At this time of year, the silver 2-week period when the Virginia Bluebells bloom in concert with the delicate Spring Beauties, Trout Lilies, and even the alien Lesser Celandines, I can’t help but feel that I’m in Fairyland. And today, when the white sunlight shone beneath the gray rainclouds, it lit the world in crisp, clean, and almost metallic shadow, and I felt as if I was walking through a photograph. With one effect on top of another, I might have been unreal myself, and, as must always be true when a proper fairy has you in its sphere, I was a little unnerved.
A few years ago, my father showed me an old drawing of mine that he had found in his basement. Surrounding a smiling girl were curlicues and flowers, mice and birds, and I had written across the top, “Nature is Love.” My father, who has a wry sense of humor, laughed at me for having been a young, secret pantheist, and I was suitably embarrassed by the naivete and simplicity of my early drawing. Only a year ago, I was even more embarrassed when my nieces started reading aloud from my early diaries. They contained the usual, painful nonsense about boys, family problems, and worries about my appearance (listen to the podcast, Mortified, and you’ll get the idea), but they also had the affected, pretentious prose of someone who wanted very much to be a a writer and had read way too much Louisa May Alcott and L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series, not to mention piles of Andrew Lang’s many-colored Fairy Books (Olive! Pink! Orange!). I wrote in high-flying language of my love of nature, of the joy of sitting by “the creek” and making up stories, of the respite from the “real world” it offered me.
In Fairyland, you lose time, or maybe you gain it. At any rate, Fairyland changes time, so that you can be in two places at once, be two people at once, and yet be one person in one time all the same. Am I 10 or 40? Have I grown up at all? I’m not a pantheist. Or a pagan. More often, I’m a simple rationalist with a Lutheran upbringing. But I can feel the magic, even if I don’t believe in it. That’s why there can be trash in Fairyland.