Nutlidge ~ Chapter Three

Chapter Three

A Nutty Discovery

All of a sudden the gum leaves parted and Sky was staring into two blinking white eyes! They were hosting a huge nose and feathery hair. Its face was kind of lumpy, and it was upside down.
As quickly as it had popped out it hid itself again. The sudden happening caused a whole pile of tiny nuts to fall on the floor at her feet. The first thing she noticed was that all the little gumnuts weren’t the same. There were a variety of them. Her thoughts on this moved fast and she realised that whatever it was had just lost half of its bagful.
“Wait! Hold on a minute!” She said, trying to gather them up at her feet. “I think you’ve dropped your nuts!”
She didn’t see the creature peering from around a bunch of gumnuts to her left. It hid again, slowly peering out from another position. As Sky stood waiting for some sort of reply, the creature changed its peeping position quite drastically, as if it was a monkey swinging around a tree. Sky caught sight of it and tried to follow its movements with her eyes.
“Hello, would you like me to help you with your gumnuts?” Then there was silence. Nothing moved.
“Are you still there?” She called again.
All of a sudden, a large gum leaf up in front of her shook once and before she could think again, the creature fell from the leaves head first onto the floor in front of her.
It looked terribly funny and Sky was half laughing and half shocked. But the little creature jumped up from embarrassment and composed itself in a very shy sort of way. He rubbed his head and put his nut cap back on.
Sky couldn’t believe her eyes!
There stood the cutest little creature she had ever seen or even imagined. He was only about eight centimetres tall. It looked like he was made up of some of the nuts and seedpods she had in her collection at home, with a kurrajong pod for his body and a cyprus pine nut for his head. He had a chickpea nose and his hair was feathery. It fluffily and floatily protruded from under a long seedpod cap, which bent over at the tip.
He had stick legs, big boat feet and a long tail. He was dressed in a feather covering his front, and had a tiny gumnut drink bottle hanging from a twine belt. She was peering down at him. He was looking up at her, and she seemed a hundred times bigger than him, and his knees began to tremble.
Sky sat down on the branch and tried to make herself smaller. “It’s alright,” she said gently, “I’m not going to hurt you,” and smiled at him.
The scared look on his face began to change to a more curious one. He suddenly got excited, realising that she was a friendly creature, and he jumped up and caught a small twig in his tail. He did a somersault or two before hanging upside down for a moment.
Sky began to giggle. “Look at you! You’re so cute!”
The little nut person somersaulted off the twig onto the bough and cleared his throat. “Wow! You are the biggest fairy I’ve ever seen! Pleased to meet you! I’m a Nutley and my name’s Curley. What’s yours?”
“Sky. Pleased to meet you.” She shook his tiny hand gently. He was only a young nut person, ‘probably only about nine or ten years old,’ thought Sky. It was a little hard to tell.
“I couldn’t help notice that you’ve lost your wings!” He said pointing to the absence of them. Is there anything I can do?”
Sky giggled, “I’m not a fairy, although I wouldn’t mind being one for a day. No, I’m a Human. I’m visiting my grandma, and this tree’s in her garden. I can’t believe this is happening!”
“But how did you get up here?” He asked.
“Well, I climbed up.” She replied, thinking this was obvious.
The little nut boy looked at her curiously. He had heard about humans but had never met one. His knowledge of humans wasn’t all that positive, but he kept an open mind.
“Um, well, would you like to come up and meet my Pop; he’s just up the branches a little.”
Sky looked in surprise, “Really! You mean there are more of you here?”
“Yup!” He nodded, picking up his gumnuts at the same time, “There are lots of us, come on, follow me, and I’ll take you.”
He got a head start, but he led her further up the tree, swinging from twig to twig like a spider monkey. She couldn’t help laughing at him, because he was very comical indeed.
They went up the tree quite a way before they stopped.
Curley scratched his head, “Well he was here, he must have gone further up,” and continued on his way.
“Curley,” said Sky trying to keep up with him, “Does your Pop collect nuts too?”
