the immortality of make believe

Two years ago my daughters wrote a letter to a potential fairy and left it out on the deck. She wrote back. Her name is Lavender Fawn. The girls stitched up beds from fabric scraps and fashioned sofas from soft leaves, they set out itty portions of banana and pea sized bowls of jewels.

Those who’ve been reading here a while might remember my discomfort with Santa etc because I couldn’t shake lying to my kids. So how did we get here? Where I wake at 6am to craft tiny notes from a tiny fairy who cares for fawns in western Montana in the spring and lives in Nicaragua during our winter and took a sabbatical to help the moon fairy with the tides last summer?

Because I can play make believe too. I learned from the best make believers of all time. And I can tell the truth in my make believing.

This year, at 8 1/2, Margot wrote a letter to Lavender. Lavender wrote back in her best fairy script. The following morning Margot raced to the deck, eagerly read the letter and then looked to me.

“Mama, this looks like your handwriting.”

“It does.”

“Is it your handwriting?”


She shrugged and smiled. She sat down to write Lavender back. Drew her a heart on a little fairy-sized rock. Arranged it all beautifully with tiny fairy writing utensils, gave me a hug and said she could’t wait to see what the letter said tomorrow.

Ruby is naturally curious about the things her big sister takes interest in. Sometimes it sticks, like obsession with blank books. Sometimes it doesn’t stick, like tight pants. But this interest in the realness of fairies? That stuck.

She came to me two nights later, tearful because she knows not to look up things online without a parent but she did and saw something scary. Honestly, my first thoughts were dark. I imagined she saw…I don’t even want to type it. I followed her to the ipad and this is what she found while searching for “pichers of real tooth fairies.”

Now, that is a mildly scary thing. And really funny all around. But it did freak her out. The tooth fairy situation is already a little dicey but who wants a groggy, green-faced Bruce Willis in a bad Pollyanna wig visiting toothless, doe-eyed children in the dark of night? I’ll take Tink.

We had a good chat about it all — the crumminess of feeling afraid, the inability to unsee things you see, the weirdness of the internet and reasons we have rules for its use. Also, about pretend images and fake ideas. What to believe.

That night she left her tooth under her pillow. When the tooth fairy came in to take the tooth and give the loot, she found a note in the most careful, endearing kindergarten spelling. “Dear Tooth Fairy, I am not sure I want you to take my tooth. I like my tooth. But I do want money.” Love, Ruby

The good fairy left the tooth and the money. The following morning, Ruby grabbed a stool and climbed up to the little ceramic jar where I keep my girls’ teeth. I didn’t know she knew that jar. She put her tooth in there without asking a question.

I remain careful about how I talk about the fantastical ideas that leave quarters under pillows and fill stockings with bubblegum. My decidedly frank yet encouraging approach might confuse things. But I do think it clarifies. As with all parenting everything, time and therapy will tell.

“Mama do you like know the Easter Bunny? How did you get the aprons you made in with the other things? Or, wait, is it all you?”


“Anyway, it’s fun.”


Margot and Ruby know. They trust and tell the whole truth with their whole hearts. They know about the endurance of beauty and magic. They know about joy and faith, about the immortality of make believe. And I’m remembering, learning from them.

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Artful Homestead at Windrush Farm

I’ve been home for over a week now and my suitcase remains packed, including bits of California grass, Pacific scented sand, exotic leaves and seashell shards my daughters carefully collected and studied. We’ll get to it.

The first ever Artful Homestead took place on Windrush Farm in Chileno Valley on May 28. When my best friend first asked me to be a part of something with her there, I spent a lot of time imagining what that might look like. It’s fun to day dream about Windrush Farm, about collaborating with my old friend, about pushing myself into something new.

Paige’s mother in law owns the farm and Paige has hosted many photography workshops there. Her husband, Arann Harris, is a musician and leads Continue reading

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Switch turned on. Or off, which ever.

Ah May! You’ve zipped right by. I caught you by the tail just as you were walking out the door. Full of company, rain, baby chicks, green grass, soccer games, raging creeks. The arrival of hummingbirds, dandelions, ticks, tank tops, salad at every dinner. No offense, I am ready for June. The end of school, the beginning of the dog days. Continue reading

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nuggets: moonshadow

frustrated that I had to fire my web designer and start over, I am so pleased that my garden is off to a great start, I ought to read more books.

Lately, when I wake in the middle of the night I have a song in my head. Every single night around 2am I wake up with lyrics on repeat. I started writing them down last week: Beyoncé’s Halo, Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off, Pearl Jam’s Daughter, Ben Harper’s With My Own Two Hands. On the full moon night: Cat Steven’s Moonshadow.

And if I were to do a mashup and make my own soundtrack perhaps it’d go something like this:

Hit me like a ray of sun
Burning through my darkest night
She holds the hand that holds her down
She will rise above
I can make peace on earth
With my own two hands
It’s like I got this music in my body and it’s gonna be alright
Yes, I’m bein’ followed by a moon shadow
Moon shadow
Moon shadow

One of the things on my mind on this morning Continue reading

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nuggets: finally it’s the first day of spring!

I started composing this on the first day of spring, adding thoughts and photos over the last few weeks. And then adding thoughts and photos just before spring and it’s quickly grown to monstrous size but I’m rolling with it. Welcome to the giant nugget post.

(I was reading this to my kids and Ruby has asked if I could change her name to Bob for a while)

Bob emerged from her bedroom, a halo of yellow bed-headed hair. I was on the couch, drinking coffee and reading. She fell into me with her toothless smile. “Finally it’s the first day of spring!” she yawned as she fell onto my lap completely unaware of the coffee.

Question to those with older children: do they ever notice the cup of coffee in your hand before diving into a morning snuggle? I’ve become incredibly skilled at keeping the hot, caffeinated liquid inside the mug with a wiggling child on lap.

Indeed it’s spring. Finally! I think we always feel a bit that way with every season. We love winter. We ski and sled and ice skate. We eat oats my the fire and resist getting out of our warm beds in the morning. And we look forward to spring. We dream of that day when will be able to stand in a non-breezy spot and, if the sun is directly on us, it actually feels warm.

Springish nuggets.

:: The girls designed and made little creatures mostly all by themselves. Margot has decided that even if she doesn’t make enough money she wants to work with owl research and rescue. Specifically she’d like to “study them and cure them when they are injured.” Bob wants to BE a kitty when she grows up.

:: Moody spring hikes with friends have taken us up mountains. Our kids used to be on our backs and shoulders and now they run ahead of us begging us to hurry up.

:: I shared this on instagram but want to share here too because it’s my new favorite trick: you can place the white roots of spent green onions in water and continue to harvest the greens for weeks and weeks! They just keep growing.

:: Andy has been planning to build a bench to sit on Alice’s gardenside grave. Continue reading

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