Finding a Fairy Forest

 “Katelynne! Katelynne! Are you ready? Are you ready?”

Katelynne smiled as little Camille raced up to her in her ladybug hiking outfit, “I think I am, are you?”

 “I have my boots! I have my buggy backpack, and I have bug spray!!” Camille announced holding it up.

 “Yeah, I bet we’re going to need it too, deep in the woods of Virginia.”

“Deep in the woods!” Camille wiggled excitedly, “Ooo! What do you think we’ll find? Bugs and bears? Flickers and Fairies?”

“Or,- ” Katelynne cut in, “Lions and tigers and bears!”

“Oh my!” Camille squeaked.

Off they went, out the door, in search of a trail and discovery.

 Almost immediately they came upon a wooden plank that crossed a deep, wide chasm. Everything was fine until they got to the middle. Camille stopped.

 “I can’t go any farther!” Camille’s face was pale with fear.

“What?” Katelynne asked.

Camille stood rigidly still, “I”m gonna fall if I take another step.”

 “Camille, you just walked halfway here, without anything happening, all you have to do is just go the rest of the way.”

Camille shook her head, trying not to cry.

Even though Katelynne couldn’t understand Camille’s fear, she felt compassion for her, “Here, watch me. Just take sideways steps.”

“And just look straight ahead. Don’t look up and don’t look down. Just plant your feet right on the ground.”

Camille loved rhymes and songs, so she gave a weak smile to Katelynne and repeated softly as she sidestepped, “Don’t look up, and don’t look down, just plant your feet right on the ground.”

“Look! you did it!”

“I did?” Camille looked around just as her next step took her off the wooden plank, “I did! I guess that wasn’t so bad!”

“Nope! It’s all in your head,” Katelynne said.

They had only taken five steps when they came up to a great wall. It was covered in roots and vines and holes so that it looked hairy.

 “Whoaaaa!” Camille exclaimed, “Are we going to have to climb up that?”

 “I don’t think that would be very nice. See all those holes?” Katelynne asked, “a whole bunch of somethings live there. It’s a whole community. And we’d be climbing up their houses and knocking down their doors with our hands and feet which wouldn’t be very nice.”

“What somethings live here?” Camille asked.

“I’m not sure, but I think I know how to find out.”

“How?”

“Look over there,” Katelynne pointed to a pile of what looked like spiky balls.

“What are these?” Camille asked, holding her magnifying glass up to them.

 “I think they’re seeds from the sweet gum tree. They eat them.”

“Who eats them?”

“Watch.”

Camille held her magnifying glass very still. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw something gleaming. It was moving. It looked like a little marble, but it had spikes all along it’s back and it’s legs were blue spikes.

“Whoa! What are these?”

“They’re spiney marbles. They eat these seeds and live in the little holes.”

“How did you know that?” Camille looked at Katelynne with wide eyes.

“I read a book about fairy creatures. Come on though, spiney marbles aren’t exactly the nicest of creatures so it’s a really good thing we didn’t try to climb that hairy wall.”

“What do spiney marbles do? And why aren’t they very nice?”

“They’re tricksy creatures. They like to play little mean jokes and laugh. Their favorite thing to do is to roll down to a sidewalk and wait for some paws to step on them, or an old person walking with a cane or a walker and poke them with their spines. They think it’s funny and they laugh.”

“That’s mean!”

“I know. That’s why I wanted to get away from them. Who knows how they’d poke us if we go knocking down their door!”

They turned around and walked further along the path.

“Stop! Listen! Do you hear that?” Katelynne asked.

“Hear what?” Camille had been humming her own song in her head and forgot to open her ears to the outside world. She listened. It was a high pitched cheep cheep and then a low Ooor-roo right after. Camille, always prepared, fished her binoculars out of her backpack.

“Is that a robin or an owl?” she asked.

“It might be both! A robin and an owl in the same tree. Do you see anything?” Katelynne asked.

