Melly and her mother hung wet clothes on the rope Grandpa had tied between two trees. Each week they would take the clothes to the river and scrub them clean. Then they'd return to the house and hang them on the line and let them dry in the summer heat. When it became cold and wet out, they dried them in front of the fire. This summer day was quite hot. Melly wiped sweat from her face as they worked.
"Why does it get so hot in the summer and stay cold in the winter?" she asked her mother.
"It is caused by the changing seasons," her mother replied. "You know that."
"But why do the seasons change?" Melly asked.
"That is a good question," her mother replied. "Tonight, why don't you ask Grandpa to tell the story of the little brown fairy. It was my favorite as a girl and I think it will help answer your question."
"Alright," Melly agreed. She couldn't wait for the evening to come, but there were still other chores and many hours before then. Having something to look forward to would help pass the time.
That evening, Grandpa sat on his favorite brown chair that stood next to the fireplace. Melly sat down on the stool next to him.
"Grandpa," she said looking up at him, "Will you tell me the story of the Little Brown Fairy."
"The Story of the Little Brown Fairy, eh?" He looked up with a twinkle in his eye at her mother, who was cleaning of the table. "Well, all right child, here it is. Once upon a time there lived a little brown fairy. She tried her hardest to help with all the fairy tasks, but her small size often made it impossible for her to do them. One day she sat on a mushroom out in the forest. Tears pooled in her eyes as she thought about all the things she could not do. She couldn't stack the acorns, she couldn't wash the dye tubs, she couldn't lift the baby birds. She couldn't even carry a tray of fairy treats. She felt useless. As she sat there another fairy, a blue fairy, came up to her. 'Why are you so glum?' the blue fairy asked. The little brown fairy explained about all the things she couldn't do because of her size."
"Grandpa," Melly interrupted. I like this story, but what does it have to do with seasons?"
"Patience, my child," he replied. "Patience."
"Melly," her mother remonstrated. "You know it's not polite to interrupt."
"Sorry," Melly said to her mother. "Sorry, Grandpa."
"You're forgiven," he replied. "Would you like me to continue the story? Or do you want to go to bed," he teased
"Continue the story please," Melly replied.
"Well, what do you think the blue fairy said when the little brown fairy told her all the things she couldn't do?" he paused. "She said, 'I'm sure there are plenty of things you can do, probably even things bigger fairies like me can't do.' This thought helped cheer up the little brown fairy. But what were the things she could do? She and the blue fairy sat trying to thing about what the little brown fairy could do. As they sat the shadows began to lengthen. They decided to think about it overnight and meet at the same mushroom the next day at noon to discuss their ideas. So, they went their separate ways. The blue fairy to her home near the river and the little brown fairy to her hut at the base of a beautiful silver maple. That night she listened as the wind rustled through the leaves. She thought about all the different fairy jobs. Some gathered seeds, some planted seeds, some painted leaves, other cleaned the forest floor. Some cooked delicious food, others built beautiful homes. Some worked with water, others with sunshine. The Little Brown fairy fell asleep considering what job might be perfect for her."
"I didn't know fairies did so many things," Melly said.
"There are many things they do," her grandfather agreed. "But do you know what their most important job is?"
Melly shook her head.
"They help change the seasons," he replied.
"But why are there seasons?" Melly asked.
"Wait and you'll see," Grandpa replied. "Well, the next day the two fairies met back at the mushroom. 'Did you think of anything' the blue fairy asked. The little brown fairy shook her head 'no.' 'Well, I did.' The blue fairy was positively bouncing. 'What?' the little brown fairy asked. 'You can help direct the changing of seasons!' the blue fairy replied. 'How would I do that?' the little brown fairy asked. 'It's really quite perfect,' the blue fairy continued. 'But what would I do?' The little brown fairy had not heard of this job before. This time the blue fairy heard her. 'Haven't you heard of the season changers?' the blue fairy asked. The little brown fairy shook her head 'no.' 'Oh. Well, you know how the seasons change every few months?' The little brown fairy nodded. 'Well, fairy's direct the changing of seasons. They make sure the sun warms the plants, the rain nourishes them and helps them grow during the warm months. But, they keep track of when it's time for the plants to die or sleep. Plants need time to rest, you know. And the changing of seasons gives them that chance. Plus it adds variety to life."
