Peat bogs are mysterious worlds where curious events regularly take place. It’s well known that, much like a mushroom faerie ring, time passes much more rapidly than outside it. Step inside, and it may be decades or centuries before one may tumble out again, a very changed individual. Some might even call it a parallel universe.
And so it was, on a misty, moisty morning, that a pair of fairies were twittering among the mossy hummocks in a very special place known as Shadow Lake Bog. Their tiny, translucent wings sparkled in the rays of sunlight that filtered through the boughs of ancient, stunted Hemlock trees. In fact, everything in the bog is smaller and older than one might think; it takes a very long time for mosses and lichens to grow, pendulous from the boughs. The cheerful faeries were taking turns playing leapfrog on the springy mosses, and they were having so much fun that all of a sudden, they realized that they were lost. Before them was the root wad of a massive, fallen Spruce tree, and those huge roots towered nearly ten feet into the air above them, which is quite a lot higher than for humans like ourselves. Fairies are very small, after all, no taller than your little finger.
From within the cavities of those tangled, dark roots, something was glittering greenish-gold from the black shadows. They whispered to each other, “Do you think that’s what I think it is?” And “You know what the stories say about… Goblin’s Gold…” They both shuddered with fear. “Nnnnow what should we dooo…?” the taller faerie moaned. As their tiny voice trailed into silence, a loud, rough voice barked, “I’ll tell you what to do! Do you know what happens to little faeries who trespass? Hmm? Do you even know who I am?” The poor, wee things were trembling in fear as they replied, “Noooo… can we please go home? Are… are you a goblin? Are you going to eat us?”
“Ha ha ha. MY NAME IS BOGFOOT! Well, lucky for you, you two would not be a satisfying meal. But I am in the mood for a snack. Hmmm. However…. Tell me; have you heard about Bog Lemmings? Hmmm? They’re very rare.”
The shorter faerie timidly answered, “My granny told me about them. She said they have special powers, and if you ever find one, they can reverse spells cast by trolls.”
“Yes!” shouted the goblin. “This is true, among their other tricks. You see, this glittery moss you see here, that you called Goblins Gold? Well, a Bog Lemming can turn those little sparkly leaves into actual gold, and if each of these leaves were a gold coin, I’d be eternally rich! I will spare your insignificant lives if you find a Bog Lemming in this peaty wetland and bring it to me, alive and well, and potent with power.”
Naturally, the faeries were most anxious to leave the terrifying gaze of the goblin, so they agreed, and quickly set off to find the elusive, furry creature. As they examined all the tiny trails through the mosses, and piles of discarded conifer seeds, they started to see the one absolutely true sign of Bog Lemmings; their unusual, bright green droppings! Carefully, they followed the tracks and trails for what seemed like forever (certainly their families were worried by now), and late on the afternoon of the fourth day, they heard snuffling and scratching. There it was, so busy digging into the peaty soil it didn’t even hear them! Now what would they do?
It is well-known in bog folklore, that Labrador Tea induces sleep in Bog Lemmings. It also smells amazing, so they carefully and quietly backtracked to a lush patch of the plant and inhaled its delightful fragrance. They harvested just enough of the finest, wiry stems to weave a net basket big enough to hold a Lemming. After the Lemming crawled into its tunnel to sleep for the night and they heard it snoring, they fixed the basket to the tunnel entrance with hemlock twigs shaped like elbows, much like our human tent pegs. Then they waited until morning, taking turns sleeping and keeping watch on the woven cage.
As dawn broke in the bog, the little Lemming woke up, stretched, yawned, and headed out to forage for breakfast. But the faerie net at the entrance made him so sleepy, he dozed off again, right inside the cup of the net! The faeries clapped their hands, and then got to work carrying the sleeping Lemming back to the goblin. It was hard work, but they were young, and their wings and arms were strong. At one point, a Chickadee gave them a bit of a lift, so they made it back in just a day.
The goblin was so excited, she drooled all over the faeries as she shouted, “Bring me the creature! Bring it to me!” The poor faeries bounced into the air as the goblin jumped on the squishy moss like a trampoline. As she brushed the sleeping Lemming’s fur with her gnarled fingers, she whispered words that they didn’t understand, and the mossy leaves tinkled to the ground as coins of gold. The sound of the clattering coins woke the fine Lemming, who, on realizing what was happening, squeaked angrily, “Do you realize what you have done?! That delicate moss is as rare as I am! Then he stood up tall, his body shuddered, and his fine, soft hairs stood on end as if electrified, and the gold was returned to its leafy, mossy state. AND THEN, the goblin Bogfoot was thrown back forty feet into a pool of red water, full of a special peaty substance called tannin. With a splash, she was turned into a snaggletoothed, woody version of her greedy self. The faeries just watched astonished as the scene unfolded, with their eyes wide and mouths agape. Without another word, the Bog Lemming toddled away to look for spruce cones, and the faeries laughed and danced with joy before hurrying home to tell their friends and family. After some time, they visited the snaggletoothed bog snag, and were very pleased to see the lovely Goblin’s Gold moss growing in the darkest recesses of the wood; thriving where it was much too dark for any other plants to exist.