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Not the Portland I’m used to.

I just returned from a two-week trip to New England. Since I had never been to Maine before, Will and I started there and moved slowly south during my visit. I thought it would be fun to go to the other Portland. After spending some time in New Hampshire at America’s Stonehenge, that I talked about in my last post, we went on up north. Portland, Oregon is named after Portland, Maine by the way.

Will had found something online about fairy houses in some park in Falmouth, near Portland. We began searching for it, but all we had was the name of the island on which they were supposedly located. Google maps drew us a route directly to the center of the tiny island, accessible by a bridge, and we obediantly followed. On the island we passed through some open gates and looked around at a parking area, with buildings in the distance, but no signs helping us find fairies. Will pulled to a stop to look at the map again, and I noticed a man outside that had been staring at our vehicle and walking toward us. He came from the direction of a building with a sign on it that said SECURITY.

“Will, I think this guy wants to talk to us,” I said, as I noticed that we were in a parking lot for Baxter School for the Deaf. “Maybe he can give us directions.” As the man approached, Will rolled down the window of the car.

“Can I help you?” the man asked, in a state-your-business kind of way.

Will says in the most sincere and earnest sort of way, “We’re looking for the fairies.”

The man was perfectly still with a face devoid of any expression. He blinked. After a pause he said, “You can’t be here on campus.”

Telling the story later, Will said it was as though the security guard heard the words, decided to ignore them, and chose to state what he had intended to state in the first place. In retrospect, it is hilarious! “We’re looking for the fairies!” We must have seemed like crazy people. Ha ha!

View of Casco Bay from Mackworth Island.

We turned around and noticed what we missed at first: a parking lot to be entered immediately after crossing the bridge. There is a state public area that encompasses the beach and shore of the island, but not the center. From the lot we could access a lovely 1.25 mile trail that runs in a ring around the circular island. For a chilly evening, there were a surprising number of people there to use the trail for fitness, walking the dogs, or just to enjoy the views of Casco Bay.

With or without fairy houses, it was a nice evening to take a walk, so off we went. There are multiple places to access the beach, and we did. I was mesmerized by the rock formations we found. Will and I wished for Tara (studying geology) to help us understand what we were looking at. We chatted and enjoyed the wildlife, and waved cheerily at people who passed us multiple times going the other direction and clearly moving at a pace faster than ours.

This 1 1/4 mile trail wraps in a ring around the small island, with non-stop beach views.

We liked this old tree.

We clambered around on the beach, with its fabulous rocks.

Will in the distance. Wonderful rock formations in the foreground.

Suddenly we spotted one: a small tipi stack of sticks against the base of a tree.

Once we knew what to look for, we saw more. And more. Farther along the trail the little forest debris creations were everywhere! Some very simple, some elaborate. They were right beside the trail, but as we plunged deeper into the forest off the trail, we found more.

Fairy homes built against the bases of the trees.

Since we had visited America’s Stonehenge earlier in the day, I named this Stickhenge.

This one was so big that I fit into it! I’ve never been in a fairy house before.

Eventually we spotted a sign that explained what we were looking at, and the rules for participating. I experienced a bit of glee that something official as a State of Maine, Bureau of Parks sign acknowledged the faeries who visit the forest. I’m not religious, and find it hard to have faith in anything that can’t be scientifically explained, but I do believe in faeries. And while most of my life is practical and analytic, there is this one thing about me that doesn’t fit at all, and I’m usually too shy to mention it. But on Mackworth Island, clearly there are others who believe with me.

Officially sanctioned fairy homes.

Some fairy homes were made of simple construction.

As we hunted through the forest, we found more and more elaborate houses, often adorned with shells collected from the beach.

This one looks two stories high, with a stone patio.

While the sign cautions not to use living materials, it is likely these were collected from the ground and not picked.

This one rolls out the green carpet, between columns of pine cones.

This home has exceptional landscaping and an artistic flourish of oak leaves on top.

We had fun for nearly an hour as we explored the fairy homes. Possibly there were hundreds of them; it’s truly a sight to see. That humorless security guard should take a walk over here on his lunch break.