“Oh yes!” He said, swinging his way towards her a little and speaking in between somersaults. “I am collecting things to help him make natural teas.”
“Really! You mean he’s a doctor?” She replied, stepping over a rather large twisted vine.
“Well, actually he’s a herbal alchemist.” Said Curley stopping on his feet for a moment.
“That’s even more cool! Um, hold on, what about all the nuts you dropped, don’t you want a hand to gather them up?”
“No it’s alright thank you. I think my Pop will be more interested in you than my gatherings today.” He swung himself over and around another large vine and walked with her a little, adjusting his cocoon bag as he went.
As they went up the tree’s great bough, Sky noticed that there was more and more moss. It was like walking on grass, and the walkways were lined with tiny flowers and mushrooms. Bunches of gumnuts she saw on her way were all different.
“This tree is amazing, it’s got all sorts of gumnuts and flowers growing in it,” said Sky, picking a tiny blue flower.
“It is a very magical tree. It’s older than time itself you know!”
He stopped for a moment and looked at her with a smile on his face. Just then another voice called out, “Curley! Curley where are you?” A taller and older nut man swung out from the gum leaves landing perfectly on his feet and carrying a large bag of gatherings.
He only caught sight of his young one from the angle he came in on, and came to a stop in front of him. Sky was standing behind the older nutley.
“Curley, where have you been? I’ve been calling you for ages! I was beginning to think you had missed a branch and fallen down the tree!”
“It’s okay Pop, I’ve been talking to Sky here. Let me introduce you…” He gestured towards Sky. As his father turned around he got the shock of his life and shot up the tree like a jack in the box! He came back down, composing himself and straightening his half moon glasses.
“Ahem. Well, my goodness! Er, you’re a size! Ha! Well, well! Pleased to meet you Sky. My name is Galley Mum… I mean Badly Done… Oh! I mean, Malley Gum!” As he straightened his specs up again he held his hand out for her to shake it.
Sky giggled.
“Sky’s a human Pop, she climbed up the tree,” Curley told him excitedly.
“Well. Yes! It certainly looks that way, and what an adventurous soul you are! Can I invite you up for tea perhaps?”
“Oh that would be nice, thank you,” Sky replied and followed them up the tree bough, trying to imagine what size their cups might be.
The tree had become even more like a beautiful garden with flowers and shrubs growing from the moss. It was quite bright and very lush.
They came upon what looked like someone’s garden setting with all sorts of flowers and vines and shrubs growing in a delightful manner. Then they came to the tree trunk, which had the most gorgeous little doorway. The same as the one Sky had seen her dream! The door was the shape of a big gumnut and the handle was a golden gumnut. She had been grinning and feeling so excited that her cheek muscles began to hurt.
Malley Gum asked her to wait for a moment and excused himself while he fetched something. She could hear water running and enquired about its source.
“Oh, we have our own natural streams here,” Curley replied happily. “The tree is so tall it creates its own rainfall. Over the centuries it’s gouged some great waterways into the tree. It has its own ecosystem.”
“Wow! That’s awesome,” said Sky, fully understanding what he was talking about. “We just learned about that at school.”
Malley Gum emerged from the doorway carrying the largest vessel he could find. He had used a large gumnut that was normally used for their water jug. “I hope you don’t mind drinking some tea from this? I have made it quite strong.”
It was all the same to Sky, she took the cup, which would have fit over her thumb and thanked him for the drink.
“Now,” he said to her, “I have put some of my herbal potion of ‘Changeabilitea’ in there. I’m sure you would like to be the same size as us while you are visiting?”
Sky just nodded, suddenly convinced that she must be dreaming! She did as he instructed and poured the Changeabilitea under her tongue and held it there while she thought of becoming smaller. Instantly, she saw glittering movement of circling purple and blue mist and she shrank down to the same size as Curley within seconds.
“Wicked!” She said, grinning from ear to ear as she looked at herself in amazement. Of course, the tree seemed to become even more ginormous!
Curley and his Pop looked at each other briefly at her reaction.
“How do I get back to my normal size again?” asked Sky.
