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A garden leads to a magical friendship.

Kelly Kenney was taking a late-night walk to clear her thoughts in her Los Angeles neighborhood this spring when a colorful pinwheel caught her eye. She stopped and found herself gazing down at an elaborate fairy garden at the base of a tree, complete with painted rocks and tiny trinkets.

Pinned to the tree was a Polaroid picture of the garden’s creator, a 4-year-old girl named Eliana, and a poem using a medieval-looking storybook font that told her neighbors how to use the garden: “Our 4-year-old girl made this to brighten your day / Please add to the magic, but don’t take away / These days can be hard, but we’re in this together / So enjoy our fairy garden and some nicer weather.”

Ms. Kenney hatched a plan, and on the next night, she left a note at the garden pretending to be a fairy named Sapphire, for her September birthstone, who had taken up residence in the tree. She promised she’d leave glittery magical resin dice (a pandemic hobby for Ms. Kenney) if Eliana completed three tasks she listed that were etched in kindness. And the next day, they were finished.

The note kindled a friendship tied to the fairy garden that would last through some of the darkest months of the pandemic and hardships of 2020 for both a little girl and her grown-up neighbor. Ms. Kenney chronicled the experience in a wildly popular Twitter thread this month.

“I felt like immediately when I found it, the whole family wedged themselves into my heart,” Ms. Kenney, a photographer, said about the fairy garden. “I was so alone at the time, physically and mentally, and I felt like these people were kindred spirits.”

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