"Oh I see," Melly said. "Know I understand why seasons change."
"Yes," her grandfather nodded. "But are tale is not yet finished."
"Please keep telling it," Melly said.
"Well, after the the blue fairy had explained all about the changing of the seasons, the little brown fairy still wasn't sure what she'd do to help direct the changing of the seasons. She told the blue fairy so. 'Oh, it's quite obvious,' the blue fairy said. 'You could tell the plants when it's time to go to sleep for the winter. Since you're brown and small you could easily flit to many of the plants without being seen by a predator. You could whisper to each of them when it was time to grow and when it was time to sleep. It's perfect!' The little brown fairy was still dubious, but willing to give it a try. The blue fairy explained that her cousin helped direct the changing of the seasons--her cousin warned the water when it would get cold, let it know that soon it would freeze. The water appreciated being given time to prepare for such changes. Once again the shadows were lengthening, so they decided to once again meet at the mushroom the next day and the blue fairy would take the little brown fairy to meet her cousin."
"I wonder if she'll like helping direct the change of the seasons," Melly said.
"Time will tell," Grandpa replied. "The next day they met at the mushroom then went to visit the blue fairy's cousin. 'Why you are absolutely tiny!' the cousin exclaimed when she saw the little brown fairy. The little brown fairy blushed. 'Certainly,' the blue fairy said. 'and that makes her perfect to help direct the changing of seasons.' 'What's that?' her cousin asked, looking away from the little brown fairy. The blue fairy explained her idea for the little brown fairy. Her cousin looked at the little brown fairy and considered this. 'Yes, I think you might be right. Why don't I introduce her to the Changer.' 'Um,' the little brown fairy timidly asked, 'who is the Changer?' 'The Changer is the fairy that communes with the earth and knows when the seasons should change. Come, I'll take you to him.' The cousin grabbed the little brown fairy's hand and set off. The blue fairy followed behind.
"When they reached the tree where the Changer lived and worked they stopped. The cousin admonished the little brown fairy to treat him with all the respect and honor he deserved. The little brown fairy nodded, eyes wide. A beautiful orange fairy showed them in to his study. The cousin introduced the little brown fairy and the blue fairy to him and explained why they were there. He asked the little brown fairy to come closer. He looked at her for so long that she tried to look away, but he directed her eyes back to his. Finally he nodded. 'Yes, I believe she will do,' he said. 'Do you want this job,' he asked her. 'I'm not sure,' she replied honestly. 'I'm so small and I want to do something, and it does sound like something I might enjoy.' He nodded. 'Yes. I believe you will enjoy this job. And your size will be just fine for this. Maybe we can send you to places where bigger fairies cannot get. Yes. I do believe you are perfect for this job.' The little brown fairy smiled at this. 'Oh thank you!' I will do my very best!' she said. 'I'm sure you will,' he replied. 'But now I must get back to my work,' he said. 'Make sure you get added to the roster as you leave.' She nodded and they left. Once they were back outside the blue fairy said, 'I knew it! The perfect job for you.' The little brown fairy smiled. 'Yes, I think it will be. Thank you! I'm so glad I met you.' "
"Did she like her job?" Melly asked.
"Yes, indeed she did," Grandpa replied. "She loved it and did a marvelous job at it, too."
Melly turned to her mother. "I'm glad you told me to ask Grandpa to tell me this story."
"I'm glad you liked it, dear," her mother replied. "But now it's late and time for bed."
"All right," Melly said reluctantly. She stood and stretched and yawned. She gave Grandpa a hug and thanked him for the story. Then she went and gave her mother a kiss on the cheek. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight," they echoed as she climbed up the stairs to her attic room, where she would dream of fairies the whole night through.