“When you are ready, I shall give you another drink of this and you only have to think of being your normal size and it shall be so… Now Sky, may I invite you in for a more sociable cup of tea?”
“Yes please! Oh this is so exciting,” she replied, and followed her new friends into the tree house, hardly being able to contain the excitement she felt.
Sky took a deep breath when she got through the doorway. It was just incredible.
They had walked into a huge round room with poles, or tree veins, left here and there in between the different sections of their house. She saw a food preparation area with a cutting block near the front doorway. Surrounding it was net shelving crammed full of fruits, nuts, berries, and all sorts of teas. Countless little bags hung from the netting with labels on them. The table and chairs in the eating area were made from bark and sticks, all exquisitely carved and designed to accompany their tails as they sat. The wooden shelves along the wall both sides of the doorway were packed with gumnuts of all shapes and sizes. There were bottles with caps, cups, dishes, mugs, teapots and urns, and more food stocks. There were also dried flowers and herbs hanging from the ceiling, and an array of dried roots, seeds and green gumnuts of all varieties. The windows were carved out of the trunk also, and you could see a little way up the branch from the washbasin near the front door. The place was crammed with nutty cupboards and drawers spilling over with alchemist’s tools and paper scrolls. There were beautiful pot plants everywhere.
They led her into the sitting area where the lounge chair was a silkworm cocoon stuffed with feathers. A few smaller ones were made into cushions. There were sketches in round frames on the wall capturing elder relatives and special people. They also had a piano of sorts, a writing desk, and half dozen quills in a pot on top of it and little ornaments of crystal and stone decorated the room.
“It’s just gorgeous,” said Sky as she walked around the circular house. The three bedrooms all had their own four-poster beds draped with spider webs and beads. They were separated from each other with beautifully painted silk hangings. There were matching side tables and chairs, clothes hanging behind curtains, and a variety of feather attire. The mirrors in each room were made out of beetle wings and there were various pictures on the walls.
The curtains and cushions throughout the house were a variety of fabrics, from silk curtains which had also been hand painted, to woven feathers, to what looked like thick cotton type prints. Sky was mind boggled with all this. She pinched herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. Curley came running around the curtain, swung onto his top bed frame bar and somersaulted onto his bed. “You can stay with us for the night if you like.” he said excitedly.
“Thanks Curley, but I must get back, my grandma will wonder where I am.”
“Aw nuts.” said Curley, disappointed for just a moment before letting her know that tea was served. She was led back to the eating area where she sat down and thanked Malley for her drink once again.
“Sorry to have left you halfway through the tour, my last herb batch has just finished brewing.”
“That’s fine really! I love your house, it’s gorgeous!” Replied Sky looking around still and trying not to miss anything.
“Ah well, we have to give Florrel the credit for the trimmings. That is my partner, and Curley’s mum. She is off out collecting mushroom at the fungi farm, and won’t be back for a while,” said Malley, putting his cup in front of him and sitting down to join them.
“Well Sky! This sort of thing doesn’t happen very often. It must be like a dream to you. How are you feeling?”
“Oh I feel great! It’s the best dream I’ve ever had. I finally got to go through the door!” She beamed.
Malley could see that she hadn’t realised yet that this wasn’t a dream! He was keen on introducing her to his friend, Yellow Flower.
“Well, we don’t get too many humans up here,” he said. “The last one was a young boy back in the 1800s. He spent a few years coming up here as a child but the older he got the less we saw of him until he stopped coming altogether. We never saw him again. Pity, he was such a nice young lad. From what I remember, he was quite brave too.”
“That might have been my great-great-great-great grandfather, Edward Lawson! He brought the land all those years ago when he grew up and it’s been in the family ever since.”
“Well I must say your family has done a great job in keeping this forest together all these years. It’s a great thing that they have done for our people and the animals.”
“Are there a lot of your people here in the tree?” Sky inquired.
Malley Gum looked at Curley and said with a smile on his unusual face. “What do you say Curley, should we show our guest around?”
“Great idea! Let’s go!” He flipped himself over on the spot to show his excitement. He took off outside and whistled an unusual tune while Malley grabbed his cocoon bag and showed Sky out the door.


