Today we have been asked to use the word ‘eutony’ – the pleasantness of a words sound – as the basis for a story.
The Ferns had long lived in the fernery beside my house. The fernery had been there for as long as I could remember. My grandmother had once told me that it was there when she lived in the house as small child.
I had researched my home for with modern technology it was easy to trace the origins of your house though council records. The house it said was built in 1899 by a Mr Richard Oswald a local haberdasher.
My grandmother had come to live in the house in 1919 and the fernery was well established by then.
She always looked at me with a twinkle in her eye when she spoke of the Ferns. She discovered them quite by accident as it turned out. Her father my great grandfather had designs on removing the fernery and extending the house but it all came to no avail once the Ferns learnt of his intentions.
My grandmother had loved coming into the fernery to sit and read. ‘It was the coolest place in summer,’ she used to say. ‘I could sit in there beside the bird’s nests and the tree ferns and while away the hours engrossed in the novel she loved, always Jane Eyre. I think she once told me she had read it twenty times in two years.
Grandmother’s and my favourite ferns were the maidenhairs. They possessed the most delicate of fronds and there were a variety of them growing in there. Wide leafed types to the exquisite fine fragile looking ones with the minute leaves that did little but caress your skin when you ran you fingers through them.
Grandmother sat me down one day to tell me about the Ferns. The day her father had arrived in the fernery with his shovel and mattock in hand was the last time he ever went into the fernery. He pretended after the Ferns had finished with him, to forget about that part of the yard, he stayed well clear leaving the Ferns to live as they had always done so.
As great grandfather swung his mattock the first time a blot of lightning flashed and he received the biggest electrical shock imaginable. He was flung back across the fernery. His hair stood on end and his clothes dishevelled. Standing not a foot in front of him was a small green man shaking his finger at him and then proceeded to deliver him a lecture on minding his own business and to leave the Ferns alone.
Great grandfather was not a man to take a backward step and picked up the mattock again only to find the handle was alive and another shock was delivered. That the wooden handle was delivering him electrical shocks was enough for great grandfather to retire his plans for the fernery and hence from that day onwards he never spoke of the incident.
But grandmother had seen the entire event. She knew what she had seen. There was one thing about grandmother that I remembered so clearly. She was a woman of integrity and character. She saw beauty in so many things, she taught me much about life and respect for nature.
‘Some things we don’t ever understand,’ she said to me ‘And some things we don’t want to understand for then we lose the magic that it is. Best to accept that not everything has an explanation, that some things, like the Ferns exist and that’s it.’
She was an old lady when she told me this tale. We were sitting in the fernery as we did most days, chatting about one thing or another. She said soon I will die and you need to know that this house I have left to you. I need for you to know about the Ferns.
Then she told me the story and me being me was sceptical until she said to me to part the maidenhairs and look below. I did so and I have to say, the beautiful sight of the Ferns going about their daily business took my breath away.
Beneath the maidenhairs was a city of its own. I stared down at the flurry of activity that was happening below. As I stood and watched one Fern turned and saw me and raised his finger to his lips as a sign of quiet.
We were eye to eye, his fascination at me and mine at him. My fingers held the delicate fronds apart so I could see below. He opened his hand and small a ball of light rolled off his fingers and flooded over my hand. Its warmth was all embracing, my body felt the energy go through me, my hand tingled not in any pain but in delight at what had just happened.
I looked back at him and he smiled, his teeth slightly jagged his hand now on mine.
‘We asked your grandmother to bequeath the house to you has you are the one we have chosen to carry on as protector of the Ferns. Like her you will be welcome amongst us, care for us and we too will care for you. Sadly she shall die soon but she has been a wonderful benefactor to us. You must carry on her legacy; we have proven we can all live here in peace and harmony.’
With that he disappeared down into the throng of life that was the Ferns.
The fernery I soon discovered was a place of unbelievable magic.