How many of you remember the fairy tale ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff? I recall that story well, as a youngster I heard it many times. We were small children growing up on a farm near Lake Poinsett South Dakota USA. That is a long distance from Norway. My grandfather came from Norway in 1890 with his father and mother and 3 siblings, they lived in Michigan and Minnesota before coming to Dakota Territory. In 1911 he arrived here by oxen and wagon with a new bride and a baby daughter. He also had a trunk full of necessary items for survival and farming equipment. Andrew carried the many troll tails in his head, and he loved to tell them.
We were fortunate to live on a small farm near them. A neighbor had goats grazing in his yard, each trip to town took us past that goat farm. There was one big, long horned, gruff looking Billy Goat and a real colorful group of nanny goats. There were always kids running around vying with each other for the high leaping record, or leaping over each other, jumping into the air for the sheer joy of jumping. Somebody said, “they stopped to visit the owner one time, and they looked out to see their car covered with goats. Goats must be very sure-footed to climb shear, moss covered, mountain rocks, that must be why they did not slide off the car.
The goats were always out in the yard. Every time we went to town three young boys jumped around in the back seat like little goats. Always fighting for the best view and shouting three cheers for Billy and his herd as we went past in a cloud of dust. The willy goats outwitted the nasty old troll living under the bridge, I recall it vividly. We thought they were the smartest and luckiest three goats in the world. I’m enclosing a link to the Three Billy Goats Gruff story to refresh memories.
Many troll stories took place out in the Woods. I never got to spend much time in the Woods being a Prairie grass dweller, but I love to hunt deer. I would find wooded areas to hunt in. My imagination often ran on the weird to wild side at times in the woods. Conjuring up dead trolls from almost every fallen tree, or stump. I recall one morning; it was just getting daylight. A falcon landed on a tree branch directly in front of my face, it was about 2 feet away. I naturally concluded, he thinks I’m a troll and came to peck my eyes out, by then, in an instant he flew away, without my eyes.
Another time after hitting a deer with my arrow, it ran, full speed ahead until it was out of my sight. I could not find where it fell, following a blood trail on dry leaves is nearly impossible. The blood would disappear then show a few drops showed to start me trailing over again. It was getting dark, spooky thoughts popped into my head. Everything started looking like trolls. Where they all dead? There must be some latter-day trolls out there.
A stump seemed to beckon to me. I cautiously approached it, not remember seeing it before, that seemed unusual. My deer was there, dead behind it. Was the troll hiding it? I drug my deer out of the trees while looking over my shoulder. It was dark by that time. Loud, or worse yet, soft nocturnal noises in dense woods make an imagination slip right into overdrive, cause your feet to travel faster, with frequent stumbling. I convinced myself there was one good troll, he was watching my deer for me, instead of hiding it.