There are certain places in Nature where magic is undeniably present.
One such place was the hidden pond on the property where my dad used to work. My sister and I would sit on its banks for hours. We pretended to work, our garden shears at hand in case Daddy suddenly appeared. But really, we trailed stalks of grass across the surface of the water in the shape of our initials or mythical music notes.
Daddy was usually far away in the garden, pruning fruit trees or mowing the lawn. So Brigitte and I would watch the water-skippers cling to the liquid surface, floating toward the edges so slowly their progress was almost imperceptible. Then they would hop back towards the middle of the pond at an alarming speed, scattering a collection of spidery-looking friends in their wake.
In the mornings, dew collected on the tall grass, and in the heat of the afternoon, it melted away. As the hours ticked by, the sun beat down and turned our little clearing into a glen of light. We were young women by then, long past our days of playing fairy games in the garden, but still, that small, secret pond held an element of palpable magic.
In the foothills of the Himalayas, thousands of feet above the sea, I would expect to find that sort of magic. There, I was a speck among the imposing mountains and snow-covered peaks. And there was magic there, of course. It was the sort of magic that demands awe and respect, as you would offer such humility to a genius professor, or a stern-faced god. But it wasn’t the real, accessible magic of our secret pond, or of the trees I climbed as a child. The gigantic mountains didn’t offer a familiar magic, a relatable magic. Theirs was a magic above and beyond me, something so grand it could only be admired from afar. It stirred nothing personal in my heart. I watched it with reverence and marveled at its beauty, but it didn’t touch me inside.
Days before reaching those stunning peaks, however, something did touch my heart.
We crossed a wooden bridge over a rushing river. It swung as we marched over the creaking planks. To my right, the stream turned into a waterfall, splashing down over the twisting, crumbled rocks. To my left was magic.
I stopped in the middle of the bridge. I was aware of my guide’s eyes on me, probably wondering what had made me stop this time, and how long I would stay. So many things caught my eyes in the mountains. But this sight was more than visual. It was physical, a complete opening of my body and heart. I felt an instant connection with the river, an immediate affinity that made me wonder if I had been there before, or if in some strange, inexplicable way, I was the river.
It twisted away up the hill, its waters splashing towards me through a narrow corridor of stone. Trees loomed over it on either side, creating a natural, shaded corridor. Dappled light danced through the leaves, lending this passageway a bit of warmth and trickery. The light danced on the surface of the moving water and sometimes pierced it entirely. It lit the rocks and sand below with playful intimacy. It was as though this miniature canyon were a favorite pupil of Mother Nature, and she had waved her magical hand over it, saying, Forget your lessons today- Just play!!
I watched it cascading through the canyon, twisting and bending out of sight, and I was mesmerized. I wanted to sprout wings and fly, to peer beyond the bend and see what lay on the other side. What was the water doing there? How much fun was it having?
As I sighed and watched the river, the little fairy who lives in my heart flitted out and skipped across those waters. She danced on the surface like a nimble ballerina, and then shot up to prance on the leaves of the trees. She hopped into the dappled sunlight, and turned her face upwards, absorbing the warmth of her friend, the Sun. Then she did a swan dive, and just before she touched the water, she opened her wings and caught a low current of air, disappearing around the mysterious corner. I’m not sure what she saw there. Sometimes her eyes are hers alone. But I can imagine what she saw.
Perhaps she saw a fairy colony having lunch on the smooth rock banks. Their baskets would be spread out around them, their sparkling wings tucked away, subdued. Maybe she saw the water leaping and twisting in the air, whispering secrets into her tiny fairy ear. Perhaps she merged with the river, dissolving into a million fairy-water molecules, before splashing back into my heart, an invisible drop of magic.
I’ll never know for sure, but as I began climbing higher into the forested hills, her dance remained in my heart.