Wednesday, December 24, 2014



The Clumsy Troll
by Martin Calderwood

Once upon a time there was a very clumsy troll named Clontz. He was so clumsy that he could even trip over his own tail when it was behind him. Clontz lived in a small Troll village hidden deep in the rugged mountains of Norway far away from where most humans ever dared to travel. His home was not very big but it was cozy and warm and almost always broken somewhere because he was so clumsy. On one day you might go by and find his door lying on the ground because he was putting away his big mug and slipped on his moose hair rug and fell through the door into the street. On another day you might walk by and hear a loud crash as he sneezed while inhaling a soap bubble and trying to reach a rag to blow his nose. If you bothered to check further you would learn that he'd knocked his clean dishes all over the floor and through the window into the backyard. If he were out walking down the street, it followed, as day follows night, that he would bump, run into or step on someone or something sending it all Topsy turvy or helter skelter. It seemed that no matter how hard he tried he just had all kinds of strange, silly and sometimes impossible mishaps that he could never avoid.
Clontz's favorite holiday was Christmas and even though he was clumsy and had lots of accidents, he still had many friends in the village and in the mountains around it because he was nice and did his best to repair any damage he caused. The trolls and the animals had learned that as long as they stayed several feet away from Clontz, they were usually safe but on the other hand no one dared get too close because something might happen to them or their things. So, even though Clontz was happy he was also sometimes a little lonely because he was clumsy and that was just how things were and since he could do nothing about it he made the most of it.
So Christmas was coming and Clontz was trying to think of something to do for all of his friends. He had tried baking cookies but he'd burned his pan and dumped flour all over his two cousins who had come to help. He tried to carve them each a gift, but his knife had slipped out of his hand and just missed the village elder who happened to be walking by outside. (The knife had flown perfectly through the window, breaking it again, and gotten stuck in the old Trolls walking stick.) He'd even asked his aunt to help him make a warm hat for some of them but when he went to cut out the pattern he accidentally trimmed off a foot of her hair and one toenail as the scissors snagged on his table and flipped out of his hand.
One evening he was sitting on a large rock on top a hill that looked down on his village when suddenly he had the most brilliant idea. He would travel to the human town on the far side of the mountains and buy each of his friends a present. Excited, he jumped off the rock which loosened it and before he could turn it began rolling down the hill toward the town. Startled, Clontz stood for a moment then began to run down the hill after the boulder yelling for the villagers to 'LOOK OUT!!”
After a few yards he caught up with the stone which, at that moment, struck a fallen tree and flew up into the air so Clontz could not catch it. The stone arched toward the village and before he could blink twice, the heavy rock came down right in the middle of the village square. The loud impact made everyone jump as it flattened a cart full of bags of flour the village baker had ground to make pies and cakes for the upcoming Yule Party. The flour exploded all over the baker, who had been pushing the cart, so he looked like a giant snow troll. When Clontz got to the village everyone was laughing except the old baker who turned and glared at Clontz who immediately began to help clean up the mess.
When the flour was cleaned up as best as it could be, Clontz went to his home and gathered a pouch full of gold troll coins. He then took up his warmest coat which, of course, caught on his bed post and pulled it into his mop bucket which sloshed water all over so that he slipped on the mud and crashed to the ground sending his honey jar through another window onto his great aunt's dress covering it with honey as she just happened to be passing by.
The last thing Clontz heard as he scuttled out of the village was one of the Elders wishing him luck on his trip and urging the clumsy Troll to take his time getting back. He did not hear a couple of his friends expressing their concern for the human town he was going to visit.
The trip to the village was only unusual in the fact that not too much happened. Clontz only fell down one small ravine, started a small rock slide and knocked over one tree. When he got to the edge of the forest he was hoping that his luck would stay good.
He decided to use the main road to walk into the village. Now a Troll visiting a human village was rare, but not impossible because the two groups traded goods from time to time. When the villagers saw Clontz they were only a little worried. The fact he was approaching early, just after sunset and in the open was a good sign so no one picked up their weapons but several were placed at the ready.
“I have gold and want to buy gifts.” said Clontz as he was met by the night watch.
The two men nodded when the Troll showed them the bag and they heard it clink of the gold coins inside. The men stepped aside and Clontz stepped forward accidentally stepping on one of their feet as he passed. Luckily nothing was broken.
Clontz had not been there ten minutes when he slipped in the mud and crashed into a pillar holding up a porch almost bringing it down. Only the Troll's quick reflexes, created up by years of accidents, kept the roof from falling in. He gave the shop owner two gold coins and so they let him stay.
