In the midst of Fernald's Neck, a mysterious mossy forest surrounded by a lake in Maine, there are fairy forts all around...you just need to know how to look for them. These forts are usually below overturned trees and deep crevices in rocks.
Since I was "carried" by The Wee Folk, my eyes are sharper. I saw my first one on top of a bed of moss in the sunlight.
Deeper into the forest I saw what she was protecting. There it was, a fort. I did not dare go near it, for they do not take human meddling kindly. And I did not wish to be dragged down into it.
There was not one person in the forest that day. But ahead on the trail covered by pine needles, a fawn crashed through the trees. I could just see the tip of its white tail as it fled. Soon, I came to the height of the land, overlooking the lake, where sure enough, I encountered two more.
Adorned in white birch and dried grass, lichen, moss and fungi, all of these green fairies blended in. They knew I could see them and yet...they let me pass.
The deeper I ventured into the forest, the more it became clear. Fernald's Neck had a network of forts all along the trail. There was a moat that led to the Queen's court and many pairs of eyes watched to see what I could do.
I passed on and kept my eyes on the path until finally I was back in the meadow once more, back to safety.
Now, I know I've been swept. I shouldn't have been out on a May Eve. If you'll recall my earlier tale of finding myself at a fort at dawn, and meeting the Sentinel, who promised to let me go back home, you'll know now, that I'm still wandering. I've been carried away. The Good People have no time down here (and I'm not sure whether I'm up or down, this place is like a dream I can't wake from). But sure enough, I followed the Sentinel's instructions down a steep rampart in a river gorge and came across another tiny woman at the base of a small waterfall. I asked her "Who are you?"
"I am one of three of my troop who watch the stream," she answered plainly with no telling fear of me. As a reporter in my real (my former?) life, I ask questions. The first one naturally that came to me was: "But why?"
"By your presence," she answered, "'Tis to be merriment tonight and I am catching a fish. Go along now, you will only get in my way." And naturally, I went, not liking our abrupt exchange, but not wishing to irk her further. First, I looked downstream.
There was another one, hidden in the mossy rocks. But I did not go to meet her and I nodded my goodbye to the Fairy of the Stream and began climbing up the slippery embankment littered with duff. I was so lost, but there is no way out of this world, so along I went.
Story to be continued.
It was the strangest feeling to be able to walk across water, but far and away I did.
I had no concept of time, and only realized it was dawn, when I found myself stumbling through the woods, past mossy rocks and through a path that had long been obscured by fallen trees.
I walked until I came to an island surrounded by a moat within the woods, and I'll tell you something now, it chilled my blood to see it, for I knew at once what it was. My great grandmother, born in Cork, told my grandmother stories about this. It was a fort belonging to the sióga.
"Personally , I never cut even as much as a thorn in that fort. 'Tis belongs to ...the unknown. I'll put it that way. The Good People. 'Tis there for generations, for longer than we're aware of , or know of. We don't know what the origin of it is, nor we don't know what them people are about. Just leave 'em alone."
-Drumline, 19 September 2001 excerpt from Meeting The Other Crowd by Eddie Lenihan (with Carolyn Green)Gill & MacMillan 2003)
Something flew by by ear, a heavy whirring of wings like the sound of a hummingbird. And his little thing, she flew right up to my face.
"Child, you are far from home," she said in voice I can only describe as like hearing tree peepers at night, high and tiny like far off silver bells. I was so stunned I could only come up with a ridiculous reply. "I'm hardly a child. But, I shouldn't be here I know, please don't hurt me." The Others have their own way of collecting when they felt threatened. She hovered by my face and I got a good look at her as well. Her face was perfectly proportional, smaller than a doll's with a tiny crown of twigs atop her tightly coiled brown hair. Her dress, made of decayed leaves and brambles, blended right in with the bare trees in woods. "Stay," she said. "You are under my protection. Would you like to see where we live?"
I looked up. I looked around. I had no idea where I was, or how to get out of these woods. "It won't be for very long," she said. "Then I'll lead you back." I looked into her little face once again, into her wide brown eyes. "Okay," I said. "but I need to be back soon."
Story to be continued...stay tuned to our Facebook page for more.
Tonic of the Woods
the inspiration behind the creations
Photos, stories and concept ©Kay Stephens
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