Airdriel and the Fairy Dust Forest
Amongst a stand of cedar trees, not very far from here, the yellow fairies have made a whole village.
The yellow fairies are not all yellow. Some have a bluish tinge to their hair, or a greenish tinge to their dresses or wings, but they are predominantly yellow. They love the copse of cedar trees, with its many holes, tunnels twisting to underground homes, shelter from wind and rain, and higher reaches full of the songs of tiny birds.
The children fairies play all sorts of games together (they never go to school). Their favourite games are ‘catch the dandelion fluff’, ‘ring around the rosie’ (except they fall up, not down), and, of course, ‘hide-and-seek’.
One morning, the fairy children were thick in a game of hide and seek. They hid among cedar leaves, in bird’s nests, behind butterflies’ wings. One by one, the seekers found the hiders, until only one little fairy child remained hiding – a girl fairy named Airdriel. Airdriel had short, flippy white hair and a pinkish hue about her cheeks. She was hiding low, behind a rock, and she was trying not to giggle because she knew it was such a good hiding spot. They would never find her!
As dark, thick clouds blew over the forest the fairy parents came out of their crooks and holes to call their children inside. Everyone knows that if a fairy gets wet their fairy dust will come off and they would not be able to fly. The other children all went in and underground, but still Airdriel hid. Her parents called louder and louder. Airdriel could hear them, but she only giggled and hid. Her spot was so good! They would have to try harder to find her. A cool wind blew, and Airdirel’s parents must have given up, for she couldn’t hear them call anymore. Still, Airdriel hid. Then, little spatters of rain fell down. Oh no! Airdriel tried to shuffle under the rock. Soon, big blobs of rain were splattering down all around and onto her. Finally, Airdriel gave up her hiding spot and tried to fly home. Her wings would not work! With her teenie tiny legs Airdriel ran and stumbled over the mud and twigs until, at last, she was at her family’s tunnel below the twining cedar tree roots.
There Airdriel stood, in the middle of the kitchen floor, soaking, sopping wet.
“Oh, Airdriel, you should have come when we called you!” worried her mother and father as they used towels to try and pat her dry without wiping off any more fairy dust. They set her in front of the little stone fire place with a mug of rosehip and honey tea. When she was dry, Airdriel stood up so that her parents could look at her. Oh heavens! She looked quite dull. All of the fairy dust had been rained off her wings.
“Hahummmm,” said Airdriel’s father as he lifted a blue and green jar from on top the mantelpiece. He reached his hand deep inside. When it came out, his hand held a wee bit of slightly sparkly dust which he sprinkled on his daughter’s dull wings. It really did not do much good. He tipped the jar into mother’s cupped hands. A little pile of dust, more rusty red than fairy glow, was all that was left in the jar.
“Won’t do. Too old,” said father. “We’ll have to ask at the neighbours’.” Mother looked worried and Airdriel sneezed. The rain had stopped and so Airdriel walked sheepishly behind her parents as they flew to every neighbour’s house, asking if they could spare a bit of fairy dust? None of the fairies had been out to collect fairy dust in such a long time that every family who did have a bit found it to be as useless and stale as that in Airdriel’s families’ jar. Many of the parents looked down at muddy little Airdriel and her own parents grumblingly agreed that it served her right for not coming in when she was called.
As they turned back towards their own little hole in the twining roots, Airdiel’s father came down to walk beside his daughter.
“Well, my dear. Perhaps the blue fairy will have a bit of dust about. She is very magical and anyone may go to her when they have a cold, or a problem.”
Airdriel felt a little squiggle in her tummy. All the children had been told about the magical, mysterious old blue fairy who lived all alone in the rotting elm tree not far from their village.
“Good-bye dear, good luck. Be home in time for supper.” He wasn’t going with her? Airdriel’s father flew off to catch up with her mother, who didn’t like the damp cold and was already disappearing into their hollow.
‘Well humph,’ thought Airdriel. She scrambled up on a little mountain of twining cedar roots and sat down there on top of them. The blue fairy’s tree was just visible through the forest. It would take forever to walk there! Airdriel heard her father’s voice in her mind, ‘be home in time for supper’, and she figured she had better do as she was told this time. She had to be able to fly!