Leah Stetson, whose LinkedIn page says she did a senior college thesis project on island fairy houses, said in 2011 in a comment on another blog: “In Maine, there are over 60 islands with active “fairy house” villages tended by children and adults alike. Monhegan is most famously known for its Cathedral Forest (and the 50-year controversy on whether to ban fairy houses–still ongoing among island officials) but islands like Squirrel Island (Boothbay Harbor) and Bear Island (Buckminster Fuller’s island, where he built the famous geodome) in the Penobscot Bay, as well as several of the less-inhabited Cranberry Isles (e.g. Baker) have fairy houses.” Stetson may have been the author of an article in a no-longer-available post from The Compleat Wetlander, which stated fairy houses are “a 100+ year tradition in Maine, especially along the coast and on the islands, when many island communities had working farms. Traveling schoolteachers brought folk tales involving fairies that inspired islanders—children and adults alike—to build gnome homes to attract fairies in order to watch over the livestock and children during Maine winters. A fairy house traditionally included a tiny altar with a small offering, such as a coin, to pay the fairies to help the farmers…”

Castle all lit up for the 60th diamond anniversary celebration. It truly is a magical place.

Castle all lit up for the 60th diamond anniversary celebration. It truly is a magical place.

This week we have been digging into the deepest reaches of our creativity, and our patience, and our optimism, as we try to hold onto the idea that we may be able to buy the home we have had our eyes on. I’ve purchased six homes before (I move a lot), and this is hands down the most lengthy, complicated, stressful purchase I’ve ever attempted. Please continue to send any spare happy vibes my way, and if you’re the praying kind, prayers are also appreciated. My confidence may be wavering a little, but I still have high hopes for home #7.

Here’s the GOOD news: I have been happy all week! I can’t think of many places that would have been a better fit for my Tara and me this week. Can you imagine trying to work while worrying so much? No way! Instead, we have been having a blast. Laughing and singing and chasing bubbles and joking with anyone nearby.

The photo was from last night. We were dragging our tired selves back from the New Orleans section, out toward Main Street, and we stopped for some reason, turned around to look behind us and saw this shimmering castle. My life is brilliant and magical.

People spend hours at Faerieworlds just entertaining others.

People spend hours at Faerieworlds just entertaining others.

Bubbles, beaming smiles, and beauty spreads across the faery fields of Oregon.

Bubbles, beaming smiles, and beauty spreads across the faery fields of Oregon.

Tara and I went to Eugene, Oregon over the weekend to find the realm of faeries. We have attended since 2007 and it remains a premier summer event for us. We actually have a section of the garage where our “faery gear” is stored. Wings, masks, scarves, bags, leather cords, feathers, antennae, and all manner of possible accessories fill bins and hang from racks. Our latest wings acquisition must hang from the ceiling for protection, since the wings are stiff and don’t fold up.

Please click any photo for a larger version. And see my posts from previous years. 2013, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008

The festival began in Veneta, Oregon at the lovely little Secret House Winery in 2005. Tapping into that love of magic and love of the creatures dwelling in the realm of faerie that apparently resides in many of us, it quickly became an enormous draw, pulling in people from around the world. Who knew that so many of us still cling to those ancient stories? In 2009 Faerieworlds moved to Mt. Pisgah to accommodate what grew to 5000 people each day of the three-day festival.

Tara, me, and the Leader of the Rebellion (at least that's how she explained it).

Tara, me, and the Leader of the Rebellion (at least that’s how she explained it).

solemn green

solemn green

perched in purple

perched in purple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy in large ears and small hat.

Happy in large ears and small hat.

Resting her horns in the shade.

Resting her horns in the shade.

It’s a tribal gathering fiercely driven to provide a family-friendly, planet-cherishing environment in which all expressions are appreciated and even praised. Except for illegal substances, that is. Drug use is prohibited, smoking is severely restricted, alcohol is kept behind fences, and bad attitudes are scorned. Imagine: a gathering of thousands in which foul language and crankiness is disparaged! People stop to pick up trash, and interrupt their conversations to praise a stranger’s garb. If a child cries, a dozen heads turn to make sure he is not alone. All ages and all beings find delight in such a safe environment.

