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  • Writer's pictureLinda Odhner, with photos by Liz Kufs

Excerpted Inspirations #121

It was wonderful to be out in the woods. Danny and the children danced about as if spring had got into their bones, and Aunt Martha, who loved to be out-of-doors, was as gay as they were. It was Helga, skipping ahead with Danny, who found the first delicate pink mayflowers peeking up through the old dead leaves. All the others came running to see and to smell. The little girls got down on their knees and stuck their noses right into the earth. “They have the most beautiful smell of any flower in the world,” said Sigrid. “Aunt Martha, why do you suppose they smell so lovely hidden in the dark earth with these old leaves over them?” Aunt Martha, who knew so much about flowers and plants, had to admit that she didn’t know that. “May we begin to pick?” asked Nancy. “You may each pick a small bunch,” said Aunt Martha, “but be careful; they are scarce; and don’t pull up any roots. We want them to come up again next year.” They were indeed scarce, but that made it even more fun to hunt for them. At last they each had as many flowers as Aunt Martha thought they should take. “Have a few more good smells, girls,” she said, “and then we’ll go.” “I think,” said Elsa suddenly, “that I know why mayflowers smell so sweet.” Nancy had noticed that Elsa had been quiet, as if she were thinking of something important. That usually meant that she was making up a story and now they all turned to listen to her. “I think,” she said, “that the fairies have something to do with it. You see, early in the spring the Fairy Queen gives a big ball. In some ways the fairies like it even better than they do the Midsummer Eve one, because they have been shut up so long in their snow palaces. They wear their loveliest dresses, and of course they all want to put on perfumery the way ladies do when they get dressed up. They can make wonderful perfumery in Fairyland all right, but they can’t get it to smell quite like Earth Spring. So in the fall when we plant bulbs and things, they go and sprinkle Fairyland perfumery on the ground where the mayflowers will grow. Then when the mayflowers come up, they smell partly Earth Spring and partly Fairy perfumery, and that is why they are sweeter than any other flowers in the world. And long before we come to pick them, even while the snow is still on the ground, the underground elves come and pick hundreds and hundreds of mayflowers and carry them through tunnels to the Fairy Queen’s palace. And they decorate the palace hall with mayflowers, and the Queen and her ladies wear wreaths of mayflowers in their hair. And all Fairyland smells this wonderful, wonderful smell, and the fairies love it more than anything. And that’s why mayflowers are so scarce,” she finished. “The fairies have most of them; the elves leave just a few for us.” “That’s a lovely story, Elsa,” said Aunt Martha. “You must write it out for me so that we can save it. Will you?” Nancy was enchanted. “It’s wonderful,” she said. “Imagine a palace all decorated with mayflowers and a queen with a little wreath of mayflowers in her hair.” “I’ll never, never pick too many mayflowers,” said Helga. “It would be awful if there shouldn’t be enough mayflowers next year.” Jennie D. Lindquist, The Golden Name Day (1955), pp. 61-64

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