Handfuls of cute little cottages dot the Rahway Trail in Locust Grove, just outside of Millburn. Although the number of houses is constantly growing, locals have spotted up to 30 handmade creations inside of empty tree trunks, tucked inside of roots, etc.
“It was like a treasure hunt to find them and exciting and lovely,” said Gail Waimon, a member of the volunteer group South Mountain Conservancy, which maintains the 2,110-acre nature reserve in Essex County.
“But this year I noticed the houses multiplying by leaps and bounds,” she said.
Although the fairy home architect was unknown for years, park lover and non-fairy Therese Ojibway was recently outed as their creator. A 60-year-old special education teacher, Ojibway has been exploring the nature reserve with her son for years. In an interview with the NY Times, she said that she started building the fairy houses five years ago using inspiration from her own childhood, fairy tales, and nature itself. “I started looking at the hollows of the trees and thought, ‘If I were a fairy I would live there,’” she said.
Today, her creations are so popular that it has created some copycats, much to the consternation of her loyal followers and the park conservatory. Apparently springtime saw a rash of new and not-improved fairy homes being littered along the trail in plain sight and included tacky little plastic creations with smurfs, green army men, and other tchotchkes.
Ms. Ojibway says that she is glad that children are using her work as inspiration to make their own creations, buta wooden sign that reads, “Fairies Like: Acorns, pine cones, shells, flowers and pretty stones. Not plastic.”
The park’s conservatory is also working to keep the original fairy homes in mind by reminding visitors of the “take nothing, leave nothing” spirit of the outdoors. The conservancy recently posted its own sign at the trailhead reading: “Please follow the Fairy House rules! Natural materials only. No plastic or glass. Do NOT paint trees.”
Via NY Times
Images via South Mountain Fairy Trail Facebook