Through absolutely no fault of her manure-shoveling mother’s, my four year-old daughter Grace is a real girly girl. Favorite color: pink. Favorite activity: Twinkletoes ballet. Favorite literature: Angelina Ballerina and Flower Fairies.
I was reading Grace a Flower Fairies book before bed the other night and–though wincing my way through the verses–found myself peculiarly captivated by the illustrations. The charm of them is the careful observations of nature…each plant is really well drawn. And the way writer and illustrator Cicely Mary Barker has transformed these plants into costumes is really clever. The puffy flower of a sweetpea becomes a baby’s bonnet. The poppy fairy has a really chic red dress that’s gathered at a black waist. Plus, I like the fact that it’s not just obviously beautiful plants like roses that get flower fairies. Fruit trees get fairies. Even brambles get fairies. There’s an acorn fairy.
Barker was a Brit, of course. That serious attention to plants–well, you won’t see that kind of thing coming out of Anaheim and the offices of Disney, where there appears to be an earnest focus on busty blondes who’ve had stuff injected into their lips.
Grace’s eyes got wide. "Are flower fairies real?" she asked me.
I wasn’t going to lie to her. "It could be. Flowers are pretty magical."
"Can we go to the country this spring and look for baby flower fairies?" she asked. "Because I’d love to take care of a baby."
I was touched not just by this nurturing impulse, but also by her faith. She really believes there will be a spring.
Me, I become less convinced with each passing day. It’s been a horrible week in Saratoga Springs with temperatures dipping below zero, pipes freezing, and three-foot high mounds of frozen snow narrowing every roadway and blocking the sidewalks. My nine year-olds are behaving like caged animals, despite much organized exercise at the Y. Even walking the dog is punishment, given the wind-chill. March is the cruelest month.
I’m getting through it by forcing myself to think about the first spring tasks. Mulch. Plant the peas: Sugar Snaps, an old sweetpea called Matucana that manages the abrupt transition from winter to sweltering summer better than more highly-bred varieties, and a soup pea called Amplissimo Viktoria that Fedco promises makes a great hummus and does.
Oh, yeah, right at the top of the list: search for fairy babies. What could possibly be better than spending a few hours knee-high with my pretty child, peering into fresh green plants and watching for babies with wings?