Fairies, Gnomes, Trolls & Imagination

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Last Sunday I had an interesting conversations with a five year-old. We were talking about travels along our bike path, which starts at the West Kingston Train Station and meanders through wooded areas and the Great Swamp into the coastal town of Narragansett. She was telling me about a section of the path inhabited by trolls, whispering that the best time to catch site of these creatures is in the early morning hours and cautioning me, should I venture out at this time, to be very, very quiet, as Trolls  tend to be extremely skitterish. I live for these kinds of conversations because I’m infatuated with anything that has to do with the imagination. Young children are filled with imagination. When does it dissipate, I wonder? What can we do to keep it always on hand, no matter how old we get?

IMG_3063Our friends, Jack and Jean, love to take adventures with us. We’ve shared quite a few, including Disney World. Jack and I were administrators of a high school for a few years and we became good friends in the process. He was the best principal I’d ever met; someone who knew the right thing to do at the right time and who always kept the kids first and foremost in every decision he made. He and Charley, my husband, also an amazing teacher and administrator, are kindred spirits. Jean, Jack’s wife, taught kindergarten in Boston. I find her to be a caring, creative and talented human being. Like many elementary teachers I’ve known, everything around her is colorful and enticing. Their yard is filled with flowers; plants thrive; their home is always decorated for every holiday; her recipes are the best; and sitting at their table for a meal is a gastronomic pleasure. These friends have been there for us through the good and the bad; the celebrations and the operations. Look around and there they are. Steady anchors in our sometimes turbulent lives.

This week Jean planned two adventures for us. The first excursion was to Highfield Hall and Gardens in Falmouth, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. http://www.highfieldhallandgardens.org/ IMG_7022 4

Highfield Hall was an estate built by the Beebe Family in 1878. In 1972 the property was  purchased by the Josephine and Joshua Lilly III who donated the land and house to a local arts organization. After many years of hard times the town’s citizen’s helped to save the main hall and the property from becoming another new condominium project. With the help of interested donors, the Hall and the grounds were saved and refurbished. Today it is used for exhibits and cultural events and it’s a joyous venue for weddings. There is a summer theatre and music and the gardens and woodlands are quite lovely. This summer, the curator, Salley Mavor, along with a group of artists, created a series of 32 Fairy Dwellings throughout the house and surrounding property. Ms. Mavor gives an explanation for each one in the following video:

The four of us spent an imaginative afternoon touring the house and gardens and walking the wooded paths looking into these secret abodes of tiny, magical creatures. For a few hours we were children again, pointing and ooohing and aaahing at the ingenuity of it all. And in the background, the sound of a little child calling for the fairies to come out echoed through the grey beechwoodsIMG_3460

We finished our day by going out to an ice cream shop for dinner. Time well spent and happy endings all around.

Our second adventure, planned for the following day, was to the Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich. I’ll tell you all about it in the next post. For now, I’ll leave you with the hope that maybe you’ll be inspired to create your own fairy garden and spin stories with a child. Sweet Dreams.

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30 thoughts on “Fairies, Gnomes, Trolls & Imagination

  1. Clare what a magical experience! I adore the way children think. They have it all worked out.

    Your post really resonated with me because my daughter’s first grade teacher – like your friend creative and imaginative. We have remained friends for forty something years. I have reproduced part of her recent email below which I think will interest you:

    ‘Have you ever heard of Findhorn in northern Scotland? It was founded in the early 70s as a spiritual community and has grown hugely since then. I read the book “The Magic of Findhorn” some time after the community was established and visited it in 2013. Among other things, it talked about the extraordinary vegetables that they were growing there. The writer claimed that they were able to communicate with the nature spirits ( divas ) with whom they worked harmoniously. In the same book, I read about the sightings of fairies in the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. I have been to the gardens twice, hoping to see for myself but sadly, no luck. Wendy, the woman who takes my meditation group, claims that young children visiting her garden have seen fairies. I keep a lookout in my garden.’

    I’m with Hamlet who said ‘There are more things in heaven and earth Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy.’ : )

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    1. I’ve been to the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens but saw no faeries. I’ll try once again next time I’m there. I’ll definitely read “The Magic of Findhorn” as soon as I’m done with the latest Isabel Dalhousie book, “The Novel Habits of Happiness”. This is the latest in the Sunday Philosopher Series by Alexander McCall Smith and is set in Edinburgh. I love all of them and they make me long to return to Scotland someday.

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    1. And I woke up at 3:30AM! I blame it on the change in atmospheric pressure. I’m a very sensitive soul, you know!
      I thought the Youtube video of the faery houses by the curator, Salee Mavor, was interesting. An opportunity to relive the day.

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  2. What a fun-filled post! I love that there’s a place called the Great Swamp over there.

    Kids are great conversationalists. I don’t have any, but I enjoy talking with my friends’ children. They take me to that place that floats above the earth and below the heavens, where we all dream, the place I try to visit often.

    It’s heartwarming to read about people coming together to create such a wondrous place, Highfield Hall. The artists’ interpretations of fairy homes were fun to see. I like that they used natural elements and found objects.

    Looking forward to hearing more!

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    1. I’ll have to write a piece about King Phillip’s War and the Great Swamp Battle for all of our historian bloggers out there. Oh, and there’ll be photos.too, because they have built miles of wooden walkway through the center of swamp. But I’ll wait until after the first frost and the mosquitoes have died off before I venture out there.

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  3. What a lovely adventure!! That sounds so beautiful. I do think we need to find a way to hold on to our childlike wonder and imaginations. Lucas once told me he was just a giant kid and I told him that’s why I loved him, you can never let that child go or what’s the fun in life? I hope you have a fabulous weekend! 🙂

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    1. I have little cement gargoyles and gnomes all around my own gardens. When the winter comes around and the frost sets in, the weeds will die off and I’ll actually be able to see them. I really liked this place. It had lovely vibes as I walked around. You’re welcome! It’s the least I can do for someone sharing her experiences and recipes with me and Charley.Thanks

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    1. Thank you, Yvette. I’m getting some really great ideas from the children who come into my life. I just finished a book in verse about a little pitcher plant who one day refuses to eat meat. I wrote it for a five-year-old boy who was at one of my readings. He loves bugs! Kids are the best mentors!

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