Where in sleep we dream of beauty
fields of little feet did play
dancing to the faerie fiddle
in fields of yellow clay
dressed in brown and moss-green velvet
shod in tulip poplar flow’rs
they dance to midnight’s caller
in the forest’s hidden bowers
when the morning sun arises
shines on dew its diamond glance
a ring of grass grows deep and lovely
where the little people danced
c Susanna Holstein 2008
"Fairy roses, fairy rings, turn out sometimes troublesome things." William Makepeace Thackeray
I was riding with my daughter-in-law one day in mid-July as we traveled from one storytelling performance to another, when I noticed something on a side street.
It was in the yard of one of the houses. I yelled, "Fairy ring! Turn around!"
My daughter-in-law put on the brakes and obligingly turned the truck around. Sure enough, there in the grass was a beautiful ring of white mushrooms. I jumped out for a closer look, and noticed a man on the porch of the home next to the ring.
"Do you mind if I take a picture of the mushrooms?" I asked.
"Not at all," he said, "but that's actually my neighbor's yard."
The door of the house behind the mushrooms opened. "Hey there." A guy standing in the open door grinned at me.
"Hey," I replied. "This is a perfect fairy ring. Would you mind if I took a picture?"
"Go right ahead," he said. "Cool, isn't it? Used to be a big oak there, but it died. These mushrooms come up in the same spot every year."
Why are rings of mushrooms called fairy rings? According to my English mother, the mushrooms sprout on the places where the fairies danced the night before. Scientists, of course, have a different answer. I prefer my mother's explanation.
As to what kind of mushrooms these were, that's open to debate. I think they may have been Chlorophyllum molybdites but I can't be sure since I did not look closely to identify them. I was just enchanted by the ring.
My daughter-in-law asked me later how I saw the ring from the highway, since it was a couple houses away on a side street. I really don't know. Call it fairy magic.
If you see a fairy ring
In a field of grass,
Very lightly step around,
Tiptoe as you pass;
Last night fairies frolicked there,
And they're sleeping somewhere near.
For more fairy ring stories, visit Fairy Ring Folklore.
Wikipedia offers an extensive, cited article on fairy ring lore; according to the article, it is the Scandinavian and Celtic cultures that believe the rings to be made by fairies or elves; other cultures consider the rings bad luck, and pretty much every one agrees it's not good for humans to enter the rings, or even worse, destroy them (so don't even think about getting rid of them to protect your green lawn!).
And then, you can always look back to a post I wrote a while back about fairy rings and fairy lore, including a nice booklist.
"There never was a merry world since the fairies left off dancing. . ." John Seldon
Have you ever seen a fairy ring, or heard a story about their formation? I wonder if there are other tales attached to this intriguing phenomenon.