Grandpa and Grandma told my cousins and me to go pick up firewood so that we could roast hot dogs for lunch.  I hiked into the vast and untamed forest on Mount Cuyamaca—okay, I walked about 25 feet behind the camping trailer in the woodsy yet manicured California State Park on Mount Cuyamaca.  I don’t remember the date, so lets just say summer, mid 1970’s.  I also don’t remember what I was wearing, so let’s just say it was my purple crushed velvet pants, and some sort of almost matching shirt, and probably the K-Mart version of Keds.  I really don’t know.  I do remember those were my favorite pants in all the land, though, so in this story, I was wearing them.

I didn’t find a single stick of firewood, because I saw three green crayons instead, and in that moment, history changed forever.  Well, the parts of history that contain me did, anyway.

The green crayons lay among the pine needles on the ground.  I picked them up and turned them over, inspecting them.  They had all been used, but not very.  They were Forest Green, Grass Green, and Yellow Green.  The labels identified them as Kmart crayons. I ran back to my grandparents and held the crayons up so they could see—I was much shorter then.  Grandpa said, “Oh, I guess the dobbies left them there.”

I learned about dobbies a long time before Harry Potter.  Grandpa’s mother was from Scotland, where apparently, dobbies run rampant. She said that they were responsible for a practically infinite scope of antics:  lost things and missing keys, holes in socks and spilled soup, open cupboards that weren’t supposed to be open, and malfunctioning equipment of any kind.  Whenever something troublesome happened or there was a noise that could not be explained, Grandpa told me that dobbies were probably responsible.  So I thought that the dobbies were up to no good with their crayons.

Grandpa said “Why, they were  probably just drawing the forest when you interrupted them.”

“They draw the forest?” I asked.

“Someone has to,” he said, “How do you think all this gets here?”

I looked at all the trees and bushes, and the little animals.  I asked if the dobbies drew the squirrels and birds too.  “Of course, they draw everything,” Grandpa said.  My world became larger, more vivid, and infinitely more interesting.

“Even the sounds?” I asked.

“Even the sounds,” he said.  And of course he was right.  Grandpa stories are always true.

The forest became the most fascinating place I had ever been, and then I realized I needed to give the dobbies back their crayons!  How would they make the trees and plants without green?  I started off into the woods, and began to try and find the dobbies.  Some time later, I heard Grandma calling.

Everyone was eating already, and they were trying to convince me to eat too, but I had a much more important task at hand.

“I have to find the dobbies and give them back the greens, or how will they draw the forest?”

Grandpa said “They have lots of green crayons, and if they run out, they can get more.  You better keep those, they’re special.”

“The dobbies go to Kmart?”  I showed everyone the labels, and Grandpa said “Of course they do.  Someone’s got to keep an eye on Grandma.”

I had no idea what that meant, but for the first time, I actually wanted to go to Kmart.  Whenever we went after that, I tried to catch the dobbies buying crayons, and when we went camping, I tried to see them drawing the forest.

I have never stopped looking.