flower fairies

Wind Flower

Image, Cicely Mary Barker, courtesy of flowerfairyprints.com

Some of you may wonder, Why Miss Lavender?  Why Miss Zinnia?  Why flower fairy names??

The practice grew out of a moment that occurred many years ago, when I was in a store one day and saw a framed print of one of Cicely Mary Barker’s flower fairies.  Enchanted by the image, I bought it and hung it on the wall in Miss Lavender’s room, certain that even though she was only a tiny thing, Miss Lavender was indeed a flower fairy.  Something about the faces of Barker’s fairies.  Study them!  You’ll spot the innocence right away, sure, but you’ll also notice flickers of other things:  cleverness, joy, even wisdom.  To me, flower fairies seem emblematic of the many kinds of Moments that comprise Being A Girl.

Sure, my older daughter looks like the Lavender Fairy.  I make a practice of choosing fairies who resemble the girls and women who bear their names.  And though my younger daughter has long outgrown the image of the Zinnia fairy (she looks more now like the Iris Fairy or maybe the Snowdrop), I swear the Zinnia fairy’s countenance still matches my daughter’s.

But it’s not just about resemblances.  Flowers themselves fascinate and inspire me.  Endlessly lovely and each with its own distinct energy and essence, flowers are considered by many to be a locus for all kinds of good things.  Lavender, for example, has tremendous healing properties.  Once, when my Miss Lavender was very small, her right arm and a few other patches of her little body were scalded by hot bathwater.  Terrible episode.  Beyond painful for her.  Beyond painful for me.  A wonderful sister-in-law told me about lavender oil and its uses for the skin, and we ordered the purest, best oil we could find and used it on Miss Lavender’s arm.  She and I both have a strong attachment to the smell of lavender as a result of experiencing the oil’s powerful effects.  It seemed to calm her even as it worked its dramatic flower magic on her burned skin, which (miraculously) never scarred.

I suppose it’s an unusual practice, giving every Eleven O’Clock Girl a flower fairy name.  But it works for me.  And those who have received their own name seem to have warmed both to the idea and to the fairy they are named for.  And as far as I’m concerned, Cicely Mary Barker was a peerless illustrator, don’t you agree?

(Which fairies do you warm to??)

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As Miss Lavender sits in the library, studiously finishing up the calculus she so detests (there, we’ve said it), a certain Best Friend is getting on a plane.  And tomorrow morning, when Miss Friend lands in Barcelona, the fun will begin.

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But what do we call Miss Friend? She needs a flower fairy name!

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Why, you ask? Well, Miss Lavender is Miss Lavender not only because she adores the scent but also because she resembles, almost perfectly, the Lavender Flower Fairy who leaped from the mind of illustrator Cicely Mary Barker in the early twentieth century. And, when she was younger, Miss Zinnia likewise perfectly resembled the Zinnia Fairy (though these days, she’s more of a Snowdrop).

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The girls and I have consulted the Cicely Mary Barker gallery, and it’s official: our beautiful visitor cannot be anything but Miss Primrose.

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Fly safe, Miss Primrose. And get here quick!

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