I grew up in a palace of flowers, or so it seemed when I was just little. I was constantly surrounded by the beauty, the colours, the sweet smell, and the tender touch of petals on my cheeks. I walked barefooted, grass between my toes, with grass stains on my knees and smudges of dirt on my face and little wreaths of daisies caught up in my hair.
We lived in a humble place, my parents and sister and I, in a house with two storeys and lots of windows that was nothing compared to its gardens. The gardens ruled my childhood. In them, I was turned into a rabbit, hopping through snowdrifts, or I was a horse running through fields or a squirrel climbing trees. I went out into the gardens and had my own grand adventures, walking down paving stones that were at one instant a crowded city street, and at the next a bridge over a river guarded by a troll. I ran free in the gardens.
The small folk loved the gardens. The little sprites wearing their queen’s lace frocks or their daisy-petal hats would coming strolling out into the sunshine to play tag, though they were always too quick for me to catch them. Wood-fairies threw acorns from the trees, which I gathered up to use as food for the picnics I shared with the pixies. The pixies would end up squabbling over the juiciest acorn, and I would lose interest and wander off to play hide and seek with the trick-its. The trick-its were my favourite friends. They wore the soft fur of chipmunks and carried huge bags on their backs filled with seeds and pebbles. Though they didn’t come often to the gardens, my memories of them were brightest.
The wind, too, liked to visit the gardens, and many birds along with it. That was how I met Nolan. Following the breeze, I caught him talking to a robin underneath one of the big apple trees. He thought I was some creation of the garden’s, born right from its leaves and flowers, but once he realized I was just the same as him, we became fast friends. Many adventures were shared between us in the garden, and many more with my sister as well.
That was where I spent most of my childhood, spending hours in sunshine and in nature, with beauty on every side and with magic tucked in all crevices. My day would be filled with it, and then in the evening I would have to return to my house, where there were things like electricity and air conditioning. I was thankful for the windows, so that I could look out them and daydream that I was still in the garden. The house always seemed boring compared to the outdoors, but it didn’t stay that way for long.
There was always some sort of life in the house or around it. Trellises grew up the house’s side, the purity of the flowers sinking in through the walls to the spaces beyond. A wreath was hung on the door with spring blossoms or fall leaves. Vases of wildflowers dotted the interior, with little rabbits on the shelves and chipmunks on the table. All of these things were the workings of my mother.
She never wore the flowers in her hair like I did, but she didn’t need to for me to know that she was as much a part of the garden as I was. She wore her flowers on the inside, and they spread out behind her wherever she walked. Her touch was as soft as their petals, her voice as sweet as their perfumes, and her embrace as wholly enveloping as their leaves. From that touch and voice and embrace, I grew, and from it I learned the gentleness necessary to talk to the small folk.
My roots began in that garden, under the careful tending of its gardener, my mother, and it has forever shaped who I’ve become.
I took a short break from the Language of the Small Folk timeline to write this special post, a quick description of my persona’s childhood. Like the rest of LotSF, this is taken from my true experiences, and tweaked here and there to fit the story.
This is for all the mothers in my life who have helped me to grow and learn, at a time of the year when we especially celebrate them. They are the ones who tend my garden, who fill my life with beauty and with soft care. They plant seeds which begin so simple, but grow into works of art and magic. They surround me with wonder, gentleness, caring, and love, and continue to give their endless gifts to this day.
But this is especially for my mom, who celebrates her birthday today. She’s given me a lifetime of reasons to love and to care, to reach out for the magic in the world and to never stop searching for it. She’s always carried the flowers with her, and hands one out to everyone she meets.
Have a beautiful birthday, mom. I love you so much.
May your day be full of flowers.