This shorter dome, The Fairy Treetop Nursery, is shown on the coffee table. (Sorry, I just can't seem to get a clear overview picture, but hopefully you get the idea of the size of this dome.)
Nursery rhymes and nursery songs are among my earliest childhood memories. And more than once, I was a bit bothered by the subject matter of those verses intended for little children; for instance,
In the tree top
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock
When the bough breaks
The cradle will fall
And down will come baby
Cradle and all.
I had a hard time picturing babies in treetops in the first place, and even if they were, how did they get up there? And why? I was also distressed at the thought of poor little babies falling to the ground when those boughs broke.
Well, after all these years I found out the truth of the matter recently when I was invited by Mother Goose to Fairyland. After tea, I mentioned these long held concerns.
"You aren't the only one, Wanna," she told me. "Generations of children, and adults like you, frankly, have had the same questions. Perhaps when you return home you can finally put these unnecessary fears to rest."
Although the environments in the Fairyland Nursery vary depending on the parents, the frog nursery being quite different from the fairy nursery, for example, she took me to observe the Fairy Section.
"This is one of the Napping Trees in the Fairyland Nursery," she said, stopping near a remarkable tree. It was actually quite low to the ground with tiny nests on all its branches, most of which were filled with tiny babies. "Ah, yes," she said, smiling at my surprise. "We ease our fairy children into heights gradually, and careful pruning of our trees keeps all the babies accessible to the Watcher."
"Wow! And I thought the idea of babies sleeping in trees was probably just something somebody made up!"
"Oh, no," she said. "There is truth to the nursery rhyme, but, of course, we make sure all our boughs are strong and sturdy, and we take other precautions."
First of all, she told me, from birth baby fairies are taught not to fear heights. Being soothed to sleep by gentle air currents in their treetop cradles is part of their earliest training, even before they can fly. (Actually, the cradles come later; at first they sleep in tiny little nests.)
However, there is a definite system by which this is accomplished, and on the day I visited, several cheerful young elves were in charge of the Nursery naptime. The one beside our tree smiled and waved as we approached.
"We hire elves, rather than use teenage fairies, because they are more conscientious," she continued. "If you think human teenagers are irresponsible, you should see fairy youth! That's why we always send them in pairs when they are assigned chores with the toddlers." (See The Fairy Sitters)
I watched as the elf used a long handled pod cushioned with fresh moss ...
... to gently raise yawning babies to the treetops where they quickly snuggled down and went instantly to sleep.
First a little yellow-haired daisy fairy baby, ....
... and then a little pink blossom baby.
One by one, he carefully placed them on all the available nests.
After all were safely asleep, he turned to us, touching a finger to his forehead in greeting.
"Fior, this is my guest Wanna," Mother Goose said. "She is touring our Nursery today and is quite interested in your duties."
"Aye, it's a great job bein' a Baby Watcher, methinks," he told me, touching his forehead again.
"I puts them in their little nesties, and takes them down when they wake. And should the wee ones become too restless in their sleep, or too rambunctious when they wake up, I'm right here to catch them," he said with satisfaction. "Far better than dealin' with them trolls on me last job, and it still leaves time to pursue me studies."
I was surprised to learn that he was training to be a farrier.
"This is a fine job, don't get me wrong, but I want to advance in this world. Plenty of other young elves a-comin' to take me place here," he said. "Aye, sure," he nodded. "Lots of horses in Fairyland and somebody needs to take care of their feet. And I'm just the elf to do it."
At that moment a pod baby stretched and sighed and he reached to touch the little one, then continued with his comments. "Fior the Farrier, that's the sign I'm going to have over me own stable someday," he said, as he rocked the little nest gently.
"I'm sure you will be excellent," I said. "You seem to have the right temperament for both babies and horses." I looked down at his feet.
"I like your shoes," I told him. "To be honest, I always wondered if elves actually wore shoes like the ones I saw in my fairy tale books. And you do!"
To which rather inane comment, he merely raised his eyebrows and said, "What else would I be wearin'?" At that moment, the breeze picked up more strongly and the tree began swaying a bit more.
"Excuse me, Miss," he said, reaching to catch a sliding baby. "But I better turn my gaze on the rest of them wee ones again. Pleasure to've made your acquaintance."
"Nice to've met you, too, Fior," I said, and Mother Goose and I moved a short distance away so as not to obstruct his work.
I spotted what appeared to be food and drink underneath the tree. "Is that food for the babies?" I asked Mother Goose. "That almost looks like what we call Jello in the larger container."
"Well, the drink is for the babies," she said. "It's a form of nectar. We have specially grown blossoms nearby that we use for drawing out this special formula, which is highly concentrated. The orange food in the shallow bowl, however, is a special delicacy that we prepare for the elves. It's made from the crystallized honey of a certain brilliant orange flower. Quite refreshing, they say, and helps them stay alert when they are on the job. And it doesn't spoil readily, either, which is important, of course. We see to it that everyone abides by all food and safety regulations in Fairyland."
She pointed to a couple of the babies. "Matter of fact, I think it's made from the flower that orange bonnet baby is related to. Elves particularly like bluebell honey, too, like that made from the second baby's branch of the family."
"What is that growing in the tree?" I asked. "Some kind of fruit?"
"Yes, it is," she said. "It's like a cross between a papaya, a pear, and a strawberry. The more we prune to shape these trees, the more delicious the fruit becomes."
It was great fun peeking at the various little babies as they snoozed away. How cute their little wings were! In this particular Napping Tree, most of the little ones were Flower Fairies, although there were a couple of Pod babies ...
... one in the treetop,
... and one whose turn it was to nap on the ground.
"We have a bumper crop of babies this year for some reason," Mother Goose said, "And not just here; it's in all areas of the kingdom. This is the first time in memory that all the fairy babies can't fit in the Nursery treetops, although we make sure the moss around each tree is quite soft, and they don't seem to mind because they sleep well. We rotate them, however, so that everyone takes a turn on the ground."
"This little one will be back in the tree top tomorrow, and another one will be on the ground."
She looked thoughtful. "All these births .... It may be something in the water from those new wells we dug recently," she mused.
"Maybe lithium or something like that," I suggested.
"Hmmm...." I began looking more closely at the tiny wings that were already beautifully formed and colored.
"What about their little wings? Are they operable yet?"
"Well, they can flutter up and down a few inches, but it will be a while before they can stay aloft for any length of time. Right now, like most babies, they just eat, sleep, and smile when they're happy. And fortunately, for fairy babies, happiness is a given."
It was a beautiful day, mild and with the scents of late summer blooms wafting through the air. "What about rainy or snowy weather?" I asked. "Surely they don't have their naps in the trees during all seasons."
"Actually," Mother Goose said, "Baby fairies love gentle rains, but their parents prefer that in more inclement weather they remain in a more sheltered environment." At that point, the babies began stirring from their naps and Fior the Watcher began busily circling the Napping Tree with his pod to catch them as they woke and began tumbling from their napping nests.
My hostess had other commitments, as well, so I said goodbye to Mother Goose and Fairyland. However, on my next visit, I think I'll see if we can check out the Inclement Weather Nursery. And maybe I'll see how Fior's coming along with his farrier studies, too.
In the meantime, if you hear anyone worrying about Rock-A-Bye Babies in the Treetops, you can let them know that there's no need to be concerned any more.
NOTE: If you want to see the process for making the baby fairies, it's here.