The first time we visited the hidden village, the kids were little -- Sadie was a toddler, Meg and Charlie weren't on the scene yet and our big Newfie, Guinness, was still with us. It was a rainy weekend and the kids were getting stir-crazy and a friend, sensing my frustration with trying to keep three kids happy-ish, asked if we had ever visited the secret village. The kids were immediately intrigued and after a day of badgering, we decided to set out to find this village of small stone houses in the woods near a large birch tree. Yup, that was the extent of our directions but we persevered -- when you have three kids under the age of 6 who are excited to find a secret village, full-steam ahead is the only way to go.
I remember Ted was carrying Sadie as we hiked along, looking for a large birch tree....which was somewhat of a challenge because birch trees are a dime a dozen in northern Wisconsin. The boys ran ahead, dipping in and out of the forest, excited to be in charge of locating the village. Eventually, they hollered that they found it and we all gathered around this collection of stone and concrete houses in a small clearing in the woods. It was one of those moments I will never forget; the kids were mesmerized by these magical fairy homes in the wilderness and I was grateful to witness such faith in that unexplainable magic that kids are so willing to embrace.
Fast forward 16 years or so and we visited the hidden village again last summer. This time, Jack was in Madison, Sadie was in Bayfield and it was Will's last weekend in Bayfield before he left for UW-Madison. I had forgotten about the village but as we were walking down the trail, Ted said he thought we were near it and Will and Charlie took off into the woods to find it (some things don't change). Sure enough, they found it and as we walked up to the village, I was struck by how small it looked. The kids are so much larger now and they dwarfed the little dwellings, animals and figurines.
The houses had greenery poking out through the windows and it looked as though they hadn't been visited for quite some time. The forest floor was littered with sticks and leaves but the houses looked much the same as they had during our first visit, all those years ago.
Meg and Ted headed off to explore while the boys spent time arranging the animals and figurines near the houses and taking photos of the little community. They are much older now and magical fairy villages aren't as enchanting as they used to be. Instead of talking about the magic that created those houses, we talked about the memories that this place holds for our family as we walked back to the campsite. So much has changed in the past 16 years and while I couldn't be more proud of them, nostalgia has a way of washing over me, like a rogue wave. Time flies and finding your back to places that are suspended in time, that hold memories waiting to be remembered......that's my kind of magic.