“Nooo,”

But just then a branch jerked and Camille’s binoculars flew up to her eyes again. She caught the end of a white wingtip before it disappeared.

“I did! I did! I saw a white wing!”

“Ooo! Maybe it was an owl!!”

“Wow, we’re seeing so many things already and we just started our hike!”

The girls continued walking and the ground got softer and softer until they realized they were walking on the softest, greenest, velvetiest moss.

“Oh! I want to take off my sandals! Don’t you?” Katelynne said.

“Yes, but haven’t you ever wanted to sleep on a bed of moss just like the fairies do?” Camille asked.

Katelynne smiled and threw herself down on the moss, “You’re right! It does feel good! Now I see why the fairies like this stuff!”

Camille laid down next to her, “Oooh, this is so pretty! The dirt smells fresh, the ground is as soft as my bed, and I can wake up to look at the tree branches. Oh, Katelynne! Can’t we spend the night here? I bet if we do, we’d actually see the fairies!!”

“I’d love to, but I heard it’s supposed to rain tonight, so we’d better stick to our waterproof tent.”

After a little while, they got up and headed down the path again. This time, they walked a little farther until they came upon a little house.

 Camille was beside herself with glee and excitement, “It’s a fairy’s house!! We found a fairy’s house!!!”

“Is anyone home?” She asked and stopped abruptly.

Because right in front of the house, blocking the way in, was a huge spiderweb with a little spider sitting in the middle.

Camille got her magnifying glass out and observed the spider.

“I don’t think we should go any farther, that web means the door is closed and the fairies aren’t home. They’re probably still having fun at summer festivals.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Katelynne agreed, “We’ll either just have to come back, or tell any other doll who’s going to come here to check this place out.”

“I still can’t believe we actually found a real fairy’s house! I’ve always wanted to see one!” Camille jumped and skipped as they walked away from the house and back onto the path. But the path was blocked by a huge tree that had fallen down.

“First we cross a chasm and now we cross a log. We are really having quite the adventure and I thought this was just going to be a regular walk in the woods!”

“I know, I can’t believe everything we’ve seen! Spiney marbles, fairy beds, fairy houses. The is a real true fairy forest!” Camille squeaked.

“Fairies always come back home in the fall. It would be so fun to come back here and meet them, wouldn’t it?” Katelynne asked.

“Why do they come back in the fall?”

“They need to gather food! Like this! Look!

Some of it is already sprouting! Mushrooms!”

“Fairies eat mushrooms?”

“Many of them do, and I bet in the fall, all these old logs will be full of them for the fairies to pick and eat and store and save.”

They walked along some more, pointing out even more varieties of mushrooms to each other as they found them. Then –

“Look! Camille! Fairy nooks!” Katelynne ran to a tree with deep grooved roots that spread out widely in the ground.

“Fairies love to sit in these little root corners and make things, or sing, or play instruments.”

“Oh, I wish they were here!” Camille said.
“Yes, but now we know to wait for fall. What a fun little discovery we’ve made! This is so fun! I can’t wait to tell all the dolls back home!”

The end.

Behind the scenes: I took these two out for what I thought was going to be a very short photo shoot, but I just kept marveling at all the little variety of things I saw just like Camille and Katelynne did, and even though I had tons of trouble getting the dolls to balance without the doll stands that I didn’t bring, and, although the dolls had bug spray, I hadn’t put any on and ended up getting bit up by mosquitoes, this was all so fun and well worth every bite! And ever since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to sleep outside on a bed of moss and wake up to the tree branches waving in the breeze. The moss I came upon actually was soft, big, and velvety enough for a human, and if the mosquitoes weren’t so bad, I might have just taken a nap!

‘Til next time!

Heather

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Civil War Reenactment

I have been out traveling with dolls but just haven’t set time aside to blog about it until now! Today I got the chance to see a Civil War reenactment not too far away from my house.

