I sat at the kitchen table this morning drinking coffee and still puzzling over the crazy fairy code that the Swamp Fairy sent to Miss Hilda and me last month. You can read about that here. I tried everything I could think of to figure out that code. I just had no luck. I was stuck!
A few days ago, I decided to look up a friend from my old Air Force days to see if he could help me. Chuck worked with computers, and if anyone could figure out a code, he could. I sat, impatiently drinking coffee, waiting for his answer to my email.
It was cold this morning. I could see the horses in the field eating grass. Puffs of steam rose from their mouths with each pull at the grass. Sugar and Spice were anxious to go out back and bark at the horses. I was anxious too. This fairy code had really driven me crazy. I impatiently let the dogs out of the screened patio at the back of our house.
By the time I came back inside from letting the dogs out, Chuck had emailed me back. He said the code was something out of the ordinary. It had been a tough one to break.
Apparently, Chuck had to load ancient fairy texts from Europe into the computer database in order for the words to make sense. It seemed the Swamp Fairy had an interesting lineage.
The fairies used words and symbols from Gaelic, and even some symbols from the Druids. Some of the letters looked Egyptian. We figured out that we could add a letter in English here and there, and suddenly it started to make sense. By manipulating the symbols and their meanings, the following words in English began to appear:
Chuck was a great person and, because of our friendship, he did not ask any questions of me that I could not answer truthfully. He knew I was working on research for my book and left it right there. Thank goodness. I had no idea how I would explain swamp fairies to rational, science loving Chuck.
Now, I still needed to figure out what the code meant. I threw on my coat and some gloves. I told Bronze that I would be back in awhile. I was off to see Miss Hilda.
The north wind practically blew me to Miss Hilda’s house behind Fairy Swamp it was so strong. This was strange weather for Pensacola, Florida in February. Usually it is not so cold. In no time at all, Miss Hilda greeted me at the door and had tea ready for us. We sat down and I immediately launched into my struggles of the past few weeks deciphering the fairy code.
After hearing of my success figuring out what the code words were, Miss Hilda had a giant smile on her face. Her eyes disappeared into the wrinkles around her eyes as she smiled.
“Silver, I have an idea about what these words mean. If you look from my house into Fairy Swamp due north, there is a heart shaped stone that sits in a dry part of the swamp. Growing in a thicket around the stone are some bushes called fetterbush. They are in bloom now since it is the beginning of spring. The flowers look like tiny pink fairy slippers.”
Miss Hilda continued, “This is the only time of year you can see the heart stone because the bushes are so thick with leaves after the flowers bloom that it hides the stone. I found the stone years ago when I was a child. My mother and I were walking along the edges of the swamp looking for the fairies. It was spring. I remember seeing the heart stone surrounded by pink fetterbush. I almost tripped over it, as it was so well hidden. My mother used to say that I was her heart, and the heart stone was there for me to remember how much she loved me,” said Miss Hilda.
“I remember the stone was covered with lichen and moss because it sat beneath the bushes and received little to no light,” explained Miss Hilda. “The stone makes me think about my mother,” she reminisced.
(Image credit: Heart Stone)
“What do you think the heart stone represents to the fairies, Miss Hilda?” I asked her. I was puzzled as to how this rock could be so important that the Swamp Fairy had to send us a message about it. I shook my head, trying to figure out what it could mean.
“I think it represents the heart of the swamp,” replied Miss Hilda. “That would make sense because it is almost in the middle of the swamp.”
“Miss Hilda, I know it is cold out, but could we go look at this rock and get a feel for the area?” I asked her.
“Sure Silver. I have an extra pair of boots in the shed you can use. It is muddy from the rains last week. We can make it safely this time of year. No snakes, or boggy spots to worry about,” answered Miss Hilda.
We bundled up in our coats and walked over to the shed to retrieve the extra pair of boots I needed to traverse the swamp. Miss Hilda’s garden was still as beautiful as it was the last time I had visited. It seemed even in hibernation the swamp fairies magic was strong enough to take care of her plants.
The wind swirled dead leaves at our feet as we walked along the edge of the marshy land. The ground was muddy and thick clumps stuck to our boots as we walked toward the center of the swamp. The naked trees reflected in the pools of water shimmering from the rays of the afternoon sun.
Just ahead of us, I could see a thick clump of bushes with tiny pink blooms rustling in the wind. We had found the center of the swamp and the heart stone.
Both of us stood there looking at our surroundings. Overhead, birds called from the trees. In the watery recesses of the swamp, frogs croaked. The air was cold, but in the interior of the swamp, it seemed warmer, more protected. Miss Hilda and I stood shoulder to shoulder, enjoying the beauty, soaking it in.
The heart stone was right where Miss Hilda had said it would be, encircled by the pink blooming fetterbush. I could hear words whispered to me, in a voice I knew to belong to the Swamp Fairy. She said,
“Pause and look due north –
as the heart stone reads your soul,
change is uncertain.”
A peaceful calm came over me. I felt like the Swamp Fairy was there reading my thoughts, and feeling my feelings as I stood there. I looked over at Miss Hilda and a look of pure rapture shone on her face. Tears slipped down her weathered cheeks. We grabbed each other’s hands, not for comfort, but as if we were sharing something strange and wonderful and needed each other’s touch to make it complete.
Huge Live Oak trees surrounded the area. Some of the trees were almost hollow and we could look up inside of them. Tiny cocoons hung from the interior tree branches.
(Image credit: Cocoons)
What we saw next, was astounding!
Thanks for stopping by today. Come back tomorrow to see what happens in Fairy Swamp.
Silver Threading, the Fairy Story Keeper