Monday, January 23, 2012

The Tomten

The Tomten
Astrid Lindgren

From the folklore of Scandinavia comes this winter tale about the Tomten, a little troll like creature who walks the snowy north.  Astrid Lindgren wrote this story about a sleepy farm and the Tomten who visits the animals in the quiet cold of the night.  No one has ever seen the Tomten, thought they sometimes find his little footprints in the snow.  He talks to the animals on the farm in "tomten language, a silent little language they can understand."

We've been having our own quiet cold evenings and this is just the sort of book to read in bed.

The farm is deep in the middle of the forest.  Once upon a time someone came here, cut down trees, built a homestead and farmed the land.  No one knows who.  The stars are shining in the sky tonight, the snow lies white all around, the frost is cruel.  On such a night people creep into their small houses, wrap themselves up and bank the fire on the hearth.

The tomten is awake.  He lives in a corner of the hayloft and comes out at night when human beings are asleep.  He is an old, old tomten who has seen the snow of many hundreds of winters.  No one knows when he came to the farm.  No one has ever seen him, but they know he is there.   Sometimes when they wake up they see the prints of his feet in the snow.  But on one has seen the Tomten.

"Winters come and winters go,
Summers come and summers go,
Soon you will be in your clover field."

The house where the people live is silent.  They are sleeping through the winter night without knowing that the Tomten is there.

But the snow still lies in deep drifts around the old farm in the forest.  The stars shine in the sky, it is biting cold.  On such a night people creep into their small houses and bank the fire on the hearth.
Here is a lonely old farm, where everyone is fast asleep.  All but one...

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