 We arrived just in time to see the Union soldiers line up and get ready for a skirmish with a group of the Confederate army.

 Whenever the soldiers are at rest they stack their weapons. And of course they are stacked in a specific order – by rank and position so they are always able to retrieve their own musket.

 After some discussion that was difficult to hear, they marched out onto the battle field.

 For the majority of the war, the soldiers fought standing in ranks. This was done for the revolutionary war, and many other wars before that. This was done for a reason. It’s really hard to communicate and control hundreds of thousands of people without walkie talkies and other modes of communication we have today. In order to get control and action, the officers had the soldiers stand in lines with drums (and sometimes fifes) giving out battle signals so everyone could hear.

 Pretty much everywhere we walked, we would see women in stunning dresses with HUGE hoopskirts, or women wearing work clothes going about their business.

 These two were dressed up for a ball that was going to take place that night.

 And these two were by the dog tents getting food ready for the soldiers. (more on the dog tents in a bit).

Marie Grace had never been in a battle before, and hearing all the crazy booms, screams and yells, it took her a while to get brave enough to come out of her hiding basket, but she came out to see the laundress’s tent.

 The laundresses were paid women, either mothers, lovers, or wives of the soldiers, who not only did laundry for the soldiers, but also went out during a battle and tended to the wounded. The quilt Marie Grace is standing on, is a real true Civil War quilt! Actually, it was kind of amazing how much original Civil War stuff we got to not only see, but touch too! There wasn’t very much fabric to go around, just as, there wasn’t very much of anything to go around in the soldiers camps, so women would use all sorts of odd fabrics to make the quilt itself, and the batting! This quilt is so old it has some damage to it, and you can see the batting was actually another quilt!

 Laundresses were constantly knitting, sewing, and ironing for the soldiers. The irons were SO heavy, and they had to use whatever they could find for an ironing board since they couldn’t possibly carry one around while traveling!

 The soldiers wore wool uniforms all the time. They were overdressed during the summer, and underdressed in the winter. But although, cotton was available, wool was better because when it got wet, it would still keep the soldiers warm.

 Oftentimes, the wagons carrying supplies and tents would arrive very late, so soldiers set up what are called dog tents. Little tents they could sleep in. Each soldier was issued one pole, and one sheet, so they had to buddy up with someone else if they wanted to make a tent. They slept on a rubberized wool tarp thing, that kept out moisture.

And yes, these tents you see here, were really and truly slept in by these volunteer reenacters! They could choose to either sleep in a hotel (some of these people came from very far away), or they could fully immerse themselves in the 1860s and sleep like the soldiers really did!

 We walked out of the dog tents and were surprised to find President Lincoln and General Grant talking about the upcoming battle!

 The big battle started with the Union navy travelling up the lake and onto the shore.

 Creeping as quietly as they could.

 But the Confederate cavalry had already been tipped off and were waiting for them.

 Guns and smoke ensued.

 I’ve been to Colonial Williamsburg and have seen cannons go off there, but here, it was much scarier, and much louder.

 We learned from a Continental Army soldier that although the Colonial Williamsburg cannons can take 16 kg of gunpowder, only 12 is used for the public demonstrations. My mom and I thought there must have been 16 kg used for this Civil War battle because it was SO loud, and you could see the fireball coming out of the cannons when they were fired.

 What made it even scarier, was that something (I don’t think it was an actual cannon ball) would hit the ground causing piles of dirt, grass, and debris to fly hundreds of feet up in the air and come crashing down!

Here’s a pic of the fireball:

 Another ship arrived carrying more ammunition and more soldiers for the Union army.

Many Confederate soldiers lay dead on the hot field.

