Did I ever tell you about what happened last fall when I visited Mother Goose? I didn't think so.
Well, I was reminded recently of that visit, when the advent of cooler weather in El Paso brought flies on the window screen wanting to get in where it was warm.
As on each of my visits, Mother Goose had treated me to something special and caught me up on all the latest news. Before I headed home, I asked her if she knew of any place in the forest where I could gather some lichen to use for some of my projects - without harming the environment, of course.
"Why, certainly," she said. "There are some trees not far from here where you could probably get a pocketfull without altering the ecological balance."
Oh, it was a beautiful day in Fairy Land. The air was a bit misty, fresh and crisp, with the scent of woodsmoke from the nearby Woodsman's Cottage. "Look; there's lichen on this tree," Mother Goose said. "Take a bit from this one, and a bit from that one over there. Why, you might even be able to use some of this moss, too," she added, looking down at the bright green moss at its base.
"Great," I said, and put a few clusters of lichen and a pad or two of moss in my pocket. We turned to head back to Mother Goose's cottage, when I noticed a buzzing sound behind us. I turned to see what it was.
A strange little old lady had come from behind the tree, pulling what appeared to be moving ropes along the ground. "It's Grandmother Matamosca!" Mother Goose said, waving, but the old woman didn't seem to notice us.
"Yoohoooo!" Mother Goose called. "Come and join us, Grandmother. I want to introduce you to my guest."
"Eh? What's that?" she asked, turning.
"I would like you to meet my friend, Wanna," Mother Goose cried, gently pushing me forward.
At that instant, one of the ropes the little old woman was holding suddenly appeared to rise up from the ground, and my eyes popped with amazement when I realized it was being pulled by some truly gigantic flies.
Oh my goodness! Another fly landed on her shoulder, pulling the rope where two more clung and stubbornly refused to move.
"Don't pay any attention," Mother Goose said, as I stepped back in shock. "They actually have a spell on them, but it hasn't fully settled in yet. A few more minutes and they will be quite docile." She smiled at me. "Wanna, this is Grandmother Matamosca, one of our esteemed older citizens. It is her job to keep the Kingdom free of flies."
Our companion shook the ropes and emitted a sort of humming sound herself, and just as suddenly, the errant flies drifted back down to the ground and lay still, their wings moving very very slightly. She made another sibilant sound, almost like, "Siiiit there!" and turned toward us, frowning and cupping her ear. "Eh, what?" she asked.
I couldn't believe the size of those flies, but I just gulped and took a deep breath and smiled politely. I turned hesitantly toward Mother Goose, not sure how to proceed, but not wanting to be rude.
"Oh, it's you, Mother Goose," the woman said, in a quavery old voice. "What's this girl doing here?" Well, I smiled inwardly at that, not having been a girl for many years, but it was nice to be called that.
"How do you do?" I said. "My name is Wanna and I am so glad to make your acquaintance."
"Umm," the old lady said, in her odd buzzing voice.
"Wanna has been visiting us today and is gathering some lichen for some of her projects. She's becoming a frequent visitor to Fairy Land, and is always interested in meeting our citizens. How many have you gotten today, Matamosca?" Mother Goose asked.
"Oh, into the dozens, I would say. This is the last of them, I think, " the old lady said, pointing a bony finger at one of the flies, which had been inching up but settled quietly to the ground and blinked its red eyes as if to say, Oh, sorry.
"I don't need to tell you, Mother Goose, that I am ready to go home," Matamosca said. "I've had quite the battle these last few days and I am anxious to settle in my cottage for the winter and work on my herbal remedies. I am very tired, and cold, too. " She did look a little tired and battleworn, I thought.
"I take it I don't have to do any of the paper work, do I?" she asked, frowning slightly and moving out into the warmth of the sunlight. "You know how I hate that, and my hands are too cold and they shake too much to use a pen any more."
"Oh, no," Mother Goose cried. " I will do all the recordkeeping, just as last year. You have done a sufficiency, I would say, and your rest is well deserved. Grandmother Byrda is already finished with her egg tending for the season and will be resting through the winter, as well. She may be coming over for a cup of tea one day soon, she told me."
"Well, I hope she brings some tea cakes when she does. I haven't had anything for my sweet tooth in a long time. Every time I get something, the flies take it before I can. Well, I'm going home."
"It certainly was nice meeting you, Grandmother Matamosca," I said. "I hope to see you again."
She nodded absently, "Umm hmmm; no doubt," and turned to walk away, jerking slightly on the three ropes.
That's when I got a better look at the intriguing stoppered jar in her hand, but before I could ask her about it, she had already moved off.
I watched in fascination as she disappeared through the trees, the flies still attached somehow to the ropes, as first one then the other floated gently around behind her.
"Wow! I never met a human fly catcher before," I said.
Mother Goose smiled and patted me on the shoulder. "We have lots of positions of responsibility here in Fairy Land, and young and old, we all do our part."
Well, at this point you are probably as curious as I was. Could the flies really have been that large? Or were my eyes deceiving me? Well, I didn't want to be rude and ask what might be considered an unseemly question; after all, I never have quite understood how Mother Goose herself could actually ride a goose! It must have some kind of connection with physics or something, because now that I think about it, I have often talked with animals that were either much larger or much smaller than I, and yet, at that moment we all seemed the same size.
Well, it's all beyond me; it is Fairy Land, after all. And frankly, I have asked Mother Goose so many questions on all my visits that I was afraid that she might quit inviting me if I asked much else, so I said my goodbyes that day and thanked her once again for a lovely time.
I still wonder about those flies, though. My guess is that Matamosca uses whatever is in that bottle to stun them, or put them under a spell, or something. And as to what happens to them once she gets them home, I don't think I really want to know.
NOTE: Matamosca means flyswatter in Spanish. You can read about the background of how she was created in the Dolls pages here.