Fairy trees a delight for many

Cathy Kelly where it all started at Noordhoek common.

It was a dismal Monday. The blues had seeped into my bones and given me a dull headache. My small software business has had a very tough year and my inbox was alarmingly empty. This business has allowed me to be a work-from-home mum and gives me the freedom to take mornings off to write. But software isn’t my passion. To thrive, I need creativity and connection.

That Monday, with Cape white-eyes on the lemon tree and the sky a quiet blue, I decided to do something creative that would feed my spirit. I’d read about a blogger who makes fairy-sized ferris wheels as a tool to get through her depression and so I had an idea. As an avid reader and a fledgling writer, books are magic to me. So I would make fairy books

That week, I made five tiny books with felt covers and beadwork on the front, with yellowed pages cut from an old French history of the communist party – and no, we’re not Waldorf parents. I placed these little creations on my desk. They made me smile.

In the days that followed, my idea grew and I added a little wall hanging framed with cuttings of Cape reed, a grass-plaited carpet and I borrowed a wooden chair and table from my son’s barely-used dolls house, or man cave, as my husband prefers to call it.

One afternoon I gathered all my fairy odds and ends and went to Noordhoek common, hubby, son and dog in tow. They played by the swings while I set the pieces up in a nearby oak tree.

As I stepped back and viewed this little fairy reading room, I felt happy. My husband smiled and said I was quirky. Our son offered a wooden twig “because fairies need a gun”.

Supper called and we headed home. I carried the secret knowledge of my little creative act and its warmth fed me for days. I didn’t care if it got messed up by rain or playful squirrels or vandalising fairies. What mattered was that I’d created something and put it out into the world. It would hopefully enchant or intrigue others – or not.

On my daily walks with our Aussie shepherd, I checked on the fairy room, wondering if anyone had noticed it or added something. Nothing. Yet it still made my heart leap a little each time I saw it.

One morning a few weeks later, I came upon a beautifully made rope ladder leading from the room to the ground. I laughed out loud at its perfect fairy-sized practicality. Inside, there was a little rolled up drawing and an acorn bowl of tiny flowers on the table. I just stood there smiling.

Then I took pictures and shared the little story on the Noordhoek and Milkwood Park community Facebook pages. There was a lovely response, with hundreds of “likes” and comments.

It seemed the tiny room had already been noticed. Someone commented that her dad had made the rope ladder from hemp. Someone else made a wooden ladder for kids to get a better view. Parents started taking their children to see the fairy tree.

The fairy room captured the imaginations of many, perhaps those with quiet wishes for a bit of enchantment in the midst of our grown-up woes and worries. Maybe we all need to know that somewhere out there is a lovingly decorated home for magic.

And now, seven weeks later, each time I go there, it’s different. It has become a fairy tree, with a little bedroom on the other side of the trunk and a dining room and lounge (all beautifully crafted). At the foot of the tree there’s a quirky tin shack with a washing line, fairy-sized clothes drying and a kombi van out the front.

So what do I take from this experience? Two things. Trust in your own creativity. Do it, put it out into the world (or into a tree) then let go of the response. And secondly, this valley community of ours is strong and we all have a contribution to make. And when these two things come together: creativity and community… it’s a kind of magic.

Cathy Kelly is a software developer (and fairy tree creator) who lives in Noordhoek.