A Fairy Story
I believed in fairies and unicorns when I was a little girl. I still do...
A client the other day reminded me to live again in the magic I've always known.
It was a day like any other day. I drove along the country roads with the usual nerves and excitement of meeting a new client, especially THIS kind of client. His family is known all over the world, his mother was renowned for her exquisite taste and fantastical gardens (among other luminous qualities), and he wanted to plan a big bash for his eightieth birthday! My beautiful friend Manuel, of Eyemanuel Deisigns, called me in to assist with floral designs for the festivities. So with my notebook in hand, and a few ideas in mind, I headed over to the family farm. I had never met this gentleman, but I knew and worked for his mother when she was alive, so I had a creative approach to pitch, but since I had never met her son, I didn't really know what to expect.
Manuel greeted me on a summer day at Mr. L's farm. As we waited for our host, we strolled through the cutting garden in front of his charmingly quaint cottage. Everything was in full bloom: zinnia, larkspur, hydrangea, lavender, and every other seasonal flower you could imagine! The beds were lush, but only garish in the colors and fragrance put forth. It was a garden of purpose, not show--and I LOVED it!!!
As we wandered back toward the house, I was imagining the man who I was soon to meet. In my mind, he was tall, understated and elegant, soft-spoken, and a bit shy. We were ushered in to his small living room by his nurse, just as Mr. L was coming down the stairs. His energy proceeded him, filling the room with the sunshine from his garden. I stood up from my cozy chair where I had been sat with a glass of cold lemonade, and was met with a jovial man in a blue and white Hawaiian-style shirt wearing the warmest smile I had seen in a long time. He was enchanting, magical. In fact, I immediately thought of him as a spritely garden fairy on a a larger scale! The three of us sat for a couple of hours, discussing various aspects of the party planning, life, art, music. We agreed that I'd use his cutting garden as inspiration for the floral designs--simple, seasonal, gathered from the garden look (one that his mother would have loved, too!).
The party was to be held at the house in which he was born. The day Mr. L arrived in this world, his parents were having a garden party. As the tale goes (shouldn't every sprite have a magical story about his birth?), he was delivered in the upstairs bedroom, and when his father leaned out the window to announce, 'It's a boy!!!', a bluebird alighted on the sill to celebrate with everyone (see, he really is a fairy!). So, the bluebird flew into the design of the party, naturally. The invites, the party favors, the color scheme were all graced and inspired by the bluebird.
Mr. L's birthplace is no longer in use as a residence, but the grand building cannot escape it's historical glory. The plan Manuel and Mr. L created was to instill a sense of life back into the place, which is currently used as a conference center. While gathering vases and containers for the party (I wanted them all to be special, as if they were a part of the home), I came across these tiny topiary forms: domes, made out of rusted wire that peaked with beautiful, little finials. The tags on them read: FAIRY HOUSES!! Knowing that his mother loved topiaries, I scooped them up along with aged, mossy terra cotta pots in which I'd arrange delicate flowers to weave through the forms. And maybe, they just might attract some spritely spirits to the party. It was my own way of honoring both his mother and my impression of Mr. L's soul.
My husband and I attended this special fete, The formal gardens danced with hundreds of red balloons. I filled the house with large chinoiserie vases stuffed with heirloom delphinium. Orchid plants, and myrtle topiaries graced the furniture. Veuve sparkled in old-fashioned coups. And kids floated around wearing masks and hats that they had decorated with stickers and ribbons, begging their parents for a piece of the amazing cake on display. Whimsy and reverence flowed as freely as the champagne. As I waited to say hello to the honored guest--he held court on the back veranda, sporting a seersucker suit, bowtie, and hat--I chatted with a dear friend of mine who was also one of Mr. L's oldest friends. She, being a spritely soul herself, inquired about the 'fairy houses' we were standing near. 'What are these?!', she gleefully exclaimed. I somewhat sheepishly told her the story: that I bought them because Mr. L reminded me of a garden sprite. I further admitted that before the party that morning, I almost wrapped up one of the fairies from my own collection to give to Mr. L for his birthday. I laughed and joked, 'It's not the kind of gift that would normally be well received by an eighty year old man!' My friend's eyes lit up immediately and she said, 'Mr. L LOVES fairies!!! His mom, too!!! In fact, he had his garden re-done so as to attract more of them!!'.
I've had a strong sense of intuition my whole life. I can't even count the number of times that I've brought flowers to someone's house whom I'd never met, and the flowers coordinated perfectly with their decor, or I used their favorite flowers. But my experience with Mr. L was a gift that guided me back to the magic in this world, and in my job. I've kept my spiritual life close to my chest, however much it has guided me in my creative life. People who believe in fairies and unicorns, who believe in the mystical and energetic light are weird. Right? But here I was, at a party for a member of one of the most prominent American families, and they believed in fairies.
Not long after his party, Mr. L joined the spirit world once again. I was given the honor of doing the flowers for the viewing before the funeral. I created a fairy garden for his casket, using many of the same flowers from his birthday party, and adding other blossoms that I'd imagine the fairies fighting to wear. Garden rose gowns with a million petals and a fragrance to get drunk on, anemone fascinators. Ferns to hide under, and viburnum as feather beds. Tucked in the center of the garden sat a bluebird, and a fairy companion.
It was a gift and a lesson working with this special man. It encouraged me to openly live in the magic. He did, why shouldn't I?
I believe we as creatives collaborate with the etheric when we work. The earth and spirits speak to me in images, whether I am writing songs or designing flowers and events. When I'm truly inspired, it's so effortless that I know I'm not solely responsible for the beauty I create, and most of my creative friends agree. We have help. We invite the magic in.