Meet the neighbors

Fairies taking up residence in Durango

Barbara Edidin with her fairy home at the base of the American elm tree in her front yard on East Third Avenue in Durango. Enlarge photo

DAVID BERGELAND/Durango Herald

Barbara Edidin with her fairy home at the base of the American elm tree in her front yard on East Third Avenue in Durango.

In the play version of “Peter Pan,” the title character asks his theater audience to clap if they believe in fairies to revive an ailing Tinker Bell poisoned by Capt. Hook.

Durango residents would probably applaud enthusiastically because there is plenty of evidence around the town that fairies are alive and well.

According to a very unscientific poll by The Durango Herald, there are at least eight fairy homes along East Third and East Fourth avenues, based on the appearance of miniature-sized doors, windows and decorations attached to neighborhood trees and garden stones.

Some apparently inhabit the trees of the most well-known addresses, such as the historic Jakway house at 11th Street and East Third Avenue, but judging by their furnishings and accessories, our little people seem to lead fairly ordinary lives.

They play basketball, if a tiny backboard on the sidewalk of Third Avenue can be believed.

They put out flags to show their patriotism. They decorate according to the holiday with Lilleputian-sized May Day poles, Easter eggs and scarecrows for Halloween.

Some pixies are thoughtful enough to leave notes in their mailboxes for their hosts’ visiting grandchildren, said Patti Baranowski, who said fairies inhabit her backyard garden.

“The fairies will ask (the grandchildren) if they’re watching the garden, how long they’re staying,” Baranowski said. The grandkids will send back messages like, “Fairies, I hope you’re happy. Can you come to my house, too?”

Like any good local, the little people seem to know how to play to the tourists.

Barbara Edidin said she enjoys watching people react whenever they see her fairies’ lawn furniture, water well and tree door.

“I enjoy it for myself, but it’s really fun to see people walk by and do a double take,” said Edidin. “People photograph it all the time.”

Some people leave food, such as pistachio nuts. Two little boys once approached Edidin and asked her if they could contribute stones to the fairies’ landscape.

“I was so delighted,” Edidin said. “They wanted to do something for the fairies.”

But passers-by are not always so nice. They drop cigarette butts. A woman once reached across a fence to snatch a peace symbol because she considered it to be a Satanic symbol for resembling an upside down cross.

“The whole thing was bizarre,” Edidin said.

But everybody has their own concept of fairies. Edidin thinks her fairies are conventional little people who walk in and out of their tree door, but Baranowski is pretty sure her fairies can fly because her tree door is not at ground level.

Baranowski’s garden fairies have a soccer ball to flatter a grandson who loves the sport. As a family activity, the Baranowskis painted a statuette of a kneeling pixie for the garden.

“I don’t think there’s any age that doesn’t enjoy a fairy garden,” Baranowski said. “It’s joyful.”

Leslie Morris, assistant manager of Cliffrose, Your High Desert Gardens in Cortez, said “many women bring in their children for a play date” whenever her store has decorating classes.

Morris considers the trend to be a revival of the “’70s mystical thing” because putting a miniature door at the base of a tree makes “it more magical.”

Edidin just enjoys playing with miniatures.

“I consider it the dollhouse I never had,” she said.

jhaug@durangoherald.com

A fairy home at the base of tree along East Third Avenue in Durango. Notice the basketball hoop on the side of the tree. Enlarge photo

DAVID BERGELAND/Durango Herald

A fairy home at the base of tree along East Third Avenue in Durango. Notice the basketball hoop on the side of the tree.

Portal of fairy home at a tree at the Jakway house at 11th Street and Third Avenue. Like many Durango residents, the fairy rides a bicycle. Enlarge photo

JIM HAUG/Durango Herald

Portal of fairy home at a tree at the Jakway house at 11th Street and Third Avenue. Like many Durango residents, the fairy rides a bicycle.

A fairy home on Fourth Avenue is decorated for the season with a May pole. Enlarge photo

JIM HAUG/Durango Herald

A fairy home on Fourth Avenue is decorated for the season with a May pole.

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