Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Listening for the story of Midsummer's first song

Quite a little while ago I received a lovely message from Summer of The Knothole Tree, asking me if I would like to write a small pictures story with special wee-folk, for her bird-zine Perched.
Though I loved the idea, I wasn’t sure that I would be able to do it, as most of the stories that I write about the fairies and gnomes seem to create themselves out of their own necessity to be told and I didn’t know if it would work if I tried to do it another way. However it was a lovely thing to be asked to do, so I said yes and sent a little wish into the air…. And then I wasn’t sure all over again!

I still wasn't sure for quite a while, until one morning our little Robin perched our the garden bench, and looking at this sweet little character I realised that in all my searching for inspiration I was perhaps being too grand - the Robin seemed to be saying, ‘what about me?’ and ‘just begin, everyone will come for their story, the way they do’

And so I began stitching, with love, with trust,
And sure enough the little ones came and they brought their story with them. As they took their form in my hands - an older sister, a littler brother, kind helpers of dear Robin, in his joyful delivery of fairyland mail. These magical children in their hooded capes could easily be mistaken for little robins themselves as they echoed the birds flutterings through the air.
When they were ready the story was nearly written too, but still I had no idea how Robin would appear in the pictures. Should I sew the little fellow, or try to take a picture of our garden friend and somehow merge it with the photographs of the fairy children? Then I remembered that at Christmas time our two year old had fallen in love with ‘a robin bird’ in the Granny’s nativity gathering. I remembered that little robin and felt he had the perfect feeling for the story, so I rang my mum and asked to borrow him.

However, when I got him out of the box I realised that though he was just the perfect little character, he did not actually have a red-breast as such! My remembering of this wee bird had clearly been filtered through my daughters seeing and loving of ‘robin bird’ at Christmas time!

I wondered what to do, and came to the decision that the feeling, the spirit of robin-ness was most important, more important that precise or correct physical characteristics and so I simply added a little kerchief which echoed the red of his kind helpers' clothing, and so connected them all more perfectly than might otherwise have been.
And so the most important wee ones of the story were ready, but I wasn’t sure of the story’s ending, its reason, its culmination!
I did have a sense of a special letter for Robin himself, and so I sat down with my tiniest paintbrush and painted... first the envelope for the snail, and then the rose with the sprinkling petals for tiny dancing feet, and then a fancy stamp on the largest letter….and Oh! The fairy queen just looked through the stamps window frame, leaving her dress and wings floating out behind! And then I knew, a letter from the Fairy Queen, an honour for Midsummer, a request from all of fairyland that Robin be the one to sing the first song of celebration!
And so I smiled at the air and said a little grateful thanks.
Though I had the words of the story, and the order of the small happenings, it was only when I took everyone out into the garden one sunny morning and took the photographs that the story truly came alive. As so often happens the wee fairy folk showed all the nuances unfolding.
The quiet way the small boy waited by the sleeping snail...
The warmth of the sun on the fairy girl's face as she tucked the rose's letter into its green star...
 the reverence of the children for dear Robin...

Robin's humbleness...
And the giggling celebration of all the fairy folk as they tumbled and danced their way into a haphazard procession while the Robin sang above with love for them all.

If you would like to read the story MIDSUMMER'S FIRST SONG and find all sorts of other bird orientated wonders, please go to Summers etsy page:

If you would like these little fairy children helpers to come and play and make stories and puppet-shows with your children please contact me: