I discovered a possible new species in the Enchanted Forest today: culvert goblins. At the end of NaNoWriMo no less. I should be focusing on my novel, not documenting a new species, but such is life as Keeper of Imaginary Beasts.
After some trial and error, I discovered the culvert goblins respond well to promises of hot cocoa and frozen blueberries. They may well have been starving in their respective culverts, or are possibly ruled by cravings of sweet things at both extremes of temperature.
Once inside the house, they huddled around the fireplace and its crackling fire, making me wonder if they have evolved from a medieval species of hobgoblin, bottlenecking to the culvert niche. I suppose the things are plentiful enough and tunnels have always had a mystical portal element that imaginary beasts are attracted to.
After consuming their promised treats, the sugar elicited an energetic response, causing them to grow too destructive for keeping indoors. The collection of dragon scales donated by the lunar dragons on their last visit was damaged, but I believe I can repair them with a bit of glue and time.
I was forced to turn them out-of-doors again when they refused to stop knocking at the fairy doors. Better cold than turned to toads or inside out by infuriated fairies. They returned to their respective culverts, muttering about the cold and offended by my refusal to let them hibernate in the kindling basket by the stove.
I’ll keep an eye on them throughout the winter, and am planning a trip to the local thrift shop for wool blankets to keep them cozy in their winter hibernation. I look forward to studying them more fully in the spring, but for now, its back to NaNoWriMo. The end is in sight!
The most important thing to remember about enchanted forest finding is that any rules are mere guidelines. An enchanted forest may contain one or more of the ‘classic’ traits or none at all. It may be a forest, or it might only be a forest if you were to shrink yourself down to the size of an ant and start looking up at dandelion stalks or renegade clover. A change of perspective can go a long way when it comes to enchantment.
An enchanted forest should always have one or two old trees. The older the better because dryads, or tree spirits, become friendlier with age. The younger ones can be quite shy, but of course there are exceptions to every rule. Trees themselves are most often easy friends, as long as you are nice to them and don’t damage their roots or their bark.
You can tell how old a tree is by looking at its bark. Like people, trees get wrinkles when they grow older. Unlike people, they are very proud of their wrinkles. Consider each as a laugh line, earned from happy memories and a well-told joke, summer vacations and family camping trips. In trees, these wrinkles look like deep grooves between flakes of their bark. There may be spiders or fairies making homes in the shadows of these grooves, and that is to be expected after all, for they are such happy places and make a wonderful place to rest until you feel better. Flies and other sorts of insects reading this should avoid the ones with spiders, of course.
Some of these old trees are so enchanting that they can even make an enchanted forest out of a lawn, which is very fortunate for children who cannot shrink down or get their clothes dirty and who only get to see forests on summer vacations and weekend trips to the country. Enchanted forests are much better received if taken in daily doses, after all, but you must do the best you can. Imagining an enchanted forest is also a good idea, and can do wonders to strengthen your imagination muscles.
An enchanted forest should also contain a stream, a brook, or some sort of watery place. A puddle after the rain will suffice, of course, and the muddier the better. Desert-dwelling people will have to make do with an enchanted cactus, of which I have little expertise, but as I understand it, cacti have secret (magical) stores of water and this should suffice. This water is important because it gives entrance to water sprites, undines, and the occasional freshwater mermaid which is refreshing for everyone. They are also handy for making children squeal with delight and give them all sorts of stories to tell their friends at school.
Following these guides (or not) should have you well on your way to finding or imagining an enchanted forest of your own. I recommend returning again and again until the forest becomes as familiar with you as it is its own soil. After all many fairies, trees, and the like enjoy a rare glimpse of a human once in a while themselves, as some of them (fairies in particular) are never certain if we are real or not.