Etwas the Elf

Etwas the Elf
Our heroine, photo by Maia Ycot

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Elf and the Hermit Drone

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of tall grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she decided to go for a ride on her butterfly, Rascal. Home to her mushroom, she ran and saddled up her little partner.

Off they flew, fluttering among the rocks and mosses south of Hveragerði and in between the rare pines that people had brought from sultrier climes, like Scandinavia.  The pair were exploring the branches and needles of one such when they heard a buzz.

Flying closer to the sound they found a little bee flitting up and down the side of the tree.  ´Howdy, Mr. Bee!  Whatcha doing?´

"Auncle Bee," the bee corrected.

"Auncle Bea," Etwas repeated.  Rascal didn't speak.  Butterflies don't speak.

"I'm bringing pollen from the pines to my hive."

"Oh," said Etwas.  "The queen will appreciate your industry.  Where are the other bees?"

"I live alone.  No queen, no other drones, no workers, just me.  Would you like to see my hive?"

"You bet!" Etwas gratefully accepted.  She unsaddled butterfly just outside a tiny hole in the pine.  She and Auncle Bea clambered into the hole and the Elf gathered a gob of wax, a hair from her own tiny head and made a candle which she lit by rubbing two yellow pollen grains against each other.  

"Oooooooh," she exhaled.  In the glow of the candle the hive seemed to go on forever.  Triangular tunnels stretched and curved out of sight.  The tunnels drew the light far away and reflected it so that Etwas saw geometrical constellations brightening distance wax.  "It's beautiful!  All of this is for you?"

Auncle Bea buzzed low.  "Soon after I was born, I tried to have a snowball fight with my siblings.  The queen was angry and sent me away.  Since then I have lived a solitary bee's life."

"Aw, that's sad.  Why work so hard when you already have all you'll ever need and a beautiful home to boot?"

"I was born to bring pollen home.  I don't need to serve a queen.  I just do what I was born to."

Outside the tiny hole in the branch, Rascal fluttered nervously.  Soon, a sound like thunder rumbling through dry leaves swelled outside.  Auncle bee and Etwas peeked out and saw thousands of bees racing around the tree in a panic.  "Fire!" one screamed and 100,000 echoes simultaneously.  The Elf and her companion looked out past the pine needles and saw smoke from a stand of trees far away.

"Hurry! Auncle Bea shouted to her cousins.  "It's safe in here and there's food for all!"  

"Hurry!" Echoed Etwas in a more dulcet voice.

The panicked cloud turned towards the first offer of salvation.  Two by two, they climbed into Auncle Bea's hive.  Once the workers had explored and assured themselves there were no hungry birds inside, the Queen arrived and pronounced the hive "Adequate."  In reward for saving the hive, the Queen offered Auncle Bea the title "Second Regency" and the ranking of "Most Satisfactory."  Auncle Bea began to weep amid the hurrahs for the Queen and Etwas shyly removed herself and rode home with her best pal, Rascal.

And ever since then, among bees and elves, it has been a common platitude "If you are good alone, you can be good with others."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Etwas and the Steed

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of tall grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall floors when she ran smack into a shiny black hoof.

"Well, hello, little Elf," said Brisket the horse.

"Howdy, Brisket! What do you say good?"

"All is fine.  Where's Rascal today?"

"Rascal got worn out from our adventures yesterday.  He's back at the mushroom resting."

"Haw! Haw! Haw!" laughed the curly-haired black pony.  "But you're just a tiny thing.  Even a butterfly should be able to carry you.  Hop on up here."

So Etwas hopped onto Brisket's metal shoe and shimmied up the hoof and climbed the hair on his leg until she reached his weathers.  She hoisted one hair and slapped him with it on both sides of the shoulder.  "Hyah!" she cried.

Brisket laughed and ran and ran and laughed.  He reached the river at Selfoss and Etwas whipped him again and on he ran with a wry expression in his eyes.  He ran a circle around Kerið crater and Etwas whipped him again with that solitary quirt of Brisket's own hair.  He galloped on with grit until he dove into the geyser pool at Strokkur.

The geyser blew Etwas thirty feet in the air and she floated down in a water droplet until she landed beside the panting horse whose own expression was painted in sweet relief.

And ever since then it has been common knowledge among Icelandic horses that the smallest things are the most exhausting.

