Friday, November 23, 2012


Evidence of beavers along the Yahara, or perhaps a little troll action.... You be the judge. I know what I think.


It's snowing here in Wisconsin today. Oh, not the smattering of flurries that fell in October, no, these seem to come with the intention sticking around for awhile. Not that this is unexpected. I mean, it is November and Wisconsin. But unlike my Floridian friends and relatives think we are lucky in Wisconsin when it comes to weather. Sure we get snow, but we also get a abundance of colors dominating the landscape in spring. Then there's autumn, my favorite and often shortest season. The air turns crisp and the leaves give one last flash of color before diving back to earth to enrich the very tree on which they grew. Summer is perfect. Not to hot (most years) and still warm enough to get out and enjoy it out there. Besides we don't get hurricanes here. Having lived in Florida during Andrew and several smaller storms I could easily recognize the outer bands of Sandy as she blew in from the east a few weeks back, but it only amounted to a cloudy day here. Okay, so there is the annual threat of tornado to deal with, but mostly it affects some hapless farmer, or if the weather gods are really angry a small town or city, but don't you have to play odds in the game of life? No, we're pretty lucky here. All this got me to thinking. If your a troll only 3 inches tall how do you deal with a foot of snow dumping on your head? I mean do they have tiny snow plows out there in the marsh? I kinda doubt it. Maybe they all get together and have a shovel party, snow flinging in every direction. Nope, can't picture that either. Oh, I know. They must hibernate! On second thought, I don't think so. Oton has never mentioned anything like that. Even so, trolls are creatures of Norway. They have to have some means of dealing with 100 inches of the white stuff. So I looked it up. Surprisingly Norway despite being mostly above that imaginary line etched around the earth called the artic circle enjoys realitively mild winters. Sure they endure 21-23 hours of darkness everyday, but that sounds like prime troll time to me. Along the coast its would seem winters are no where near as snow filled as one might expect. That flush of hot water called the gulf stream, the same one that rushes past our own east coast kisses Norway on its way around the globe keeping winters under some level of control. Deeper inland, in the high mountains the game is different. Snow, lots of it. So how do Oton and his friends survive winter? I guess it's just one more on the long list of questions I have for him and his friends. The moon is nearly at the proper phase so I'll be seeing him soon. Sure hope he's in a better mood this time.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Scarecrow moons the people of Stoughton

Okay, so I understand the scarecrow is mooning, but just what exactly is Oton doing?

Troll Sighting in Stoughton, Wisconsin November 2012

The Stoughton Press which launched this project has hit the streets. Thanks to Linda Bricco Schalk for believing in me... & our little friend... This posting is dedicated to the enjoyment of the young at heart everywhere....
Anonymous reports have surfaced with eerily similar sighting of a creature that can only be described as a troll. “This is no garden variety gnome” one source stated.

Initial reports were written off as a case of one too many brews when the person of interest was found to be taking a smoke break between sets outside the Pour House in downtown Stoughton. However, within days sighting of said troll were reported by a reputable citizen who has never been known to touch a drop of spirits. “I was taking my early morning jog down the south side of Main St when I saw it plain as day shoot out from Division heading north. I was so startled I have to admit I emitted a disturbing high pitch screech. The thing stopped turned and looked me right in the eye and I swear it said ‘Hallo, so very sorry. I should have looked before crossing.’ Scared the daylights out of me, but he did seem to be a polite chap”.

Soon photos from all over the downtown area were coming in as citizens began to report more and more sighting often in the early morning or late evening just before and after businesses closed.

Not believing a word of it this reporter has contacted a zoologist at UW- Whitewater to confirm or deny the existence of trolls in the modern era. “Poppycock! There is no such thing as trolls. Besides the topography of the Stoughton area could not support a village of trolls as there is not a cave system sufficiently large enough to house the creatures. Ahem, I mean no trolls are fairytales told to frighten small children.”

Not satisfied with second hand reports this reporter decided to traverse the area just after sunrise to see for myself. I found nothing. Convinced the troll was a hoax I stopped in for a bismark at Fosdals. After purchasing my delicious treat I was leaving the store and there he was. Sitting right there on the chair. I nearly choked. “What do you want?” I stammered.

“Oh nothing really. We’ve just been neighbors for so long know I’ve decided to introduce myself to the human folk. They call me Oton- rhymes with Stoughton.”

