“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.”
“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?”
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.”
“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.
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!”
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!