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The Troll Beneath the Bridge

by Mary

My daughter and I hiked the Messalonskee Stream Trail yesterday morning with our Jack Russell Terrier, Bennie. Yesterday’s weather was classic Washington Irving weather – abundant sunshine, deep blue sky, but with a chill in the air warning of the winter yet to come. This trail is a favorite one, hiked many times. Each hike holds new surprises, but this one truly proved to be special.

The woods were alive with activity. Woodpeckers attacked the trees. Red squirrels and chipmunks gathered the last of the nuts.

Whenever he is outside our house, Bennie — unfortunately — needs to be on a leash. He would be gone in a heart beat chasing a squirrel if he could. Bennie met several dogs that were off the leash. One black terrier approached Bennie, and in dog language, said hello. Dogs always seem ready to greet other dogs with less of the reserve held by their human families. Bennie was nervous, yet delighted, to meet this new dog.

Many couples, family groups, and runners were also enjoying the fall sunshine.

When we reached a small bay on the stream, a heron “honked” and flew off to more private fishing grounds. Herons always sound like they are bringing up lunch when they “honk.” I thought all the herons had migrated, but this particular bird may have been flying down from the Maritimes when we startled him, or else he stayed to add to the magic of this day.

On our return trip, at one of the many bridges crossing the brooks feeding the stream, we met a family group. Their young boy, dressed in bright green shorts and a black and white checkerboard t-shirt, jumped down to the underside of the bridge calling for the troll. He did not find him, but he did spot Bennie and ran to him. Bennie greeted him with dog kisses. The boy played with Bennie while his parents talked with us about local hikes.

As we headed away, the little boy turned to me and asked, “Do you know where the troll is?”

When do we lose our innocence?

I told him that I had not seen the troll, but there were several more bridges, and that he should check each one.  He dashed off to catch up with his family.

We continued along the path back to our vehicle and our everyday lives. I think Bennie, though, would have liked to stay to look for the troll.

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