When I was young, my mom would dress me in a warm coat and bring me out into the autumn woods next to our cottage, and we would look for fairies.
In my mittened hands I held a pen and notebook. My mom held a pack of cigarettes. We would traipse through the crunchy leaves, our boots sinking into the soft ground. We would weave in and out of the birch bark trees, and our dog, Pal, was never far behind.
My mom would tell me that fairies live in small nooks and crannies in the woods. They live in trees, they play under the large tops of mushrooms, and they are magical. They are friends with birds, bunnies, and other creatures.
I’d spot fairy houses and jot down the sightings, and my mom would spot some too. She was at her gentlest during fairy expeditions. She would sip coffee from a travel mug, hold my hand, and listen to my excited chatter before it was time to leave.
When I grieve for my mom now, I grieve for her at her gentlest. The leaves in the treetops turn orange. A chickadee calls out from somewhere in the cityscape. I try not to grieve too hard, or too angrily. When I smell cigarette smoke in the cold fall air, I am still a girl wrapped up tight in her secondhand coat, surrounded by fairies.