Welcome to one of my happy places: Lake Harriet – a calming, charming, magical urban lake that is always bustling with people walking, biking, sailing, swimming, fishing or searching for elves (I’ll get to that in a moment). For those unfamiliar with Minneapolis, we are such lucky ducks because there’s a chain of lakes right in the heart of the city! And Lake Harriet has always been my favorite.
Yesterday, my seven-year-old son experienced a big rite of passage in our family: he walked around Lake Harriet with me, which is almost three miles. Granted, it took us almost two hours because we stopped at every dock, had a picnic, watched the ducks…you get the idea! But he was so, so proud when we finished and thanked me twice for taking him along.
Our favorite part of the walk was coming upon the mysterious, magical Elf Tree along the walking path. It had been quite a while since I’d taken my son around the lake, so he hadn’t remembered that a local legend lives inside this lakeside tree. You see, a tiny elf and his family moved into the tree over 15 years ago; they added a quaint little door and sometimes even plant flowers around the base of the tree. Still, it’s easy to miss if you’re just speed-walking by. But kids never miss it. They are drawn to it like moths to a flame because they know…they can sense…there’s something incredibly magical within.
My sweet boy was too nervous to open the door himself, not sure if the elf would jump right out. So, I opened the door and we peeked inside at the bevy of tiny gifts children have dropped off. Dandelions, beads, pennies, pinecones. See, for every child who leaves behind a note or gift, the elf – known as Mr. Little Guy – returns the favor. On this day, there was a small plastic baggie filled with teeny-tiny personal notes typed on silver cardstock, just waiting to be found and picked up by the children they’re meant for. Though no one has ever seen Mr. Little Guy, there are reports that he writes over 1,500 letters to enchanted children each summer. We carefully sorted through the notes he’d recently left behind, noticing how each one was different and witty and wonderful. Only one line is repeated in each and every note; he always ends them with these four powerful words: “I believe in you.” Ditto, Mr. Little Guy.
Beauty Tip: Think about how you can add a little unexplained magic to someone else’s life. Send them a secret admirer note? Plant a fairy garden? Sprinkle glitter on a neighbor’s doorstep? Here’s the coolest trick of all: creating magic in their life creates magic in yours!
(Speaking of magic, this could be your lucky day! Be sure to support artist Erin Foster by entering to win her beautiful framed photo of her mother’s roses)