There is an age of innocence when fairies and elves, trolls and witches are real to us all. Usually that is a very young age and we all “outgrow” that age and that innocence all too fast. We don’t actually outgrow it, we are forced to give it up; dragged into the world of “big boys and girls” who don’t believe in that stuff by adults and older children. It’s sad really, because the world of imagination that is abandoned in that passage into the “big” world is one of wonder and delight.
I remember one summer when my eldest grandson was little I would occasionally take him on walks with our dog, Odie. There is a small area of dense woods close by, behind the Muir Middle School, of not more than an acre. Those became the magical “woods” that he and grandpa walked through that summer. It was magical because someone (or something) had built a series of little shelters amongst the fallen trees and limbs in those woods.
These crude little shelters that we found in the woods were not much more than a few sticks stacked carefully against a fallen tree trunk, or sometimes free standing, with a few boughs on top to form a roof. They each clearly had an entrance. I’m sure that someone had great fun making them, perhaps as little shelters for rabbits or other small animals. Each little “house” was only a foot or so tall and not much more than that around. So, I told my grandson that these were the houses that the fairies and elves of the forest live in and he had the best time imagining that this was true and telling his mom about seeing their homes.
Of course the innocence that allowed him to believe that there were fairies and elves in the woods and that we had seen their homes didn’t last. By the next year he was already questioning who had built those little shelters and why. He had already become a big boy. The fairies and eves were gone for him.
It was, on one level, that age of innocence and the ability to believe in fairies and elves and dragons that was the subject of the famous Peter, Paul and Mary song, Puff the Magic Dragon. Of course the big boys of the world saw a different level and meaning to that song; but the songs story played out much the same as my story with the little houses. For a while the magic of innocent imagination allowed Puff the Magic Dragon to exist and then he disappeared under the sobering weight imposed by growing up.
There is still within us all a capacity to recapture a moment or two of that wonderful childhood innocence. Most of us are too much “in control” to allow those moments to happen; but some can relax, sitting by a campfire on a cool Autumn night, perhaps with a small creek babbling away nearby, and allow our minds to wander and our eyes to defocus. In those moments, if you let them back into your lives, you might see the fairies dancing in the flames of the fire or hear the elves scurrying around the edges of the campfire light. No one else need see the smile that will come to your face when the fairies and elves return.