 The whole time this was going on, an MC was describing what was happening. He made it really fun, often telling jokes and making it really exciting, until, towards the end of the battle, a soldier really did pass out, or got injured, I wasn’t sure exactly, because it was far away and I couldn’t see. But the MC yelled, “This is serious! We need real medical help! A soldier is really down!” and a man from the audience (guessed he was a doctor) ran over to the guy who was down, and after a while an ambulance came. All while this was happening, the battle ended and the Union soldiers won the day!

 Here is everyone marching home. “When Johnny comes marching home again, hurrah! hurrah!”

If we thought this was the best part of the whole day, we were wrong! Because afterwards, we went to the undertaker/embalmer’s tent and got to learn what they did with the dead soldiers.

If you are at all squeamish about death and guts and blood, I’d advise you to read no further! I have a somewhat morbid curiosity about death (I’ve read too many ghost stories when I was a kid!), so learning about this was SUPER interesting to me.

 Whenever an undertaker received a body, they had to be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN the soldier was dead. So they had many ways of testing this. They listened to the heart with a sort of stethoscope (I can’t remember what it was called) to see if they could hear a heartbeat.

 They would hold a feather or a mirror up to the nose/mouth and if the mirror fogged up, or the feather fluttered, the person was alive.

 If you are dead, your eyes and mouth will open due to the muscles relaxing (actually, if you want to hear something really creepy, your eyes go flat when you die, no more round eyeballs!), so the undertaker will put silver dollars on the eyes and band the mouth shut until rigor mortis sets in.

Did you know, rigor mortis only lasts for 9-12 hours and then it stops? I had no idea.

 I also didn’t know that the reason a dead person’s hands are put on their abdomen is to let the fluids/blood flow downward. Since there is no blood circulating in a dead body, it pools to wherever gravity is pulling it and leaves a dark coloration of the skin, for example, if a soldier is found dead on his stomach, blood pools and causes his face and upper body to look slightly bluish/purple, which is why undertakers put dead people on their backs.

 It is not to drain the body of blood, although that did happen to President Lincoln, instead the body is cleaned and injected with embalming fluid using the pump below, and it is worked all throughout the body.

 The undertaker watches the fingers and toes especially, and when they see the fluid had gone to those extremities, they can stop pumping. Now, of course, this body you see here, is very much alive, so the fluid in the pump was just water!

An interesting thing with President Lincoln is that when he was shot, it fractured tissue, muscles, arteries, and bones in his face, so he looked very different when he died. Lincoln’s secretary didn’t want anything done to Lincoln to make him look better, but because he was in full view for twenty some days, they refrigerated his body and they at first had to put make up on his face but because of the blood pooling, his face began to look bruised, purple, blue, shrunken, and quite hideous. So they drained his blood.

His body was actually exhumed after 36 yeas because there was a threat of grave robbers and family members wanted to make sure it was really his body. A family member said his face was still recognizable as the president, and even though is tie had turned to dust, the embalming fluids still preserved Lincoln’s body. There wasn’t even that much of a smell either.

This whole Civil War reenactment was fascinating, creepy, scary, but so well worth going! If you ever get a chance, don’t hesitate to go! You’ll learn so much!

More doll travels coming up soon!

Heather

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

This Land is Your Land

Happy Independence Day everyone!!! I would have liked to have done some crazy Colonial/Hamilton Independence Day story/celebration (yeah, I’m still not over Hamilton!), but I’ve just been too busy doing other things. The dolls decided to just have a small 4th of July picnic celebration. Lindsey brought the banjo and they all sang patriotic songs together:

This land is your land, this land is my land

From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

 And I went walking that ribbon of highway

And saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me the golden valley
This land was made for you and me

 I roamed and rambled and followed my footsteps

To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around meT, a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me

 There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me

A sign was painted said: Private Property
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing
This land was made for you and me

When the sun come shining, then I was strolling
In wheat fields waving and dust clouds rolling
The voice was chanting as the fog was lifting
This land was made for you and me.

Later that night, Emily came with my friends and I and had fun lighting sparklers.

Happy 4th of July!!

-Heather

 
Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments