This morning Jack and I went for a walk in our wee woods. We hadn’t been for several weeks because the trail is about a kilometre long, and Jack can’t walk that far in the heat anymore. He’s been missing his friends, though, and today he wanted to go, saying that he could stop for rests and that the shade of the woods would keep him from overheating. I trust Jack’s instincts, so I packed 2 litres of water, some dark, sweet cherries and a sticky, ripe peach for me along with a tuna sandwich and some biscuits to share with Bubba, plus a book and a small, blue and white checked picnic cloth. I thought we’d make a morning of it.
It wasn’t oppressively hot when we set out, but it was humid, and Jack and I both felt heavy and lumbering. Our steps soon got lighter, though, as we were beset upon by dozens of fairies flitting around us and chatting excitedly. They were most excited to see Jack and kept telling him how much he had been missed. Many of the younger fairies giggled and asked Jack if they could ride on his back, and he happily obliged them all. Bits of colourful glitter sparkled in the dappled sunlight as the fairies darted about, and the colours mixed and swirled like a kaleidoscope. There was so much fairie dust in the air that it made me sneeze twice, and caused a wave of laughter that chinkled like chimes and echoed through the trees. We stopped briefly for water before we finally arrived at the first bench, where we sat and shared our sandwich.
It seems that Jack is a bit of a celebrity since his adventures finding Oma Troutchen, and everyone wanted to say hello. I could see Jack’s spirits rising as the fairies came and went, each arrival and departure changing the colours in the air and the wafting scent of mingling flowers. They were all very polite, and each introduced themselves, but there were so many of them that I soon lost track of just who was who. It was just a chaos of fairies, and my senses were somewhat overcome. There was one fairy, though, that stayed with us all the way around. Her name was Apple, and she smelled delicious, and she kept asking questions about Jack. Where was he born, and on what day? Was he a country dog or a city dog? What were his favourite things? When she learned that Jack’s full name is Wasserhund’s King Jackson Brown, she got quite excited and wanted to know more about his royal roots. Jack is shy about his family history, but Apple was persistent, and Jack finally opened up about his birth family’s estate and their status as Canadian Field Champions. I smiled as Jack made sure she understood that his real, forever parents are the humble but loving Mr. and me. When Apple found out that Jack was born on February 29, she was all aflutter, calling the day Moontide Makeup Day and saying that it’s no wonder Jack is so brave.
We sat for about 20 minutes, chatting and laughing as we watched the antics of a group of squirrels busy with squirrel shenanigans until Jack said he was ready to carry on. He struggled to stand, and the fairies quickly sprinkled some of their magic dust to help him up, and we were soon on our way again. Apple flew up and sat on my shoulder, and I sneezed again, making her wobble, but she soon settled down, and I felt my steps lighten as if gravity was loosening its hold. As we walked, the chaos of fairies continued until it seemed the whole forest was alive with moving colour and the music of fairy voices. I told Apple how beautiful it all was, and she laughed, telling me that the forest is always alive like this, but humans haven’t the senses to see or hear or smell it all. Apple said that because I had helped find Oma Troutchen, they had agreed to use some fairy magic to allow me to see their world. I thanked her for the fabulous gift, and she leaned over to stroke my cheek in reply. It was beguiling, and I was so enchanted by it all that time faded away. Before I knew it, we were at the end of the trail, and I could see that Jack was weary. It seems even fairy magic isn’t enough to erase Jack’s years, but he was happy. His eyes were bright, his tail was high, and his spirit shone as brightly as the glittered watercolour trails of magic swirling through the trees.
As we made our way to the car, Apple whispered in my ear that the fairies were planning a party to thank Jack and invited us to return at the same hour in three days’ time. She promised the day would be bright, but fresher and asked me to not to tell Jack; they wanted to surprise him. I readily agreed, mentally planning to make sure Bubba and I were both rested. I asked what I could bring, and Apple quickly told me that some cherries and strawberries would be appreciated. I promised I would bring lots and then reached into my pack and placed my sack of uneaten cherries on the ground. Bunches of fairies soon swooped down, scooping up the dark red fruit in their arms and carrying them off with a chorus of goodbyes and good wishes. Apple stayed with us until I had Bubba settled in the car and then flew off to join the others, leaving behind a fragrant trail of aquamarine dust.
Oh My! A fairy party! We’ve been invited to a fairy party, and it’s in Jack’s honour. I’m so excited that it’s going to be hard to keep the secret from Bubba, but I will… somehow. Now, what does one wear to such an event?