Do You Believe?

One day last week, my yard was full of toadstools and/or mushrooms; I never have known how to tell one from the other so it’s a good thing chefs and farmers do it for me.

These mushrooms were everywhere, I suppose brought out by the intermittent rains, excessive heat and high humidity we’ve been having lately.  They were all sizes, ranging from  a button to one of those dark things a foot across.  Shapes and colors were varied, too, from the puffy creamy kind to the brownish-yellow type that looks kind of like a flattish dahlia.

Having so many of these on my own lawn brought to mind the few times in my life I’ve seen fairy rings.  For anyone with even the slightest interest in woodland creatures such as fairies, elves and pixies, they bring a little catch of breath, a feeling that you just might be lucky enough to witness a wonderful thing.  Seeing the ring, it’s easy to imagine  a fairy sitting under a toadstool or lounging on top.  Legend has it that a fairy ring rises when fairies, elves or pixies dance in a circle in the moonlight and we mortals can see it the next morning.  It lasts for five days and, if you wait for the creatures to return to the ring before it disappears, you might be able to capture one.  However, intruding on the creatures’ sacred place can bring a curse and bad luck, especially if you try—fruitlessly— to destroy it.

In the words of an old Scottish rhyme…

He wha tills the fairies’ green
Nae luck again shall hae :
And he wha spills the fairies’ ring
Betide him want and wae.
For weirdless days and weary nights
Are his till his deein’ day.
But he wha gaes by the fairy ring,
Nae dule nor pine shall see,
And he wha cleans the fairy ring
An easy death shall dee.

I can totally see Terry Pratchett’s Wee Free Men singing this  <g>.

Do I believe?  Well, maybe just a teensy little bit.  For me, they fall into the category of things that COULD be true and, as far as I know, nobody has proven they don’t exist so why not believe?

Numerous works of literature include fairies and fairy rings, most famously, William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Cicely Mary Barker is arguably the premier fairy artist and her collections, such as Flower Fairies of the Spring, have enchanted us for more than 85 years; today’s garden gnome is probably a relic of Victorian fantasy art.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes canon, famously fell for the fraudulent 1917 and 1920 fairy photographs made by two young Yorkshire girls and even wrote a book, The Coming of the Fairies, which touts the pictures as genuine proof of fairies’ existence.  (Doyle may have created a highly intelligent detective but that doesn’t mean he himself was all that bright, does it?)

Who am I to decide whether or not pixies and elves and fairies exist?  Tolkien and others of his ilk certainly managed to spin some pretty spectacular stories and I prefer to think they might have just had a little inside knowledge 😉  Until someone convinces me one way or the other, I’ll just imagine this little guy hanging out among all my mushrooms and toadstools, waiting for somebody to tickle his belly.