Image: Google Images Labelled for Re-use
Around the corner from home, there is a small creek that runs through a grove of ferns.
When I was a kid, I used to go there and sit among the ferns, listen to the birds overhead and watch the stream trickle past.
In the centre is a giant tree fern, a very commanding plant, well over twelve feet high with a canopy that shades most the small ferns happily growing beneath it.
One day, a particularly hot day when I was about ten years old, I went to the grove, and on this day, I sat with my back to the giant tree fern.
“Comfy, are you?” asked a voice.
The voice I was sure came from behind me, but I knew there was no one but me in the grove.
“Its ok, don’t be startled, it’s just me, Big Fern.”
I spun around and there in the trunk of the fern tree was a face. Not an attractive face, but a face all the same.
We stared at each other and either said anything.
“Its ok to freak out, most people would I’d expect. Not every day a big fern asks if you are comfy, is it?” said the Big Fern its eyes clearly focused on me.
“No,” I replied very uncertain as to run or not.
“You are most welcome to rest against me,” said Big Fern, “I knew your grandfather very well.”
“Yes, he brought me here from up in the mountains. Like you, he loved ferns and nurtured me back to health after a bush fire had burnt me badly. Word, is you have done your own bit of fern saving too,” he said in a way that sounded like he knew far more than I was feeling comfortable with.
How he knew that I had recently bought with Grandma a fern from the local nursery that looked like it was on its last legs was beyond me.
“We ferns have our ways and means of communicating. You know not a lot gets by us,” he said sounding wiser than I had ever given him credit for.
At that moment, I looked up into the fern and noticed to my surprise a small elfin creature descending the trunk. On his shoulder sat a tiny fairy.
Once he drew level with my eyeline, I noticed that in his hand, he held a small leaf taken from one of the fern’s fronds. He held it out to me.
“He wants you to take it,” said Big Fern, “It’s our way of showing appreciation. You care for us we care for you.”
I placed my hand so that the elf could place the leaf on it. Once he had done, so a huge grin broke out on his face. The tiny fairy, its wings humming flew around my head buzzing here and there as if inspecting me before settling back on his shoulder. The fairy leant into the elf’s ear and was obviously whispering something with great animation.
The elf then opened his hand, and a bright light shone from it. He extended his hand towards me and once again I held out mine. The light in his hand he dropped onto my palm before being absorbed into my skin.
I stood, mouth open, having no idea as to what had just happened.
“He’s given you the light to see by,” said Big Fern, “from now on you will be seen as the keeper of the grove. We will feel safe knowing you will come by and see to our safety. The light will also allow you to see more of us. Look carefully in your own fern garden, you’ll be surprised by what you see.” said Big Fern.
That was the day I went home a changed boy. I found Grandma in the fern garden and told her what had happened.
“Come,” she said, “look closely and tell me what you see.”
My eyes were opened, my mind embraced the role I now had. Grandma looked at me and giggled knowing our ferns were safe too.