Children’s fairy play seems to be universal, from the dappled woods of Sweden to the hidden forests of Monhegan Island, Maine, where children and grown-ups create magical fairy houses using only nature’s toy chest for materials. When given a chance to play outdoors, children inevitably invite the fairies to be a part of their lives. I watched in awe as my granddaughter Ilyahna laid out a perfect fairy landscape under the pine tree. Her stockpile of leaves, flower petals, twigs, moss, acorns, shells, and pods were fashioned into beds, rugs, tiny chairs, and dishes fit for even the most discriminating of fairies.
The strange thing is that she did this before I had the chance to teach her about making a fairy garden. I had been looking forward to initiating her into the ways of the fairy-folk, but like most children, she was privy to all that knowledge without needing any help from a grown-up. She instinctively reached for some of the beautiful and natural objects scattered throughout the yard and began the quiet and joyful work of creating magic.
You can make fairies a part of your grandchild’s life by providing some areas for play and a ready supply of natural objects. Before your grandchild arrives for a visit, set the scene for a fairy landscape. Find a shaded area of your yard (under big bushes or trees) and clear a circular space for your grandchild’s hidden fairy garden. Smooth the soil and outline the circle with pinecones, acorns, twigs, shells or rocks. Plant the circle with a collection of small bulbs or coral bells, a plant the fairies love. Fill in the circle with a cushion of soft mosses or mulch. Be on the lookout for wonderful shells, pebbles, rocks, pods, cones, twigs, lichen, mosses and leaves—anything that would work for outfitting a fairy house and garden. Around the time of a child’s visit, nestle your natural finds throughout the yard or garden and near the cleared fairy space. When your grandchild arrives, walk outside together and discover the magical circle. Stroll through the yard and find some of the natural objects you’ve seeded there. As you gather them, talk about what they look like and what they might become in a fairy garden or house.
Excerpted from Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars. ©2009 by Sharon Lovejoy. Used by permission of Workman Publishing. All rights reserved.
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