July 5, 2011


In my corner of the world a phenomenon persists that defies local laws. I’m talking about the consequence of believing in street fairies. Most of us have grown up with the idea of fairies and elves and goblins who perform feats of magic.  For over a century the works of Hans Christian Anderson or the Brothers Grimm have caused many a pair of young eyes to pop at the wonders wrought by imagination.

We all have our favorite stories, of course. Besides those immortalized by Walt Disney, I like “The Six Swans, the story of a princess who must weave a magic cloth to return her swan brothers to human form. “The Fisherman and His Wife” is also a favorite, the tale of three wishes that lead to despair. And of course, many a young woman searches for her frog prince, that diamond in the rough whom love can transform. But I suspect the story that most captures the imagination is “The Shoemaker and the Elves, the tale of a good man, exhausted by his labors, who is helped by the magic of creatures who perform his work over night.

Ah, wouldn’t it be lov-er-ly if fairies or elves lifted our burdens from us and performed troublesome tasks without our lifting a finger?  But of course that is the stuff of dreams and fantasy… or is it? 


As I mentioned at the beginning, there is a law in our community which makes it illegal to abandon furniture and sundry items on street curbs. The practice is wide spread, however. The number of couches that have lost their stuffing or three legged chairs left to molder in the rain is on the increase. Sometimes the debris does magically disappear but most of the time it sits on the sidewalk for weeks looking like the aftermath of a hurricane. 

Nothing I’ve seen by way of disappearances convinces me that there really are street fairies who cart our unwanted debris away. The city usually shows up to collect the wet mattresses, not fairies. The truth leaves me to wonder about the people who leave their unwanted property to litter our neighborhoods. Are they exuberant optimists? Or could it be that I am a hopeless cynic?