Sunday, June 2, 2013


It has been raining in southern Wisconsin—a lot. Two days ago, Oton appeared in my backyard, and invited me to the first toadstool festival of the season. It sounded harmless enough so I grabbed a light jacket, tied the laces on my hiking boots, and followed him to Elvsmyr. Toadstool, mushroom, and fungus of all shapes and colors were indeed blooming from every surface.

Elvsmyr was vibrating with excitement as I strolled to the cooking fire where everyone was gathered. There was much laughing and singing of silly songs while the cooks put the final touches on the feast. I was doing fine until Venn started telling me about his favorite dish, mashed maggots.
“You see, it’s the first maggots of the season that whip up into the best lump free mash,” he explained.

I nearly lost the contents of my stomach at that point. Just then, Smekk walked past with a sloshing pitcher of grog. I have avoided the grog up to this point. Now, I’m not afraid to try any human drink, but one can never really tell what might be involved in troll liquor. “Smekk, I’d like to try some tonight.”
“Sure,” she said, stumbling over a stone, the grog vacating the pitcher in waves while she regained her balance. She handed me a metal mug and poured a generous portion of brown liquid.

I sniffed the cup, and to my surprise, it wasn’t bad at all. Venn had moved on to a description of the main course. Something about possum … I stopped listening and took a big slug of grog. To my surprise, it was good, really good. “Is this honey based?”
“You could say that,” Smekk said. “But that’s not the secret ingredient.”

Uh-oh. “What the secret ingredient?”
“Well, if I tell you, it won’t be a secret.” With that, she flicked her skirts around and strutted away. Other cups eagerly awaited her arrival.

It gets fuzzy after that. I remember trying the sizzled worms, and likely the possum, but it was the grog that sticks to my memory cells. I swear it was a bottomless cup. I never say Smekk refill it, but thinking back, I didn’t see much of Oton either. I’m pretty sure he was cloaked in invisibility and topping it off. When I woke up, I was lying in a puddle, the trollkin were staring down at me, and it was still dark. “Will the sun be rising soon?”
“Not really, Mor just won the battle for the sky a little while ago.”

This didn’t make any sense. I didn’t even arrive until well after sunset. “How long was I asleep?”
“Two moon passes.”

“What is in that grog?” I asked holding my spinning head.
“It was a toadstool festival. What do you think was in it?”

Feeling glad to be alive, I shoved myself to my feet, and staggered out of Elvsmyr.
“We don’t always add the toadstool, but I did warn you it was a toadstool festival,” Oton yelled as I retreated to my own bed.
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