"The waters and the wild"

The other week, I had a brush with fairyland. It was a coincidental stumbling: driving over the river, my eyes are by habit locked on the road in anticipation of twisting blind-cornered through the ravine beyond the bridge. That afternoon, in search of yet more autumn beauty, they wandered slightly to my left. A turn of the head, and I caught a ridge full of colour. The Saskatchewan's north bank, steeply climbing with trees leaved from amber to umber, was a phoenix reborn in the blaze of the sun. A breath-taking scene. At that moment came magic from the mechanics of my stereo, the King's Singers giving ethereal voice to the words of Yeats:

Come away, oh human child
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand...

I've enjoyed Whitacre's setting of "the Stolen Child" many times before, but never have I felt the urge to answer the faery's call. Had one come to pull me through my windshield, I don't know if I could have resisted. Thankfully for my back-seat passenger, no such nymph appeared. Common sense prevailed, and my eyes abandoned the ridge for the road to guide us safely home.

Ever after, when appointments or errands take me south of the river, I'll search that ridge upon my return. I rather doubt that constant vigilance can reproduce what chance once brought together, but a second glimpse of woodland sprite would be worth a thousand empty glances.


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