If faeries are not what inspires you, there is no rule about what form your personal expression must take. Elderly faeries and witches and sorcerers walk beside young fauns and pirates and superheroes. Pixies in wheelchairs roll among clusters of land-based jellyfish. There are valiant steampunk adventurers and bawdy wenches. There are mermaids with their own pool and horned mermen whose tail transforms to legs when it’s time to explore. We’ve seen unicorns, dragons, Na’vi, storm troopers and Darth Vader. This year there was a panda in a kimono, and Totoro.

Visions of loveliness are in every view.

Visions of loveliness are in every view.

green man

green man

black bird

black bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This winged creature is particularly fierce.

This winged creature is particularly fierce.

Every year I find a particular delight in the variety of materials that make up wings. There are fabric wings and metallic wings of shimmering tinsel or welded steel. There are steampunk wings of wooden slats and canvas and rotating gears. There were wings of embroidery hoops, of leafy branches, of black lace, and even of feathers. Mine were made of lacquered paper over wire, and Tara’s were gauzy black fabric, waving in the wind like cobwebs. Sometimes the wings light up, so the scene at night is brand new.

There are multiple music stages, and a puppet stage in the children’s area, nestled in the trees. There is also a simple stage of a cleared area that is commandeered by young actors who write and perform their own plays for fun. (Two young men advertising an upcoming show walked around selling rotten tomatoes to anyone who wanted to hurl tomatoes at a man in the stocks.) The musicians suit the theme of the event, always adorned to fit the setting, and sending their otherworldly sounds across the fields and into the vendors tents. Artists come from Australia, Norway, England, the U.S., and even mix it up among themselves like the band Delhi 2 Dublin.

Sadly, this was the last year at Mt. Pisgah. Due to the very unfaerylike behavior of attendees to a different Eugene festival, local residents complained about trash and noise and disrespect for neighboring properties, and a lawsuit shut all festivals down for good. Next year the fae folk will gather in a new location. Rumor was that it will be in Hillsboro, Oregon in 2015. Anyone who knows faery lore will understand that the realm follows no scientific laws that predict when or where it will appear again. Like the floating market in Neverwhere, we will wait for word, and then we’ll go to whereever the portal between practical life and fantasy is thin enough to walk through.

fungus hips

fungus hips

enormous wings

enormous wings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A tribe of friends share stories and acceptance.

A tribe of friends share stories and acceptance.

I watched this small faery as she investigated the mannequin. The little one held her hand and talked to her awhile.

I watched this small faery as she investigated the mannequin. The little one held her hand and talked to her awhile.

This tailor can handle wing repairs.

This tailor can handle all of your wing repairs.

A bone woman turned out to be less creepy than she looks.

A bone woman turned out to be less creepy than she looks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pirate and witch team up.

Pirate and witch team up.

fox and faun

wolf and faun

sunset faery

sunset faery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each side of the embroidery hoop told a part of a faery story.

Four sides of the embroidery hoop told a part of a faery story.

Tara throws rotten tomatoes.

Tara throws rotten tomatoes.

Characters teach each other juggling tricks.

Characters teach each other juggling tricks.

The fae folk are famous for being tricksters.

The fae folk are famous for being tricksters.

Oh, gosh, I just can’t stop! I took photos and photos and photos. If you’d like to scroll through more, I’ll just add my flickr link. There, you can see Malificent, Totoro, a battle between a black-winged skull demon and a 3-year-old avenger, pirates, angels, revelers, hoola-hoopers, dancers, a member of OMNIA playing a digeridoo, and more.

Tempting in their beauty, but will you be safe if you follow them?

Alluringly beautiful, but will you be safe if you follow them?

I took my little faery south on our annual pilgrimage to the world of fae in the last days of July. It’s a three-day festival, but we usually only show up for one of them. Saturday morning we dug through our collections of lace & leather, wings, glitter, leather bags, silken scarves, horns, antennae and other adornment till we were satisfied with our costumes. Then we left for Mt. Pisgah in Buford Park, just outside of Eugene, Oregon.DSC_0528DSC_0517

This year the Froud family did not come, which is a little sad, because in my mind they are a link to the faery world that I love. Amy Brown was there, but I do prefer the wicked & mischievous faeries from Brian Froud and the mysterious otherworldly creatures of Wendy Froud, and the simple presence of Toby Froud, because he is also their creation. {yes, I’m a fangirl like that.}

Tara walks through the entrance sporting fabulous wings

Tara walks through the entrance sporting fabulous wings

My new headdress, modeled after a buckeye butterfly

My new headdress, modeled after a buckeye butterfly

My Tara girl

My Tara girl

Faery with attitude

Faery with attitude

she means

she means no harm…

These were probably my favourite wings of the day

my favourite wings of the day

Faerieworlds is a HUGE operation these days, much progressed from the intimate gatherings at the winery in Veneta, where it all began. There are three stages, a large and well-organized vendors village, a food village, and the wonderful Neverland for kids.

