Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Berry Fairies

Berries & Fairies

My favorite time and place to look for fairies is in the early morning hours among a patch of wild berries. This is when dew moisturizes everything in sight, and a wonderful stillness and peace surround the trees, trails, and secluded patches. Here in the Pacific Northwest, there are literally millions of places to find berries and fairies, due to the temperate climate, plethora of woodlands and parks, and the rainfall that makes the berries plump and juicy.

At this time of the morning, fairies are preoccupied trying to get their chores done before the heat of the day becomes too oppressive. They tend to be a little more lax regarding human “sightings” and “interactions.” Although they have great places to hide in these environs – behind cascading vines, under mats of berries growing over stumps – the normally shy fairies let their work ethic overwhelm them as they toil busily amongst the most intrepid of berry picker.

All plants have fairy caretakers, including those of the thorny kind. These sprites are great multi-taskers as they help promote the pollination process with their ally the bee; redirect raindrops to their thirsty plants; and keep the earth surrounding each plant mulched and fertilized. They also ward off destructive slugs, ants, and centipedes.
There are the more cultivated berry fairies such as the Strawberry Fairy, beautifully depicted by renowned fairy illustrator and author Cicely Mary Barker in her book, The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies Her observations of nature have also brought to life the more exotic berry fairies in the form of the Sloe Fairy and the Elder Fairy. Barker’s Sunshine & Showers A Flower Fairies Handbook represents in splendid detail these amazing creatures in their beloved environments.
But not all in the berry patch is idyllic. There are many dangers that fairies must guard against, such as berry eating insects, animals, and birds. As a result, fairies have become masters at evading open beaks and chomping mouths. They have also learned how to steer clear of the tramping feet of oblivious, careless berry pickers.

After all their hard work, fairies like to reap some of the berry bounty. They concoct amazing desserts with the fruit, especially if they have access to a nearby kitchen or pantry. They have been known to team up with the obliging Kitchen Fairy to create such sweet and savory concoctions as: Fairy Berries - strawberries that fairies have dipped in chocolate or white chocolate colored pink; Fairy Berry Smoothies; Fairy Jellies & Jams; Fairy Berry Pie; and Fairy Berry Parfaits. Some of these recipes can be found in Barbara Berry’s Fairies Cookbook.
Fairies also use the juice of berries to write short messages on logs and stumps to other fairy friends in the berry patch. Tiny and barely legible, these communiqu├ęs are a fairy’s way of texting, and another sign that fairies are in the vicinity. So stay alert, tred lightly, and happy berry fairy hunting.

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