The Fairy Houses of Mackworth
Debra Spark's family takes a hike each year on Christmas Day. Last year they visited the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf on Mackworth Island, where children are encouraged to build homes for fairies.
The first time I walked Mackworth, back when my son still needed to be carried part of the way, I saw tiny twig lean-tos, adorned with pebble paths and mussel-shell porches, and told my son, “We’re here!” But it turned out that I was only glimpsing the fairy house suburbs. Farther along the path, a fairy house metropolis appeared, the woods cluttered with miniature log cabins, teepees and sheds, most at the base of trees, some resembling Stonehenge, others small caves. There were at least 100 structures, if not more.
Last Christmas Day, my son’s own effort made use of moss — “good for fairies to dance on” — and items we’d gathered on our walk: an acorn cap, a crab shell and promising sticks. My son knew the rules of fairy-house construction, having read the manual — Tracy L. Kane’s picture book “Fairy Houses” — during his day care years. A fairy house may only be built of found treasures. No pulling pine needles from branches or denuding a birch tree. No disturbing an existing fairy house. [Link]