How to Find a Great Story in the Great Outdoors:
FAIRIES MEAN MANY THINGS TO MANY PEOPLE. . . For me, fairies can be a way to understand the indescribable qualities of nature. Particularly the Maine woods. The woods can feel serene or haunting, playful, or romantic. All of these sensations can pulse through your body and then change on a dime.
Growing up in the Maine woods, I lived my whole childhood outside. You could get into the perfect amount of trouble out there. I could be brave, sentimental, I could be loud, quiet. But mostly I could just be my weird self! I still feel the same way. I think it’s the smell that gets me the most. That familiar scent of evergreen trees brings me back into my body and allows me to take in my fullest breaths. Nowadays when I feel myself going astray, whether it's from city or the growing pains of becoming an adult, it's the woods that I want to run to first. So that’s what I did.
Six years ago I was sitting in my cramped studio apartment feeling anxious and restless. I decided to clear my head, get off the peninsula and go for a run in the woods. There are several lovely trails in the Portland area. But Mackworth Island has an indescribable quality that makes it my go-to. I get a rush from the drive over the long causeway, to the gatehouse that houses the gatekeeper, who then determines if there is a parking spot available for you, or if your fate is to turn around and do the drive of shame back over the causeway in hopes of finding another place to take your run. It’s like entering another realm, a place of curiosity, whimsy, and of course MISCHIEF.
On this day, the sun was out but the temps were cool and breezy. Days like this, parking is next to impossible. As I was driving over the bridge I began thinking of my plan B spot for running and scolded myself for wasting time to driving out here in a feeble attempt to get a coveted parking spot. As I approached the gatekeeper I braced myself for his denial to enter but then came the words in a strong Down East accent, “Theyahs' a spot that just opened up for ya! Good timin’!” It’s funny how little things like getting a parking spot can have such a profound effect on your day. The second I stepped out of my car and took in a breath of truly fresh air, I felt a sea change. “Let's do this!!!” I thought as I commenced my workout.
Okay. . . At this point, I should note that normally, I HATE RUNNING!!! I think it's boring and painful, I’m SUPER slow, I get super red and sweaty instantly. IT’S THE WORST!!! That being said, I do my best running on Mackworth Island. There is something about the soft ground and the stimulating landscape that gives me stamina. It distracts me from the agony that’s occurring in my body. There are familiar landmarks that dot the island and they are constantly changing. The tides shift, new flowers come into bloom, and there is always a newly constructed fairy house to discover.
Oh and also... I LOVE dogs! Mackworth Island is a go-to spot for dog walkers. Sometimes I start my run with a quota: “No stopping until you pass at least nine dogs.” I play other games too. Every time I run past a designated flower like a tiger lily or a daisy or an aster, I decide that the flower has instilled in me a boost of “flower power” and I am temporarily able to pick up speed and run in full sprint... for a dozen yards or so.
On that particular day, I was feeling light on my feet. After spending weeks in the swelteringly hot city weather my mind began to clear and my eyes came into focus like it was the first time that I had been fully awake and present in a long long time.
Then it came to me. A story in rhyming verse. Just a few lines at first, but as I continued my run down the path the entire picture came into view. I would take all of the things I loved about this place and tell a story. A story of nature. It’s identity personified through fairies. Fairies can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people and they were never anything I took particular notice of before that day, but then... I did.
The picture book version of this story will be coming soon! Until then I hope kids and adults enjoy the podcast episode "The Mischievous Fairy Island:)