“It’s frightfully difficult to know much about the fairies, and almost the the only thing known for certain is that there are fairies wherever there are children. Long ago children were forbidden the Gardens, and at that time there was not a fairy in the place ; then the children were admitted, and the fairies came trooping in that very evening, they can’t resist following the children, but you seldom see them, partly because they live in the daytime behind the railings, where you are not allowed to go, and also partly because they are so cunning. They are not a bit cunning after Lock-out, but until Lock-out, my word !”
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1906.
Note: I copied this quotation from this delightful post at Le Fumoir…
There is a magical time in my garden each night as the sun sets behind the hills and the solar lights along my main pathway start to twinkle. It’s a time of day that I generally find myself chatting with friends rather than gardening. It’s a time for contemplation and not for work. :)
So in the gloaming a few weeks ago I was chatting with a friend and her young daughter and when the lights came on, I mentioned that it was now “fairy time” in the garden. Such times remind me of when my kids were littler and the joy they had in finding all of the nooks & crannies of the garden where the ‘fairies’ lived. Oddly, though, I don’t think my kids really believed in fairies. It was more of a game for us….a way of acknowledging the magic and creativity of the garden. At least that’s what I tell myself now.
I didn’t foster my children’s belief in Santa or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. Yes, the kids would get some money under their pillow after they lost a tooth, but it was more of a ritual than a practice in deception. And at Christmastime I often put gifts under the tree with only a “To” on the tag and no “From.” Sometimes the kids said this meant these gifts were from Santa. I don’t think I purposefully encouraged this belief, but it was just there given the cultural milieu in which they were raised. And at Easter we often gave little treats and hid colored eggs, but the Easter Bunny part of the holiday was just an excuse for a little fun, much as in the dress-up part of Halloween.
So now I wonder why I still speak of fairies? Why did that comment so easily pop out of my mouth at dusk? Why do I feel the need to linger and relish the transition from night to day, the “fairytime,” in my garden?
I believe it’s because I use the image of the ‘fairy’ as a kind of cultural shorthand. The notion of little sprites darting around in the plants expresses my feelings about the mystical presence of my garden: the flowers that spring up in unintended spaces, the persistence of some plants against all odds, the continued ‘unexpected’ of each visit to my “Secret Garden” space.
Just as I still enjoy myths and fairytales and ripping-good yarns, I still speak of fairies. I think I still believe in them, too. Not of the Disney/ Tinkerbell variety, but as embodiments of the healing, enlivening energy that surrounds my flowers & plants.
What about you? Do you believe in fairies?