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Have you ever seen a Fairy Ring? Thanks to Irene and Lee’s soaking rains, mushrooms have sprouted in all kinds of unusual places and formations. Two weekends ago when Keith and I spent an afternoon with his father in southern Virginia, we spotted a fairy circle in Dad’s backyard. Taking a break from the conversation and checking my cell phone and email messages upstairs in the Victorian-era bathroom addition to the original colonial plantation, I snapped this picture. Fairy Rings are fanciful things, apparently formed by an individual spore whose fruits poke up from an underground network. Much folklore surrounds Elf Circles or Sorcerer’s Rings, speaking to their danger for mere mortals. Seductive and deadly, the Ring’s sprites disappear anyone who steps into the circle then dance him to exhaustion. Rescues from the curse are rare and require help from outside one’s self.

These days, Dad world is mostly internal. He rarely leaves home or for that matter his chair so captivated is he by age and the fairyland of TV. Like the old house, Dad’s stories are decaying, swallowed by garden gnomes along with his ever-disappearing circle of friends. Dad says that he writes every day, but, in reality, his memoir now is only in his head. My father, in his declining years, also imagined the introduction to his last book several times each day, fantasizing with shining intention until the day he died. Physical decline and illness seem to make the fairy world more enthralling, but this escape is not liberating. It is a spider woman’s kiss.

Back at Vanaprastha, the fog rose out of the Rockfish Valley and crept up the mountain engulfing the house. Watching the fog, thinking about my book, jotting down ideas and phrases, I suddenly wondered: Is this my fairy circle? Am I writing in my head, too? By observing marvelous things outside, mushrooms, fog, spiders, a blue-tailed skink, I pray for enough curiosity to save me from my self-centered fairies, enough persistence to see my book into the light of day, enough patience to write in God’s time.

Have Fairy dreams ever tempted you?

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