flax-golden tales: a not-quite-midnight picnic


a not-quite-midnight picnic

We decide to have a midnight picnic with the moon but we leave early just after the sun goes to sleep so there will be enough light to see by to get there.

We bring strawberries and honey and blue cheese and a bottle of red wine but we pack teacups instead of wine glasses because they are easier to carry and slightly more difficult to break.

We tiptoe under the deep pink sky as not to wake the sun.

We find a good spot to place our blanket and we put stones on the corners to keep the wind from stealing it away and we can only find three good stones but a passing rabbit says he will sit on the fourth corner to keep it in place for us for the duration of our nighttime picnic if he may have a strawberry and a sip of wine. We declare this a splendid exchange and the rabbit snuggles into the stoneless blanket corner.

The sky turns indigo and mauve and grey and the clouds dance and the moon peeks out at us and we raise our wine-filled teacups to it in greeting.

We have forgotten to pack napkins so our fingers get honey-sticky but we do not mind.

The rabbit tells us stories about the bees who live on the North Star and make honey that is snow-white and sparkling, and we all agree that one can never have enough honey or too many bees.

After we eat the last berries and nibble the last morsels of cheese and lick the last of the honey from our fingers and paws we make wishes on the half-moon that they might come half-true.

Then we fold up our blanket and pack our wine-stained teacups away and bid our new rabbit friend sweet dreams and say goodnight to the world.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

flax-golden tales: an entreaty before departure


an entreaty before departure

It is almost time to go.

Someday is, in fact, today.

Time for departures and changes and brave new worlds.

New sights and new sounds, new dreams and new shoes.

Write yourself a note, to remember who you are.

(It’s an easier thing to forget than you’d imagine.)

Put your tray table in whatever position suits your fancy.

Make sure you know where your towel is.

Hold your breath, make a wish, and off you go.

In search of elusive delights.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

flax-golden tales: bargaining with space and time

bargaining with space and time

bargaining with space and time

They make promises to themselves and to the universe and in that moment they believe they got the better of the bargain, they believe that everything is forever and infinite.

Later, much later, they will realize their mistake.

Nothing lasts forever.

Promises regarding space and time disintegrate like paper in the rain.

When they finally feel their space and time slipping through their fingers they stop winding their watches and they unplug their clocks. As though the disruption of electricity could halt time forever at six minutes past eleven.

They fret over the things they had meant to do instead of moving forward.

They mourn what’s been lost instead of celebrating what’s still to come.

Instead of reveling in all that is available to them.

And space and time sigh and laugh and continue dancing into the future.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

flax-golden tales: tiny helpful birds

tiny helpful birds

tiny helpful birds

The Helpful Birds are small and black
But some of them wear splashes of color
And all of them are somewhat fluffy.

Often only one of them will show up
But they will be there when you need them.

If you have a lock in need of picking or a lost item stuck on a high branch
Or if you simply feel the need to listen to a little song
They will be happy to help you or to sing for you.

And if you are lost at sea
They will help you build your boat.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

an announcement regarding flax-golden tales

I started writing flax-golden tales in the summer of 2009 because this blog was newish and I wanted it to look like I was a proper writer who wrote things.

I wanted to do something inspired by Chris Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.

My wonderful friend Carey Farrell was kind enough to let me use her photographs.

I restricted each tale to ten sentences (though sometimes I was not terribly strict about what constituted a sentence) and posted them here each Friday.

And now, five years and more than 250 stories later, I’m stopping.

There are four stories left.

Tale #261 will be posted on July 11th, 2014. (Tale #1 was posted July 10th, 2009.)

They have been a five-year-long birthday present to myself and they have followed me through a more extraordinary time than I ever thought possible.

But now it’s time to let them go.

I’ve been asked many times if they will be collected into a book and the answer at this point is maybe someday, there are no set publication plans. (Any possible future book version would likely include new tales as well, because I think that would be fun.)

My eternal gratitude & appreciation to Carey, and thank you to everyone for reading along on this journey.


flax-golden tales: the wish granters

the wish grantersthe wish granters

The faeries got tired of constantly being asked to grant wishes while they were busy with other things like practicing their tiny violins and writing novellas and drinking their faerie wine so they created a wish submission system, somewhat similar to a post office box system, but, you know, for wishing.

You write down your wish in 250 words or less and put it in an envelope (standard, not business sized) and you tape a flower to it (it doesn’t matter what kind). Then you put your wish in one of the numbered boxes to submit it to the faeries and they will answer it or they won’t.

Wishers debate about the system, they all have their theories. They suppose that wishes submitted to box number four always come true, or ones placed in box number one have a higher chance of being granted because fewer wishers put their wish in the first box.

(Some say thirteen is unlucky and others say the opposite and neither is correct.)

Or that faeries don’t care for dandelions, and they’re not a proper flower anyway.

