Let a Little Magic In

Your Life Will Be Better For It

Hunter Cabot
6 min readJun 28, 2022


When I was a butterfly…image by Michal Mrozek on Unsplash

(this essay was originally published in Shenandoah Literary Magazine)

I had a magical childhood.

Growing up in a tiny town where forests and cranberry bogs outnumbered paved surfaces and traffic lights, it was easy to believe in fairies in the glade, or mysterious creatures lurking in the swamp. I devoured fantasy books at a young age, becoming lost in Norma Fox Mazer’s Saturday, the Twelfth of October, and Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. The adventures found within these pages seemed entirely plausible, and I awoke each day with eager eyes, waiting for my own enchanted journey to begin.

At age twelve, our family moved to the coast for one year, and a whole new magical world appeared, which ultimately inspired my novel, The Mermaid of Agawam Bay (available on Amazon).

My novel, writing as Shell St. James

We lived in Wareham, Massachusetts, and the bay was in our backyard — literally. The yard ended with a sea wall, and we had our own dock and a sailboat.

There’s something about the ocean, the unseen force pushing and pulling the tides, leaving new treasures to be discovered each day when the water recedes…it filled me with awe, and left me wondering about the creatures that lived unseen beneath the waves.

Much like Allie, the twelve-year-old protagonist in my book, I was teetering on the brink of adolescence, wanting to be more grown-up and enjoy newfound independence, but unwilling to relinquish my belief in the fantastic.

It is to my parents’ credit that I was allowed to linger in that realm of in-between, neither rushed into teenage responsibility nor kept tied to my mother’s apron strings. My sisters and I were allowed to roam freely on our bicycles, adventuring and exploring the coastal forests and hidden beaches, with few restrictions beyond getting home in time for dinner.

Storytelling, a family pastime, actively kept my young mind engaged in magical thinking. Family vacations spent on the sailboat, touring the waters near Nantucket Island, left us unplugged in the evenings, without the…



Hunter Cabot

Dancing with 7 billion beautiful souls on a rolling Big Blue Marble, and somehow managing to keep my balance! Peace out. Editor of The Big Blue Marble