“Way to go Sky!” Called Curley, as she got higher and higher off the ground. She suddenly flapped twice and took off flying just like she had done it all her life!
The children followed her, cheering her on as they flew or swung along on vines.
Sky flew with the fairy children and the butterflies.
It was just like the flying dreams she had often but this was extraordinary! She laughed out loud as she flew, playing chase with her new friends through the hanging forest. All the children played and laughed with her, watching her use her flying skills well. They all helped themselves to the berries and fed their tiny faces until they were full. They played for ages, showing their human friend all of their favorite games. Then they all gathered around to chat before they left to go back to Corals tea garden.
Sky was bombarded with questions and answered them the best she could.
“What kind of hut do you live in?”
“Well, it’s like a square box divided into lots of rooms with um, a roof!”
“Do you use magic?”
“Oh no not really, although my grandma…”
“How did you get here?”
“Well, I sort of climbed the tree…”
“They’re funny clothes!” Said a tiny fairy boy with a giggle as he tugged at her jeans.
Then Sky asked one, “Do you all, like, have to go to school and learn stuff?”
All of the children looked at each other wondering what ‘school’ meant until one nutley boy said, “I think she means guidance. We go to Study Cluster.”
“Do you like it?” She asked him.
“Yep! It’s fun! We learn about all sorts of things there!”
“Really? You mean like maths and science and history and stuff?”
“Well, no. Most history is irrelevant, it’s the now that is the most important thing. Because that’s all there is. We learn about our bodies and how they work and how to use our energy wisely.” Said another nut girl.
“We have lessons on herbology, and how to work with nature and Spirit.” Explained an older nutley girl with very curly hair.
“Yeah! We get to practice making teas and magic potions and creating art all over the tree!” said Curley.
“Yeah!” Agreed the other children.
“We learn how to manifest things.” Said Leffel.
“Yeah! And we make things, like huts and create gardens for the elders.” Said another nutley boy.
“And we have a session on visibility.” Added Leffel.
“And transparency!” added another young pixie. “I like being invisible!” and she disappeared from their view, showing up on the other side of the group.
“We go and help out at the farms sometimes when they’re busy, it’s excellent!” Said Leffel now casually hanging from a twig just above them.
“We get to ride the Bean Dragons too!” Squeaked a tiny fairy about the size of Sky’s hand, who was fluttering around the group, in and out and around trying to get a better position all the time. “They look after the fungi farms with the ants and the skink fairies.”
There were a few tiny fairies and pixies that seemed to come into Sky’s vision as she talked.
“We learn about the body and it’s energy centres and how they control the organs and stuff.” Said Curley.
“Oh! Wicked!” Said Sky.
All the children looked at her in a funny way. She realised that the word ‘wicked’ may have confused them under the circumstances and added, “I mean, I wish I could do stuff like that!”
“Well what’s the point of having a body if you don’t know how it works?” Said Curley contentedly.
Sky thought this was a very good point. She hadn’t learned much about the body at her school. In fact, she learned more about the body, mind and spirit from her mother and grandmother. She knew that humans were capable of doing some magical things, like foreseeing the future, healing instantly, and moving and levitating objects. She was beginning to understand that most of humanity had forgotten how to do it and were told that it was bad.
“Hey! Race you back to the tea garden!” Called out an older pixie.
Malley Gum and Coral were flat out making teas still, and so Sky and Curley lent a hand bringing in the cups and wiping down the tables. She saw a few people checking out her clothing. Her runners fascinated some of them also. The wings caught Malley Gum’s eye, and he grinned at her, nodding his head with approval. He was pleased for her. He knew she would have had fun with them all.
When the teagarden quietened down, Sky waited patiently, sitting at one of the tables sipping on water whilst Curley took off to do a few errands for his Pop. It was the nicest water she had ever tasted, and she wondered why she didn’t drink it more often. It was the first chance she got to look at the store properly.
It was a beautiful setting for a tea garden, surrounded by shrubs and flowers and full of lovely plants amongst the tables. Sky walked into Coral’s home to check out their set up. There were shelves upon shelves of nutty pots full of dried herbs ready to make up the teas. The place was decorated with hundreds of hanging herbs and flowers edging the ceiling.
Then she noticed the labels on the tea jars. While she waited for Malley and Coral, she read out loud to herself the teas in front of her. “Positivitea, Availabilitea, Popularitea! Impossibilitea, Personalitea, Invisibilitea, Changeabilitea, and…”
She turned the jar around to see the label properly, “Origionalitea! Festivitea, Virtualitea, Creativitea, Antigravitea…”
“Ah, found the teas I see,” said Malley, happy for her to see them.
“Yes, they’re amazing! There is so many of them!”