(Untrue, faeries love dandelions, particularly in their puffy stage.)

Once in awhile someone will suggest that all the wishes get piled together regardless of which numbered box they go into and the faeries ignore them all, but that’s not true either.

The wishes go into numbered piles that the faeries ignore, until one of them is bored and pulls a wish at random to grant, just to keep things interesting.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

flax-golden tales: authorized persons only

authorized persons onlyauthorized persons only

I like to sit in the park and read in the afternoons, usually in the same round gated garden because there’s more shade but today the fence has been replaced by a tall grey wall that says Authorized Persons Only where the gate used to be.

There’s no door, as far as I can tell, but I follow the wall around to the side and find a window just about eye-level with closed shutters covered in peeling white paint.

I knock on the window and the shutters open and at first I don’t see anyone but then the top halves of two heads with leaves stuck in their messy curls pop into view, staring at me with bright brown eyes.

Guten Tag! the pair of leafy-haired moppets shouts in unison but when I ask them if I can come into the garden they reply: Only if you’re Authorized!

How do I get authorized? I ask and they duck out of sight and converse in loud yet unintelligible whispers for a moment.

When they pop back up they ask: Are you an Author? If you’re an Author then you are Authorized.

What’s the difference between an author and a writer? I ask them in return.

They look at each other and then back at me and then they vanish back down and the whisper-bickering goes on so long that I take my book and retreat to another corner of the park.

The next day the wall says Writerized or Authorized Persons Only, but they still won’t let me in.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

flax-golden tales: take a seat

take a seattake a seat

Come in, come in and take a seat, but please don’t wait for the show to start.

It has already started.

You probably thought it would begin once an audience had assembled, we apologize for any confusion.

The show began before you arrived and it will continue after you leave.

(It may follow you like a puppy or a lingering dream.)

You don’t have to stay here, this is just where we keep the chairs and you can take your chair with you, if you are attached to it, or you may choose another.

The only wrong decision is choosing not to change if you are unsatisfied with your last choice.

(It is, we know, a difficult thing to choose new choices and make new changes but it is best, do please trust us on that matter.)

Whatever you choose, please don’t wait.

As we mentioned previously: the show has already begun and we need you to play your part, whatever you wish that to be.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

flax-golden tales: the dog will see you now

the dog will see you now

the dog will see you now

I heard from reliable sources that the cat who lives at 23 Pine Street can answer any question but when I get to number 23 Pine Street there’s no cat, just a gardener outside who stops digging up long-dead begonias to inform me that the cat’s owners moved to Pennsylvania or Kentucky, one of those, he’s not sure which but they took the cat with them, he’s fairly certain of that.

“I don’t suppose there are any other question-answering animals around here, then?” I ask.

The gardener frowns—a bigger frown than the question deserves in my opinion—and he gazes past me, down the street a bit.

“You could ask the dog at number forty-two,” he suggests after a too-long pause, still frowning, mostly with his eyebrows, “but the dog only receives supplicants on Wednesdays between seven and ten a.m.”

“Today is Wednesday” I observe aloud but that doesn’t even get a nod. I check my watch and it’s 9:54am so I thank the gardener (he grunts something before turning the frown on the former begonias) and I hurry down the street, counting house numbers as I go.

Number 42 does indeed have a dog sitting at the top of the front steps, and several people on the sidewalk nearby though they all seem to be walking away, a couple of guys in suits nodding to themselves and one lady in a hat crying.

The dog says Hello and I ask him if he can answer questions like the cat who until recently lived at number 23 could, and he shakes his head sadly and his ears flop a bit and he tells me questions are more of a cat thing, he only tells people their truths.

He says he can do that, if I would like, and I say sure, might as well, since I’m here.

Then the dog tells me my truths and I forget what my question was.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

flax-golden tales: mind the bell

mind the bell

mind the bell

They used to say “Mind the Bell” mostly as a… what’s the opposite of a greeting? They’d say it when bidding farewell to someone, sometimes turning it into a single word: mindthebell, or minddebel. Nobody does it as much anymore, but teachers still say it at the end of class, because their teachers said it and their teachers before them.

I asked once what it meant and was told it was a shortened version of “Be Mindful of the Bell” but when I asked why we needed to be mindful of the bell no one could give me an answer.

They’d point at the old bell tower with its perpetually silent bell and shrug.

My grandmother told me once that if it rings I should run as fast as I can, but my father says grandma doesn’t always make the most sense.

I know someone who tried to climb the bell tower once on a dare, but he only got about halfway up the beams before he couldn’t find anymore footholds and had to go back down.

He told me he got high enough to see the bell properly, but as far as he could tell it didn’t have a rope or anything to ring it so the whole minding thing was probably just an expression.

But this morning it started ringing and I was the only one who ran.

So I was the only one who got away.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.