Nutlidge ~ Chapter Four

Chapter Four

The Enchanted World of Nutlidge

Before they even got outside, a loud flap of wings was heard and a huge golden bird landed on the branch. Sky grinned with delight at the friendly creature. It too was created from a large seedpod with a coral gum head, a long beak and friendly eyes. It had large wings like an albatross, a long fluffy tail, and a topknot feather on its head, something like a peacock.
“Sky, this is one of our beloved Nirds. They help us get around the tree. Come on, up you get; hold on to the feathers here and I’ll sit behind you and Curley can sit in front,” said Malley Gum.
They clambered on as the bird nestled down to let them get seated comfortably. Once they were ready Malley Gum made a funny rattle noise, and the Nirds long wings lifted them up into the air and out through the glistening foliage. It called out letting other traffic know it was coming. It’s call was like a kind of ‘honk’ and it sounded very funny to Sky.
They took off and flew through the boughs and limbs of the tree until they came to the outside and flew around it. Up and up they went, Sky squealing with delight as the wind blew her hair into Malley’s face. Another Nird flew past carrying two more nut people who waved to them, and Sky spotted her first fairy, dressed in blue, ducking back into the foliage. Suddenly, they turned in towards the foliage themselves and headed inward. Up and over and in between branches and limbs they flew! Sky squealed as they went over a bough and under another with swiftness and precision. Curley was grinning from ear to ear as well, hair pushed back with the wind in his face and he laughed loudly too! The Nird slowed down, flying at a speed where they could see things better. Sky notice that there were many types of leaves in this tree, in fact nearly every eucalypt species she was familiar with!
More nutleys could be seen walking and doing things on different branches that criss-crossed their way around the massive tree trunk. Little house fronts were embedded into the trunk, even in between boughs, which consisted of a round-topped door and two large oval openings for windows. They had their own front yards made out of what seemed to be huge shelves of fungi. Great big natural ledges hosted beautiful and varied gardens overflowing like green waterfalls. It was obvious that they were all beautifully kept. There were also spaces for the Nirds to land.
On the first busy branch she saw male and female nutleys attending some tiny plants. They were all grown in large gumnuts and in the holes and crevices along the huge bough. There were many types of plants, some with flowers and some without. Sky supposed it was a nursery.
“This is the trees supply of herbs,” said Malley Gum waving to a friend of his. His friend, a pixie dressed in green, waved back as he watered an area by the tree trunk. “Every single type of herb imaginable is available here amongst these branches. We supply to many nut colonies around Australia, even around the world.”
They flew around the massive trunk, which gave Sky the opportunity to see it properly. It was huge! She also saw her grandmother’s property, and got more of an idea where the tree was situated. She became brave for a moment and put her arms out each side as if flying, and she laughed as she enjoyed the ride.
Sky then saw a few branches that had all different types of fruit growing from the trunk and along the lengthy boughs. The area was manned by a variety of tree folk and included fairies, pixies, birds, insects and gnomes. This was a larger area and they flew through the different branches seeing all tree orchards loaded with fruit. There was a variety of ground hugging fruits also, such as miniature melons and strawberries. All these foods and plants were nurtured from seeds until they were beautifully large and lush; some things such as flowers growing to enormous sizes.
Then they flew close to the tree and the bird settled on a massive bough that didn’t look like a bough at all. It was more like another huge park and right at the tree trunk was a waterfall and a large pool of fresh cold sparkling water. The area was dotted with various tree folk, walking their nutley babies in gumnut prams, feeding the duck folk and the birds that flew in to entertain them. They all hopped off and went wading in the waterfall. The water was cool and refreshing. Sky stood in a shallow section of it looking around herself, in wonder of it all. Frogs hopped their way through the shrubby park where many types of flowers grew; again some buds were springing open before her eyes! Smaller ponds were scattered along the branch, being fed by this main waterfall.
“Oh this is so beautiful,” she sighed, as she watched a huge indigo butterfly flutter above her head and two pale blue fairy children holding on to its wing tails, giggling as they went.
