Shortly after we first arrived at Jacob’s Falls we heard an intriguing thing. A visitor told us of hearing tales in his childhood about tiny people who lived in the gorge of Jacob’s Creek. He had never seen them, of course, but the stories had been so convincing to his young mind that whenever his wanderings took him into the gorge, he would find himself peering into small caves, under overhanging roots, or into cracks in the rocks, seeking traces of their presence. Though he had never found any evidence, he still half expected that one day he just might catch a fleeting glimpse of one out of the corner of his eye.
We were amused. If ever there was a place that seemed suited to habitation by elves, faeries, gnomes, or leprechauns, our gorge was it. Its many nooks, cracks, and crannies, would provide perfect shelter for such little people — should they happen to exist. There was a certain magic to the cool dampness of the place, alive with the gurgle of tumbling water; we always expected the unusual whenever we would venture in. Perhaps one day, one would jump out at us.
It has not yet happened, but over the past twenty or so years we have continued to muse on the matter, speculating on just how small they would be, what they would look like, and how they might make their way in the confines of their narrow world. Would they be young, old, or, perhaps, ageless? Would they live alone or in communities? Would they be few or many? How might they dress, and would they have anything to tell us should we eventually meet one?
Certainly, living close to the earth in such a magically mysterious place, they would have to possess a unique perspective, and, perhaps, a profound wisdom. We wondered if they might ever venture out of their tiny realm and for what possible reason. Might it be to lend some helping hand to the benighted big people who were always botching things up outside?
In time we came to call them Scoofies.
Some years back, with the help of Colin Gifford we were able to capture — on paper, of course — one of these heretofore unseen little inhabitants of secret places. Now, our friend Norm Breyfogle has allowed us another quick glance at their world and circumstances. These seem, in fact, not so different from our own. All of us, after all, depend on what the Lord provides, and we must exercise all the wit, ingenuity, and energy He has given us to secure the bounty.
Now, here is a wisdom in which we all can share!
Occasionally after a late night at the Jampot, bleary eyed, and lightheaded with fatigue, we stare out into the darkness and mutter, Where are the Scoofies when we really need them? In our late night weariness, we would sometimes suppose that they would be gentle souls and inclined toward helpfulness. Perhaps they would at times come secretly to the aid of those in difficulty or distress — or overwhelmed by trials, cares, or…work! Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just go home, fall to sleep, and return tomorrow to find all this stuff done?
We cannot truthfully say that such wishful fantasies have ever been fulfilled. Over the years there have been many nights spent boxing or in jam sessions. Once in a while though, we amaze ourselves. Coming back upon the scene after an all too brief rest and surveying the piles of packages or the neat rows of jars, we wonder how — tired as we were — we could have managed to do so much the night before. Maybe there is something to this Scoofy thing, after all…
It is no secret that we work very hard during the early winter as we labor to get out the mail orders. Our long hours leave us exhausted, and there is little time to enjoy the first snows. Besides, monks do not usually engage in whimsical pursuits. Any snowmen erected at the monastery would certainly not be our doing. But with the help of light hearted and unseen little friends, we may yet awake to find our winter landscape graced with these jolly, if ephemeral, sculptures.
Some early Scoofie Drawings by Norm Breyfogle.