“Ah, well, these are the popular ones. There are many more that we only use occasionally. But yes, it keeps us busy and we work hard to keep it going.” He replied, and poured himself a drink of water and drank it on the spot. He then asked Sky what she would like to do. It was getting on in the day and she remembered she had planned a picnic with her grandma. She would have to get back pretty soon.
He led her to a Nird, preening his feathers while waiting for a passenger.
They hopped on and took off leaving the tea garden behind and found themselves flying through the tree once again. Sky spotted many little doorways nestled in the tree with tiny windows near by. There were little gardens and the odd park area. Before long they were landing on Malley’s branch and they clambered off the Nird. Malley gave the Nird some berries and asked her to wait for a moment.
“Well Sky, it was so nice to have met you. Thank you so much for helping us with the teas up there,” said Malley kindly. “You will come again won’t you?”
“Oh yes, can I?” Replied Sky with delight. “May I come up again tomorrow?”
“But of course!” He replied. “It would be a shame if you didn’t Sky. I look forward to introducing you to Florrel.”
“Can I bring a friend up with me?”
Malley went silent for a moment. He could understand her needing to share this with somebody.
“Well…Perhaps it would be okay if you told someone in your family. Once our existence is known, our whole livelihood could be lost, you see? You may have to keep it a secret Sky…If you must tell someone, and then you must be very choosy whom you tell. Can you keep it to yourself?”
“Yes of course. Well… I’ll try. Can I tell my grandma, Mrs. Lawson? She won’t tell anyone else I promise!”
“Very well, that should be fine. Well, I’ll have the Nird take you to the base of the tree and when you get there, drink this and think of your natural size and it will transform you back.”
“Oh thank you Malley! It was just wonderful meeting you! I love Nutlidge! It’s wonderful to see all this magic and all these different folk. And was fun helping you out at the tea garden. Please tell Curley I’ll be back soon,” she added. She had another thought.
“Malley Gum, what am I going to do about my wings?” She asked.
“Ah yes!” Smiled Malley Gum again. He thought she looked good with wings. She just needed the right dress, and she would look like a real fairy! “Well, as a matter of fact, I happen to have a bag of fairy dust that a friend gave to me. I’ll just fetch it and help you out. Did you enjoy flying around?”
“Oh yes!” She replied, her eyes wide with wonder, “It was wonderful!”
Malley Gum came with the cocoon pouch and put his hand in and came out with some green fairy dust that seemed like the finest floatiest crystal dust. Malley threw a pinch of the fairy dust over Sky and said,
“Wings of fairy go away, come again another day…”
The fairy wings attached to Sky’s shoulders slowly faded to nothing, leaving a wisp of blue dust to float to the ground. Her spine tingled and she shivered from the feeling.
“Wow!” She said. “That tickled! Can you use that to get me to the bottom of the tree?”
“I can do better than that,” he said, grabbing another pinch of fairy dust, “Think of the place you would like to return to. We shall see you soon Sky. I look forward to your next visit.” He smiled warmly.
“See you tomorrow Malley and thank you…”
He threw the dust over her and said, “Goodbye for now Sky.”
Sky disappeared in a puff of sparkle and was suddenly standing behind the old cottage. She checked herself over; amazed at the whole magical experience she had just been through. She had been flying! With wings! She raced into the cottage, where she checked the old clock and put the kettle on. Imagine that! And she was awake for sure, so it must have been real. She checked her backpack and pulled out the leaf-crafted jug she got for her mother. It had grown along with her and wasn’t miniature any longer.
“Oh well, it will be more useful now!” She thought, and placed it on the table filled with milk.
Suddenly she heard her grandmother call out.
“Sky! Are you there dear?”
She ran out to greet her grandmother and Beverly the housekeeper, beaming from her adventure.
“Grandma! I’ve got the best news ever!” She called, running up to her grandmother with a big hug.
“Well, my! You are excited aren’t you! Now calm down, calm down. Let me get inside and sit my old bones down and you can tell me everything.”
Sky helped her grandmother into the cottage while Beverly placed the picnic basket on the table before them. “Is there anything else Grace?” She asked kindly.
“No thank you Beverly, go and have some lunch yourself now, and I’ll see you in a couple of hours.”
“Okay! Enjoy your lunch. I put some muffins in there for you!” As she went down the step, Sky called out, “Thanks Beverly! See you!”
She made herself and her grandmother a cup of tea and sat down to join her.
“Now,” her grandmother began, stirring her tea at the same time. “Tell me all about it.”
Sky had been busting to say something, “Oh Grandma! I followed a raven and it led me to a huge tree and I climbed it and I met some nutleys and…”
“Sky, slow down dear, you’re going too fast. Now you found a tree you say?”
“Yes, up along the creek. It’s massive Grandma! Really huge! And I climbed it!” Sky continued, “I climbed up really high and met some tiny nutleys.”
“Nutleys!” Grace interrupted. Her eyes were wide, needing confirmation. “Are you sure that was what they were called?”
