Happy Family Day, Adley! You came into our family exactly a year ago today. I wrote a story to celebrate her!


A Tale for Adley Flora Froud

Once Upon a Time, as all good tales begin, there was a long-haired, twinkle-eyed woman and her strong and gentle husband. The woman and her husband were no longer young, but not yet old. And they loved each other very much. At this point in most tales, we would probably hear about their longing for a child, and how they ached to have a baby. But not this couple. They were quite happy to live together in their cozy little cottage, with her creating new drawings and stories, and him maintaining their abode, reading, and drinking nightly tea. There was, however, something that was missing. It wasn’t a child they longed for, but they did wish for company in their home. They wanted to find a kindred spirit who would embody magic, acting as a liaison for them between the visible and invisible worlds. They wanted to invite someone into their home who would love and care for the home, the garden, the family, and the magic of it all as much as they did. In a way, they sort of wanted a house faerie, or a brownie, but they wouldn’t want her to cook or clean or keep the house in good order: just to love it, and them, and the magic they so wished they could see with their own eyes.

Adley was a young troll from Chagford, England. Chagford is a tiny little town on the northern side of the Dartmoor National Park, an area known for its wild beauty and thick forests. This small town was teeming with artists and entertainers and imaginative people who loved fairy tales and wonder and imagination. And one of those people was Wendy Froud, a sculptor by trade, but so much more than that. You see, she and her husband were sort-of magicians, capable of seeing past the veil, beyond the fields we know, into the fernie brae and beyond to the Realms of Faerie. And they sometimes would ask those creatures they talked to in Faerie if they wanted to return to the mortal world with them, being drawn into paintings by Wendy’s husband Brian, or sculpted into dolls by Wendy herself. These dolls, and those paintings, therefore, became so much more than just a doll or a painting. They were imbued with a part of the spirit of the creature they met in Faerie. Some of the faeries were so enamored with their symbolic representations by the Frouds, they would decide to do more than just leave part of their magic in them…they would, in a sense, jump right into the sculpture, inhabiting it like a second skin.

This was the case with Miss Adley Flora Froud. Wendy takes walks in the woods near her beautiful stone cottage sometimes, and it was on one such walk she stumbled across a wee troll girl acting peculiarly for her people. Trolls are known for their kinship with the earth, with rock and old trees and bone and all things ancient and somber and quiet and meditative. But this particular young troll was curious, and her heart was full of sweet smelling grass and bursting flowers, fluttering butterflies and low-humming bees. She loved the side of nature that changed and grew and shifted from one thing to another: leaves that grew and greened and changed into a beautiful autumn hue before falling and crumbling away, flowers that budded tight and compact, burst into glorious color and smell, then fell petal by petal to the ground to blend into the dirt and help nourish new flowers. On this particular day, Wendy had stopped on her walk to admire a forest field of bluebells, a carpet of glorious purple blooms that at some point in spring will sometimes bloom in among the dark trees, creating an endless sea of periwinkle. From the corner of her eye, she saw a small dark brown object slowly moving among the purple blooms, and when she cautiously approached, she saw Adley, though she did not yet know her name (faeries are understandably cautious about sharing their true names with strangers, for names have power and in the Realms, even more so).

Wendy approached Adley cautiously, though it happened to be that the wee troll was so enraptured in touching and admiring each bloom in a patch of bluebells, Wendy probably could have galumphed up to her as loudly as a bridge troll and Adley still would not have heard her. Wendy spoke gently to her when she was close, so as not to startle her.

“Good day to you, my lady troll. What brings you to these bluebell fields so early in the morning?”

I could tell you their whole conversation, but the important thing is that Adley was a curious troll, and Wendy was a curious human, and together they became fast friends. If Adley had lived in an area where people were more aggressive and selfish, she might not have trusted so openly or so quickly. But she lived in the magical moors and forests of Dartmoor, and the people who live there can’t help but be kind and love magic, since they see it every day in the landscape around them.

With her permission, Wendy made a sculpture of Adley, and Adley decided that it was quite exhausting to keep crossing the veil between the human and Faerie worlds. The sculpture was just the receptacle she needed to have a way to stay in the mortal realms, where flowers bloom and die but are so beautiful, and people love and live for such short lives, but are so exquisite in their transience.

Part of Wendy’s work is to match the Faerie spirits she brings from the Realm of Faerie with mortal humans who will love and protect and live with them. Not all humans are receptive to the magic both mischievous and benevolent that can come with living with a faerie. And not all faeries have any interest in meddling in human affairs. Wendy acts as a sort of friendship-matchmaker between the two, choosing which faeries to invite into the mortal world, and then hoping and attempting to match them up with a kindred human.

And this, sweet Adley Flora Froud, is how you came into the life of that couple from the corn-fields of central Ohio. The woman with the long hair, who was no longer young but not yet old, saw a picture of Adley, and immediately fell in love. She knew that she had found the missing piece in the puzzle of their home and family. Her strong and kind husband was not so sure, but when, on a cold November day, the package arrived at their doorstep, and layer after layer was unwrapped before finally Adley’s sweet face smiled back at them, he too knew that they had indeed found what they had so desired.

With Adley in the family, the gardens of their little cottage thrived. The invisible faeries the couple had already made welcome in their home (even though they weren’t able to be seen) all stepped into line under Adley’s guidance. The jam tasted sweeter, the stories they read sounded lovelier, and even when life threw them curveballs, they knew that they could survive it as a wee family.

And so they all lived joyfully ever after. Because, as I’ve heard it said by a wise woman, “joy is a step beyond happiness. Happiness is a sort of atmosphere you can live in sometimes, when you’re lucky. Joy is a light that fills you with hope and faith and love.”