So I was thinking…
Oh, it is sweet! But is it Art?
A Princess Birthday Cake
I asked my granddaughter what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday this year. “I want a Princess cake.” Simple. Precise. So Meema (aka The Art Fairy) bought a Wilton Princess cake pan from Amazon, which they had of course. (Amazon sells everything. Google knows everything.) Then from 3 hours, 4 varied cake decorator tips with slippery, goopy bags; an unlimited array of mixing bowls, knives, and spatulas; 4 mini gel tubes, 30 gallons of homemade butter-cream frosting and a 24-shade palette of non-stain food coloring… The Princess Cake emerged!
My neighbor across the street has a Fairy ring on his side yard. I can see it from my second-floor window. From this height and distance, the ring of mushrooms could be an ancient stone ring like those scattered all over the British landscape.
Very little is known about the prehistoric builders of these mysterious constructions. The sheer number of these stone rings was not realized until the advent of flight. The first aviators who soared high above the rocky landscape were astounded by the remains of Bronze Age earthworks, partially obliterated by 4 thousand years of continual farming.
The concentric rings of pre-historic Hill forts crowned hilltops and the vast dimensions and complexity of some more elaborate configurations of standing stones can only be appreciated from high in the air.
A swarm of amateur archeologists drew sketches and diagrams. they determined that many of the gigantic boulders had been moved and used for other more recent constructions such as barns and cottage walls.
Many of the sites have Legends associated with them. Giants, Fairies, and the Devil play roles in the moving of tons of stones and building prehistoric circles.
Dinosaur bones were not identified as an extinct species until 1664 before then these gigantic, reptilian creatures’ bones were attributed to Dragons and Giants. The Great Serpent has deep religious roots.
Many of the ancient pagan stone monuments were incorporated into the construction of early Christian churches.
Since all the local people were already coming to worship at these ancient, traditional locations it was a simple matter to embrace their new Gods and Goddesses into the storybook realm of Mythology and Legend.
Over many generations, Satan became Saint Anne, and Sinclair became Saint Clare. Virgins still call themselves Brides after a traditional Gaelic Goddess.
The veil was to hide her face so that no evil spirit could fixate on her while she was in such a vulnerable state. The Bride was also carried over the threshold so her footprints wouldn’t be seen entering the new home. And up to this day, the tradition seems to be alive and well.
Fairy rings can be found in lawns, forests, golf courses – almost anywhere. They appear as circles in the ground marked either by withered grass or by the presence of mushrooms. Sometimes mushroom rings are also accompanied by lusher, darker grass.
Folklore tells us that the rings were the meeting places of the Fey Folk where they would hold their parties and dances.
A ring of withered grass was formed by the Fairies dancing in a circle or resting on the mushrooms lining the edge.
Finding a Fairy ring is lucky, or unlucky, depending on local customs. Certainly, if you come across one at night when the Fairies are dancing, all the tales advise caution… For if you enter the circle to join the merry party and enjoy a lively dance – You will never again leave the world of Faerie.
In the late 18th century Fairy Rings were identified as the result of fungal growth – or mushrooms.
The most common cause of the circle is the mushroom Marasmius oreades, (although other species can also cause the effect.) The fungus grows spreading out in a circle. As the fungus grows outwards, the central part dies off.
The circle of mushrooms, at the edge of the ring, is where it’s still growing underground. The live growth absorbs nutrients and causes the withered effect in the grass.
The facts are not as much fun as The Fairies dancing in a circle. But I would still be careful where you step!
The Old Man in the Mountain
I remember reading in bed one night when the radio announcer said, “The Old Man in the Mountain has just slipped from the rockface and is now nothing more than a pile of granite rubble.” I was stunned! Not The Old Man in the Mountain? It had been carved by glacial erosion 10s of thousands of years ago and was now just slippery, slabs of broken rock. My first thought (as a graphic designer) was that the state of NH is going to need a new logo. Every New Hampshire brochure and all the signs up and down the highways depict this stoic, stone face.
Every time I go up to Franconia Notch, I wait expectantly to see the titanic profile. I always think with disappointment… “It’s just too subtle to see this time.” Then we would round a bend and he would come into full focus! It was the profile of a man! There were no doubts, no nuance, it was as clearly defined as the blue sky around it.
I wonder who saw the naturally chiseled profile first?
There must have been an indigenous person who looked up from just exactly the right spot and thought, “Whoa… that’s a face!” (Because you must stand in exactly the right spot to see the illusion. A mile, either way and the face won’t appear at all.
Did that first person think to leave a great white crystal or some kind of marker at the magic location and run back to the village yelling, “I just saw a really, really big man’s face. As big as the mountain!” Did his villagers believe him? How could they know how to get back to those precise coordinates that would bring the profile into focus? The White Mountains are a vast and wild country even today.
The disbelievers must have been brutal when he tried to lead them back to the precise point where the profile shifts into view. “I don’t see any mountain man. You are making this up!” (As I said, a mile in either direction and the rest of the cliff moves to profile.) Was there first a rumor of some Titan who protected the mountain? Or a secret viewing only for the initiates who were led to the precise location from where the Mountain Man becomes visible. Was he first seen 500 years ago or 5,000 or beyond our modern reckoning? I know I’m going to miss the granite landmark of my state. People always know where you live if you mention ‘The Old Man in the Mountain’.