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IN OUR OWN BACKYARD....If only you believe

I've heard it said, "The first time a baby laughs, a fairy's life takes flight," and I now know this to be true. Last weekend, Ken and I flew to the East Coast to visit our newest granddaughter, Maia Sophia, along with her older sister Madeline, ...

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I've heard it said, "The first time a baby laughs, a fairy's life takes flight," and I now know this to be true.

Last weekend, Ken and I flew to the East Coast to visit our newest granddaughter, Maia Sophia, along with her older sister Madeline, age 2, and their parents. Though Maia was born in January,

this was the first opportunity for us to visit her, and we felt as though we'd waited a long, long time to make her acquaintance.

We were not disappointed. The five-month-old proved to be every bit as enchanting as we knew she would be - and more. We never really heard her cry once, and at the slightest provocation, she'd burst into a wonderful smile that lit up her entire face. She also had the most infectious giggle I've ever heard in one so young.

Knowing the fanciful nature of little girls (having been one myself at one time!), I'd decided that it was time to introduce our granddaughters to the wonders of fairies. Anyone who has ever watched Peter Pan will no doubt attest to the thrill they experienced when the tiny, opinionated fairy, Tinker Bell, told Peter and Wendy they could fly "if only they first believe."

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Who among us hasn't dreamed of lifting into the air and flying high above the ground, as though elevated by some magical power greater than time

and space itself?

In any case, on our recent visit to our tiny granddaughters I brought with me a book about building fairy houses. According to the "rules," fairy houses must be built in the wild and completely made out of natural materials such as stones, pine cones, seed pods, sea shells or driftwood. No living thing can be sacrificed for the sake of building the house, and the only other ingredient is a good imagination.

The little girl featured in the book visited the fairy house she built in the forest time and again, hoping to find a fairy there, but the only things she saw were wild creatures nibbling on the materials she used

to build it or licking the salt off the seashells she placed on the fairy house's front step.

Once, she discovered a flock of monarch

butterflies fluttering overhead, and the young girl imagined they were actually fairies that inhabited the house she built.

Our dear little Maia was still too young to understand all of this, but Madeline wanted us to read the book to her over and over again. When I suggested that she and I go out into the yard of their home

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and build a fairy house of our own, she was only too eager to give it a try.

She and I walked around and soon found a small notch in the base of a tree that looked as though it would make a fine spot for a fairy to spend the night. Then we collected stones for the pathway, pine cones

for the picket fence, a large yellow leaf for the fairy's bed and another cup-shaped one for the fairy's bathtub.

With glee, Madeline discovered a small curl of birch bark to embellish the doorway, and we

outlined the "sidewalk" with flat sections of bark that had fallen from the tree.

As so often happens with young children of that age, however, it didn't take long for Madeline's attention to move on to other things, and the fairy house was soon forgotten. That is, until we sat out in

the yard at dusk as the sultry, hot day faded into night.

It was then, as we sucked on popsicles and soaked our bare feet in the children's wading pool, that I spotted a single firefly working its way along the edge of the yard.

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"Look!" I cried in excitement. "It's a firefly!"

Madeline looked and looked as time and again, I pointed out the tiny light that flashed on and off again at various points in the darkness.

Whether she had any idea what a firefly really is, I have no idea, but suddenly I had an inspiration.

"Who knows?" I said as she looked on in wide-eyed wonder. "Maybe it's a fairy - headed to your fairy house in the tree!"

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