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Posts Tagged ‘leprechauns’

The day after Saint Patrick’s Day is an excellent one for catching a glimpse of remnants of leprechaun activity the night before.  And what better than enlisting the help of little people in the quest for evidence of Little People? Trodding through the woods this morning, we weren’t disappointed by our findings.

shamrocks or wood sorrel

Shamrocks or wood sorrel coming to life in late winter.

Beneath some dried leaves we found some green wood sorrel, also known as shamrocks.  Surely the leprechauns’ merrymaking coaxed them out of their sleep last night.   They looked a bit limp, but the warmer days ahead should see them coming back to life again.

leprechaun jacket near vernal pool

A leprechaun jacket and prints found near a vernal pool.

Melting snows have created numerous small vernal pools over the past couple of days.  These provide temporary watering holes for wild creatures and excellent spots for leprechauns to catch a quick dip.  One must have done just that by the light of last night’s moon.  Could a surprise visit from a neighborhood cat have prompted him to leave so quickly that he forgot to take his jacket with him?

green moss heart on birch tree

Of course nothing says spring like a bit o’green smiling in the sunshine.  The heart-shaped moss we found on a birch tree was a delightful find, and surely a sign of creative activity by the Little People themselves.  Although many will roll their eyes at the thought of leprechauns still roaming the woods, I find it hard to not believe when  there’s so much evidence to the contrary.  Spring and warmer days are ahead and surely that is something to smile about.

For your smile is a part of the love in your heart,
And it makes even sunshine more bright.
Like the linnet’s sweet song,
Crooning all the day long,
Comes your laughter so tender and light.
For the springtime of life is the best time of all,
With never a pain or regret.
While the springtime is ours,
Through all of life’s hours,
Let us smile each chance we get.

~  When Irish Eyes are Smiling

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You never know what you’re going to find in the woods… especially on Saint Patrick’s Day.  The Little People, or leprechauns as they’re more frequently known, are in the mood to have fun on this, their favorite of days. 

Unwilling to part with their treasure, it’s understandable that leprechauns have a natural fear of humans.  It’s no wonder that they keep a low profile in the woods throughout most of the year.  But today, they’re so focused on their dancing and merrymaking, that they could possibly let down their guard. 

Leprechauns are solitary creatures, if they’re out at all in the open during the day.  However, if taken by surprise by a cat or human, a leprechaun can always rely on clever evasive tactics, such as transforming himself into the shape of a hare. 

I spotted these two hares this morning in the front yard.  

At first I thought they were the usual snowshoe hares found in Cow Bay, but as I approached, I noticed a mischievous gleam in their little eyes.  Could they have been leprechauns in disguise? 

Now hares can easily evade predators by running in a zigzag fashion and changing direction on a dime.  They can also sit very still and conform to the landscape.  It only makes sense that a leprechaun would choose such a form in order to escape detection. 

If you do get lucky and manage to see a leprechaun today, it’s best to leave him alone.  The Little People are far too clever to be outsmarted of their gold by humans, and one may just take a notion to put the come hither look on you.

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elderberry at dawn

Do you have any plans for Saturday night?  Since it will be Midsummer’s Eve, if you’re free, you might consider standing or sitting under an elder tree.   Known as Sambucus nigra in Europe and Sambucus canadensis in North America, it’s not uncommon in Nova Scotia woods where it often only grows to bush size.  It has sprigs of white flowers in early spring that eventually give way to clusters of green and then black berries.  But why would anyone want to stand under an elder tree on Midsummer’s Eve?  According to faerie lore, if one was courageous enough to be under one at midnight, one might be able to catch a glimpse of the King of the Faeries himself.

elder branchesThis special tree has been surrounded by magic and mystery for centuries.  According to legend, the original cross was made of elder wood.  In England, crosses made of elder were nailed to farm buildings to ward off evil spirits.  Hearse drivers carried whips of elder and branches of the same were placed in graves, all with the intent of protecting the living and the dead from evil spirits.  In Serbia, they were carried at weddings for the same reason.

Danish folklore held that the tree was inhabited by a guardian spirit, the Elder Mother, who haunted anyone who dared to cut it down.  Many of these beliefs seem similar to those associated with Rowan trees, which are known as Mountain Ash in North America.

A young elder grows in my yard.  This is a good omen, as it is supposed to flourish near the dwellings of happy people.  Much of the magic associated with this tree is probably due to its many medicinal uses.  It’s easier to be happy if you have good health.

The Elder in Bloom in Early Spring

An Elder in Bloom Earlier this Spring

Getting back to the King of the Faeries… you may be wondering how you’ll recognize him should you decide to venture out under the tree at midnight.  Well, unfamiliar as I am with faeries, I can only go by what little I know of elves and leprechauns from movies.  Meeting the King of the Faeries at a midnight rendez-vous in the woods might be interesting if he looked  like the elf Legolas in Lord of the Rings.  However, it might be an entirely different sort of encounter if he turned out to be more like King Brian from Disney’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People

Legolas (Lord of the Rings) and King Brian (Darby O'Gill and the Little People)

Legolas (Lord of the Rings) and King Brian (Darby O'Gill and the Little People)

If he’s the size of one of the Little People I wonder if I’d even be able to spot him in the dark.  There won’t be much moonlight as the dark side of the moon will be in the sky tomorrow night.  Little People are known for their love of the dance and merrymaking, so listen carefully for music.

Best of luck to any of you who are keen for adventure and willing to try something completely different on Midsummer’s Eve.   Hopefully the mosquitoes won’t be too bad in your neck of the woods.

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The Great Turf by Albrecht Durer

The Great Turf by Albrecht Dürer (1503)

Did you ever get lost in the woods in familiar territory? Maybe it happened because you stepped on an enchanted clump of  ‘stray sod.’  

Stray sod blends in with the rest of the turf in meadows and forests and is only discernible to the forces that created it.  Some believe that it grows on the back of a tiny fairy that spends his time hunched over on the ground, waiting patiently.  Woe to the walker or hiker who has the misfortune of stepping upon it. He or she will quickly lose their way, unable to figure out their intended direction or wheareabouts. 

Usually, neither children nor adults will wander too far into unknown wilderness.  When things begin to look a little too strange, a survival instinct will kick in whereby they’ll feel spooked and turn towards familiar territory.  Unfortunately, some people (not unlike myself) lack this instinct.

I’ve been lost in a lot of places:  Paris, Rome, Athens, a small town in Germany, Halifax, Dartmouth… the list is long.  My sense of direction leaves something to be desired.  As you can imagine, I’ve also been lost in the woods.  A lot.  Sometimes while alone, but at other times with children in tow.  As if being lost isn’t bewildering enough, it’s even more difficult to appear like you know where you’re going when you just don’t have a clue.   If stray sod did not exist, people like me would have had to invent it – if only to save face.

There is one way to supposedly break the spell of the enchanted turf, and that is to take off one’s jacket, turn it inside out and put it back on again.  Unfortunately, I get so disoriented when lost that I can never remember to do this. 

leprechaunThe Irish were among the first Europeans to settle in the Eastern Passage/Cow Bay area.  When they left Ireland, I don’t imagine they left their faith and superstitions behind, but brought them along with them to the New World.  Among their beliefs would have been those associated with faeries and leprechauns.  Though to some it may all seem like nonsense, living on the edge of a misty bog, I do find it difficult not to believe…

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

 

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