He looked and looked from shop to shop and twice his tail knocked down stacks of goods and shelves scattering stuff all over the floors. Clontz did not notice the villagers were getting nervous and angry and he had no idea that they only were keeping quiet because of the gold they hoped to get from their 'guest'. But even the most greedy and patient person has their limit so when Clontz picked up a powdery puff and gave it a sniff the resulting sneeze threw him back into the shop's stove which crashed sending hot coals and flames everywhere. Even though Clontz helped put the fire out and said he was sorry, offering ten gold pieces to pay for the damage the people were fed up.
“Be off!” one cried.
“Leave.. go away. You and your gold are not wanted here.” yelled another
Clontz could hear the sounds of a mob and he knew he had to leave so, after putting the coins on the floor, because the counter was badly burned, he left. He was in such a hurry to get away, he could not stop when a team of horses, pulling a heavy wagon, came by. When he ran into the closest horse, he scared the animal so badly it reared up and scared the other one. The two horses bolted racing down the street with several people chasing after the rig. Clontz did not wait to see what happened, he just fled into the woods accidentally dropping the gold as he ran.. The loud crash and angry shouts he heard behind him faded as he slogged deeper into the woods.
He continued to run for an hour, then, feeling very sad because he had not bought anything for any of his friends, he sat down and began to mope. He was so frustrated that he began to get angry with himself for being so clumsy and when he was angry he roared very loudly about how bad he felt, not for himself but for his friends and the humans he may have hurt (not to mention the poor horses). He hoped the gold he'd dropped, when found, would help a little.
Hours passed. The sun came and went as he sat in the deep shadows feeling down. Christmas (or Yule/Jule as he called it) would be there tomorrow. Father Troll would come in the next night and all good troll boys and girls would get their gift from the old Father. As dawn approached friends and families would gather for the great celebration. Food and gifts would be exchanged then all would feast, dance and participate in contests of skill and nonsense through the day and the next night. And Clontz had nothing to give.
As he sat, the sky began to fill with clouds and by dusk the winds blew and snow began to fall over the land. Clontz tried to ignore the snow but finally, after he was covered with a full half foot of the white stuff, he decided to seek shelter. He leaped off the stone, took a step and immediately slipped and stumbled into a tree knocking off all the snow on top of him. Frustrated he leapt up and his feet flew out from under him landing him on his tail which bent double. Finally he simply crawled to a nearby cliff looking for a troll hole to enter. It took him several minutes, on his hands and knees, to find the stone that covered the entrance. With some real effort he managed to move the cold and slippery stone aside and climb in without hurting himself again.
When the stone was pulled over safely closing the entrance Clontz squatted down and, once again, began to feel very sorry for his friends because he had nothing to give .
“You are not even thinking of yourself are you Clontz?”
The voice from the shadows startled him. He had not bothered to look around but now, as he looked up, he saw an old Troll with a dirty white beard who was dressed in a deep rusty reddish brown fur coat. His head was covered by a pointed hat made of the same fur. A wide black, leather belt held the coat closed. Beside the Ancient Figure was a rough brown bag tied with a long piece of spun rope.
“Father Troll.” gasped Clontz softly.
“Hello Clontz.” said the ancient old Troll.
“I was going to buy presents for my friends and things happen like they always do and I have nothing to share.” blurted Clontz using just one breath.
Father Troll took a couple steps forward his heavy boots scraping the stone floor of the cave. Gently he raised his hand and carefully placed it on Clontz's chest.
“You have a good heart and a gentle soul. I wish I could change your nature but I cannot..that is up to you.”
“But I can't. I have tried. I've tried moving slower, I try to watch all around me and I even tuck my tail but nothing works. Accidents and goofs just seem to flow toward me like water flows to the great seas.”
“Yet water can be dammed.” replied Father Troll with a slight smile. “Focus on the course you will set, not on the one you have traveled.”
Clontz was not sure what to think but he nodded and watched as the old Troll picked up his sack.
“You are as you decide to be and not what is behind where you stopped your flow. I will see you in a short while.”
Father Troll turned and clomped off. Clontz listened until the echo of the heavy boot's sounds faded then sat down again to think.
“I can be what I want.” The words played over and over again in his mind. “I want to to stop being clumsy and I want to give my friends gifts.” he said standing up.
