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November 5, 2009

This Wonderful Life: A view through bare branches


``Don’t walk back to the house until after the bus leaves.’’

I promised.

The elm tree is one of her favorites because, according to Bee and her dad, fairies live there. Or maybe they’re faeries. However they self-identify, Bee is certain of their existence because, on very, very cold winter mornings when her Papa takes her down to the bus stop, the two of them help the fairies keep warm by blocking their knot-hole doorway with a stick. Later on in the day, when the fairy house warms up, the fairies push the stick out of the doorway to the ground, where Bee finds it the next morning.

You should know that our lawn is well-populated by fairies. In the summertime, Bee and Posey and I build them little garden shelters. We make beds of moss and set pine bark tables with buttercup tea sets. We always add some signal or flag so the fairies will know that we’ve created a safe place for them where they won’t be bothered by cats or chickens or dogs.

After we’ve built the fairy shelters, we check them over the next days and weeks for signs of habitation. Bee is particularly adept at spotting fairy magic — a sort of vapor trail they leave in their wake.

``They were here,’’ she will declare. ``I can see their magic.’’

This week, Bee and I have stood under the elm tree looking skyward, and we have noticed how very little there is standing between us and the view beyond. Not one leaf remains on the tree. It seems Winter does not ask permission from me, or from Bee or from the shivering fairies before unpacking its bags and settling in for a long, long stay. It’s kind of a bully and a boor, that Winter.

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