Fairy Rings Around the Annabelle Rose

I was pleased to hear last night that Annabelle’s teacher went around the room yesterday and asked each kid to talk about Fall Break. I knew AB was busting to tell her class about the fairy rings.

I’d never heard of a fairy ring til last week. As we were driving north, Ray gave his sales pitch for what a great trip it would be. “We’re going to a place called the Crystal Forest,” he said, “And we’re going to look for fairy rings! But the fairy rings won’t be in the crystal forest — they’ll be in the real forest.”

“Huh?” I thought. (I was sort of napping at the time.) At that point I hadn’t been enlightened to the wonders (not so much) of the Crystal Forest, at the Petrified Forest. And I’d certainly never heard of a fairy ring. I have no idea where Ray picked that one up — he’s the keeper of all sorts of knowledge, useful and not, the kind of guy who reads about the ancient Romans for fun. Handy to have around, for sure.

And the fairy ring was the ticket. Along with fashion design, Annabelle’s been into the whole fairy thing. When we go to the bookstore, she grabs those enormous (expensive!) fairy books with the pop-ups and the cut outs and the little envelopes you can open and take stuff out of — all about fairies. She most definitely wanted to see a fairy ring. The stakes were high.

Ray explained that a fairy ring is a circle of mushrooms. I know about mushrooms; we used to find them on the lawn, as kids. I don’t know why we don’t get them at our house now. Maybe because of irrigation. All I recall was my mother warning us that they might be poisonous (as if I was going to put THAT in my mouth) and worrying about the dog getting into them. No rings.

In the end, we found two fairy rings on our trip. None in the petrified forest (of course) and none in the real forest (not that we looked so hard, or really spent much time in any real forest) — instead, one was in the yard at La Posada in Winslow and the other in my parents’ yard in Flagstaff.

Wow. It really was a little circle (a clumpy little circle but still) of mushrooms, growing right there next to a tree on the lush green lawn that backs up to a very loud train. “Where are the fairies?” Annabelle asked Ray, who assured her that they only come out at night and promised to bring her back, flashlight in hand.

She did her own little fairy dance on the lawn.

I had an idea. As we were packing to leave on our trip, there was some consternation over the fact that Annabelle was about to lose a tooth. She never did, that thing was still hanging there last night when I put her to bed. Ray started calling her Snaggletooth, and it’s true, the thing is looking pretty gross. (The tooth, not the kid.)

So I ran to the bank and got some more silver dollars and packed some Tabitha Fairchild stationary, as well as my favorite pink glitter, “Cheeky,” which I’ve been sprinkling on the tooth fairy letter each time. More than the stationary or the money or the small gift I include (indeed, I go way overboard, shoot me) Annabelle’s taken with the “fairy dust”, which she saves in a small box in her room. (And here, big thanks to Mrs. M., for the idea!)

My idea was to run outside when no one was looking, and dump some glitter on the mushrooms, so Annabelle would see them sparkle when she and Ray headed out that night.

I felt like a criminal, creeping out the back door and crouching to sprinkle the pink stuff, but no one was around. I even made it back up to the room, sparkle free, with no questions from the kids. And that night, the plan worked! Sophie skipped the trip into the cold (wise girl) but Annabelle headed out and back in to report on the discovery.

The next morning, Annabelle told me she’d had a dream about a fairy, describing her in beautiful detail.

“I don’t know, I think she’s getting a little too obsessed with fairies,” Ray said later.

I bit my tongue to keep from pointing out his role in this obsession. Anyhow, a little magic is not a bad thing. Right?

The second fairy ring was dead, so we skipped the glitter, though AB insisted on going out at night to check, just in case.

Of course, before I wrote this, I googled “fairy ring”. I found several web sites for lawn care, and a great picture of a gigantic fairy ring. (Apparently they can be quite a problem.)

And naturally, there’s a Wikipedia entry for fairy rings. Now, maybe it’s just because of my profession (as a journalist, it’s all about getting the info before you write the story) but I’m constantly struck with how scarily easy it is, these days, to get ahold of information. I’m not saying it’s always accurate — you’ve got to fact check — but it’s darn good stuff, I realize, now that I’ve given into the wiki thing a little.

Too good to be true, if you ask me, which is the same thing I think when I use my iPhone or drive through Starbucks. Or take my Netflix movie out of the mailbox. Or find out they serve brown rice at my favorite Thai restaurant. And then there’s etsy.com.

Sorry for the digression, but really, these things tell me that the end of civilization is nearing. It’s all too easy. I listen to the financial news and I don’t understand any of it except the part about how we’re probably really, really screwed. I think it’s because I love my iPhone too much.

So yeah, give me some magic. It’s nice to think about fairy rings, and even learn everything you could imagine (and then some) about them with a few keystrokes. But don’t read too much. As my own luck would have it, fairy rings are considered incredibly bad luck by a variety of cultures! They portend an early death and French lore warns that bug-eyed toads guard them, putting a curse on anyone who comes near. You must touch iron or sprinkle marjoram and thyme to ward off the evil.

The good news is that you pretty much have to step inside the fairy ring for anything really crappy to happen, and our rings were way too small for that. And there was mention of the belief that the fairies use the mushrooms for parasols and tables. I prefer to imagine that. Shakespeare alluded beautifully though scarily to them, in The Tempest:

. . . you demi-puppets that
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make,
Whereof the ewe not bites, and you whose pastime
Is to make midnight mushrooms, that rejoice
To hear the solemn curfew . . . .


I also found this traditional 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.

And what of she who sprinkles pink glitter on the fairy ring?

Yeah, I’m screwed.

I just hope my Netflix movies still come.


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