Immediately his foot stepped on some loose pebbles and started to slide but he put his foot down hard and he stayed on his feet. Carefully he climbed up the rock and pushed aside the cover to the troll hole. His hand held firm as he pulled himself up into the cold night air. It had ceased snowing and the moon was starting to peak through the quickly vanishing clouds. Once outside he inhaled deeply enjoying his 'new self'' and instantly his feet went out from under him and he fell again on his tail. This time, however, instead of feeling stupid and clumsy he laughed and stood and placed one foot carefully in front of the other and walked back toward the town.
Near the wood's edge he found his bag of gold covered by the snow and untouched. Smiling, he trudged into town and as he stepped into the square in a loud voice he announced. “I am Clontz, the clumsy troll and I have come to buy gifts for my friends. I will sit at the edge of your town and those who wish to show me their gift ideas may come and I will buy what I wish.”
Clontz then turned and walked carefully back to the edge of town where he sat on the stone wall that outlined the edge of the city. He then waited patiently calling out once or twice more his desire. Finally one of the constables came out and seeing him on the wall walked up boldly to him.
“We told you to begone!” he said firmly.
“And I did as I was told but I have returned with my gold. I have learned my lesson and will let you come to me. That way your shops and town will be safe. I cannot change what I am but I can keep the flow away from others and laugh and spend my gold.”
Clontz then let loose a loud troll laugh which to his surprise made the constable laugh too.
“I will see what I can do.. Clontz.” said the constable turning around.
Several minutes passed, maybe more, then one by one a handful of shop owners came out each bearing items from their stores. Fabric, combs, mirrors, toys, and jewelry appeared first. A ball and an ax were shown as were a variety of tools. Young men helped their fathers and employers bring out items that might please the troll. Clontz sat very still and looked over the items carefully.
“The ax and five more, the fabric, all those mirrors and combs. Do you have brushes?” he asked.
One of the young men bowed politely and ran off returning shortly with a box full of all kinds of brushes. Others went and got finer items and soon the entire town was a buzz with this strange event and all seemed to take a liking to the strange troll who admitted he was clumsy but was doing his best to fit in
“Those and this and that....” Clontz had the items carefully stacked. Sometimes he would joke or stop and say this tool or that would be better if it did such and such. He kept his voice soft and he did not move much and he did not fall off the wall.
Soon there was a great pile and the people were beginning to look anxiously at the Troll “I will need a large sled to carry these. I will buy one if you have one to spare that I can tow.”
It took a long while but finally one was found that could be spared. In the meantime one of the villagers began to play a song on his fiddle. A fire was built and the villagers warmed themselves and the heat made the Troll smile too. The people seemed to relax and enjoy themselves as the night wore on. Food was brought out and shared and even the troll was pleased with the sweet treats and roasted meat that they shared with him.
When the wagon finally arrived, having been brought in from a nearby farm, Clontz nodded his approval and then smiling spoke softly. “You have been kind and let me have a second chance. All this gold is yours. I hope it brings you as much joy as these gifts will bring my friends.”
When Clontz bent down to pick up the sack of gold he had set behind the wall it seemed heavier and fuller than he remembered. He carefully stood and then walked, slightly dangerously, to the fire where he placed his sack on the ground. As he did so the aurora of the north burst into view lighting the sky with an explosion of color.
Everybody froze and looked up. Gold and goods were forgotten as nature put on her best show. As the lights faded the sound of jingling bells could be heard and out of the North appeared a sleigh drawn by eight reindeer. Inside was an old man and an even older looking troll. The vehicle came close and the hovered for a minute.
“May this event be blessed as the first step to a lasting peace between troll and man.” said the old man.
“You are all as you should be, caring enough for one another so that you have laid your fears and old selves aside and become a new and powerful force on our world” said the Troll.
“Grow and learn and a Merry Christmas and Blessed Jule to you all.” exclaimed the two in the sleigh at the same time.
The magical vehicle began to glow then in an instant it vanished into the night like a shooting star over the horizon. The Northern lights erupted again taking a final bow and then all was quiet.
Humans and the troll loaded the cart and as Clontz took his place at the tow bars his feet slipped and for a moment he danced around in wild chaos but somehow he did not fall. Laughing,as he regained his balance, he gave a mighty tug and the sleigh moved forward.
“Come back again, you will always be welcome!” chorused several of the villagers as they all watched the troll pull his laden sled down the road with the ease only a troll could do.
And so it was born, in that small village somewhere deep in the mountains of Norway, that may or may not exist today, a tradition and a holiday the villagers would never forget. From that day on, Troll Day, as they called it, December 22nd became a festive day and a day to remember that everyone can change and all should be given a chance to do so.


From Grandpa Martin, Clontz and all who are kind of heart and soul.

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