Fairy Magic, Library Magic 

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Post by Laura R.

I grew up in the mountains of Northwest Colorado, in a log house in the middle of about seven acres of woods. I ran around barefoot in my favorite purple-flower dress every summer, on the trails beaten down by our horses. It was seemingly quiet at our house—so different from the Denver street I live on now—but my mom would often tell me to sit on the back porch and close my eyes and listen. She’d tell me to try to pick out as many different sounds as I could: the wind swishing through the pines, the creaks of their trunks as if they were talking to each other, the birdsong, squirrels chittering, branches falling, twigs cracking.
When my family went camping, I’d go on expeditions with my older sister, my mom, and my aunt. My sister and I splashed in creeks, picked wild flowers, and made mud piles. Sometimes I went walking alone. I’d look for special plants or creatures, like mushrooms or rose hips or bluebells or lizards. It was always a scavenger hunt. Each snail shell, each pine cone, each green rock or piece of mica felt like a discovery, a magical token that could protect or empower me.

Around that time, I started going to the library, and I see now how the magic of the forest was similar to the magic I found in the troves of books there. The silence, the sense that I was an adventurer about to discover something fascinating and beautiful, the time I spent alone dreaming—it was the same. I became obsessed with magical creatures, which I probably learned about from books. I loved stories about unicorns, fairies, magic, secrets. Of course I was sure there were fairies in the brambles behind our house. I felt them and their magic in the cool air in the evening, in the way the aspen leaves quivered, in the sarvis berries, in the rain. I felt it shoot up my spine when the wind started up before a storm and the clouds got dark and purple. Fairies just made sense.

My mother and aunt were the ones who taught me how to make fairy houses. We had a special place about a mile’s walk from our most frequented campsite. We called it Circle-of-Trees. I’d learned in books that one sign that fairies have visited are fairy rings—perfect circles of toadstools or moss. Well, we’d found a fairy circle made of lodgepole pine, a magic grove. We made fairy houses here as gifts to our tiny friends. First we gathered everything we needed: straight twigs of similar sizes, small pebbles for the walkway, pieces of bark for the door and roof, moss for the garden, flower petals for decoration. I remember my mother’s hand guiding mine as I stacked the twigs in a criss-cross pattern, building the walls. It was slow work and it took patience, but I knew it was worth it. It was for them.

I’m all grown up now. I still look to the natural world for the quiet and the green smell and the breeze and the stillness. I still believe in fairies. I work at a library, and I make sure to remind myself often how magical these places were for me as a child. I hope with abandon that some of the children that come here feel that magic too when they crack a book.

If you’re craving more magic in your life, come visit Aurora Public Library on April 12th to build your very own garden fairy house. And if you or a child you know is interested in fairies, check out some of the following books from APL, including the new story Backyard Fairies by Phoebe Wahl, which sparked this blog post.
Backyard Fairies book cover
Backyard Fairies by Phoebe Wahl
Fairy Houses All Year: A Four-Season Handbook by Liza Gardner Walsh
Fairies: An Introduction Into the History and Mystery of Their Magical Realm by Ralph Harvey
Fairies by Virginia Loh-Hagan.
The Book of Fairies selected and illustrated by Michael Hague
Forest Fairy Crafts by Lenka Vodicka-Paredes

Posted by zsmith@auroragov.org On 09 April, 2018 at 4:11 PM  

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