The Wizard’s Shop

So as I told you,  I had come through the fog, up the mountain, into the clearing populated by a grove of gargoyles, posing as if so many dozen trees had bared their bottoms in a manner both threatening and somehow playful and liberating.

As I might have confessed, I was tempted to run straightway back into the shelter of the woods and take the shortest path home–if indeed I could even find that path again.

But as I turned to leave, there at the edge of the forest behind me appeared a crude shed nestled back into the hillside. I had not expected or wanted to find any evidence of recent habitation there, and from the strangeness of the place, if anything lived here, I was not certain it would not be elf, fairy or troll.

I approached the odd structure, and half-hoping I would hear no reply, I called out. To my relief, no one answered back.

Through the doorway, and with as little knowledge of my purpose or with any greater caution than I had possessed when I set off up the hill a few hours earlier, I found myself drawn inside.

If my apprehension in the grove had been high, imagine my uneasiness in this odd wizard’s workshop. I did not stay but most a minute, though I managed to take a few pictures of items that held me rapt before I could stand the tension no longer and took flight.

As to the meaning of these shapes and creatures and phantasms, I offer no explanation. The one you see here may confirm that there exists after all in this remote part of the Blue Ridge Mountains the grotesque gollum-like homunculus.

Read Part One    Read Part Two

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Looks like mostly old locust roots. Fairies and trolls love them. Have had several in my flower gardens for 15 years. They last forever and are so unique. Would love to have some of these.