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Forward to The Fairyland Around Us


To the Birds belongs the morning hour; but to us, to you and me, and some of our little brothers of the field and forest, this hour belongs. It is the hour when we think about the things that are yet to be. We dream and we listen -- listen to the lullaby songs of the Trees, to the twilight chorus of the Frogs, to the Vesper Sparrow, to all Mother Nature's evening music we listen and dream -- and in the midst of our dreaming stop to ask Mother or Father about things, where things come from and what they are here for. And some things seem so far away, and some things seem so near in this the twilight hour -- our own hour.

Twilight -- and then night.
But child hearts need not fear,
For wee little folk are about --
After the lights at home are out,
And shy little feet scamper over the forest floor;
Sweet is the night, and rich its childhood lore,
For the shy little folk of the forest dim,
And the shy little people of the field
Are all under the care of Him
Who teaches mankind little children to shield.

Last night I went into the Forest. Moonbeam fairies brightened the path that leads towards the Cathedral and into the woods beyond. I went softly -- and listened -- and I heard the patter, patter of hurrying little feet scurrying over the woodland floor. Now and then I stopped very still and kept so for a few minutes -- and saw these little folks who made those faint patterings and rustlings as they went this way and that. A Wood-rat scampered across my path. Farther along a Skunk moved from one log to another -- 'twas no other than my chum o' two years, Julius Caesar Napoleon. It happened that I had some beetle grubs with me. A little ways I went and saw -- a great Owl circling about. Seven trees and two logs distant I came upon the Flying Squirrel fairies. Down the path fifty paces and two stumps to the right were four dear Wood Mice. The night was wonderful. Over my head the tall Fir trees reached upward to the sky. Through their branches Moonbeam fairies came and glorified the tiny mosses and vines. Upon the harp-strings of these forest trees the wind musicians played sweet lullabies. A forest Moth and yet another I saw within the Cathedral. A Deer passed near me, and a little farther on I saw a Fawn. The brook was singing a night song -- and the song which it sang in the night was as sweet as the song it sang through the day. Peace was in the forest -- Peace was in my heart. Why should I fear the night or the darkness? God keeps His little folk of the forest -- God keeps me. I love the night, its voices and its music, and the wee little folk about -- and I trust in Him, and am happy.

The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.
-- Longfellow

Now, some of the wee folk about after the lights at home are out are Owls -- Long-eared Owls and Short-eared Owls, Barred Owls, Barn Owls and Spotted Owls, Horned Owls and Pigmy Owls, Saw-whet Owls and Screech-Owls.

Then nightly sings the staring owl, Tu-whit,
To-who, a merry note.
-- Shakespeare

And these are more of the folk about after the lights at home are out -- Whip-poor-will, Flying Squirrels, White-footed Mice, and other mice, too.

The filmy shapes that haunt the dusk.
-- Tennyson, in Memoriam

Other folks about in the night are the Moths -- those fairies who differ from the Butterflies in --

The Sphinx is drowsy, her wings are furled.
-- Emerson

Among the dear fairy Moths on wing in the night time in different parts of this country are: Sphinx, Telea polyhemus, Samia cecropia, Io, cynthia, Luna, Catocala, and our Tiger Moth.

All diamonded with paines of quaint device,
Innumerable, of stains, and splendid dyes,
As are the Tiger Moth's deep damask wings.
-- Keats

Many others are there, too -- all those above I have raised from the egg -- and known from babyhood to grown-up Mothhood -- and in another Fairyland book to follow this are their life stories and portraits.

Flying Squirrel
Scluropterus volans

He's a dear fairy -- Bat is. And he isn't blind, either. And he has the cutest pug-nose. His mouth is so pink. Flitter-Mice we children sometimes call them -- for they are a little like dear mice with angel wings. Of course, grown-ups would not think that -- but truly, the wing of a bat is a wonderful thing. Now, the sensitive nerves in the wing of a Bat help him to know when objects are near -- and he sails, he does, in between, under and over some things that folks, if they had wings, would bump into. You know of course that bat fairy is a catcher of gnats and mosquitoes. It appears to me that as he sails along his mouth is open -- which of course is an aid in scooping in more insects. Now, the fur of a Bat is soft as silk. Once I had three pet Bats -- Aristotle, Plato and Pliny. Now, this I know -- Bats are not dirty creatures, as some people suppose. It's wonderfully interesting to see how particular Bat fairy is about his personal cleanliness. My pet, Pliny, would take the edges of his wings in his mouth -- the way he went about cleaning them made it seem to me that they were like the rubber tissue the cook at the cook house uses to mending things. Pliny would scratch his head with his hind foot -- too, he would wash his face with the fore part of his wing -- and then lick his wash-cloth clean. I fed my Bats flies, gnats and mosquitoes (which i raised for the purpose in a rain-barrel -- and which was destroyed when discovered by the grown-ups -- as it should have been -- although I didn't think I ought to have quite such a hard spanking for having this mosquito nursery because I learned heaps about the great service Bats are to a community in consuming unlimited quantities of pest mosquitoes). The evening before the mosquito nursery was destroyed Aristotle ate and ate mosquitoes -- until he ate so many that he died. It was because I wrote on his tombstone about dying of the consuming of too many mosquitoes that the grown-ups learned of my securing mosquitoes for his feeding by maintaining a mosquito nursery. (Now, those mosquitoes were screened over so that they escaped not -- but even screened-in mosquitoes for feeding unto Bats come under the condemnation of grown-ups -- and Grandpa explained to me why, so now I understand. Anyway, there are plenty of gnats and flies still at large for the feeding of Pliny and Plato.) It was truly Fairyland way in which I found Plato and Pliny. You see, it was just this way -- I had often fed their mother at my study window. Then several evenings she came and was gone again so quickly. One evening when awaiting her coming I noticed her stopping at a near-by Lilac bush. Quickly I stepped out of the window on the other side -- and in a moment was at this bush. On a branch there hung two darling Baby Bats. You see, baby Bats are born in July, and this was July time. Next evening she came to the window with them clinging to her neck. No, she didn't feed them insects. She cradled them in those soft wings of hers, and they nursed from her breasts. Later, they would eat insects from my hand.

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In The Early Morning