In 6th grade, which we called A Form (preppy!!!), Mr. Davenport required that we memorize and recite a poem. We had two choices. Almost all the class chose the poem that he wanted us to memorize, the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer.
Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licóur
Of which vertú engendred is the flour.
No way! No Chaucer for young Tom. I took the other one. Emily Dickinson’s “Indian Summer.”
These are the days when Birds come back
A very few—a Bird or two
To take a backward look.
Much easier! The nexus being – Chaucer not memorized in 6th grade, Chaucer Street, just above San Pablo, between Channing and Bancroft. A lovely small stucco house with a magical mural.
Stefen lived in the house, then a duplex, and painted the mural in the early 2000s. Stefen has made his mark with murals in the Bay Area. I have written about him and his Dutch Boy mural here, and will write more. He deserves more.
Riley owns the house, and she commissioned Stefen to paint the mural. They researched fairies. Extensively. And designed a mural that covers the front of the house, climbs up to a corner chimney, and wraps around the western side of the house. The mural is built around California native plants and different fairies. Riley restores urban creeks. She is all about California native plants.
On the northeast corner of the house, a British fairy has attached itself to a blooming fox-glove.
And when originally painted:
A Brownie from Scotland strolls towards a bowl of milk just around the corner. Brownies are good-two-shoes and help with housework.
A goblin has snuck out from under the house to score the milk. Poor Brownie!
The redwood stump suggests the unfortunate state of California’s redwood forests. When first painted:
At the base of the redwood tree is a fairy-elf has given away the door that lets into the house, where the fairies make strange noises, misplace things, lose socks, and hide important papers.
When originally painted:
A troll waits under a bridge. To his left, you can see a troll who somehow got turned into strone. Shit happens!
When first painted:
Fairies climb up a honeysuckle vine to the fairy house on the roof.
A flying fairy watches from the east.
There is another opening to the house. This one is guarded by a deer mouse with a red hat. That means that the mouse has unusual powers and abilities.
In the final corner of the mural there is an Irish little person next to a pot of gold. Normally a little person does not allow themselves to be viewed or painted.
The research and attention to detail – amazing. It is a primer on fairies and on California natives. It is a great child destination – find the fairies.
If the fairies were not sufficient, there is a wonderful cat mail box. And painted bee hives on the roof.
If you have any trouble finding the house, just keep an eye out for the painted utility pole on the south side of Chaucer. That’s the place.
I showed the photos to my friend. Because of his size, he gets a lot of kidding about little people. He takes it in stride, and prides himself in his knowledge of little person legends from around the world. He appreciates the accuracy of Riley and Stefen’s work here. As for the mural?