By Molly J. Anderson- Childers
It happened very quickly, too quick to think or
to blink. I was walking along quietly and slowly,
looking all about me as is my habit when walking
alone. If I’m on a hike with friends, I try to match
my pace to theirs. But on my own, I’m a dawdling
wanderer, content to walk only a few miles with
plenty of time to rest, sketch interesting trees and
flowers, and explore every inch of the trail. I was
admiring the roots of a giant pine tree growing at
the top of a hill when I suddenly spied a Gnome.
He wore a pointed cap and trousers the color of
freshly dug earth, with a rough shirt the color of
dried elm-tree leaves in autumn. His hair and beard
were brown, and his eyes gleamed darkly like two
stones in clear water. He squatted near the base of
the tree, about eight inches in height. He did not look
like a tiny bearded man; he looked surely and
incontrovertibly like a Gnome, which is exactly
what he was and is. He was completely still and
silent, watching me intently to see what I would
do. He was not afraid of me, for I gave him no
reason to be. He merely waited to see what I
would do. And what would you do, Dear Reader,
if you came upon such an ancient and fantastical
creature on an otherwise ordinary day?
Ask yourself this question.
It is an important one, for you never know when you
might spy a faery or Gnome, or other folks from the
pages of a story-book, if you go walking in the woods
alone, and it’s best to be prepared.
Would you try to capture him, and make him tell all
the secrets of his ancient race? Or perhaps try to
engage him in conversation about the sly habits of
foxes, and the minds of ravens? Or would you just
stand and stare?
( I suspect most of you would. That is exactly what I did.)