Two of my worlds recently collided. The world I usually live in revolves around the visual and literary arts. The world I get lost in, literally, is that of the sciences. I’m math impaired and allergic to science unless I can watch it on the Discovery Channel. I have no idea what calculus, trigonometry, Newton’s laws of motion or Einstein’s theory of relativity are. Nor do I care. I do, however, respect those of you interested in the pursuit of such drivel.
My love of the arts is rooted in the set of Childcraft books I pored over as a youngster. I also gobbled up anything by Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm. The nursery rhymes, poems, stories, and illustrations kept me mesmerized for hours. Most spellbinding was anything to do with fairies, elves and mermaids. I daydreamed of eating berries on a lily pad with my cricket and froggy friends, using toadstools to shelter myself from rain, sunning on a rock with watching ships pass by, and frolicking in the waves with dolphins.
Not only did my fascination with such creatures continue through adulthood, I did my best to point out to my four children any hidey holes from where elves may be peeking out at us and ripples in the water likely caused by the flip of a mermaid’s tail. My two youngest boys and I were heartbroken years ago when our plan to see the real mermaids in Weeki Wachee were derailed on our road trip through Florida when one of them got sick. I’ve never gotten over it, but I think the boys are fine now.
I also missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime two summers ago while in Ann Arbor doing research for a project I was working on. I had about one hour to kill before heading to the airport, so I glanced through the what-to-see-and-do-in-Ann Arbor brochure that was on the motel desk. If ever joy and inconsolable disappointment married, it was at that moment. As it turns out, there are fairies in Ann Arbor. Lots of them. Their homes are scattered throughout the city and there’s a fairy home tour map available for those who want to visit them. To this day, I regret with all my heart not paying the whatever fee the airline would have charged me to change my flight that day. Any amount of money would have been worth spending to see proof that fairies exist. Instead, I wandered around the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum, dabbing the tears from my eyes, which weren’t a result of Betty Ford having just died. My seatmate on the flight home told me she lived in Ann Arbor all her life and, unbelievably, had never heard of the fairies. How is that possible?
For some reason, the subject of mermaids and fairies has been coming up frequently with my friends and me. Actually, it’s my love of fairies and mermaids that’s the topic of these conversations. I even blogged about one incident last month in my “Carolina Yankee” blog. I ignore the eye rolls and snickers of those not willing to believe. They’re science-oriented people, I’m sure.
So, I’m taking a required science course this summer. I chose an online astronomy course, which I’m struggling with (duh!), though I enjoy the illustrations in the textbook. But I have, or so I thought, an ace in the hole: a high school science teacher friend who offered to help me with my phases of the moon lab. We struggled together for more than an hour to figure out the elongation and position of a waxing crescent moon at 9:00 a.m. (Uh, who cares?) While Barb understood the principle, she was as perplexed as I as to how to solve those 18 problems. I asked her colleague Donna for help. Donna spent over an hour on the Internet looking for teaching aids I could use. I ended up getting a C on the lab. Whatever.
What does my astronomy class have to do with fairies and mermaids? The connection is Barb. Not only is she from Ann Arbor, where fairies flourish, she is also the person who introduced me to the video below, which she posted on Facebook several years ago. It proves scientifically that fairies are real and, just as important, helped me understand why science is so important.
By the way, though I haven’t seen one myself, apparently mermaids also really exist. See for yourself.