Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More Modern Fairy Tales: No Adventures Here

I had a whole long story worked up about a perilous journey to the All-Elf Meeting, and the various trials and tribulations along the way, complete with a choose-your-own adventure encounter with the bridgekeeper which ended in various disastrous ways. But! Yesterday I had an extremely peculiar and entirely unexpected conversation with my advisor over lunch, and the adventure is canceled in favor of a mainly pleasant surprise. So here's Version 2: Now With Less Adventure.


Once upon a time there was a young elf who lived in the land of the toadstools. She had a very nice toadstool indeed, full of little flowers. Why, her toadstool even had its own lilypad, to practice one's flying leaps! The fairies and elves had wonderful games under the full moon, and were known all through the land for their work growing beautiful berry bushes.

One day a beautiful butterfly came swooping and diving over the toadstool field. It was a messenger from the Council of Elves and Fairies! It dropped birch leaves to tell everyone there would be a great meeting very soon, so they could all come learn about the kinds of mushrooms, and how to make ponds for your pet dragonflies, and all sorts of useful things.

So the young elf packed up her favorite mushroom spores in a bluebell, and made a few nectar-filled pods to sustain her, and set out along the garden path. She ran and ran and ran, and soon enough she came to a tall, tall bridge.

Under that bridge there was a Gatekeeper. Now this Gatekeeper had been there as long as anyone remembered, and he was as crabby as the day is long. This young elf was very worried, for to pass the bridge, she would need a token from the Gatekeeper. So she put on her very best face and said 'Please sir, could I give you some of these delicious nectar pods? And would you perhaps have a token to spare?'

That Gatekeeper snatched up her nectar, and looked at those pods, and sniffed. 'Come back when you have more,' he said. She was so sad, but she was a determined little elf, and so she went back to her toadstool and worked and worked and worked.

The next year, the young elf brought her nectar pods and a lovely basket of acorns. And the Gatekeeper looked at the nectar, and looked at those acorns, and sniffed. 'Come back when you have more,' he said. And she was sad again, but what could she do but turn away?

The next year, the elf was more determined than ever that she would cross that bridge. So she came up with a clever plan, because you see, she had realized that the tokens to get across the bridge were plain old birch bark. If that mean Gatekeeper wouldn't give her a token, why, she would make her own!

Now, it was only a week before the great meeting was to start. She went up to the bridge and offered her nectar, and her acorns, and a maple leaf full of tasty grubs. And that old thing looked at all she had and sniffed. 'Come back when you have more,' he said. She turned away into the forest to hunt for birch bark, because she had made up her mind she wouldn't be stopped by any mean bridgekeeper!

But a strange thing happened just as she found the perfect smooth white piece of bark. She sat down in the forest to have a bit of nectar and who came along but the Gatekeeper! 'What a nice piece of birch that is,' he said. 'If you'll draw a little sketch of an elf on it for me, why, I'll send you right across that bridge, and I'll even give you this basket of berries to take along. How is that, my young elf?'

The elf sat there with her mouth open. 'Very well,' she finally managed to say. And she drew the most elegant picture you've ever seen and gave it to the Gatekeeper and skipped right across the bridge.

Moral of the story: If you're me, when you've already decided to do something no matter what, objections seem to disappear in the most mysterious way.