The Neverworld puppet stage is right above the pirate's hat

The Neverland puppet stage is right above the pirate’s hat

Neverland is built in the shade (so wise to do that for the small faeries), and is themed of course, of pirates and mermaids. There is a puppet stage (a fourth stage!) and the mermaid lagoon with actual swimming mermaids with fish tails. They had a lovely area for tea, where children sit on toadstools around a low table. There are small groups like minstrels that perform for any group of people sitting on a shaded slope.

Fewer pure faeries seemed to be about, and many more wildly creative magical creatures were there, like unicorns and jellyfish and wicked dark beings with teeth and spikes and horns. Fauns abound, and wizards, and dragons. Lots of pirates and mermaids. There were steampunk faeries, flower faeries, bird faeries, tree faeries, and the variety of wings never ceases to astonish and delight me. Tara said she loves how, when something shows up that does not fit the theme at all, everyone loves them just as much. Darth Vader? We love you too!

Darth Vader, a Storm Trooper and ...unicorns?

Darth Vader, a Storm Trooper and …unicorns?

Why, Elphaba, so glad you could make it!

Why, Elphaba, so glad you could make it!

Camp, Faery, Steampunk

Camp, Faery, Steampunk

The music is so wonderful. Who would have thought there were so many bands that would suit this gathering? An old favourite of ours showed up: The Wicker Men, with a resonant haunting reverberating sound that hums through your veins and touches something deeply tribal. Delhi 2 Dublin is by far our favourite of all because their irresistible world beat triggers muscles so that you can’t help but dance.

Check out the amazing insect wings, and that crazy steampunk contraption on the ground.

Check out the amazing insect wings, and that crazy steampunk contraption on the ground.

tea anyone?

tea anyone?

Prior to our arrival, Tara and I stopped finally at a Portland shop on Belmont we’ve been meaning to visit for the longest time. At Belfry, the proprietress makes delicious leathery wings and masks, and we each spotted something to bring to Faerieworlds. Our treasures were a hit, and we both received compliments all day long on our faery finery: Tara’s remarkable wings, and my butterfly headdress. I must stop back in at Belfry and let her know how successfully her wares would sell if she could get some to the next festival. The appeal being mainly that they are unlike anything else available, and so many people arrive with intent to outfit themselves from the vendors village.

Faerieworlds organizers make a concerted effort to encourage vendors to dress up their kiosks so that they do not appear as a simple white nylon tent. It adds so much to the mood of the place, and walking through it’s easy to be drawn into fantasy and make believe over and over.

Faerie Catchers! Things are looking bad for Tara. Look at the BEAR head!

Faerie Catchers! Things are looking bad for Tara. Look at the BEAR head!

Dressed up kiosk

Dressed up kiosk

A faery mists us in the hot afternoon

A faery mists us in the hot afternoon

Every year since 2007 we have entered the realm – except for 2012 when I was in Japan. It suits our magical spirits, our willingness to suspend disbelief, our yearning for ever more stories to weave through our daily life. I like to believe that if there were magical creatures among us, this is where they would appear. So maybe, just maybe, we really were amongst faeries that day.

a wild couple

a wild couple

faun

faun

mermaid

mermaid

red horns

red horns

invitation

invitation

Ring of Stones.

Ring of Stones in the center of Faerieworlds. See the elf perched on the stone on the right.

shimmering

shimmering

pirate

pirate

info tree

info tree

pouty faery

pouty faery

a map of the realm

a map of the realm

This is me, at the end of the day, as Miss T and I prepare to find a bed.

This is me, at the end of the day, as Miss T and I prepare to find a bed.

black leather

black leather

dancing

dancing

Fantastic wings! Will they even work?

Fantastic wings! Will they even work?

One of my many guises

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