Photo by Kristy Mitchell
In the top of my garden just beyond my Grandmother’s birdbath is the home of the word fairy. She lives in splendid comfort, her home like a hoarders dream with bits of paper covering every available surface.
She is the most hospitable of all the fairies I know inhabiting my garden. She is a reader of renown; she surrounds herself with words, invents the odd one from time to time and is always to be found with her head in book or piece of manuscript.
You see the word fairy is as much a philosophiser as a lover of words. She likes nothing more than a good old fashioned chin wag about some text she has read or in fact should you broach the subject a novel you may have read or a novel you might be writing, as long as there are words involved she is at your beck and call.
I don’t know how long she has lived there but I know it’s a long time as I did actually dig my hand down deeply into the papers of her bower and discover the 1922 Sydney Morning Herald lying there and I was no where near the bottom of the pile. I remember my grandmother telling me once to tread lightly around her section of the garden as if you went to close she’d be wanting to regale with you some new text she’d read or some new wrapper that the wind had blown into her space.
I do know she has the best sense of humour though. It comes from reading so much, she said to me once that language is such a eye opener in terms of the way people describe and use things.
She loves to talk about words and their origins. Etymology is a favourite of hers.
She even claims she contributed some words to the Oxford English Dictionary when it was being complied and I don’t doubt she did.
One day she said to me with a devilish twinkle in her eye: ‘Do you know the word increment?’
‘Yes,’ I replied
‘Why then isn’t the opposite excrement?’
Having asked the question she doubled over in laughter at the question she knew I couldn’t answer apart from they mean different things.
‘If I am overwhelmed,’ she said,” What does it mean to be whelmed?’
This game would go on for ages and each time she’d cackle away at her own humour.
Mostly she liked to read and discuss literature. She loved all the classics, could quote Shakespeare at you, the romantics rolled off her tongue like long time friends but I have to say she did love a lot of the modern writing.
She loved all the Harry Potter novels, she thought JK Rowling was a genius and indulged herself in all new novels that came out especially the young adult fiction genre as she felt it was an innovation in writing where so much effort had been spent in the past on seriously academic style novels. Not that as she’d argue they didn’t have their place.
The one thing that did fascinate her was blogging. If she had the wherewithal I am sure she’d be blogging and surfing the net as much as anyone else. I would take my laptop out to her and once I had shown her how to operate it she was lost in the world of bloggers and writing of all the imaginable genres there are and a few others as well.
‘Do you think they’d mind if I commented?’ she once asked.
‘Not at all.’ I replied. ‘For all we know half of them could be fairies anyway.’
So she did and should you come across any comments on your blog from ‘Bowerbirdfairygirl’ chances are she is the word fairy from my garden.
She often ended our chats with a quote from one author or another. One of her favourites was Dr Seuss: This is what she said one day after we had been discussing my love life in the light of a discussion about Jane Austen’s apparent, in her opinion, lack of a love life:
“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”