I used to meet a friend on the mainland, for a couple days of shopping and conversation.
Linda would drive across the state; I’d fly off the island. We’d meet in Charlevoix. Sometimes we’d gravitate north to Petoskey, for familiar sites, family history, bookstores and restaurants. Other times we’d go south, to Traverse City, for a change of pace.
Linda usually brought her dog on these mini-vacations, so we’d take turns: one of us would go in to check out a shop while the other stayed outside with the dog.
Once, in Traverse City, Linda went in to a New Age book store. I stayed on the sidewalk.
After a few moments, Linda came out. “She wants to see you!” she said, “That psychic, she wants you to go in to talk to her!”
In my almost fifty years of association with Linda, I can count on one hand the times someone chose to focus on me over her.
Charming, charismatic and funny, with a deeper, spiritual side and a manner of listening that made any speaker feel important, everyone – from bartenders to shoe salesmen and even my own children – would rather talk to Linda!
Why had this woman asked to talk to me?
Was I in trouble?
Maybe she felt I was loitering? Surely Linda would have told her I was waiting for her.
If it was the dog – if she loved the look and wanted to know the breed or if I shouldn’t be lingering outside with a dog – I would be quick to tell her the dog was not mine.
What could it be??
I went inside. She gestured for me to come over, and offered me a seat. She leaned back in her chair and gave me a big smile.
“So…” she said, “I can tell that you see the Wee Folk.”
What would make her think something like that? What would make her ask it?
I am small in stature, perhaps it was a matter of “like is drawn to like.”
It has been pointed out to me that I smile, even when alone in my car with no one to be smiling at. Perhaps I was smiling, out on the sidewalk with the dog, and she felt it was the smile of someone who associated with Wee Folk.
Perhaps she was a fake psychic, and was trying to draw me in to her strange world by giving me weird imaginary powers.
What to say?
Any reference to weirdness or odd-ball ideas or charlatanism were out: this woman had summoned me when she could have been speaking to Linda, who actually is psychic, and understands all of it much better than I do, and who most everyone in the world would rather be talking to.
Of course I would be kind.
I considered brushing it off with a flip comment: “Some people think I am one of the Wee Folk,” but her gaze was sincere.
I told her the truth.
“I don’t,” I answered, “but I see where they live.”
In my walks along wood-lined paths and roadways, sometimes – deep in the woods – an area glows as if lit from within, though there is no obvious source of light.
There must be a break in the canopy of treetops, that lets the sunlight through.
Of course there is a practical and understandable explanation.
But when I see a far bright spot in the center of a dark woods, with grass and leaves and mosses of diminutive size, glowing like the saints in old paintings, with twigs laid out as if by plan, I think of the leprechauns and faeries and wee folk.
If I listened hard enough, I’m sure I’d hear their music.
If I waited, I might even catch a glimpse.