The videographer notices it first, hanging from the branch of a tree at the corner of Cook Street and Dallas Road. When we point it out to people passing by, they proclaim it “fantastic” and “cool”. All of them squint their eyes to get a closer look at how vines, branches and live greenery have been woven together to create a green globe that’s at least twice the size of their heads.
When Sandra walks by we ask her the same questions we ask the others. But instead of being bewildered, she says there is no question in her mind who’s responsible for engineering it. “Wood elves,” she proclaims. “What else? It’s gotta be.” I ask if she’s seen wood elves before. She says “several times” and encourages us to go into the nearby forest and see for ourselves. The videographer and I exchange looks. Our deadline is looming. We have to file a story for the end of the six o’clock news and don’t really have time to go searching for something we’re so skeptical of finding. Sandra graciously offers us some suggestions on how to see the elves. “Don’t look up,” she advises. “Fairies live up there. Wood elves don’t have wings. Otherwise they’d get stuck in bushes. They live on the ground.” She walks away with a wave and a challenge: “If you don’t know what it is you’ve got to go there.”
The videographer and I walk into the woods. We take deep breaths and start looking. We find flower bulbs peeking through the dirt and tree buds springing to life, but no sign of wood elves. We walk a bit deeper into the forest and our thoughts – once stuck with worry and work – start to become unbound. The videographer starts capturing images of how bent branches resemble arms and legs and how curled leaves seem like little elves.
We could credit what we were noticing with the intoxicating smell of fresh air and the soothing sound of the wind in the trees. But the moods of the people passing by that hanging orb seem to change the more they spent time with it. One person told us: “It makes me feel great to see how it’s alive.” Another, on his way to a meeting says, “It kinda reminds you to slow down and appreciate nature.”
This reminds us what Sandra had said about why we need the work of the wood elves. If you take the time to appreciate how nature works on us, or the work that’s been crafted from it, you will feel happy.
Adam Sawatsky is an anchor-reporter at CTV News Vancouver Island. On weekends, he hosts ‘Eye on the Arts’ on CFAX 1070.