A Broken Wing

bird joy hanford


Hank: (walking into the living room after school)

Molly: Bah Bah Ne NE! (Brother, you’re home!!!)

Hank: (stops dead in his tracks) Mama, are you okay?

Me: (remembering my arm is in a sling) Oh sure, just a broken wing. I’m fine, but I could use some help with the MaGoo, if she needs lifting or if she needs a full hug. I am only hugging at half capacity at the moment.

Hank: (sitting next to me on the couch still wearing his coat and backpack) How did you break your wing, mama?

Me: Flying, of course. How else do you break a wing? I called the fairies while Molly was with Ana this morning. I had finished my work early and needed a little mischief, so I pulled a huge favor and got them to turn me into a bird. I needed to hear what the wind sounded like soaring on high and I needed to see if the leaves at the tip-tops of trees were very different from the leaves we can see from the ground. I then asked a fellow bird if I could sit in their nest because I have always wondered if birds were comfortable or if a nest always felt like a constant stick in the back.

Hank: And?

Molly: Go Go Go (pointing at the door)?

Hank: Molly wants to go and see papa.

Me: Release the beast.

Molly: Neeee ne ne ne ne ne (Papa, you are my favorite person)

Pai: (from the kitchen) Olá caramela! (Hello caramel)

Hank: (returning to the couch) So how did you break your wing?

Me: Well, when I was journeying back a sudden storm came up and as I am not a skilled flyer…

Hank: No, mama. How did you really hurt your arm?

Me: (shoulders dropped, reality sets in) It’s my RA (rheumatoid arthritis). I’m just having too much pain to use this arm. Using this sling is forcing me to rest and not use it and it helps a bit. I will be fine soon.

Hank: (deep breath) Sure you will and now that I know the truth tell me more of the magic. What happened in the storm? Tell me the rest of the story.

Me: (misty eyed) Well, really it wasn’t my fault because I thought to check the weather report and they said I had a window of sun in all this winter rain we’re having, so when the storm came up I knew I had pushed my luck…

Hank: (leaning into my good arm and the story)


*Guest Artist: Me (Joy Hanford)


Sometimes the Answer is No

conversations with hank

(Hank was away this weekend at his friend Irina’s house and when they returned they needed to speak to the fairies who attend our Magical Fairy Door, specifically Paige Portensia Xanthro Sprigh, Director of Far Flung Fairies, Inc.  We called her at home, because Hank and Irina had spent the weekend making them paper cellphones and were hoping the fairies could enchant them and would be willing to pay upwards of €30 a piece for their creations. Hank woke up to find this letter waiting for him.)


The Night in November that marks the Twenty-ninth Day
In the year two thousand and fifteen

Dearest Hank,

Imagine my glee when I returned home to find your message hanging on the wind just above my mantle fire. I have not heard from you in such a long time and your house sounded lively and your spirits high so I planned a simple meal and sat in front of my fire, warm and content until you house fell into slumber.

The air in your town was electric and the roar of drums was so powerful it was hard to surface in the human world with the Festa de Pinheiro raging outside. What a magical night and so rich with history, born of a time when fairy folk and your kind lived in harmony. Days my grandfather spoke of his grandfather missing. Oh, to have the world that way again would be such a gift!

And when I entered through your door I was thinking exactly this when I spied your gift for the Fae, although well intended not at all something we need.

My kind need nothing of technology. We have magic and nature and love and a connection to the earth so much so that no cellphone can ever be enticing a fairy. I thank you for your intention and see how hard you worked, I value your craftsmanship and I do love the designs on the rear face of the phones, but neither myself nor my friends would ever need such a thing.

We Fairies delight in acorn caps and river rocks, thistle down and mica, egg shells and milkweed pods, sea glass and laughter. We do not need material things. Yes, we love your art: the kind you draw with your heart and your imagination. We love to share in your passions and your stories. These things have real value to us, but we find the human’s obsession with gadgets silly when your time could be better spent counting the colors in a sunset or looking for four leaf clovers, sowing seeds or spying elephants in clusters of clouds.

Thank you for your invitation to your home. I so enjoy stepping through this door and almost always marvel at what I will find, but I was not dazzled by these gifts, although well made. I have left them for you and your friends to find better homes for them.

Please do not hesitate to call in the future. Give my best to your friends Irina and Mariama and a big kiss to your little Muggy, Amália Sofia.


Paige Portensia Xanthro Sprigh
Hollow’s Grove
Fairy Realm, International


How to Choose a Book

conversations with hank


Me: (entering the hallway to find Hank sitting in front of the kid’s bookshelf) Whatcha doin, sailor?

Hank: (not taking his eyes off the books) I want a new chapter book to read until we find the Magician’s Nephew.

Me: I still have no idea where that book is!

Hank: Vanished.

Me: Fairies… only explanation.

Hank: I don’t think the fairies stole it, but I do think that asking Paige Portensia for help to find it is a good idea.

Me: I concur.

Hank: I don’t know what book to choose.

Me: Well, that is the great challenge for all readers, but I find the back of the book to be infinitely helpful. Have you tried that?

Hank: No.

Me: For example, here is a book that Liz and Rob gave you. It’s called The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage, by Enid Blyton. She was an extremely popular writer in England, but I never read her books growing up in America and if we look at the back of the book it says:

“Fatty, Larry, Daisy, Pip, Bets and Buster the dog turn detectives when a mysterious fire destroys a thatched cottage in their village. Calling themselves the ‘Five Find-Outers and Dog,’ they set out to solve the mystery and discover the culprit. The final solution, however, surprises the Fine Find-Outers almost as much as Mr. Goon, the village policeman!” (handing Hank the book)

Hank: That sounds good. What is a thatched cottage?

Me: A thatched cottage is one where the roof is made with a thick, complicated carpet of straw.

Hank: Can we look at one on google?

Me: For sure. And the most enthusiastic readers no matter how fascinated they are by the back of the first book they pick up always pick up a second to read as well. Would you choose another, please?

Hank: Um… This one.

Me: Right! This is a good one. This is called Stuart Little, by E.B. White. He wrote Charlotte’s Web.

Hank: I liked that book, but I cried. It was such a good story and so sad, but then you had to try and be happy again even though you were sad.

Me: True story. Charlotte’s Web is a lot like life in general: Super good, thrilling, nerve wracking, joyous, and at points devastating, but utterly worth it. Never judge a book by the last story the author told. If that were the case I would have never read another book by Thomas Hardy after the traumatic Jude the Obscure and I love Thomas Hardy’s books. Ok, let’s look at the back:

“Stuart Little is a mouse in the family of the Frederick C. Littles and is a pleasantly debonair little character, with a shy and engaging manner and a somewhat philosophical turn of mind. His size – just over two inches – does give him some trouble now and then. But on the whole his life is a happy one. His great adventure comes when, at the age of seven, he set out in the world to seek his dearest friend, Margalo, a beautiful little bird who stayed in the Littles’ Boston fern.” (handing Hank the book)

Hank: So now I pick?

Me: Yup.

Hank: Well, I want to read the mystery book. Have we ever read a mystery book?

Me: Nope.

Hank: And I want to read a book where someone is called Fatty. Who’s mother calls them Fatty? That is a mystery, too.

Me: Ha! I like how your mind works.

Hank: Me, too.