Friday, September 04, 2009

Making Memories: How-to Build a Fairy House

Fairies, as you probably know, are rather flighty creatures. Granted, there are many types of fairies, and some are more sensible and practical than others...but I am speaking here specifically of the forest fairies. The wild fairies of the deep woods are, by and large, not known for being practical. Instead, they are best known for their endless frolics during the long, lazy days of summer. Whether they are busy playing tricks on each other, or on unfortunate forest travelers, or whether they are dancing the warm evenings away by the lights of countless fireflies, forest fairies love fun above all else.

But what happens to these free-spirited fairies when the leaves fall and the air turns crisp and cool? What happens when the days grow short and the nights grow long and cold? Where do they go when snow blankets the earth?

Some suspect that fairies can simply move between the fairy realm and the world we know. And to a large extent, I expect this is true. But I am not so sure that the journey between the two realities is as easy as wishing oneself from one realm to another. I think, even for a fairy, moving between worlds is a journey, and one that is only undertaken under specific conditions...perhaps the window between the worlds only opens when certain requirements are in place.

Whatever the details are concerning fairies moving between our world and their own realm, I think it is a safe assumption that a few, a very few, forest fairies do not return to a magical land of endless summer in our autumn. Perhaps they tarry too long and miss the open window between the realms. Perhaps, and this is what I believe, a handful of summer fairies choose to remain behind, having found that autumn and winter hold their own wonders and delights.

Yet the fairies of the summer forest are not particularly suited to the colder weather, and they must have some shelter from the rough winter winds and the long cold nights. In a pinch, the fairies can share a nest with a friendly squirrel, or a stay snug in a chipmunk's burrow, but these habitations, though safe and warm, hardly provide the amenities the lovers of gatherings and festivities most desire.

Fairies much prefer custom built fairy houses in which to over-winter.

Here is how to build one.

Preparation
1. Pick a warm fall day when the weather is inviting for a walk in the woods.
2. Take a small bag or a shoe box for holding "found objects." One container per child works best.
3. Pack a healthy snack and water bottle or juice box. You may bring these items with you to consume on the trail (in which case you also need to bring disinfecting wipes.) Or you may leave the snack in your vehicle at the trail head, but if there isn't a restroom nearby, the disinfecting wipes are still a good idea!

Collection

As you walk along the trail, keep a sharp eye out for objects to include in your fairy house. Fairies like--
pretty leaves,
interesting rocks,
acorn caps,
flat pieces of bark,
pinecones,
and the like.

Do NOT pick any wildflowers. Only collect items you find already laying along the path.


Location

Site your fairy house near, but not directly on, the path. Remember, fairies are reclusive creatures, at least around humans. They will not want to dwell too close to where people and pets (especially nosey dogs) are walking.

Also, fairies will need a storm shelter of some kind. While the house you will build for them will keep them warm and dry most of the time, during the fiercest of winter storms, its good to have a deeper, more secure shelter in the worst of inclement weather. This deep shelter also doubles as a location to store a winter food supply, which is thoughtfully gathered for the fairies by neighboring squirrels and chipmunks, in exchange for invitations to numerous winter balls.

Fallen logs, hollow tree trunks, trees with deep spaces between their roots, and hollow stumps all make for locations providing a natural storm shelter and food storage for the fairies. Plus, using something like this for a base of your fairy house makes the construction of the house a lot easier.

CAUTION:  When leaving the trail, proceed with caution. Have an adult check for poison ivy and for safe footing. Also, do not stick a hand into any hollow spot in a tree trunk or under a log. You don't want to startle any creature already in residence!!!

Construction

1. Clear your location of any debris and leaf litter. Fairies are tidy creatures.

2. Use your found objects to set up the interior of the house.
----Large flat rocks make nice tables when surrounded by small stones and set with acorn caps.
----Colorful leaves can make a nice carpet. And fairy circles are always fashionable.
----Feathers can be tucked into crevices to make a soft bed.

3. Use your imagination and have fun.

4. The walls and ceiling of your fairy house can be constructed as a lean-to, using sticks found on location. --Use a nearby tree or fallen log as your primary support. Remember, use only sticks laying on the ground, please don't go breaking living twigs off trees!
--Large sticks can be shoved into the ground to form vertical support. Large rocks can be propped around the base of these sticks for extra strength and stability.

--Smaller sticks and twigs can lay or be leaned against the main frame to form a roof and walls.

--Large pieces of bark also makes good roofing, but again, don't pull bark off of a living tree!

5. Don't worry if your house is not completely enclosed and if large gaps exist in your walls and your ceiling. The fairies themselves are quite capable of using their own fairy magic to seal up the house. They just need a framework to begin weaving their magic on.

Completion

Be sure to take a picture of the workers with the finished abode!


One added note.....
according to Sweetling, there has been a recent discovery of a new type of fairy, a realtor fairy. These fairies specialize in finding suitable fairy houses and matching seeking fairies to these locations. While most summer forest fairies wait until autumn to being house hunting, realtor fairies like to get a jump on the market, and begin searching for houses in late August or early September. So, it's not too early to begin thinking about building a fairy house. The realtor fairies are already looking for them!

3 comments:

sunnymama said...

What a lovely fairy house! Looks like a lot of fun to build. :)

Mama Ria said...

Xuan, Hightlights for Kids says it is in particular need of interesting kid projects - this could be an excellent submission. I could even see a proposal for a kids book on the "realtor fairy" concept looking for just the right house for a very particular fairy! You have already done all the work so let me know if you want an address to send an abbreviate submission too (if you don't currently subscribe, you can pick up a copy at the local library or stop by - we have tons - to see the general format).

Chocolateer said...

Mama Ria,

Thanks for the awesome suggestion. Sweetling has some back issues of Highlights that I'll ask to look through.

And I really like the idea of a realtor fairy book!