The Elf, the lazy Duck and the Golden Fish

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forest of tall grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she came to the edge of a little pond. To us it was a little pond, but Etwas named it the Great Ducky Sea because there, near the close shore, a duck was floating on the surface.

"Howdy, Mr. Duck!" Etwas called.

The duck slowly looked around but did not speak.

Etwas proclaimed it a "Good day for catching some fish!"

The duck slowly nodded its beak.

"Here," offered the little Elf in the green pants and shirt. "I'll help!."  She braided some grass into a fishing line and tied it on one end to a piece of dried straw she'd found.  One the other end she fashioned a little hook from a whale's tooth she'd found a few days earlier while idly digging a tunnel from her mushroom house to the next flower.  She baited the hook with a shiny grain of soil and cast into the Great Ducky Sea.

She watched eagerly and the duck watched placidly.  Before long the braids of grass moved and not long after that a golden fish broke the surface of the water and and flipped into the air before diving back down.

"I'd sure like to snag that fish," Etwas said to the duck, who nodded languidly.  She cast her line again and this time felt a tug.  She pulled on the dried straw in her hand and out popped the golden fish with the hook in its mouth.  It broke the water and flopped in the air landing on the duck's beak.  The duck was startled and looked up, flinging the golden fish even higher into the air.  Soon the fish was at a height where she tugged once again on the line and Etwas swung the piece of straw in circles.  The fish picked up speed as it circled the elf and finally let go of the hook so that it soared across the pond.

"Oh, thank you, Etwas," called the golden lady fish.  "All my life I've watched the ducks on the surface and wished to fly like them!"

And ever since then, the elves near the Great Ducky Sea have said that "A lazy fisherman makes golden dreams come true."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Elf, The fly, and The Pot of Porridge.

Once upon a time, Etwas The Elf was running through the forests of tall grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when a grainy, creamy aroma wafted under her nose.  Always ready for adventure, she set out to find the source of the scent.  "Nammi!" she cried, calculating the breeze's speed and direction from the top of a lupine stem.

She set out over the top of a small hummock and around the next one.  She came to a mound of horse leavings and she climbed it and sniffed until she, once again, caught the magical smell.  Down she tumbled and under the bottom strand of a barbed wire fence.  Soon she came upon a stretch of bare, black gravel which she crossed to the big red house on the other side.  From here she could tell the smell came from cow's milk and ground oats.  "A perfect combination!" she explained to the spider waiting for her in its web under the bottom board of the big red house.  "No wonder the horses around here are so well fed!"

She looked above her and far, far above could see a shelf protruding from the side of the house. She looked left and right for a way up.  She could see a fly buzzing around the shelf, enjoying at close range the aroma she'd traveled so far to investigate.  The garden hose only reached halfway to the shelf and was too far to one side.  The boards were newly painted and so she thought she could climb straight up the side.  Looking down at her green shirt and green pants and green shoes she took off her green, pointy hat.  "By the time I reach the shelf, I'll look like Christmas!"  

Elves are very respectful of tradition and trademark so she paused.  "Howdy, Miss Spider," she said, "can I use your web?"

"Make yourself comfortable," the spider answered."

So Etwas took out her tiny knife and sawed away strand after strand of the web, weaving them into a rope and tying it into a lariat.  She waited until the fly dove in towards the shelf and she whipped the lasso high into the air, catching it around the fly's body.  The fly noted the tug but the weight wasn't much so it sdarted down into the bowl. 

Soon Etwas was standing behind it, looking down from the rim of a ceramic bowl into a steamy bowl of porridge.  Just above the oaty, creamy layer of solgryn, the fly danced and hopped and flew touching the buffet lightly before darting back into the air.  The woven web fluttered and curled behind it.

"Howdy, Mrs. Fly!" said Etwas, politely.

"Hello, Etwas," answered the fly.  

"Why do you dance over this porridge?"

"It is very hot and very delicious!  So I take a bite and rise up to cool.  You see, our wings give us the power to regulate our temperatire in just this way.  When the bowl is cool, I will cover it with eggs.  We are very clever about temperature."

Etwas grinned and dove from the side of the bowl into the grain.  She emerged and spat a mouthful at Mrs. Fly.  The porridge on her clothes made her look like the flag of Persia, but elves and genies did not formally recognize one another.

