Come Down the Primrose Path With Me

“I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?

– John Lennon.

I was a fanciful child and at a young age fell in love with words that could be woven into heroic or tragic tales. I was abetted in this folly by an Irish grandmother who had the gift of gab and a tongue of purest gold. As I wept at the fate of “The Little Match Girl”, she’d comfort me with her very Catholic interpretation of the fairy tale. “Ah, child, can’t you see she’s in a better place. She’s with the angels now.”

Maude’s telling of a story would put most actresses to shame, but as good as she was with the words of others, her telling of her own stories was worthy of an ovation at the

Abbey Theater. She had a soft brogue and lilting voice, and, that, coupled with a face and body whose muscles could instantaneously register fear and wonder, made for interesting bedtimes in our house.

The image grows more fuzzy with the passing years, but I can still see her face and body angrily tense as she read “The Selfish Giant” and boomed, “Who hath dared to slay thee.” Obviously, someone who was not going to heaven.

Maude loved the primrose, whose Irish name is sabhaircin, and each spring she place a small pot of them outside her door. Their job was to ward off evil and lure fairies into the house to bless it and all who lived within its walls. When she had more space, Maude would plant a patch of primroses to ward off hunger, as well as provide a portal to the fairy kingdom.

The primrose, you see, is edible, and even those not brave enough to taste its blossoms sometimes use them to garnish spring dishes. The blossoms taste a bit like lettuce, and I am sorry to tell you there is some bad news for those who do not feast on them. As non-believers, they will never get to see the fairies or be afforded their protection, much less cross the portal to the fairy kingdom. I know all this to be true because Maude told me so. I have eaten a lot of primrose petals in my day. I need all the help I can get. Maude told me that, too.

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