I’ve been reading The Ice Maiden at work, as though I need to balance the summer-ish heat with something cold. The story meanders through the years and through the land, focused on Ruddy and his charming ways. The Ice Maiden is at the edges, beneath the crevasses, her cool lips ready to kiss like death.
I would say that the women of fairy tales from from the turn of the century (if 1883 counts as the turn) disappoint me, but the men are equally shallow. The women, even when good, are touched with evil. Eve’s kiss is as deadly as the Ice Maiden I suppose. The man is no better; Ruddy is perfect and charming and blessed but for no real reason.
Am I expecting too much from fairy tales? Winifred Gallagher writes “In short, magic is what happens when you’re paying attention to something else,” and maybe it’s because I’m paying attention to the fairy tale that I can’t find magic in its lines.
It’s beginning to be summer, and I want the little magics. I want the swirling foil of pinwheels to catch my attention, I want the rising swell of lightning bugs, I want the golden yellow light of porches as night mellows from cobalt to Prussian blue. I have the sunsets, I’m working on the pinwheel, and I’ll have to just imagine the bugs with candles and Christmas lights. I can make my own magic, and it doesn’t have to be sleight of hand falsehoods, a bright orange thumb to tuck a scarf into while the attention is held elsewhere. I do agree with Gallagher, that’s one definition of magic, but there are other sorts too.