The fly was astonished until Etwas explained that elves live where lava flows and have a high tolerance for heat.  Then a giant hand reached through a window behind the shelf and grabbed the bowl and tilted it towards a bearded face with an open mouth.  At the same time, Miss spider appeared on the ledge having followed Etwas' path and found the fly already wrapped.  Etwas barely escaped consumption by leaping onto the nose of the bearded human, onto the eyeglasses and into the graying red hair where despite her caution, she looked for all the world like Christmas.

Below her, the fly, she saw, was less fortunate.  "It is important to adapt," thought Etwas, "whether by developing ability, cleverness, endurance, agility or single-minded malice in that order."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


A year ago there came a kid
(Though we saw a celestial squid)
Since then the stars have been remounted,
Throughout these twelve new months we've counted
New signs have come and portents too
Of who you'll be and what you'll do,
The crab's still there but much less crabby
Centaurs remain, though not as grabby
The scorpion still lifts his stinger
(Which now you've wrapped around your finger.)
The comets and the nebulae
Seem to have much more to say.
Because the future now has Emma
The stars are faced with this dilemma:
Their only powers to foresee
Are born of regularity.
Now that you're here, a brand new thing,
There seems a new celestial ring.
The squid, the toad, the ape, the elves
(In our stars and in ourselves)
Can assure us only this one promise:
Constellations yet to shine upon us.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Etwas and Attila the Hound

As related in a puppet show:

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she came upon Attila the Hound sniffing around.

"Howdy, Attila" the elf shouted.

"Hiyya, Etwas!"

"Whatcha doin'?"

"Just smelling.  The scents of the earth tell me something different every day."

"How's that?"

"Well, yesterday I smelled five ewes, five lambs, a ram, a dog and an American.  That told me a shepherd had come through tending his flock."

"And today?"

"Just now I smelled five ewes, five lambs, a ram, a dog and an American.  That tells me that the dog and the shepherd fell asleep, the sheep ran away and the dog and the shepherd are trying to catch them."

"But if the same smells can tell you different things every day, they are meaningless."

Attila took a deep draught of odored air and sighed, "they are poetry!"

And ever since then, whenever Etwas makes rhymes, she makes sure they stink.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The elf on the shore of Hvalfjördur

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf took a journey up and across Ingolfsfjall and down onto the broken plains that lead towards Reykjavik.  Trudging and cartwheeling through the snow, Etwas continued overnight until she reached the foot of Mount Esja, the holy site of Elvendom.  She climbed the mountain reverently and placed a lupin blossom in the tiny box where Elf pilgrims left their signs.

She stood on the rock until the sky turned pink in the East and purple in the west, the sacred time when the hidden people make plans.  As soon as her skin felt warm, she trotted down the northern side until she came to the banks of Hvalfjördur, the fjord of whales.

Just at the waters edge, she found a large flat stone and she carpeted it with green moss from the mountainside to make herself a soft place.  And there she knelt and put her hands into the frigid water.  She watched her wrists refract into the efficient curved shape of two seals sleeping in parallel.  Then she put her forehead in the water and opened her eyes and saw herself in a tiny forest of algae that reminded her spirit of home in the rough places of Europe.

Then she opened her mouth and sang an Elven drinking song but in the water the notes came slower and lower than when you sing it on a tiny table.  The song sounded sadder and lasted longer than when you dance to it.

And deep in the water, a young bull calf balene heard the song and followed it until he beached himself just close enough to the shore to see the tiny elf singing and know he'd been tricked.

Meanwhile, Etwas, who preferred her mischief harmless thought to save the whale so she made herself a long rope and knit a tiny canoe from birch leaves.  She poled behind the whale and tried to save him by yanking his tail back to the deep water.

All she managed was to push and pull her boat back and forth, sloshing behind the beached whale.  But Etwas had learned about leverage so she walked along the entire south shore of Hvalfjördur with her knife, carving the ice that grew just above low tide.  Then she walked the north shore from the waterfall almost to Akranes carving the ice there.  Then she got back into her birchleaf canoe and tied the rope around the tail once more and put the other end in her mouth and towed the calf out to the deep water using her miles-long oars.

And ever since then, whales hardly ever fall in love with any singer smaller than krill.