Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Tomten's house

Once upon a time someone came to this place, deep in the middle of the forest, and built a home and a garden.

The Tomten lives in the middle of an old piñion tree in the woods. He only comes out at night when the humans are asleep. Sometimes they see his prints in the dirt, but no one has ever seen the Tomten.

He is an old, old Tomten, and no one knows when he came to the woods. Although no one has ever seen him, they know he is there.

On small silent feet, the Tomten moves about in the moonlight, making little tracks in the dirt. He talks to sleeping forest animals in Tomten language, a silent little language animals can understand.

"Droughts come and droughts go,
Thunderstorms come and thunderstorms go,
Soon the grass will grow green and tall again."

The house where the humans live is silent. The grown-ups sleep through the hours of cricket song, not knowing that the Tomten is there.

The Tomten tiptoes to the children's room, and stands silently wishing they would wake up so that he could speak to them in Tomten language, a silent little language that children can understand.

Night is brief here in the middle of summer. The Tomten leaves milk for the cat before returning to the pinion tree.

The grown-ups rise with the sun and go about their business, but the children see his tracks.

Every night here in the wood, everyone will be fast asleep. Everyone but one...

Year follows year, but as long as humans live near the old woods, the Tomten will traipse between the old piñion tree and their houses on his little silent feet.

- Credit for this Tomten flight of fancy goes firstly to Astrid Lindgren, secondly to the Randall Davey Audubon Center in Santa Fe for a wonderful summer camp week of bug-chasing, and thirdly to one three-year old's profoundly overactive imagination left to run wild in the woods, speaking only a language that Tomten's can understand. Although no one saw exactly where the imaginagion went, in the morning there were little tracks everywhere. 


  1. Beautiful post. The Tomten came to live with us when we lived in Copenhagen. He has followed us to Munich and will be with us forever more I think. One of the few children's books (along with The Tomten and the Fox) that I don't mind reading again and again and again! :)

  2. Thank you :) Isn't the Tomten wonderful? I wish he would, just once, stay out in the daytime for us to say hello...

  3. Lovely book, except after 6 months of reading it, my 3-year-old is now terrified of 'Tomte Tummetot' (his German name) and thinks he's hiding under the bed! :(

  4. Oh dear! It is a bit creepy how Tomte goes sneaking around everywhere, isn't it??