After a very long time of scrambling, falling, and mucking about, Airdriel finally reached the old elm tree. It was enormous. There, not very far up at all, a teenie hole showed in the bark. It would have been easy to fly up to. Airdriel cast about for something to help her. She could have just yelled for the blue fairy to come, but that might have been rude. Finally, she found a very long stalk of last year’s grass. It was light enough for her to carry and set up against the tree so that it reached almost to the hole. Using every bit of strength left to her, Airdriel shimmied up the stalk of grass and, clinging perilously at the top, called out, “Hallooo, ah, madam blue fairy, are you home?”
A lovely cloud of curly blue hair about a darkish blue very wrinkly fairy face poked out of the hole, looked all about, and then down.
“Ah me, a wee one! Just a minute!” Airdriel could hear little “hee hee’s” from within the tree, and then a thin rope of spider’s web was thrown out the hole, and Airdriel climbed up, and inside.
The blue fairy’s little hollow was impossibly crowded with jars and tubes and bunches of dried this and that. The faint, fat little blue sprite shuffled about and bade her little guest sit upon a low cushion there, next to a very jumbled counter.
“Lost your dust in the rainstorm, have you?” The blue fairies’ dark eyes sparkled like starlight. “We’ll just see if I have any left. We made a potion for a deer’s lame leg just last week that used up most of my stores.” She flitted in and out of the debris, knocking over pots until she finally ended up flittering about the ceiling. She shook her candle chandelier and a load of dust came down upon everything. It was not very sparkly.
“I’m fresh out my dear. You can do me favour and bring me back a bit from the fairy dust forest.”
Airdriel felt like crying. “The fairy dust forest?”
“That’s right. It’s a long way, so you’d best get started right away. I’ll let your parents know you had my blessing before setting off.”
“Well, where is it?” Little tears, smaller than dew drops, were about to spill.
“OH, didn’t you know dear?” The blue fairy kindly came down to squeeze Airdriel’s hand. “Nobody knows.” A tear dripped onto Airdriel’s dirty yellow dress. “Now, now. Never fear. The frogs know the way. Just follow the mushroom path to the swamp. The frogs are lovely folk, if they don’t mistake you for a fly or beetle. You’ll find one to show you the way.”
The blue fairy handed Airdriel a biscuit as she helped her stumble back to the door hole. Airdriel managed a weak “thank-you”, and she sucked on the biscuit as she slid down the grass stalk.
The biscuit must have been magical, for it filled Airdriel’s tummy fuller than supper, made her feel warm all over and she sprang lightly from mushroom to mushroom, suddenly excited about her new adventure. Before long the trees grew closer and tall ferns crowded about the mushroom path. The sounds of the swamp were close by. There, just up ahead, a lump of brown fur was curled up amongst the ferns. Airdriel walked about the lump cautiously until she came to the far side, and found a sad little bunny face and two droopy ears.
“Hello, I’m Airdriel.”
“Go away. You wouldn’t like me. I sneeze too much.” The little bunny seemed miserable. Airdriel had saved a crumb of the biscuit, which the bunny sniffed at and then ate with a soft little lick. He brightened immediately and as Airdriel continued along the mushroom path her new friend, Bernie, told her how he preferred to stay away from the other bunnies because they laughed at him when he sneezed, which was quite often.
The edge of the swamp was mushy and Airdriel was afraid to get too close. Bernie let her climb up on his back and she could see the shiny lily pads and their bright yellow flowers. She really couldn’t see any frogs until Bernie suddenly called out, in a loud voice, “Hallooooooooo you frogs!” One hundred plops splashed into the water. There had been many frogs, and now there were truly none. From amongst the reeds close by, a croakety voice scolded them.
“Now you’ve gone and scared away all the flies!”
“Oh, sorry,” said Airdriel, peering into the reeds. “Are you a frog?”
“Am I a frog!” said the croak indignantly, and out hopped a lovely shiny green frog. She had yellow stripes from her cheeks all down her sides and black spots on her back.
“Oh,” said Airdriel, clapping her hands. “Could you, madam frog, show us the way to the fairy dust forest?”
“I could.” Croaked the frog, blinking her shiny black eyes.
