“There’s a wishing tree in Irish Falls. The bits of paper tied to its gnarled branches hold the hopes and dreams of everyone in town…”
That’s from the blurb for my most recent book, The Wishing Tree in Irish Falls, a story about wishes come true, even for those who have given up on wishes.
Halfway through 2020, most of us are emotionally bruised and battered by current events so it’s not surprising more communities are drawing on the tradition of wishing trees for a bit of comfort, encouragement and inspiration.
From the end of June until July 4, a village a few miles from where I live also had a wishing tree, and that stalwart maple in a local park was defined as a “project of hope” to lift hearts and minds at this challenging time.
When I visited, I was touched by what people wished for—and also what they didn’t.
From the child who, in crooked upper case letters in red crayon, wished for a “dog and pet fish” to the one who wanted “more trucks and tractors to play with,” some of the wishes were for things that, in a world that often seems out of control, were specific and, depending on parental approval, achievable.
Other wishes, though, were more poignant.
To visit grandchildren in another part of Canada, to go back to “real church,” and the one that broke a little piece of my heart.
“I wish we could give hugs.”
Numerous wishes focused on the Covid-19 pandemic from those who wanted it “all to go away,” for “everything to go back to normal,” and “to go back to school in the fall.”
And then there were the big wishes
For world peace, a cure for cancer, a clean environment, and a simple but yet oh so difficult plea for everyone, everywhere, to get along, respect and listen to each other.
Wishing on a wishing tree
As I stood in front of that wishing tree and wrote a wish of my own (folding it over so as not to share it with the rest of my small-town world!), it was as if I’d tumbled into my fictional Irish Falls.
And, as I do when reading feel-good fiction, I came away with not only renewed hope and encouragement, but also—particularly important at a time of many closed international borders—a connection to the wider world beyond my local area.
With the exception of the children wishing for toys, the majority of wishes were for intangible things—ones that shape and unite us as humans, the importance of which the pandemic has thrown into even sharper relief.
Like that anonymous wisher, I too want to be able to give hugs again, something I always took for granted but now miss so much.
And perhaps the sweetest wish of all and one that delights my romantic heart?
“I wish for a very long life with my sweetie.”
Stay safe everyone and I hope your wishes come true.
If you haven’t yet read The Wishing Tree in Irish Falls, get it on Amazon here (free with Kindle Unlimited) or from the Book Depository, with free paperback shipping worldwide.
For US readers, the paperback is also available to order from Barnes & Noble.
Writing news—Calling book bloggers and reviewers
My next book, A Wish in Irish Falls (and sequel to The Wishing Tree in Irish Falls) will be out in late September and should be available for pre-order soon—with a cover reveal (I have cover love!) coming on my Facebook author page, and via my blog and newsletter.
If you’d like to read an advance copy and post a review, please email me at email@example.com and I’ll add you to my review crew.
With more wishes, more baked goods, a small-town matchmaker, a rescue dog and a veterinarian with a hint of an Irish accent, I’m excited about sharing A Wish in Irish Falls with you.
My wish (for everyone) is simple, yet heartfelt: that we can find joy in the “little” things, and in so doing, rediscover that simplicity has its own innate beauty.
That’s so true, Heidi. Thank you for sharing that special and important wish here. Something the last few months have reinforced for me is focusing on and finding joy in those “little things.”
That’s so lovely, Jen. When I used to visit the faerie tree near the River Hamble I loved to read the children’s letters. They had grown from wishes to whole letters, because these particular faeries wrote back!
When I was writing my book about it I had to make some letters up – and also the answers. As far as toys were concerned, the faeries developed a very innocent way of never having heard of Transformers, Barbie dolls and the like 😉
Thank you, Jane. Your comment is so lovely too. It’s also special to learn a bit of the background to your “faerie tree” book. Thanks for reading my post and commenting.
What a lovely post, Jen. I’m sure we can all relate to the wish regarding hugs. I loved ‘The Wishing Tree in Irish Falls’ as you know so I’m really pleased to learn that there will be a new book in the form of a sequel.
Thank you for reading my post, Jan. I’m glad you enjoyed it–and also ‘The Wishing Tree in Irish Falls.’ The sequel, ‘A Wish in Irish Falls,’ is Annie’s sister Tara’s story.
And yes, I suspect almost all of us are missing hugs at present! Virtual ones aren’t the same!
How wonderful to find a real wishing tree. Thank you for sharing it with us. I think the wish to be able to give hugs says it all. That is the thing people must miss the most in these strange times. I met some friends the other day while I was out for a walk and, while it was wonderful to see them and we all enjoyed our socially distanced chat, the one thing that was very obvious was that we wanted to give one another hugs after not seeing for another for a long time.
Sending a virtual hug to you, Jen xx
Thank you for reading and commenting on my post, Susanna. It was a special thrill to find a wishing tree in my local area as I’ve never spotted one here before.
Thank you for that virtual hug too. I didn’t realize how frequently I hugged friends until I no longer could. xx