Saturday, May 31, 2008

Come Follow Me

There are a few things which you should not be able to beg, borrow, steal, or purchase. Mostly they are the sorts of things you can't touch. Love, revenge, peace. You know. And for the most part, you can still purchase them or some facsimile. One of the things that seems as though it shouldn't be available for purchase is nostalgia. It is, though, at the bargain price of two not so shiny quarters.

For anyone who doesn't know - if you have lived here in Sitka, you certainly do - there is some sort of dimensional rift in our local thrift store. In among the eleven year old t-shirts smelling faintly of litterbox and the spaghetti stained polyvinyl kitchen implements, I have found pristine 50 year old vintage dresses and brand-new Calvin Klein jeans in my size. Once, I was making a set of hoops for a costume and went in search of a length of heavy cotton. I found three yards of sailmakers' canvas, the ideal fabric for my purpose, within moments of being there. I have purchased an elderly typerwriter, several sets of hot rollers, porcelain teapots, my favorite cowboy boots, and on one memorable occasion, a sweater belonging to me that my ex gave away without my consent. Today, though, takes the cake. I went in looking for a book to while away the Saturday afternoon, and found a piece of my childhood.

My mother bought me several books about fairies and the like when I was a child. To this day she tells me of "my" obsession with them. (It's kind of like "Miss Thing's" obsession with pink.) We had the Brian Froud book, Faeries. Our version was the pop-up book. It was notable mostly because it was filled with brilliantly frightening illustrations of kelpies and pooka, and Green Jenny, who was a hag that lived in the water and had an enormous maw that consumed unwary children. We also owned Wil Huygen's Gnomes, which featured an interior view of a typical dwelling, complete with donut rack. But Come Follow me was not filled with field guide precision or tongue in cheek natural history. It was a gentle anthology of decent children's poetry and stories, with big-headed Japanese watercolor illustrations. I adored it, especially the story about the little girl who loses her red ribbon and has it returned months later by her fairy friend, who finds it tied to a wandering mouse's tail. It still holds a fair amount of pathos for me. When I read it just moments ago, I was overcome with the anxiety of my 4 year old self when Mary cries over her lost hair ribbon, and incredibly relieved when it makes its reappearance. Now to go reread the poem about how to tell an elf from a troll. I think if you can catch them young enough, it has to do with trying to eat their own feet.


  1. This is a beautifully written post. Can we start a comment thread about our favorite White E finds?

    My vintage black cashmere swing coat comes first to mind but I know there's tons more.

  2. oh my, fruit and a wonderful book, saturday was a banner shopping day for you.