NORFOLK, Va. — Let's face it -- right now, many of us could use a little enchantment.
Last summer, children's book author Lisa Suhay visited a bird sanctuary in Norfolk, which is usually teeming with happy sounds. But that day was different as she came upon a little girl.
"I heard how sad she was," said Suhay. "She said it was really boring in the bird sanctuary."
To make her smile, Suhay told the girl a fanciful story about fairies. That idea blossomed into a fairy tree village in Suhay's own front yard, her crape myrtle tree becoming a home for whimsical characters that respond to letters written to them by children and some adults.
"I just put out all the materials for the fairies, and the fairies have...really done the rest," said Suhay. "There's so much stress. It's coming at everybody from every possible angle. Relationships are suffering...It's just too much. You need magic!"
Suhay says to date, the fairies have answered more than 1,000 letters from all over the world. The letters cover an array of topics, including concerns about coping during the pandemic.
"There have been children who are just wrestling with anxiety and depression," said Suhay. "They need a friend that they can completely count on to listen to their fears and their worries."
Melissa Carroll says she brings her girls to the village regularly.
"I walked by [the village] and checked it out. [I] was mesmerized," said Carroll. "I had to show my girls that night."
Carroll's daughters Cate and Sophia and their friend Maya Gebler say the village is not just about fun and fancy but a welcome distraction from a challenging time.
"Esther was the first fairy I've ever wrote to and she's helped me with some problems," said Cate Carroll.
"I got a response from Jenks, a protection pixie, and I asked a ton of questions," said Sophia Carroll.
"I think other people should go there because...that would make them feel calm," said Gebler.
Letter by letter, the message is simple: as we all spend more time at home, the fairies are at home too. And their door is wide open.
"You can find magic in your neighborhood. And it's not gone. It's not disappeared from the world. It's here. It's waiting for you," said Suhay.
The fairy tree village is located at 1651 Longwood Drive in Norfolk. You can drop letters at the fairy tree village in person at any time, or you can submit your letters here.