“Hey! Get outta my face!”
I jumped about 20 feet, or so it seemed, and quickly swiveled my head around to see where the gruff voice was coming from.
Didn’t see a soul, except for Donna-Lane, who was back down the mountain walking path a ways, picking some lovely yellow wildflowers, probably wondering what they were called and how she might work their description into her next novel. She hadn’t seen my reaction to the voice out of nowhere, and she clearly had not heard it either.
I scanned the branches of the trees around me, but they were dense. Someone could be hiding up there. Or maybe there was a hidden microphone, and a resident of one of the remote mountain chalets thought scaring the bejeebers out of hikers was a way to ensure privacy.
I decided to test my theory of the electronic ventriloquist, and so returned to where I was sitting at the base of a gnarly knotted tree. As I sat and leaned against the tree, which wasn’t all that comfortable, The Voice growled at me again, this time louder and more irritated. “I told you to take a hike!” Except this time, I felt something pushing against my back.
Scrambling to my feet and turning around, I stared at the base of the tree for wires or wireless lavaliers. “What do you think you’re looking at, fuzz face?” The Voice asked. This time, I could have sworn I saw the base of the tree move. Maybe too much wine for lunch? Wait, we didn’t have wine for lunch.
I leaned in for a closer examination. Then the tree sneezed! “Chooooo! … I mean, shoo! Get lost! I’m allergic to your aftershave … or something!” Then I saw it. The bulbous nose twitching slightly. The beady little eyes. The goatee. And the tree, or whatever it was, was sticking its tongue out! It even had a hand, or maybe it was a foot, on which the chin rested – probably what I felt pushing me.
“A talking tree? A tree that sneezes?” I was incredulous. "And, by the way, I don't wear after shave."
“Not a tree,” the base of the tree said. “I’m the Ogre of La Creusaz.”
“Ohhhh-kayy,” I responded suspiciously.
“Yes. I was imprisoned in the base of this tree by the Magician of Les Marecottes because I was scaring away the skiers and tourists. I’ve been trapped like this for almost 25 years and have only spoken to one other soul in all that time. Only the kiss of a Swiss citizen on my nose can free me.”
About then, my Swiss fiancée walked up beside me, holding a single buttercup and eyeing my chin.
“Who are you talking to?” Donna-Lane asked.
“You’re never going to believe this,” I said to her breathlessly. “See the base of that tree?”
“Yes,” she calmly responded. “It’s the Ogre. I blogged about him yesterday. You’re a little slow. No, I’m not going to kiss his moss-covered nose. Ready to walk home?”
[You can read Donna-Lane’s blog at http://theexpatwriter.blogspot.ch/. When we spotted the tree in the photo, we decided to have a little fun, each writing separate blogs about the tree - without showing the other before posting. We often see things a bit differently; perhaps the blog posts will show some of that.]