Michigan - Ann Arbor


It's been a few years since I wrote about our travels across the States. I believe the last time we touched in with my former self we had just enjoyed a visit to Detroit (read about it here). Next stop was to a city full of fairies...

Ann Arbor, the famous college town, is home to the University of Michigan. As part of me secretly wishes I had attended a college stateside we headed straight to the campus. It was very pretty, the spires and cloisters reminded me of the architecture of European colleges. We lunched in the student canteen as I got fiercely nostalgic of my own student days in UCD (University College Dublin, not to be confused with the college in sunny Davis, California). A group of students shuffled passed us giving us a once over, probably wondering why a middle aged couple and a toddler were sitting in their cafeteria. I gave them the ole "S'up" nod, Dom looked at me with pity, "It's all cool", I explained, "they are part of my sorority, we are going to meet up later and play a game of softball with the cheer squad at the keg party - lots of American stuff is gonna go down."


There is always more to a college town than the college, we ambled along the lively Main St downtown. I'm not sure quite how this happened but I found myself on a fairy website with a map of all the fairy doors in Ann Arbor. Mirth and fun was had as we raced around the streets checking shop fronts for these 6 inch masterpieces. At each door we snapped a photo and left a penny as an offering to the fairy in turn for granting a wish (this is America, there is no such thing as a free lunch, fairies got expenses too y’all).

Magic in the library

Our search led us into a library where an excited Róisín ran to the desk, then around it until she was tapping the skirts of three 60 year old library ladies, who were huddled together discussing...fairies?! She pleaded with them to reveal the location of the Library's fairy door - the door to end all doors. The ladies seemed thrilled, all sorts of fairy stories were told and we were pointed to the fairytale section (of course!). The door was found on the side of a book shelf leading into a stack of books that were hollowed out and filled with fairy furniture - indubitably one of the coolest things I have ever seen. The library ladies gave Róisín a beautifully intricate fairy stamp (for finding the fairy) and directions to a curbside fairy village (I've never encountered such a pro fairy town!).


The fairy village was a cute little patch on the corner of a busy street with miniature painted toadstools and other elfin real estate. Just when I thought we were done I saw a footnote on my fairy website about a goblin's door. The "Fairyologist" (don't judge) would not reveal the location of the goblin's door as she saw them as anti-fairy (is that what Antifa stands for?).

Róisín (who has no fear and not an ounce of her mother's innate shyness) stopped a lady on the street to ask if she knew where we could find the goblin's door. I stood back to see if the lady would play ball or keep walking, she instantly said she didn't know where the goblin door was but she owned the shop we were standing outside and a little fairy lived at the back of her store! You could not make this stuff up - what kool aid is in the Ann Arbor drinking water and can we pump it nationwide please.

Tinkerbell in Tibet

In we went into a lovely Indian shop selling Tibetan products. Sure enough, at the back of the store was a small fairy door covered by a Himalayan cloth, Róisín lifted up the cloth to reveal the small house of a Tibetan Sherpa fairy. The lady said her husband had climbed Everest and all the contents and layout of the house was authentic (authentically fairy or authentically Tibetan? We’ll never know). Incredible!

Gotcha Mr Goblin

Dom, in true 'Dad to the rescue' mode, found the goblin door hiding in a recess in-between two walls. I ran out of the pennies Róisín had been using as offerings to the fairies (I've spent money on stranger things), so the goblin got a dime. I'm not sure if Goblins grant wishes so it was probably more like protection money. This guy lives in a crack in the wall and he's making bank, maybe he's a Goblin Influencer, I hear he's big in green finance. Róisín's parting words were "You're not allowed hurt any fairies, Mr Goblin".

The whole idea of these fairy doors about town, leading to fairy hunts, conveniently located beside/in shops, libraries, etc, is pure genius. We fell in love with the Tinkerbell trope and truly applaud the city of Ann Arbor. If I was the mayor of a town, establishing fairy doors would be the top item on my agenda, the second item would be learning to prioritize.

Leaving the fairy folk behind we put our ear to the wind...was that Indiana calling?