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Love at First Sight (part 2): Second Sight

The sun was sinking low at my back, lengthening shadows pointing the way as I leisurely picked my way through our neighbor’s cow pasture. My destination was dictated by some hazy combination of memory and intuition. Previous rambles through these sprawling acres of fields and forest had paid off in the discovery of a hidden treasure that could only be described as magical—something straight out of Bridge to Terabithia. Even now, it’s hard to put my finger on what it is about that place. A steep cleft in the wooded hills, a trickling stream, a pristine lack of undergrowth, a parade of seasoned trees in various stages of surrender to gravity… The first time I’d ever stumbled upon the glade, I was flooded with deep recognition of what some call a “power spot,” a sacred place of concentrated earth energy. It was there that my meandering path now led me on my quest for a second glimpse of faerie lights.

Perhaps a little too meandering… Consistent with the dream state it induces, Ambien has a knack for softening your sense of time (and expediency). I diverted my ascent to pass through any natural gateway that caught my eye, paused to bask in the glory of every golden vista and sparkle of stream. Lucky for me, Ambien is also renowned for loosening your inhibitions—so by the time I realized my spontaneous little sunset expedition to a familiar spot was quickly becoming a solo night hike through alien woods, sans flashlight… I no longer gave a damn. The earth was my ally. And though last night’s mysterious lights were keeping themselves scarce for the time being, I could feel the little buggers everywhere! Curious eyes peered down from secret perches. Trees whispered with peripheral flutters of movement. Hidden hollows seemed to glimmer with their essence. But if I had any lingering doubts—about their presence, their feelings on my presence, or my overall sanity—they wouldn’t linger long…

“Excuse me!”

A roosting bird exploded into flight with a startled squawk, leaving us both shaken as I addressed the shadowy forest. “… Sorry, I’m kinda new at this. But my friend says I should try talking to you guys, so… I’m trying to get up to, uh, that glade by the stream, near the top of the ridge? I loved seeing you guys last night! And I was hoping I might see you up there. But, I didn’t really plan this out… and it’s getting pretty dark now… So, if I could trouble you guys to, I dunno, help me out with a good walking stick or something…? That would be much appreciated. Ummm…… Thank you!”

Even under the influence, I had to question my tactics as I struggled through the blackened bracken. Not because I was voicing requests to an apparently inanimate landscape, of course. That made perfect sense. No, my mind now seized on a far finer point of flawed logic: I was in a forest, surrounded by sticks of all shapes and sizes. How the hell did I suppose my hosts might indicate the needle in this fool haystack? Should it pulsate with light, like an interactive item in a video game…?

As I’ve since learned, faeries can be inventive in getting your attention. When at last I approached the picturesque break in the bramble that marked the entrance to the darkened glade, I stumbled to a halt, gaping—then burst into delighted laughter! A proper staff of a stick, straight and sturdy, was suspended directly in my path about two feet off the ground, its twiggy terminus entangled in the low-hanging branches. Carefully I wrested it free, snapping off the excess as you would a hanging-display tab after purchase. As if that weren’t ludicrous enough—being greeted with this gift at the door, mere minutes after asking for it—it fit my grip like it was made for me, the stubby fork supporting my hand at just the right height. (You better believe I still have that stick today!)

All sheepishness had vanished as I brandished my staff at the starry sky: “Thank you!!! You guys rock!”

Thus bolstered by this solid token of faith and acceptance, I entered the glade at last.

That was one of the most magical evenings in recent memory. Not only did I find the little lights I’d come all this way for (okay, more like they found me!), but it seemed I could even hear their minute movements among the leaves. Near the upper end of the glade, where the spacious woods give way to a dense and wild labyrinth I have yet to brave by night, I discovered what I’d overlooked by day: a secluded grassy grove, roughly round, its gateway guarded by two towering pines standing sentinel to either side. Mystified, I made to pass through… But some instinct nudged me to take a respectful seat on a rock just outside the entrance. I was an honored guest here—and a guest doesn’t just blunder into what is clearly sacred space. I saw, heard, and felt them gathering curiously around me, an impossible rainbow of fireflies flickering in the grass. If they spoke, it was lost on me. So I chattered happily at them, a one-sided conversation that seemed to engage us all the same, until the full moon shone down through the ring of trees like the world itself was watching. By the time I waved my farewells and started back down the hill, a flashlight seemed not only unnecessary, but downright rude. Behind me, the little lights darted and danced among the twinkling stars.

Back at my humble abode, practically glowing myself, I propped my unexpected hospitality gift in a place of honor by my altar. I had to giggle as I collapsed into bed, imagining a classic movie ending the next morning: “… Was it only a dream…? (Gasp!) THE WALKING STICK…!”

But the morning brought a far greater gift. Lying awake at daybreak, I was startled from my reverie by faint shimmers of light in the corner… fluttering around my fake orchid… shimmying along the cord of my pendant lamp… scrambling over the scrollwork of my footboard! The faeries were here—in force!—and the dimly-lit room provided the perfect backdrop for an up-close-and-personal look at my new obsession.

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