I’ve written a humor column every month for the last 16 years. That breaks down to 192 columns—134,400 words. The columns go by many titles and most of the ideas for them come at times when I am not sitting at my desk, vis. while I’m walking the dog, having lunch with my Emmaline. My, ideas–it’s a stretch to call it inspiration—pop up wherever I may be. One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is telling about some of my adventures (real and imagined), and in letting you, the readers, meet some of the people who inhabit those adventures.
In many stories, from exploring the Cuban jungle with my colleague, Kate, to meeting with my long-distance pal from outer space, the robot KB-11.2 (Kaybe), I have taken Life on some curious journeys. And I’ve share them with you. It’s never been boring, and as I write this month’s column, and as I think about all my friends, my pals, the little Dutchmen come to mind.
I haven’t really been out to the Smokies to see them lately. As a result, we’re thinking about making a trip there especially since St. Patrick’s Day is coming up. I first introduced the little guys in July 2014 in a column titled Man in the Mirror. It was about my first encounter with a curious-looking gentleman, a kabouter. Most people would think a kabouter as a leprechaun. Kabouters wear long beards and antique Dutch-looking clothing including tri-cornered hats.
I was standing in front of the mirror in a vacation cabin back in the Smoky Mountains where Emmaline and I frequently stay. The Dutchman was staring at me from a mirror that hung in the bathroom. I was startled. After I calmed down and got my bearings, the Dutchman and his friends took me tubing down the stream that flows alongside the cabin. We drank root beer from large steins, and had a rip-roaring afternoon. I’ve written a couple of columns about our adventures with the Dutchman and his fellow Kabouters. But I haven’t given you readers much detail about them.
Here’s some background: The Dutchman in the mirror is named Jurriaan. It’s Jurriaan Lievin, as a matter of fact. Jurriaan and his friends live in a mushroom village located in the woods just down the one-lane road from our family’s Smoky Mountain cabin. These guys, according to Dutch folklore, are shy of humans. Stories say that they play tricks on people who try to catch them. For whatever reason these little Dutchmen men were more curious than shy when it came to me, Emmaline, and our family well before wrote about them. They’ve been a part of our family celebrations ever since.
Folklore also mentions that some Kabouter love the off-stage limelight. They have been the focus of countless fairytales, but the stories always mention the tiny men slipping away after performing their good deeds. We all know the Legend of the Wooden Shoes. And on television we’ve all seen the gnome in that travel commercial. That’s Jurrriaan’s cousin, Nicholaas. He, wasn’t shy like the other men in the forest, so Nicholaas decided to head for Los Angeles and try his hand at acting. He’s become quite successful.
Emmaline and I are planning to go to the cabin soon. We need adventure, and our friends the Dutchmen are all about adventure. They always have been. In that vein, I’ve decided it’s time my best friends meet each other.
I contacted Kaybe and Kate and told them to meet us at the cabin this spring. Kate is excited to get out of the jungle for a while and to meet everyone. I asked Kaybe drop by and pick her up in his spaceship. It’s not out of his way.
Emmaline is excited, too. She’s planning a party and has already bought root beer steins for everyone. And there’ll be plenty of inner tubes too for the river float. Oh, that reminds me, I need to get some lubricating oil for Kaybe. The humidity at the cabin sometimes plays hob with his metal joints.