“Oh yes Grandma, their names were Malley Gum and his nut son Curley. They took me to their house and then showed me some of their world, which is called Nutlidge! There’s a whole world up there Grandma, Nutleys everywhere! There are fairies and gnomes and pixies and all sorts of funny little people.”
“So the stories are true and my visions have been real.” Said Grace quietly.
“It’s just amazing! They have a whole world of their own Gran. They look like they’re made from nuts and they have a really…nutty world! You should see their farms! And where they live, and the fairies!”
“How big did you say they were?”
“About that high.” She said, holding her hand about ten centimetres above the tabletop.
“Then how did you manage to get amongst them? I mean you would have been like a giant to them.”
“Well, Malley is a herbal alchemist. He gave me a drink of tea which he called ‘Changeabilitea’ and it made me the same size as them.”
“How wonderful! Then all the stories my mother used to tell me were true. There use to be a diary that was written by my great-great-great grandfather, which had all the information about this world of nutleys. It was lost some years ago, but there was a message in there about these people and that was that they made all sorts of teas. Prosperitea, Honestea, Positivitea, and the list went on. They are wonderful at it and apparently live a very simple but happy life, with no fighting or greed.”
Sky was nodding madly and agreeing with what she had said.
“And guess what Grandma, they don’t have money. Everyone is treated the same. They all eat, they all have somewhere to live, and they go to the farms and gathering places, and get what they need, paying for it by doing something nice for someone or giving something of what they have to offer. It is a really nice way they have it set up there…”
Her grandmother was quietly delighted about the whole thing. She felt like a child again!
“That is why the forest has always been preserved. These little people are precious. They deserve to be left alone to live their lives as they choose to.”
“I’m not really allowed to take anyone else up there, yet.” Replied Sky, feeling a bit sorry that she couldn’t take her grandma straight up there to visit them.
“So this is our secret for now?” Asked Grace.
“Yep!” Said Sky grinning, “Just between you and me!”
Meanwhile, back at the house, Beverly received a phone call from Sky’s mother Fran saying that Tommo had gone into a coma, and that Baize was very upset, and needed to go and see his other friends. Could Sky please stay a bit longer? This was relayed to Grace through Henry the gardener, who went out to join them for a hot drink.
“What a shame. That lovely young man! All those young men and women who were in those nightclubs enjoying themselves.” Said Grace after hearing the news.
Henry slid a chair out from the table and sat down.
“It’s a sad world Missus. Some things that we’re doing just aren’t working anymore. There has to be a change of some sort. It can’t go on like this.”
Sky was only hearing bits and pieces of their conversation. She was still thinking about Tommo. It wasn’t fair. None of them deserved what they were going through.
She sat down, thinking about her brother Baize. He was probably taking this really hard. What could she do for him?
“Sky dear, drink up or your tea will go cold.” Said her grandmother gently.
Sky didn’t say much throughout lunch. They went out to the forest garden and found a sunny spot to dine with a rug, and Henry joined them for a quick bite. They chatted between them, but it was mostly Grace and Henry doing the talking. Sky listened to their chatter about terrorists and wars and oil and such. She got the general idea of it all. Basically the governments were using money that should have been feeding the starving, and it was being spent on wars to stop people from killing each other! How absurd she thought it all was, and how strange it was that she should stumble across the tree like she did.
She walked back to the house with Henry and her grandmother and had a quiet afternoon doing things together. Grace fell asleep in the chair for an hour while Sky endeavoured to finish off the needlepoint she had started the last time she came. Her thoughts were on her brother and on the tree, so consequently she didn’t get much done. She sat in the open window and looked out across the beautifully landscaped garden. It was about five o’clock in the afternoon, and the sun was going down quickly. Sky made the most of her grandmother sleeping and got her diary and spent a while filling in all the latest news of her day.
The local news was on now and her grandmother must have sensed it because she woke up and watched it. There was news about the Bali bombing and then something about a nuclear weapons plant being found in the Middle East, and then a story about the tree felling that was going on in Queensland in the far north of Australia and also Brazil. There were protesters trying to stop the bulldozers and chaining themselves to trees in hope of saving these precious trees that made homes for so many things. A huge Summit was being organised for all the heads of state all around the world, to come together to discuss these issues.
Sky thought of the Nutlidge tree being torn down by people for the sake of money. The whole thing made her shudder at the thought, and she went to see what Beverly was up to.
The kitchen was full of delicious aromas and stunning looking food. She helped herself to a piece of carrot and dipped it in some hommus before taking a bite. She helped Beverly in the kitchen and then they all had dinner together, Grace, Sky, Henry, Beverly and the butler Harris. It was a nice dinner. Sky liked being with them, even though they were all much older than her.
The next day was Sunday. She would head off early, and go up the tree again to see her friends.