Sunday, July 10, 2011

To the Waters and the Wild, With a Fairy Hand in Hand

That is a quote from William Butler Yeats's The Stolen Child. I spent a lot of time on vacation photographing my mother's flowers. When I think of my mother, I think of her gardens, which are her pride and joy. They burst with cool, green leaves and vibrant flowers with soft petals silky beneath your fingertips and the allure of scents so sweet and potent they will make your heart leap with joy. I spent many hours in the summer as a child watching my mother dig in her gardens, transplanting irises and other flowers, planting annuals, and watering them. I remember the hot rubber smell of the water hose and the quiet burbling it made as the thirsty earth drank up the water. I remember the feel of red clay beneath my fingertips and the moist, damp smell of dirt. And I remember fairies.

I knew the fairies loved my mother's gardens, even though I spent all summer unsuccessfully waiting to catch a glimpse of them. My next door neighbor had given me a popup alphabet book of fairies for my birthday and I read and read that book, studying the flower fairies and imagining them cantering through my mother's pinks and asters. Positive they could not resist the enchanting call of my backyard, I even left a brand new shiny copper penny amongst the wild violets near my favorite pine tree. I pleaded for them to show me their faces and accept my gift, but I never heard them singing or saw a blade of grass stir. And yet, in my child's imagination, I knew they were there. They existed in the call of the wind and the rattling of the windmill. They lived in the shadows beneath the cement pagoda in the rock garden. They slept upon the soft mounds of moss growing at the base of the cedars. They rode on the backs of the red winged blackbirds and jousted with the robins seeking worms after a warm rain in the summer.

I ran out early every morning with the dew fresh upon my toes to check and see if the copper penny was still there. I worried my dad would pick it up and the fairies would be mad I took back my gift. But it sat there and eventually, the wild violets grew taller, hiding its shiny face from passersby, until one day I could only see the very edge of the coin poking up from the dirt. I left the penny there hoping the fairies would find it someday.

I was positive they would come and dance under the light of the full moon. They would accept my gift and one day soon, I would awake to find a tiny face peering in at me from my bedroom window. Maybe, it would be a girl fairy wearing a tiny rose petal for a hat and clothed in the shiny green leaves of my mother's roses. Maybe, it would be a boy fairy sporting a jaunty acorn hat and carrying a sewing needle as a sword attached to the piece of string he used as a belt. It didn't matter. I knew they would come.

And then one day, I stopped checking for fairies in my mother's gardens and I went to school and forgot about the copper penny. Now as an adult, when I walk through my mother's flowers, smell their sweet nectar, and listen to the crickets softly chirping and the birds rustling in the trees above, I wonder if I would find that penny in the backyard or if I went digging, would it simply have vanished. I like to think it disappeared. I still like to believe in the fairies, even though I can't see them. It's too alluring to be out in nature and not have the spark of my writer's imagination flare, reminding me of the child within.

They're out there. How could they resist such beautiful gardens? I can't

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

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