I don’t typically do social media trends, but sometimes when I’m writing for Quid Facis, I look back through my photo library for pictures that are relevant to whatever I’m writing, and I find pictures that I took a while ago and they’re the kinds of things I want to share, but they’re old. So I’m indulging and doing a Throwback Thursday. Today we’re throwing back to the time I found a real live fairy in my garden.
I’ve written about werepossums and Sparky the Ratatoskr, so if you like creatures that greater society says don’t exist, you’re in the right place. According to my tingling intuition (and confirmed by the first couple Google search results), fairies don’t really count as cryptids, but the explanations as to why get a little fuzzy. The argument seems to be “Fairies are mythical creatures that don’t exist, and cryptids are creatures from folklore that just haven’t been confirmed to exist.” Is it just me, or does that read like somebody got tricked by a thesaurus?
I agree that maybe they aren’t the same category, but there’s significant overlap in that Venn diagram, and I have much better video evidence of the fairy (which is “mythical” and “doesn’t exist”) than anyone’s ever gotten of Bigfoot (whose existence is “real” but “hasn’t been confirmed”).
On a warm Saturday afternoon in May 2020, Kalen persuaded me to hold the ladder while he tried to figure out what was wrong with the gutter on one side of our house (spoiler alert: a lot). This was before we built the retaining wall, so the flower bed was a mess and vaguely lined with rotting landscape timbers. Holding the ladder was a real necessity, therefore, because it was nearly impossible to find a stable place between the crumbling flower bed and the varied detritus that my neighbors “store” in their driveway.
I held the ladder, careful not to bump it as I swatted away flies, mosquitos, and anxiety that the neighbors would come start a conversation featuring brash tones and advice that was as unhelpful as it was unsolicited. (The advice invariably features the phrase “I know a guy,” and the guy in question was discovered via Facebook Marketplace, and he’s “usually very reliable” but when he’s not reliable, it’s because he’s in jail.)
This was also immediately following my first week back at work after the first lockdown of the pandemic, so my anxiety was a smidge higher than normal (which is already fairly high to begin with). I think it’s not unreasonable, then, that I questioned my sanity when I saw a tiny feathery blue being flitting about the greenery. I blinked several times, and when the fairy continued to exist, recorded some evidence to the best of my capability (remember, I was also still holding a ladder on the tenuous border between an overgrown flowerbed and an impromptu junkyard).
I wondered if it was a speck of fluff, buffeted by minute air currents, but its movements didn’t flow the way I would expect air currents to move. The day was dreadfully still and when I blew a small stream of air toward it, it didn’t react. It must be moving of its own accord. I gave up on the video and snapped a picture.
She even has wings and a tiny dress! She’s so cute! How is that anything other than a fairy?! Google tells me that this isn’t a fairy. Google says it’s a “woolly aphid.” Google is a killjoy. Google also mentions that they have a particular fondness for hackberry trees, and I’ve never even heard of a hackberry, so what do they know? Oh, hang on; I’ve just Googled hackberry trees, and that is definitely all over the place here. I pull at least four hackberry saplings out of my flowerbeds a month.
But here’s the thing: the world can be either pretty terrible or pretty wondrous, and if pretending that an inconsequential insect is a magical fairy makes life a little more fun, I’m gonna do it, because it doesn’t hurt anyone. So it’s a fairy, okay? I don’t know if she ever found the fairy house I had set up on the deck with a variety of succulents. I never saw her again. She probably had to go trick someone into thinking a skunk was their baby or something. Doesn’t matter how many times I change his diaper, that kid always smells funky…