Autumn stood in the yard in the snow, on high alert looking south to the wide open field. There might be geese out the field, although she saw no geese. There might be deer but, again, she saw no deer.
Still, she sensed something was there, that elusive something that lurked around the edges of the big pond behind the house and left traces in the horse pasture, often overlapping the track left by Falki, the silver Icelandic, feisty Falki who had taken the place of pretty Lukka. Come to think of it, that unique essence of swamp had followed Lukka.
It was, of course, just the Pesky Pond Troll of Clay Head Swamp (aka PPT) out and about in the snow. There wasn't much of it, just a couple of inches, and while he was leaving real footprints he wasn't concerned he'd be discovered, there were enough other imprints out there.
The PPT loved Christmas. He loved all the green decorations and bright shop and eatery lights in the little townish place near the boat landing and took advantage of days with dump traffic and paying special heed to the sky, knowing there would be vehicles heading south after going to the end of Corn Neck to catch a North Light Sunsets.
The PPT especially loved the Christmas trees (plural!) on the front street, and the lightings which always involved cookies which were quite easy to reach amidst the crowds of little ones waiting for Santa or dutifully posing for their parents to take photos “to send to Grandma.”
Well, maybe, but the PPT knew darn well they'd be on social media, most of them, and he often tried to sneak into the frame. He knew his image wouldn't be recorded — just like a vampire! — or wouldn't be visible to human eyes, but he never knew when some other creature might be looking and would see his murky self chomping cookies.
He even managed to jump on the Fire Truck that was transporting Santa one night. That was a very special time, lights, sirens, cookies! He rode back to the Fire Barn on the engine, waving at any houses glowing with lights, inside or out. He was the King of the World and he was riding back to Cookie Central where there would he knew there would be plates of exceedingly fine Christmas goodies.
He loved climbing the Lobster Pot Tree when the boat was coming in, invisibly waving to all the unsuspecting folks returning from chores on the mainland. He liked to watch all the packages being loaded into the white trucks; sometimes he's hop on a loaded one and pretend he was on a Christmas sleighs delivering presents around the island.
And he loved sitting on the hill below the traditional tree on the church lawn on Tuesday nights, surveying the front street as he heard the choir rehearse Christmas music, and scooting around the pergola, with its strings of lights brightening the darkness.
Even with the lighted trees and decorations and cookies, even with all those wonderful rides around the island, the days were short in December. The snow was nice but it too soon turned to rain, he needed to execute some mischief, not any real trouble, just make a fun. He schemed and plotted and planned and was exceedingly pleased with himself when he heard:
“Falki, what are you doing in the yard!?”
Wait for it...
“How did you get out, the gate is closed!”
The PPT peered around the wall — he was confident his invisibility would not fail him but hiding was fun — then grabbed his toes and rolled around on the ground, laughing at the confusion.
Yes, Falki was in the yard, but the gate to the pasture was closed and securely locked. The chains on either side of the gate were in place; the secondary ropes run below the chains the last time Falki “escaped” were in place and, best of all, the other two horses, Oddin and Tryggur, were where they were supposed to be, in the pasture.
It was perfection, it was a mystery! It appeared as though Falki had his very own teleportation machine. And there he was, madly devouring yard grass as though he had none in the pasture which even the PPT knew was not true, but this was grass the rest of his “herd” could not eat, therefore much tastier.
“Falki, come!” produced no results, then carrots were offered (what kind of treat was that!?), then horse cookies (an improvement, but nothing to compare to the fare at the Fire Barn) and somehow, that fool Falki was being lured back toward the pasture with little more than another “Falki, come!” and a tug on his silver mane. The gate was unlatched, opened just a bit and the PPT knew he had to intervene.
“Go, GO!” he prompted Oddin and Tryggur, both of whom exhibited no interest in escaping. The PPT made a great grrrring face they felt more than saw but it did the trick and they finally started to push their way out. Falki backtracked and the gate was pushed shut, the capture foiled. Then a phone was produced and soon enough a teacher-voiced lady arrived and order was restored. Falki rejoined his herd in the pasture, and they all acted as though nothing had happened.
More ropes went up, too many for anyone to believe even a magical horse like Falki could slip through on his own.
The fuss was enough to lighten a rainy December day, but there was no arguing the little adventure carried a price: the days of the PPT secretly opening and closing the gate for his most special friend, Falki, were over. Oh well, he would just have to contrive another plot. He hadn't bothered sweet, gullible Autumn in a while. . .
In the meantime, it was getting dark, time to hitch another ride to town.