It was March 5th, 12:05 P.M. the night of the Full Worm Moon, and Miss Hilda and I stood at the horse-hole in my backyard shivering, partly from excitement, although the cold north wind had something to do with it also. The white orb radiated a soft glow in the backyard, and we could easily see the tree line outlined before us. What were we doing here? You can read the prelude to the story here.
Into the horse-hole
The most beautiful aroma began to waft through the air. It was a mixture of sandalwood and jasmine, orange blossoms and roses. I have only smelled this scent, so beautiful and pure when I have been in the presence of the swamp fairies. Miss Hilda and I were enchanted by the moment. We stood there clasping our hands together, excitement coursing through our veins.
Suddenly, right in front of us floated, the Swamp Fairy. She appeared in a swirling fog drifting before our eyes. She had long blond hair and glittering wings.
“Come,” said the fairy. “It is time for you both to learn the stories that you need to know to understand the reason I have come forward asking for your help. Let us go through the horse hole, which is a gateway portal to another dimension in time where I will guide you and Miss Hilda to understand the true reason we need to save fairy swamp. Go with me now and fulfill your true destinies with the swamp fairies.”
Miss Hilda and I held hands, as the Swamp Fairy encased us in her warmth. It felt like a loving hug, a kind of closeness to the fairy we had not experienced before. We felt lighter than air as we drifted in the cold night wind. A yawning, huge gap of blackness appeared above the fence at the horse-hole, and we were sucked into a star-studded blackness. I felt a vacuum, a feeling of falling backwards, and then suddenly it was over.
Miss Hilda and I were floating at the edge of a great swamp. The full moon was low in the night sky and cast an eerie pall on the scene before us. Dawn was not far away. I could see trees towering in the shadowy blackness all around us. Hugh great stumps jutted up through the watery depths below. The air was filled with the sounds of frogs croaking, crickets chirping, and mosquitoes hummed in our ears.
“Miss Hilda, are you here?” I asked her. The heat and humidity rose up in the air and made my breathing labored.
“I’m here Silver. Where do you think we are? Do you still see the Swamp Fairy?” she asked me.
“No, I think she left us here, I told her. Miss Hilda, are you still floating?”
“Yes, and it is really strange. I can hear and see all the bugs, although they do not seem to be bothering me. Usually I get eaten alive by mosquitoes,” she chuckled. “I am not even hot and with all this humidity we both should be dripping!”
“I agree. Miss Hilda, look over your shoulder. Do you see that light, not far off in the distance?” I asked her. “It looks like firelight the way it is flickering. I feel like we need to go that way.”
Miss Hilda and I floated, apparition like in the heavy, humid air. As we got closer to the light, it was apparent that it was a fire burning in a pit. Acrid smoke twisted up from the center of the fire. A deep red glow pulsed in the embers.
All around the fire pit were small houses made from river cane lashed together to shape walls. Large palmate leaves almost two feet across were laid in layers forming thatched roofs. The leaves pointed downwards and humidity dripped from the ends of the leaves into carved out yellow gourds surrounding the perimeter of each house. I could hear the gentle plinking noise, as the moisture dripped into the gourds.
Just to the other side of the dwellings were cultivated fields where rows of corn were planted. Tall hemp grasses grew in borders between the fields. Another planting area was further away in the opposite direction, closer to the swamp we had come from. A lone structure stood there, similar to the other building around the fire.
Pink Sundew (Drosera capillaries) plants bathed the area around the lone hut in a rosy glow, which reflected off of the pink blossoms. I knew about these plants because they grew in Fairy Swamp too. Miss Hilda and I had seen them when we found the heart stone last month. They grew where they were sheltered in the warmest part of the swamp.
(Image credit: Pink Sundew)
Miss Hilda and I floated toward the pink sundew garden. Dawn began to break and streaks of sunlight filtered into the fields and the encampment below us. Miss Hilda and I hovered closer to the edge of the swamp where the foliage was denser. In any event, we did not want to be discovered. Miss Hilda and I spoke in whispers. We were only observers in this tableau.