By the time I thought of what to ask I heard a pop and he faded away. It is this reporter’s opinion that Oton is friendly and seems to enjoy the downtown area. Citizens sighting Oton are advised to say Hello.    

My editor has sent me back into the field to track down Oton. I’m not to come back until I get an interview. I spent several pre-dawn hours stalking the downtown area concentrating on the area where I last saw the troll. On the eleventh morning I began to give up hope as I hid in the bushes in front of the McFarland State Bank. Fearing failure and my knees soggy with the cold morning dew, I began to pack up. My stomach growled as I began to notice the sharp tang of coffee and what I could only describe as strawberry jelly. Realizing I was hungry I crawled out to make my way to the Koffee Kup.

“What ya doing,” a gravelly voice said.

I spun around and there he was Oton himself, but somehow smaller this time. Shaking my head to recover my wits I invited him for coffee and a chat.

His eyes glittered like topaz as he replied, “sure, can I have sprinkles too?”

“I don’t know if they have sprinkles,” I stammered.

“Try the bakery.”

Not willing to let this opportunity to get away I dashed away for two cups of steaming black coffee and grabbed a dozen chocolate donuts covered in colorful sprinkles. I raced back with the scrumptious treats, but to my horror he had disappeared. I dropped to the bench spilling hot coffee across my lap.

“Hey, watch it. That’s hot.”

Peeking between my knees there he sat. “Lots of humans today. Meet you at troll beach.”

“But it’s closed for the season,” I said.

“It’s always open for me. See ya there.” And with a pop he vanished just as a pleasant older gentleman paraded by with a puzzled look on his face.

I ran to my car and I have to admit risked a hefty traffic ticket to get my interview. To my great relief there he sat at the top of the blue plastic slide. Yelling through the fence I said “Oton, I have a few questions. The people of Stoughton want to know more about you.”

“Okey-dokey,” he said as he pulled a tiny pair of sunglasses from his grubby overalls. He leapt to the ground and landing lightly on his feet he skipped to the fence.

“Where do you come from?”

“Norway, doesn’t everyone? Where are my sprinkles?”

I shoved the cup through a gap in the fence as he asked, “What’s that?”
“You asked for coffee. It’s dark roast.”

“Yeah, but you have to throw out the water first.”

“Shaking my head I handed him the bag. Sorry humans drink it wet.”

“That’s disgusting,” he said as he licked the frosting from the first donut. “Ooh, chocolate. Yummy.”

“Are you here to harm us?”

“Why would I do that? We’ve been neighbors for years. I think humans are fascinating.”

“How long have you been here?”

“I arrived with the first group. The elders say they never would have made it without me.”


“I find things, useful things,” was all he would say.

He was playing with me, but afraid he would get bored and disappear I forged ahead. “Some people see you and your three feet tall, others say you’re as big as a human, today you are as tiny as a baby squirrel. How is that possible?”

“Magic. It’s kinda my thing. The sorceress accepted me as apprentice long ago when I demonstrated I could make my nose grow, see?”

Faster than Pinocchio his nose shot out several inches. “The hard part is getting all the different pieces to look right. I’m still working on it. Leaf tells me I look different when I’m big.”

Stunned I asked, “How on earth do you do it?”

“That’s a secret for another day,” he said slyly. Shoving the last of the donuts down his gullet he said, “I’m late. The others will start to worry if I don’t get back soon.” POP.

“Damn, I had so many questions, and now I have even more. Like who the heck is Leaf?” I grumbled.

“Next time bring the grounds, used, still warm, squeezed- not strained,” he called from some unseen location.

“No problem,” I stammered as I scanned the park. “When will I see you again?”

Be downtown twenty-nine sunrises from now. I’ll find you.

Dear readers, next time I’ll be ready, I can promise you that.





Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What's in a name?

Oton. It's a strange name even for a troll. So I got to thinking and decided to ask.
"Oton," I said. "What does that mean in trollish?"
"Wellll..., it doesn't mean anything."
He seemed to to be holding back so I pushed harder.

"Oton, sounds suspicously like the town were are sitting in."
"Yeah well, you would call yourself almost anything if you had my given name."

Like a tiny jug with a tight cork wedged in place he refused to say more. "Come on, it can't be that bad."

He shuffled his oversized feet and mumbled, "Blomst, mama named me Blomst."

"Does that mean..."

"Don't- just don't say it..."

"Flower! Your mama named you flower?"

With that he spun around and started to run back towards the marsh where I could not follow.

Such a touchy little troll.