How Fairy Dance Park Came to Be

Fairy Dance Park is an oasis of green, a hundred and sixty acres of tranquility in the midst of an otherwise bustling concrete and asphalt city.  Most of it is a more or less conventional city park, with picnic areas and tennis courts and tree-shaded walkways along with the usual access roads and parking lots.  

But the corner with the hill is different.  It's fenced off from the rest of the park, although the fence isn't all that hard to climb over.  Unlike the rest of the park it has no roads or trails.  It's old-growth forest, not neatly manicured lawn grass.  

A sign on the fence proclaims the hill to be Fairy Dance Mountain, and quotes a local folk song:  

If you climb their hill by moonlight they'll invite you to their dance:
A magic night of merriment and song.  
But they will never warn you as the joyous hours advance
That it's many many years until the dawn.

That corner is fenced off and left to grow wild because the family that left their farm to the city for a park specified it in their will.  That much of the story is public record.  But there's more that the locals may tell you once they get to know you, if you seem willing to believe.

The farm had been in the family since pioneer days, handed down from father or mother to son or daughter for generations.  The names changed with each daughter's marriage, but it was the same family nonetheless.  

And this family believed in Fairies.  The lore was handed down, usually from mother or grandmother to daughter or granddaughter.  There were Fairies living on the hill in the back corner of the farm, and they were friends of the family.  

They weren't the kind of friends you'd get into the habit of dropping in on every evening to chat.  They kept pretty much to themselves, and expected their friends to respect their privacy.  But as long as you respected them and left them small gifts on certain holidays that most mortals have forgotten about, they would bring you good fortune.  

Thus the farm prospered.  True, the family had to do their share of the work, plowing and planting and weeding and harvesting, but as long as they were diligent their efforts were well rewarded.  

There was another part to the bargain as well:  While the family had the use of most of the farm, the corner with the hill belonged to the Fairies.  Family members did not go there, except when invited, or to leave gifts or messages.  

It was said that sometimes, on moonlit nights, you could hear music and song coming from atop the Fairies' hill.  But you were warned not to climb the hill to see who or what was singing.  

There were tales of trespassers who ignored the warnings and went up the hill to crash the party.  Sometimes they came back disappointed, convinced the whole thing was nothing but a fairy story.  But sometimes they didn't come back, or they came back decades later, convinced that they had only spent a single night on the hill.  

Most of these happenings were the kinds of things that other storytellers have spoken of as happening on other Fairy hills elsewhere, so it is difficult to sort out any facts in this matter.  But the one thing the locals all swear to is what happened to the final generation of the farm family, and why the area is now a city park.  

Jeff Spenser, the only child of Marie and Blake Spenser, had no interest in farming or Fairies.  He was more interested in science fiction.  He preferred mad scientists to wicked witches, flame-belching rocket ships to fire-breathing dragons.  After he finished high school he studied computers in college, then went to Silicon Valley to seek his fortune.  There he met and married Elizabeth.  

She shared his interest in science fiction, but not his disinterest in things magical.  When they came back now and then to visit his parents on the farm she would listen in rapt fascination to Mom's tales of the Fair Folk while he would read a book or talk of other things with Dad.  

Meanwhile the future of the farm was looking rather bleak.  Jeff had no interest in taking over the farm.  The nearby town was showing signs of growing into a fair-sized city, and developers were starting to approach them about buying the land.  Mom and Dad had enough savings to live out their lives in relative comfort without selling, but Jeff seemed likely to sell once he inherited the place.  

In due course Jeff and Elizabeth had a son, Ed.  From an early age he showed signs of sharing Elizabeth's interest in both science fiction and fantasy.  And he enjoyed their visits to the farm, where Grandma would tell him all about the Fairies on the hill out back while Grandpa and Dad talked of other things.  

Then tragedy struck.  Ed started to sicken.  They took him to the best doctors Silicon Valley had to offer.  The doctors diagnosed a rare genetic mutation, but could do nothing but watch it slowly get worse and worse.  They were confident that medical science would find a cure eventually, but it would be many years too late for Ed.  

Jeff and Elizabeth decided to make another visit to the farm while Ed was still healthy enough to enjoy it.  

This time Grandma had another tale of the Fairies.  

During the Vietnam War era a number of young men had come to the farm, seeking to climb Fairy Dance Mountain to escape the draft.  Those who were simply looking for a way to avoid getting shot at would come back down the hill in the morning, feeling rather sheepish for having believed such fairy tales.  But many of those who truly felt the war was wrong didn't come back at all.  

It's unclear who got the idea first, Grandma or Elizabeth or Ed.  But all three agreed that it was Ed's best hope.  Jeff was much harder to convince, but eventually gave in, lured by images of the science-fiction future he had long dreamed of.  

The weeks leading up to the next Full Moon were busy ones, with Jeff and Elizabeth putting their affairs in order while Grandma and Grandpa changed their wills.  

Then on the night of the Full Moon Jeff and Elizabeth and Ed climbed the hill out back where the Fairies were having their celebration.  They have not been seen since.  

The police back in Silicon Valley suspected foul play, but when the local sheriff came around and talked to Grandma and Grandpa he could find no grounds to make a case.  Besides, he also believed in Fairies.  

When Grandma and Grandpa eventually passed on, their estate sold part of the farm to the developers for enough money to set up a fund to maintain the rest of it as a park forever.  

So that is how Fairy Dance Park got its name, and why the corner with the hill is fenced off as a wildlife preserve, and why the fence isn't as secure as it might otherwise be.  And that may also be why the city has prospered and its children have done well in school and there has been little crime in its streets.  

And it is also why many of those in high places in the town will, once they get to know you and feel comfortable telling you secrets, will admit that they do believe in Fairies.  

-- Tom Digby
Written 22:37 Fri October 15 2004
Edited  15:14 Sat November 6 2004
Edited  21:04 Sat November 6 2004
HTML version 22:47 Sat November 6 2004

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