As the sun rose, we could see about five women with long black hair, dressed only in deerskin wrap around skirts bring wood to add to the large fire pit. They spoke quietly and worked quickly to get the fire glowing again.
Miss Hilda and I heard a baby cry and one of the women came back with a black haired baby suckling at her breast. The woman continued to work balancing the baby in her arms as she brought more kindling for the fire. The women moved about silently preparing the fire. Large pumpkin sized gourds were filled with water and set on stones near the fire. Clouds of mosquitoes drifted through the smoke.
“Miss Hilda, do you see this?” I whispered.
“Yes,” Miss Hilda whispered back to me. “These people look like the Isti, or early Creek Native Americans. They were some of the first native tribes to settle in Pensacola. Many of the native people from what is now Georgia and Alabama came together to form the Poarch Creek tribe in eastern Alabama and northwestern Florida,” she explained. “I think we are seeing these people.”
“It appears that the Swamp Fairy took us back into time to the beginning of human activity in what I expect is Fairy Swamp,” I reasoned.
“I agree with you Silver,” said Miss Hilda. “I wonder what the significance of the lone hut over there with all the pink sundew plants growing around it could be?” she mused.
“Pink sundew does have some medicinal values. In fact, I started researching the plants that grow in Fairy Swamp when I was trying to find out what that fetterbush was. If I remember correctly, pink sundew leaves contain an enzyme digesting protein and can act as an antibiotic. Native American people used the plants that grew around them for food and medicine all the time,” I reasoned.
“That makes sense,” said Miss Hilda. “They are growing hemp too, and their houses look like they used it to bind the river canes together. I bet those huts are sturdy.”
Suddenly, the figure of an old grey haired woman dressed in deer hides came out of the lone hut. She threw both hands in the air, looked skyward, and began a keening cry. All activity ceased within the encampment. I did not even hear a bird chirping, or the croaking of a frog. The women stopped cooking at the fire and bowed their heads.
Unexpectedly, butterflies of every color, size, and type covered the old woman and the other women, the lone hut, and the pink sundew plants. Everywhere I looked around the swamp and the Native American campsite, the trees were covered with these glorious butterflies, fluttering, as if they breathed the life-blood of the swamp itself into the people they covered.
(Image credit: Butterflies in Flight)
Just as quickly as they came, the butterflies were gone. For the second time that night, the most beautiful aroma began to waft through the air. It was a mixture of sandalwood and jasmine, orange blossoms and roses. I knew we were all in the presence of the Swamp Fairy.
She hovered in the air, close to the old Native American woman. She did not look exactly like our Swamp Fairy, but a close version of her. The old woman bowed her head and spoke in her language to the fairy. The Swamp Fairy bowed her head and spoke to the old woman in that peculiar way she had, where I could understand her words in my head.
The Swamp Fairy told the old woman the pink sundew plants that grew in proliferation around the lone hut were spectacular. She then instructed the old woman that men with skin, as white as the moon, would soon come to the swamp. When this happened, she told them to start cooking the plants and drinking the tea that came from them. This would keep them safe from the white skin sickness they brought with them. She also told the old woman to continue growing and nurturing the plants. If they moved, they were to take the plants with them and grow them in their other location.
I gaped with my mouth hanging open at this exchange between the Swamp Fairy and the old Native American woman.
Miss Hilda, the Swamp Fairy is telling the old woman to use the plants as medicine against the diseases the white man will bring to the native people,” I told her.
“I remember now,” said Miss Hilda grabbing my arm excitedly. My mother used to make a tea using pink sundew leaves. I was never sick with the flu, or even a cold, as the other children were when I was young. The pink sundew tea kept me healthy,” she remembered.
Abruptly, a mammoth black orb appeared before us. Miss Hilda and I grabbed each other’s hands and hung on for dear life. In no time at all, we were sucked back through time and exploded out of the horse-hole falling onto the cold grass. We were back!
Silver arrives home through the horse hole
Thanks for visiting me today. I enjoyed sharing my adventures with you all! Until next time,