Curley went for a quick dip and then had fun swinging on the large vines around the water hole. Malley Gum washed his face in the chilly liquid and sat on a rock next to Sky. He pulled a tiny cocoon from his cocoon bag and offered her a sweet. She took one, thanking him. It looked just like a hard blob of honey, and was very unusual indeed. First it tasted like carob chocolate, and then honey, then it became fizzy in her mouth and then it melted. The flavour that encompassed her tastebuds was like a very sweet caramel. The look on her face told them she enjoyed every aspect of it.
“Mmm!” She nodded, the taste rolling around her mouth.
“Here, have another one,” offered Malley Gum, and handed one to Curley who threw it up and caught it in his mouth.
“Citridoria Pitt made these,” informed Malley Gum, popping one into his own mouth and taking off his specks for the first time. “She makes sweets and all sorts of lovely things and comes around once a week with her selection. She is well known in the tree for her talent.”
“I can see why,” said Sky, devouring the second one.
“Could I buy some to take home?” Then she realised that she didn’t have anything to buy them with. “Oh, wait, I don’t have any money anyway!”
“Ah, that is one of the things you don’t have to worry about here,” said Malley. “We don’t have a monetary system like you do. We have a share system. Everyone can get what they need and they barter and offer something in return. It is all on a trust basis. We only take what we need and no more. Everyone has something to give, whether it is goods or to help in some way. No one is any richer or poorer than anyone else.”
“That’s wonderful,” said Sky. “You mean I could go to one of these places and get something I would like and not have to pay for it?”
“Certainly, and it always works itself out fairly,” replied Malley. “Come on, let’s go and have a look at the next spot.”
“Yeah! Come on Sky,” said Curley, “let’s go and see some more!” And he hopped on to the Nird that was waiting patiently.
They flew further up the tree until they came to a bough that was busy with nutleys making things.
They had piles and piles of different gumnuts and discarded cocoons, all waiting to be made into something useful. To the left of the piles were bark shelves hosting the finished products. There were cups and plates, bowls and vases made from nuts and nut caps. Bottles of all shapes and sizes were lined up ready to be given away. Sky walked along the shelves and chose a beautiful little jug for her mother. It was a gorgeous shape made from dried gum leaves. She knew her mum would love it.
Up a few branches they went, catching rides with small birds and climbing ladders and steps, until they came to a smaller bough with a food table made from thick bark. On the sunny side of the branch were a number of nutleys and fairies preparing food for passers by. It was an incredible smorgasbord made from every type of edible nut and fruit available. Sky had never seen so many different foods on the one table!
“Are you hungry?” Asked Malley Gum, noticing the look on her face.
“Wow! Can I try some of those things?” She replied.
“Sure! Come on, let’s have a bite.” He said, and showed her where the bowls were. They looked at some different flavoured honeycomb and chose two flavours, and Malley Gum poured them a drink of mixed saps and juice.
Sky ate heartily, enjoying the different flavours of all the tempting dishes before her.
When they had finished they caught another Nird, who dropped them off at a branch that was decked out with chairs and small tables all made from bark and sticks.
Tree folk were flying in and out everywhere. This branch was more popular than the food one. Built into the tree trunk was a large serving window and a door that was closed.
Behind the busy counter was a young female nutley trying to keep up with her visitors.
“Is this a café or something Malley?” Said Sky, sitting down in a funny little chair.
“Well I’m not familiar with the term, but it is where folk come to rest and drink our herbal teas. This is my sister’s home, and she runs it. I help her make the teas and her friends and volunteers help her to serve. It keeps her very busy, but she loves it! We have also established our own nursery further up the branch, for the herbs and other items we need for them.”
“Pop! Can we go see Coral now?” Asked Curley eagerly.
They walked over to the serving bench and passed the crowd awaiting their teas and went through the door next to it.
Malley’s sister had someone relieve her post and came over to join them. The nutley woman was shorter and looked younger than Malley. She had long fluffy hair that drifted around her as she moved and a long ponytail of fluffy hair at the back. She looked at Sky intently, fascinated with this new type of visitor.
