Shelter for the fairy folk
“O if we but knew what we do
When we delve or hew —
Hack and rack the growing green!
Since country is so tender . . .”
—from “Binsey Poplars,” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
The bounty from the apple tree behind our house turned into a few growlers of cider this weekend thanks to my sister and her husband, who took us to a cider press they had permission to use (those things are amazing; I’ve never seen one in use before, which if you knew what my childhood home looked like is pretty surprising. We seemed to have everything else that required elbow grease and callouses).
Once the smaller children had had enough of dropping apples in, I took them off to collect materials for fairy houses. The magic of a fairy house never fails to astound me. Children seem to love building them, and instinctively know what fairies will need: beds, tables, pillows, protection from wind, a place to gather water, and an offering of food. One kid wanted to build them a fire (Eek. Can you imagine? Worse than a gender reveal-sparked wildfire . . .), so instead collected tiny sticks as a firewood stash for the fairies to use when they were ready, and the youngest built a separate shelter for the baby fairy, who was too shy to come out.
I never get tired of reading Gerard Manley Hopkins, his delight in nature and in playful language. I wonder if he ever built a fairy house?