I'm often asked where I got the inspiration for for my first book, The Fairies of Turtle Creek. Living in Dallas, Texas, with beautiful Turtle Creek nearby, I always say that place helped form my story. The twisted tree roots and rolling periwinkle vines are somewhere fairies could be living, and that was where my children asked to go when they were small, excited to search for 'wee folk' as they hiked the creek bed.
But there is another place I frequently visited while writing my book, Annadel State Park in Northern California, which is a redwood forest. When my children, niece, and nephews were young, we'd travel there to see their grandfather, my father-in-law, and the kids would be begging to walk "the fairy trail" as soon as we arrived, keeping eyes and minds open to fairies.
We visited there this past Thankgiving, and even though the children are mostly teens now, they could hardly wait to visit The Fairy Trail. To get there, one must walk to the end of the culdesac, leaving rows of residential homes behind, to enter the beginning of the luscious path (LEFT). The trees touch overhead, so we'd have to duck now and again to avoid a branch. The trail itself is merely a worn roadway that twists and turns, leading us beneath a fallen tree, over a bed of river rock, and through several large stumps formerly chopped open by an ax to let us pass through. The trail definitely has a microclimate all its own--always damp and cool, even on a warm day. Grey-green lichen drips from the trees, there's fresh bursts of bright green moss everywhere, and fungi pops up in unexpected places, reminding that you are somewhere special.
I find so much beauty on The Fairy Trail, I lag behind taking pictures. The striking yellow fungi growing on the log; the kelly green moss clinging to the fallen branches and stones lining the dry creek. What grows here makes the trail feel magical. I especially love the mushrooms that push their way up through the decaying leaves on the forest floor.
A particular cluster caught my eye (BELOW, LEFT) and I stopped to take a picture of the woody toadstools with my iPhone. And on a whim, I stuck the lense of my phone beneath one mushroom cap, to try and capture its beauty underneath (BELOW, RIGHT) . . . and I was surprised to see what else I may have captured a snapshot of . . . Could it be? Could I have taken a picture of a real fairy!? I promise that this photo has not been enhanced or changed in any shape or form--it could easily be explained as a reflection of light on my lense . . . or is it??
As I showed this photo to my Fairy Trail companions with discriminating teen minds, they all were surprised at first, but then a knowing look came over their face. "Yes, it IS a fairy!" each one said. Perhaps they were humoring their old mom/aunt, but honestly, why would anhone want to believe anything else?