Surely there is magic hiding everywhere we go. One must simply take the time to seek it out.
Rathebeggan Lakes, summer 2014.
Why don’t you take the kids out to the garden?
I had been a nanny for about a month now, in Dublin, Ireland. The weight of homesickness occasionally took up residence on my chest, but mostly I was happy. It was my first time crossing an ocean, my first big adventure and it was only mine. I had come alone and I was making sure to firmly eschew my comfort zone. On the weekends I would zip a change of clothes and what little cash I had made that week into my backpack, sling it over my shoulder and hop trains to Kilkenny, Belfast, Cork or Galway, taking long rainy hikes and eating potato stew in dark taverns to warm up. My feet were probably always wet.
During the week, I was with the kids. They were five and one. Sometimes their mom would play hooky from work and take us all on an adventure in the car. This was one of those days.
Her auntie had an allotment, a patch in a community garden outside of the city. With a rare but treasured sunny day ahead of us, we packed the kids into the car to go for a visit.
There was a small lodge at the farm where her cousin who was visiting from Jordan was staying that week. She poured the tea and they settled in for a chat.
Why don’t you take the kids out to the garden? Head left through the trees and cross the little bridge, you’ll love it.
I took little Emily in my arms and Jack raced on ahead. As we crossed the small footbridge, a hush settled over us. I couldn’t hear the tall grass swishing, or the heat bugs buzzing, or the voices carrying from the windows of the lodge. Leaves crunched under foot and the most colourful tree I had ever seen came into view.
It’s the wishing tree, said Jack. In front of us was a tree laden with a rainbow of silk ribbons, and a note explaining that each one was a wish, to be left with the fairies. Fairies? It took me back to my childhood on the island, building a tiny house out of moss and sticks and placing it in a bluebell patch with a welcome note. Olivia, my sister, had always believed.
We continued into the trees, and I was stunned by the beauty that I saw. This place was indeed magical. If you looked carefully, you would see tiny doorways in the trees, little bridges from one branch to the next, and tiny colourful toadstools.
I was taken back to the summer that we held a fairy ball in the garden, the next day finding a tiny silver slipper and a miniature string of beads left behind, filling our heads with stories of what had possibly taken place after dark the night before.
The kids roamed around through the trees for some time, tapping on all the doors, examining the toadstools and pointing at the tiny clothes hanging out to dry, and eventually I brought them back inside to put Emily down for a nap. When I had a spare moment, I slipped back out to the garden on my own.
I had a small piece of string in my pocket, I don’t remember what from, but I took it out as I approached the wishing tree. I sat for a moment, wrapped in the silence of the small wood, and thought of all the choices that had led me to here and now. I wanted life to always be this way. I never wanted to forget that there are a million forms of magic, all there for us to take or admire. I never wanted to be still, or stale, or stuck.
I tied my string and headed back to the house.