Growing Young

Mouse Tails, Fairy Bells, and Frolicking with Fish

Birthdays are no big deal for me. Forty didn’t bother me, nor fifty, not even sixty, because for me, the worst was already over. My worst birthday ever was when I turned thirteen.   …   That was a bad birthday!

Somehow in my tender years, a great deal of which was spent with fairies and other wee creatures, I had become convinced that I would be able to remain a child in Neverland, like Peter Pan, and never be compelled to grow up.

I didn’t want to grow up. (Still don’t.)

The acid test would be the thirteenth birthday. I knew if I ever turned thirteen, my delight was over, the game was up, and I would be doomed to the staid, respectable, and unadventurous world of being a grown up.

Sure enough, I was required to grow up. My thirteenth birthday arrived, and I cried all day.  It was a most dreaded, unhappy birthday!

But somehow, I find the far-off embers of childhood still being fanned into flame in freshness and joy and newness of life. Spending my youth having tea with the likes of Thumbelina etched adventure deeply on the tablet of my heart. Getting to know those talented mice who helped the tailor of Gloucester and Cinderella, grew a love for their charitable ways. The water babies opened the possibility of an unseen world. Mrs. Tiggywinkle taught me delight in common chores. The Two Bad Mice showed me that even rascals can be lovable. The little loves of childhood are the first echoes of true and beautiful maturity.

Even though childhood may be far in years, when it is near in heart there is always some enchanting and delightful thing to fan those flames. This week I have had the pleasure of three such surprises. One is a new piece of artwork, an oil by Geri Anderson, which I have hung in our hall gallery.

Frolicking Fishermen - 'Joie de vivre'!
Frolicking Fishermen –
‘Joie de vivre’!

‘Frolicking Fishermen’  is a most charming and cheerful painting! In this whimsical and merry scene, a group of jolly fishermen, without a care in the world, gleefully fish from their boat as well as cavort with the fish in their bright and sunny world. These fishermen don’t really want to catch the fish; they want to PLAY with them! Whenever I pass this endearing band of high-spirited, frolicking fishermen, I smile. One can’t help it! Their realm spells gladness and joie de vivre.

The next two surprises took me instantly back to my childhood love of ‘fairy-finding’:

Many were the tea parties I provided the fairies who lived in the graceful bridal veil bushes in my backyard. I knew the fairies wouldn’t come inside, so I would set my doll table and chairs under the bushes, set with nice, flat leaf-plates, little acorn cap cups, cut-up raisins and other treats, and a gift at each seat. I was always on the lookout for gifts for the wee folk – flower petal chapeaux or a drop of milk from the milkweed plant. I could recognize a ball gown in a peony, or a soft fairy bed in a rose, could see the utility in a toadstool or strand of spider web.

I still can, and I’m still on the lookout….

Imagine my delight to find that in certain gardens (only those belonging to fairy-minded persons, I’m sure) there grow ‘mouse plants’ and ‘fairy bells.’  My childhood friend Tami and I pursued fairies together when we were young, and never ceased the exploration. Now I discover she has the privilege of hosting wee mice, growing safe and hidden under the leaves of  their Mouse Plant.

Discovery! The Mouse Plant
The Mouse Plant

See their little bottoms and long tails? What are they conferring about, all cozy in their hidden place? They helped the tailor, and they helped Cinderella; possibly they are planning to be of service to my friend Tami.

The mice conferring...
The mice conferring…

 And here are the fairy bells. One can almost hear their tiny, tinkling melody. And why do they ring? A fairy ball? A convocation? A parade?

Fairy Bells
Fairy Bells


Enchanting sites and merry scenes abound. But one must have eyes to see, time to look, and a heart unafraid to be doing so. Growing up can harden us to these things, but it does not HAVE to. If we keep one foot in Neverland with Peter, the delights and enchantments we may discover multiply. I must grow old, but in spite of the trauma of my thirteenth birthday, I have discovered I do not have to grow up!

I am hoping you will join me!

Your for the return of Grace, Civility, Beauty, Gentility, and Excellence, (and a youthful heart!),

Mary Alice