Biff America: Pixie dust and protests (column)
Despite my reputation, I don’t hate fairies.
Admittedly, on occasion, I will assume the role as a grumpy old (not that old) man to amuse my friends and annoy my mate. An example of this occurred when my pal, Scott, was telling me about how much his young children love the Fairy Trail and I felt compelled to assume that aforementioned role.
The Fairy Trail is about as long as a football field and as enchanted as a child’s imagination. Beginning with a sign written on stone reading “All you need is faith, trust and a little Pixie dust,” every few yards there are various ad hoc installations featuring castles, unicorns, Tolkien-like miniature huts, wizards, pixies and hand-crafted miniature walkways strung between small trees. I’m guessing hundreds of man/fairy hours went into all this.
My mate and I visit the Fairy Trail a couple times a year to check out what’s new and what’s been removed.
A few years ago Scott mentioned he had just returned from his yearly ritual of taking his kids there. He spoke of what a joy it was to see their eyes light up as they ran from enchanted place to place. Just to be funny — AND TOTALLY NOT TRUE — I said, “I hate the Fairy Trail and love to ride my bike over magic castles.” I added that I was going to put toy devils and wicked witches up there to scare the kids.
A few times since then, we’ll be at a meeting, and I’ll say something harsh and Scott might observe, “What can you expect from someone who likes to ride his bicycle over magic castles?” I assume everyone knows that’s a joke, but they seem to enjoy the image of me being a stinker, so I play along.
Once Scott introduced me to one of his children by saying, “This is my friend Jeffrey; he hates fairies.” This beautiful little blond girl looked at me with sadness and confusion and wrapped an arm around her daddy’s leg.
My mate and I needed some magic and fantasy last Sunday after the incidents in Charlottesville. We planned our three-hour bike ride around the best places to see wildflowers, mountain views, and to visit the fairy trail.
The first thing we did when we got there was to stage a photo of me standing in front of a striking, magical installation and snarling. I texted that photo to Scott. We got off our bikes and walked. After a news cycle of hate and anger, magic was a balm for our perspective.
We saw many families. And though it might have been my imagination, the parents, like us, seemed a little stunned.
We continued on our way, leaving the ad hoc magic, heading further afield. It wasn’t long until we saw a hiker ahead. The trail was narrow and steep; there was no good place to pass. That being the case, we got off our bikes and asked to walk by. The hiker stepped aside.
“Did you just come from the fairy trail?” I asked.
“Yes,” was his answer … (silence).
I tried again, “Not something you see every day.”
“A bunch of junk, if you ask me,” he said.
I mistakenly thought that he was playing the same game I often played with my friends. I supposed I might have met a kindred spirit of grumpiness. So, I said, “I hate fairies too; when no one is around I ride over them. Those fairies should just go back where they came from.”
He looked at me like I was crazy and took another step off the trail.
As we pedaled away I felt bad. I wanted to go back and say I was just role playing but that would not help because my character was his reality. What I saw as an expression of enchantment, he saw as litter. Both of us have the privilege and cause to feel the way we did. The only difference is he was being honest and I was playing a game. I felt a little ashamed about that.
But leaving the trail aside and getting back to the evil in Charlottesville, I think we all are shocked at how people, living in the same country, undergoing many of the same experiences, can see the world and those who live in it so differently. It is easy to lay blame on an outside influence or person for whatever adverse circumstance or frustration is in your life. But on the other hand, to look for the good, to hold out hope for a better future, seeing the beauty of diversity and the balm of faith and magic, can take imagination, effort, and sometimes a little pixie dust……..
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff’s new book “Mind, Body, Soul.” is available at local shops and bookstores or http://shop.holpublications.com/products/biff-america-mind-body-soul
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