Nov. 1, 2012
What is it that’s so satisfying about treading on fallen leaves and having them crunch in just the right way? Also walking on acorns and squishing them? Or stepping on rocks and having them click together in a perfect, rock-y clink?
Whenever I see acorns or spiky sweetgum balls or magnolia pods, I always want to make things out of them. They look as if they are specifically designed for crafts. Once, though, I made some lovely Christmas ornaments from sweetgum balls, and then all these bugs began crawling out of their holes. That’s how I learned it’s important to first bake natural, holey things in the oven in order to kill insects. So bug corpses fall out instead of living entities. I’ve helped kids create really cute, fuzzy owls from magnolia pods, and spiders from sweetgum balls. Turning acorns into heads with little hats and stick bodies is almost too obvious and cliché, but it’s irresistible. And, of course, the acorn caps also make useful rustic bowls for fairies and dolls. When I was a kid, I baked acorn cakes because I had read about them in a book. I gathered up the acorns, ground them with a rolling pin, washed them to flush out the acid, and then baked them. They weren’t exactly…bad…
Oh! Another wonderful nature craft we did at the Aberdeen library was inspired by the book, Fairie-ality by David Elwond, full of lovely, ethereal fashions formed by nature. (Speaking of “ethereal”–one of the nicest compliments I have ever received was when someone long ago described me that way. “Ethereal,” that is. Of course I was much younger and thinner then. Age and weight makes you earth-bound.) For the craft, I collected feathers, leaves, seeds, seashells, and all that sort of thing and helped the kids hot glue them into fairy fashions. It was unbelievable how well they turned out and how much fun they were. I had oyster (I think) shells from the beach in Alabama, which were the perfect shape for Victorian bonnets and flowing skirts.
I just looked up fairies on Pinterest. Some of it is a bit on the kitschy side, but there are still lots of delightful, tasteful, otherworldly things to look at. It makes me once again believe in the Good Folk.
I remember having no doubt that fairies and elves existed when I was little; it was an amazing, magical thing. Once, I got proof. My older sister Paula gave me letters written on rose petals by the fairy queen herself. They were enclosed in envelopes made of leaves, fastened by thorns. I wonder if she remembers?