Until I was ten years old, I believed in fairies. Not just fairies in books or in movies—I believed that fairies lived in the trails and canyons behind my home in the Santa Cruz Mountains. After a short hike up a trail, an oasis of green grass and colorful flowers rested peacefully among the dry and brown surroundings. Through the eyes of a young girl, this was the perfect place to exercise the imagination. The little Snow White cottage, miniature train and an unbelievable three-story treehouse it becomes the picture perfect description of a real life fairytale. The only way to tackle such a vast and visually stimulating place is to strap on your fairy wings and head up the abandoned fire trail.
When I got off the bus after a long day of elementary school, traipsing down the deer trail, my mind instantly started wandering to all the creative activities I had planned. Most days consisted of coloring, backyard exploring, or playing with my beloved Beanie Babies. However, on special occasions, when my mom was feeling up to it, we would head to the Magic Kingdom. As soon as I walked out the door, I anticipated the exploration; while the boring dirt trail seemed long at times, it was totally worth it! The first majestic sight was the large pond surrounded by Redwoods and filled with salamanders on your left and an apple orchard on your right enticing you to explore. Wait, I am getting a little bit ahead of myself; before you can ever go on this adventure you absolutely have to bring the proper supplies.
Everyone knows the Magic Kingdom has a very large fairy population and the only way to find them is to blend in and know what to look for. First, you needed a pair of fairy wings so they would automatically assume you were one of them. Second, it is very important to bring some type of container to collect any evidence found such as acorn hats, leaf boats, or even berries they use to make paint. Third, you must stay very quiet on the hike up because loud noises were sure to scare them away before you even arrive. Once you enter the Magic Kingdom, it is best to look for very small holes in trees or flower gardens because those are their favorite hiding spots.
Even though these explorations were mostly about fairies, I made sure to enjoy the surroundings and other wildlife the Magic Kingdom had to offer. I do not want to brag, but I was quite the salamander expert back in the day. I made sure to always do my research and I was part of a special group allowed to explore this place since I lived on “Call of the Wild.” The Magic Kingdom did not allow just anyone to enjoy this outdoor utopia so I felt very lucky to be one of the chosen few. Anyway, back to the salamanders. After I caught several I would put them in my container and bring them back home. It was very important to create a safe little habitat for them so I could study them for long stretches of time. You had to be careful though, it was never a good idea to touch them very much because the oil on human hands hurt their skin.
It was so important to preserve the Magic Kingdom as best as you could because this is one of the only places fairies can live. In order to do this I never took too many salamanders or samples of fairy life to ensure they always had their essentials. Instead, I tried to build them miniature gardens or houses as a special surprise because I knew it must be hard to build things when you are so small. I had always planned if I ever found a fairy I would let it live freely in the houses rather than take it home for research. The reason I searched so hard for them is not that I wanted to be the only kid at school with a pet fairy; I simply wanted one as my friend.
Even though I no longer live next to this beautiful place, the Magic Kingdom still fills me with joy and amazing memories that most children never get to experience. I might be biased but I truly believe I had one of the best childhoods anyone could ever ask for. It was not until I was in high school living in North Carolina when I discovered the Magic Kingdom is really Nestldown, one of the most exclusive wedding venues in the Bay Area. Despite having this newly acquired knowledge, I will always keep this place close to my heart and I will always think of it as the Magic Kingdom. When I become a mother I already have so many fairytale plans to help my children have similar experiences. One day when they come home from school, they might find a hidden fairy garden amongst the trees in the backyard inspired by my childhood imagination that has never really faded.