Friday, June 15, 2012

Tea With Fairies

Timbrel and Whimsey
   When my girls were considerably smaller than they are now and began losing baby teeth along the way, it was Gossamer Tooth-fairy who came to collect the teeth they left for her under their pillows. She gave them silver coins in exchange for their molars and cuspids, and she always wrote a letter to thank them. Gossamer had two girls of her own, Timbrel and Whimsey, whom she was training in the family business, but she did not always bring the girls with her because they were young and got into mischief. (I wonder…Is that how Miss Primrose ended up with her head stuck in the dresser drawer?) Sometimes, if she didn’t have too many other houses to visit, she stopped to take a cup of tea with me. Then one day she invited me to her place. 

     I went to tea in Fairyland and I will never be the same again. You might very well ask, “Where is this magical place?” The thing of it is, you don’t even have to leave your own kitchen table or back garden to get there. The way in to Make-Believe can be found simply in the bright glance of the moon at night, the sudden flash of a flicker’s wing, or the singing green of a rainy summer’s day. Once you have been there, you will recognize the signs.

    My favorite teacup is the one Gossamer sent home with me. It is green majolica embossed with leaves, large enough for a fairy to take a bath in, but quite small by our standards. I don’t mind its size; I can refill it as many times as I like. Besides, the teeny-tiny teacup from the Peter Rabbit china set I used to serve Gossamer when she came to call was almost as big as her head and she managed. When I use it I can imagine I am supping in a tree with my fairy friend, or sitting in the grass beneath the shady boughs of an orchard with the birds pipping among the peaches for our pleasure. 

     I haven’t sat down to tea with Gossamer for a long while because the girls stopped losing their teeth years ago. But my oldest daughter has children of her own now, and Gossamer promised me the last time she came that when they begin losing their teeth she will send Timbrel to gather them. Timbrel always had a sweet-tooth; she found it under a pillow and carries it in her pocket. Perhaps I’ll be able to tempt her to tea with a slice of cake and sugar lumps.

Illustrations by Amelia Jane Murray, Lady Oswald, (1800-1896)
"Amelia was born in Port-e-Chee on the Fairy Island of the Isle of Mann, the daughter of Lord Henry Murray, whose ancestors had for generations been styled the Kings of Man. She and her five borthers and sisters had a privileged childhood, living at Mount Murray, a house five miles south of Douglas. Her Fairy paintings date from the 1820s. She was inspired by the rich folklore of the Isle of Mann, epitomised by the name of her birthplace, Port-e-Chee, which in Manx Gaelic means 'Fairy Music'" — Peter Nahum

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