“Coral, I’d like you to meet a new friend of mine,” said Malley Gum touching her on the shoulder.
“This is our young human friend, Sky. Sky this is my sister, Coral.”
“Hi!” Said Sky, smiling widely.
“Hello Sky, pleased to meet you. Hi Curley!” She added.
“It looks like you are kept very busy here!” Said Sky.
“Oh yes,” replied Coral, “the teas are part of our day to day life, so we are kept on the ball most of the time.” Coral looked over to the counter to find yet another customer waiting. “Please excuse me, I will be back in a moment.”
“That’s okay,” said Sky, understanding that they were busy.
“I might just give them a hand, I won’t be long,” said Malley, and he left her with Curley, who was getting bored. He had seen all this before and wanted to do something different with Sky.
Suddenly he caught sight of a nutley girl looking for him through the large serving window.
“Oh, my friend Leffel is here. Would you like to meet her?” He said eagerly, and headed for the door, Sky followed him. They met up just outside.
“Hi Curley,” she said gaily. “Want to come to the vines?”
“Yes I’d love to! Leffel, this is our new friend Sky. Sky, this is Leffel.”
“Hi, pleased to meet you.” Said the young nutley.
“Hello.” Replied Sky, feeling rather shy all of a sudden.
“Why don’t you come with us?” Suggested Leffel.
“That would be fantastic!” Agreed Curley, “Come on Sky, we’ll show you where we like to play. It’s really good fun!”
“Well, what about Malley and Coral?”
“It’ll be okay. They’ll know you’re with us,” assured Curley. “C’mon let’s go!”
Sky took off after them, wondering what this playground would be like.
They ran up the bough and out of sight amongst the foliage. Past the large nursery that supplied the shop, they kept running, dodging the odd branch sticking up and jumping over rather large ant lines, they came to what Sky thought was the end of the bough. There were masses of branches laden with leaves and a huge mass of tangled vines hanging down from somewhere above. There wasn’t much sunlight in this area, but it did catch the entangled mass and it looked beautiful. The vines had huge heart shaped leaves and orange trumpet flowers and ripe purple berries hanging all over it.
Curley led the way through the lush vines to an opening where the vines were larger and looked fairly old, and they didn’t have much foliage. There were lots of young nutleys, playing all over them and having a wonderful time, swinging by their tails and flying through the air to the next available branch.
Sky spotted a few fairy children playing with them and three pixies were swinging on a long rope as they went. Amongst the playing children, dragonflies hovered and butterflies fluttered through, taking fairy babies with them. It was a magical picture.
Curley and Leffel took off up one large climbing plant and began to swing like monkeys, from one to another catching up with their friends along the way. Suddenly Sky felt a little inadequate and settled for watching them.
Curley noticed Sky sitting down, and realised that she wasn’t quite equipped to play like they were. He headed back. Leffel saw him and followed, calling her friends to join them.
Sky was suddenly surrounded by lots of little people smiling and looking curiously at the new face.
“Everyone, this is Sky! She’s a human being.”
“A human being what?” Pipped up a tiny fairy girl that stood at her feet.
“No, a human being. That is what they are. Beings that are human.” He tried to explain. “Sky, these are our friends and study buddies!”
“Hi!” She said shyly.
“Where are your wings?” Asked one young fairy boy, playing with his sleeve.
“I don’t have wings,” she replied, “I wish I did though!” She added.
“We can fix that!” Whispered a red haired fairy girl.
She looked about Sky’s age and had blue eyes too. From under one of her skirt petals she pulled out a pretty purple pouch and dug her hand in it. She pulled out a handful of sparkly dust and threw it over Sky.
“Wings for Sky, so she can fly!” Said the fairy girl a little louder, and before they knew it, wings appeared behind Sky’s shoulders. They were beautiful big blue transparent wings, with tiny dark blue tails at the bottom. Sky could hardly feel them but she knew just what to do! As she thought about it, her wings began to flutter until she lifted herself off the ground and flew gracefully into the air.

Nutlidge ~ Chapter Five

Chapter Five


“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.