She lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband, son, two cats, and a big dog. O’Connell talks about fairy tales in this week’s edition of Friday reads!
I like walking with my dog, Bear, in a little wooded area near my house; there’s green space within the city. Bear is looking for woodchucks and squirrels. I am looking for sticks, catkins, pine cones, acorns, pebbles, or other building materials—construction supplies for fairy houses.
Fairy houses are tiny houses (or schools or castles or libraries…) for the hidden folk.
The structures are made of natural materials. We leave them outside (or, sometimes, in a window) in the hope that someone will find this welcoming shelter and move in.
I love to pore over the photos of fairy houses in the books by Barry and Tracy Kane:
Fairy Houses … Everywhere! (left)
Fairy Houses and Beyond! (right)
and Fairy Houses…Unbelievable! (left)
And this new one by Barbara Purchia and E. Ashley Rooney, Fairy Homes and Gardens (right), which includes the poem “The Fairy Dew Drop” by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
I page through the photo books for inspiration. Seeing what can be made from petals and shells and seed pods and bark makes me want to construct something. The possibilities are endless, as can be seen in page after page in the books or on Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Facebook page, for example.
The wee people for whom we build can be tricky or friendly. They can be shy or sociable. Usually, they will respond to kindness with kindness. I keep that in mind as I gather materials for their cozy nooks or luxurious mansions. I think about The Tomten and the Fox by Astrid Lindgren. That is where I learned about the tradition of leaving a bowl of milk out for the Tomten. (Putting up a little house is like leaving out a bowl of milk, right?)
When I picture the soon-to-move-in wee little neighbors, I picture the flower fairies of Cicely Mary Barker. Aren’t they beautiful? Wouldn’t you set your mind to making the most comfortable home possible for them to enjoy?
I like to learn about who the wee people are, their habits, their preferences – all the better to recognize and welcome them. The poems in Fairies, Trolls & Goblins Galore, complied by Dilys Evans, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers are a fine introduction to (or reminder of) our hidden neighbors.