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Posts tagged ‘fairytales’

Sing a Song of Sixpence

Sing a song of sixpence,
pocket full of rye,
four and twenty blackbirds
baked in a pie.

 When the pie was opened,
the
birds began to sing:
isn’t that a dainty dish
to set before the King?

The King is in his counting-house
counting out his money;
the Queen is in the parlor
eating bread and honey;
the Maid is in the garden
hanging up the clothes,

 when down swoops a Blackbird
and snaps off her nose!

Cover illustration for Randolph Caldecott’s Sing a Song for Sixpence (1880)

There are many interpretations to this curious nursery rhyme, dating to the 18th century. It’s been traced to the 16th-century practice of placing live songbirds in a pie (who wouldn’t want live animals flying out of their prepared food?), to various historical events and folklorish symbols, and even to a coded message used to recruit crew members for pirate ships. Lord Byron, James Joyce, Virgina Woolf, Agatha Christie, George Orwell, and Roald Dahl all referenced the ditty, and it’s appeared in songs by The Beatles, The Monkees, Radiohead, Tom Waits, and others. Obviously this mysterious little rhyme continues to captivate our popular consciousness.

As we approach the equinox, I’m anxious to spy our returning colonies of Red-winged blackbirds — the males, glossy black with their brilliant scarlet-and-yellow shoulder patches, puffing up or hiding (depending on their level of confidence), and belting out their conk-la-ree songs. And the more subdued females, with their brown colorations and clever camouflaging — so much shyer than their male counterparts.

Ever regal: Male Red-winged blackbird in the Florida wetlands

Watching over his brood… But I see YOU!

Puffin’ and hollerin’ away

And the GIRLS…

Always the shy ones: Female Red-winged blackbird in the Florida wetlands

Flittering among the reeds

Lovely girl against the shallow waters

A Marsh Rabbit Baby, and a Few Fae

As promised in a recent post, I was lucky to sneak up on a baby marsh rabbit during a recent walk in our wetlands — not always the easiest thing to do with wild adult rabbits, let alone the babies. (Learn more about Marsh Rabbits here.) And as promised…. Cuteness factor through the roof! In honor of their adorableness, I included vintage illustrations of rabbit romps with fairies, and fairytale rabbits — because when I see these delicate marsh rabbits (or as I call them, swamp bunnies, much to the chagrin of the more uptight naturalists), especially the babies — it’s hard not to picture them in such a setting. I like to envision fae around all critters, helping us occasionally close-minded humans love and appreciate their, and Nature’s beauty all that more.

Marsh Rabbit Baby in the South Florida Wetlands

“Fairy and Rabbits,” by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

“A Rabbit Among the Fairies,” by John Anster Fitzgerald

The Brothers Grimm, “The Rabbit’s Bride,” by Walter Crane (court. Project Gutenberg)

“The White Rabbit,” by John Tenniel

“The Tale of Benjamin Bunny,” by Beatrix Potter

“Once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.” So, with the help of the fairy who cares for all playthings, and makes them Real…

“The Velveteen Rabbit,” by Margery Williams (Ill. by William Nicholson)

Fae Mouse; or a Visit with an Eastern Harvest Mouse

Despite the commonality of some critters, I love to watch them just as much as any other — they’re all captivating. I recently watched and photographed an Eastern Harvest Mouse for a solid 20 minutes….

This little guy is common in Florida’s wetland ecosystems, but other natural habitats include subtropical and tropical grasslands, scrub, swamps, prairies, meadows, and pastureland. Their range includes the Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Florida, and Texas. While the Eastern Harvest Mouse eats seeds, fresh plant matter, and small insects, they’re prey for our snakes, bobcats, large wading birds, and birds of prey. Their nests are constructed of shredded grasses and plant fibers, and are used by the mice year-round. Offspring are usually born in the late spring, summer, or early fall, with litter sizes ranging from 2 – 7.

I realize many people are spooked by rodents, mice in particular. Perhaps it’s my love of fairy tales, or plain fondness for all critters — every one — but I always see fairies accompanying them. Honestly, he’s adorable; as I’m always saying: THAT FACE!

Eastern Harvest Mouse, Florida Wetlands

Courtesy Project Gutenberg:

“Grasshopper Green and the Meadow-Mice,” Written and illustrated by John Rae. P.F. Volland Company, 1922

Courtesy Project Gutenberg:

“Grasshopper Green and the Meadow-Mice,” Written and illustrated by John Rae. P.F. Volland Company, 1922

“Fairies And a Field Mouse,” by Etheline E. Dell (1885-1923)

“The Chase of the White Mouse,” by John Anster Fitzgerald (1819-1906)

The Queen of the Field Mice, from “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” by L. Frank Baum

Courtesy Project Gutenberg:

Thumbelina, by Hans Christian Andersen, from “Childhood’s Favorites and Fairy Stories: The Young Folks Treasury, Volume 1”

“The Fairy Bower” by John Anster Fitzgerald

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