They all looked at each other. Finally Bernie hopped a bit and Airdriel tried again.
“Would you, Madam Frog, please show us the way….today?”
“Since you ask so nicely, just follow me.”
The frog hopped along quite smartly and they all listened to Bernie chatter away. Hopping so they made fantastic time, Airdriel hanging on tightly to Bernie’s thick neck fur and reminding him to please keep up with the frog when he stopped to nibble grass. Madam Frog told them that the forest would not be far as they all settled down to sleep for the night in a pile of maple leaves blown up against a boulder. Airdriel was quite warm curled up against Bernie. They were all very excited about the morning.
Thanks to the blue fairies’ biscuit, Airdriel was still not hungry come the dawn. Bernie nibbled dandelion leaves and Madam Frog sat very still waiting for mosquitoes and once she caught a moth. Airdriel felt a bit unhappy for the moth, but soon the trio set off again.
Airdriel was just beginning to feel hungry again and thinking perhaps Madam Frog really didn’t know the way, when suddenly their fearless green leader stopped. Up ahead a huge weeping willow tree blocked their path. Only, it wasn’t a normal weeping willow. Every long tendril seemed to glow a different colour. It was like a thousand rainbows pouring out upon the ground. Bernie, Airdriel and Madam Frog all sighed, “Oooooh…” at the same time. Then, with a loud “Yippee!” Bernie went bounding under the willow branches. “Wait!” shouted Madam Frog, but it was too late.
Bernie and Airdriel were already on the other side, in the most magnificent forest you could ever imagine. All the trees shimmered with glowing fairy-dust colours. Enormous butterflies filled the air and the ground was thick with soft flowers and shimmery bushes covered in juicy big berries of every kind. Soon Airdriel was flying again. She got so covered in fairy dust it would have weighed her down, except her wings were so strong with joy. Bernie was in an ecstasy of tasting fabulous berries, chasing the magical butterflies and rolling in the superbly soft clover. When he sneezed clouds of fairy dust surrounded his face.
Finally, Airdriel thought of her family and friends and how she wanted to tell them about this wonderful place. She took a tulip flower and filled it to overflowing with fairy dust. But what was the way out? From far away she and Bernie heard the croaking of Madam Frog.
“Bernie!” she called. “Come out of there! Bernie!”
Madam Frog was standing just below the weeping willow tree. She was peering about and when she saw Bernie she seemed rather cross.
“You’ll never be the same now.” Scolded Madam Frog, as the three of them hopped and flew back to the normal side of the world. “I only hope it doesn’t happen to me.”
“What doesn’t happen?” Asked Airdriel, still breathless from all the joy.
“Well, just look at him!”
Airdriel flew above Bernie and spied there on the little bunny’s back, a set of purplish fairy wings. They weren’t very big, but they fluttered a bit every time Bernie hopped forward.
“Oh Bernie, you can fly!” shouted Airdriel.
“Huh?” asked Bernie. But then he felt a tickle and the next time he hopped the wings attempted to flap, and indeed, Bernie flew with every hop much further than even the biggest bunnies could hope to hop.
They spent the day following Madam Frog back to the yellow fairy villiage amongst the cedar trees. Bernie and Airdriel played all sorts of chasing and tumbling games and Madam Frog was quite upset with them when they spilled fairy dust upon her. Seeing her get all puffed up and blinking was so cute they sometimes spilled dust on her on purpose, just to tease her a bit.
As evening approached the forest began to look familiar to Airdriel. There ahead was her village! She could see everyone gathered there on top the wee mountain of twisted roots. Even the blue fairy was there waiting with a big empty jar, and waving to her. Airdriel stopped to look at her two new friends. Bernie was still aglow from the fairy dust forest. Madam Frog was looking a little glowey herself. There, on Madam Frog’s shiny back, was a long thin set of fairy wings, like dragonfly wings.
“I know,” grimaced Madam Frog. “I’ll never live it down. At least I’ll have something to tell the kids.”
Airdriel, Bernie and Madam Frog all laughed together. “We’ll visit you soon!” called Bernie, as Madam Frog hopped away towards her swamp, and Bernie hopped-flew behind Airdriel, to join his new fairy family amongst the cedars.