You see me once in June, twice in November, but not at all in May, What am I?”
“Hmm.” I paused for a moment before it hit me. “The letter “e”.”
“Not bad,” the troll replied.
“Not hard,” I retorted.
“Okay Einstein, this is the hardest one for today. I’ve been saving it.”
Third riddle: “What has a bed but never sleeps, has a mouth but never talks, and can run but never walks?”
My mind went blank. I had no idea. He had me stumped. I’ll never cross this bridge today. I’ll never get to that quiet spot at the end of trail…the place where I think through my problems. Then I looked at the Barnum Brook below me. That’s the answer!
“A river,” I said a bit too loudly.
The Troll bowed his head in defeat.
“That’s okay, Troll, there”ll be other chances.”
I walked past him and sat on the log bench at the far end of the bridge. He remained seated on the bridge keeping his six feet distance.
“Oh, by the way,” I said as I fished through the pocket of my L.L Bean cargo pants. I pulled out a copy of something I saw in The New York Times yesterday.
“Ooo My My, the Times. A bit upscale for an Adirondack guy, wouldn’t you say?”
I ignored the comment and showed him this:
[Source: NY Times.]
He took the photo and studied. “Oh, poor Floogie,” he said. I always knew it would come to this”
“Explain,” I said gently.
“Where was this taken?” he asked.
“Under the Fremont Bridge in Seattle.”
“I coulda guessed. Made it all the way to the West Coast. He was a friend of mine, Floogie was. He was really into the Troll thing. Did everything the Norse Mythology book says that Trolls do. One day he was emerging from his place under the bridge when a truck loaded with cement accedently drop its load and the cement poured through the pot holes on the bridge. Poor Floogie.”
“Sorry about your friend, Troll, but that’s not why I’m here. He looked up at me waiting for further comment.
“The self-isolation thing is…is really getting me down. I feel like I’m in a hole and can’t get out. It wants to be spring, but we’re stuck in January weather. No flowers. Too chilly to even take a walk. I started my needle point project and made two mistakes on my first cross stitch. I feel like I’ll never be good at anything. My appetite barely exists. I have trouble sleeping. What am I going to do, Troll?”
“First of all, think about how lucky you are to be safe and secure up here in the North Country. The Adirondacks are a special place. Every day is a microcosm of every season. Yes, all the seasons are condensed into one day. I don’t do this very often, but let me show you something.” He reached into his satchel and pulled out a Pan flute. “Stand up, and close your eyes.”
He began to play a soft melody. I thought of spring, of the flowers waiting to rise up and I thought of the leaves of the Poplar waiting it’s time to burst forth. Then, the tune changed slightly. Now I felt the warm breezes from a large lake. I felt the hot sand beneath my feet, so hot I had to run into my dad’s arms and he carried me to the shore and gently placed my into the chilly water of Raquette Lake. I smelled Balsam everywhere. Then his melody changed again and I saw the scarlet and yellow of autumn along the trail. The sky was intensely blue. My brother, Chris was waiting for me a short distance away. Mount Marcy was just over his shoulder. It was to be our fifth time we were climb it. Troll played on. The tune now made me think of knee-deep snow. It was six degrees below zero. The crisp air bit at my nostrils. Finally, the tune came back to the beginning. I opened my eyes and it was early spring. Life was waiting beneath every fallen leaf. All I had to do was give it a little more time to absorb the sun’s energy and crocus would energy.
I just had to wait. I’d get through this. I am stronger than I gave myself credit for. My heart was much lighter now.
“Thanks, Troll. Thanks for giving a vision to just wait.” He grinned up at me. I turned to go when I felt the load in my shoulder bag. It was a round loaf of grainy brown bread I was intending to eat when I reached my private spot.
But a favor demands a return.
“Troll, catch!” I tossed him the loaf. He caught it deftly. He looked at the bread and then up at me.
“What I did was for you alone. No reward necessary.”
“Look. I baked it for my marriage anniversary and for Mother’s Day but my wife isn’t keen on bread.”
He looked out over Barnum Pond. “I had a wife once.” I saw he was trying to wipe away a big Troll tear. “And I had a mother once too. A second tear rolled down his furry face. “Trolls aren’t much different than you humans. That’s why I prevented you from crawling under a bridge and going into a hole, like me.
I turned and began to walk on when I heard:
“Happy Birthday, Patrick.”
“Thanks,” I yelled back with a wave of my right hand.
Now I wonder how he knew about that.