At the risk of sounding like I’m losin’ it … every time I pass this big ol’ gnarled-up tree on Emmons Boulevard, I’m confident that this is the Michigan version of “The Hollow Tree” where the Keebler elves bake their delicious cookies. When I stroll past this tree, I just can’t stop myself from glancing over at the big hole near the base of it, where, at the very least, I might expect to see a squirrel, chipmunk or some other four-legged furry critter come dashing out when it hears the keys and whistles jingle-jangling on my lanyard. I must admit I never get too close – I’ll just steal a glance and be on my way. I think it looks like the Keebler Kitchen and that any minute those K-Elves and their compadres should start crankin’ out those wonderful fudge-striped cookies. Perhaps it is a home to faeries and gnomes? A few trees down from this one, someone has stuck a funny face on the side of the tree … its bulging eyes are a little eerie, but it makes me smile when I see it and I know that someone else has a vivid imagination, as do I. As to elfin magic, back when I was in middle school, I applied to work as an elf at Fantasyland, an annual Christmas display here in Lincoln Park. It was a volunteer position and I thought it would be a hoot to work with Santa and Mrs. Claus and dress up in an elf costume, complete with pointy ears. But, alas … even in those days, I was quite tall, and a tall elf just wouldn’t do. So the volunteer coordinator asked me if perhaps I’d like to work on one of the animated displays since they were always desperate for warm bodies to lend a hand. I said “sure”, so sure enough I spent all of my weekends in November, until Fantasyland opened Thanksgiving weekend, working in the Elves’ Candy House. It was a little white cottage, adorned with peppermint candies, shutters made of sugar cookies and a gingerbread roof. As you looked inside the picture window, one elf was busy overseeing all the conveyor belts which were loaded with candy and a pair of elves worked together to crank the large handle on the conveyor belt which was loaded with candy canes. It was a real conveyor belt made of ecru-colored canvas, and my task was to hand sew and secure at least 50 real candy canes onto the fabric belt so there were no bare spots. I also worked on other conveyor belts in the kitchen of the Candy House. Bon bons were painstakingly glued onto similar conveyor belts, row after row after row. I even got to create special effects “chocolate icing” after I mixed up some stinky brown potion in a bowl, then had to tip the bowl over as if it had spilled and made big splatters all over the kitchen. Then I had to stick a wooden spatula into the bowl and let it dry like that. I don’t know what material that fake-’em-out chocolate icing was made of, but it dried like Lucite and it smelled to high heaven. So, I helped work a little magic with those elves all those years ago, and the end result was a ton of giggles and smiles on young and old alike. So, I’m stickin’ to my story – that is not just a big, black hole in the base of the tree. Shhhh, I think the elves are still sleeping having worked the midnight shift!
“Logic will get you from A to Z: imagination will get you everwhere.” – Albert Einstein