I had heard the old Indian legend about the red fern. How a little Indian boy and girl were lost in a blizzard and had frozen to death. In the spring, when they were found, a beautiful red fern had grown up between their two bodies. The story went on to say that only an angel could plant the seeds of a red fern, and that they never died; where one grew, that spot was sacred.
News flash, Fern Taylor!" Ambrose barked, slamming his hand against the dashboard, making Fern jump. "Everything has changed! You are beautiful, I am hideous, you don't need me anymore, but I sure as hell need you!""You act like beauty is the only thing that makes us worthy of love," Fern snapped. "I didn't just l-love you because you were beautiful!" She'd said the L word, right out loud, though she'd tripped over it.
I'm sure the red fern has grown and has completely covered the two little mounds. I know it is still there, hiding its secret beneath those long, red leaves, but it wouldn't be hidden from me for part of my life is buried there, too. Yes, I know it is still there, for in my heart I believe the legend of the sacred red fern.
She surveyed the undergrowth and focused on a cluster of fern fronds curled tightly against the new life they had been given. She often wondered why the fern's new existence was so firmly wound up. But she questioned their response no longer. Oaklee felt every muscle in her body want to curl up in self-protection, to comfort the pain, anger, and fear.
What do you think, Galen?" Lady Fern asked in a sugary voice. Galen chewed slowly and painfully, swallowing tentatively. It's very unique, " he said, trying to look intrigued instead of disgusted. "It's excellent." Lady Fern looked satisfied and turned to say something to her husband, while Galen added quietly under his breath, "... not." -The Fire Stone
The cactus thrives in the desert while the fern thrives in the wetland. The fool will try to plant them in the same flowerbox. The florist will sigh and add a wall divider and proper soil to both sides. The grandparent will move the flowerbox halfway out of the sun. The child will turn it around properly so that the fern is in the shade, and not the cactus. The moral of the story? Kids are smart.
Of all created things the source is one, Simple, single as love; remember The cell and seed of life, the sphere That is, of child, white bird, and small blue dragon-fly Green fern, and the gold four-petalled tormentilla The ultimate memory. Each latent cell puts out a future, Unfolds its differing complexity As a tree puts forth leaves, and spins a fate Fern-traced, bird feathered, or fish-scaled.
When we walk slowly, the world can fully appear. Not only are the creatures not frightened away by our haste or aggression, but the fine detail of fern and flower, or devastation and disruption, becomes visible. Many of us hurry along because we do not want to see what is really going on in and around us. We are afraid to let our senses touch the body of suffering or the body of beauty
Rosehill was shady and beautiful, the most serene place I could imagine. It had been closed to the public for years, and sometimes as I wandered alone - and often lonely - through the lush fern beds and long curtains of silvery moss, I pretended the crumbling angels were wood nymphs and fairies and I their ruler, queen of my own graveyard kingdom.
Often, when people ask me what I read as a young girl, I lie. Or, I should say, I lie by omission. I tell them about my brilliant fourth-grade teacher, Miss Artis, who assigned us 'Johnny Tremain' and 'Where the Red Fern Grows' and 'Tuck Everlasting,' all books that made an impression on me. And people nod in approval.
As the brain of man is the speck of dust in the universe that thinks, so the leaves""the fern and the needled pine and the latticed frond and the seaweed ribbon""perceive the light in a fundamental and constructive sense. ... Their leaves see the light, as my eyes can never do. ... They impound its stellar energy, and with that force they make life out of the elements.
Donald C. Peattie
Of course, when we got home, we found that Dagda had peed on my down comforter. He had also eaten part of Mom's maidenhair fern and barfed it up on the carpet. Then he had apparently worked himself into a frenzy sharpening his ting by amazingly effective claws on the armrest of my dad's favorite chair. Now he was asleep on a pillow, curled up like a fuzzy little snail. "God, he's so cute," I said, shaking my head.
They were going to expel me. Mom convinced them not to... and got them to apologize, " Fern said, almost embarrassed. Really?" Eddie said. "See, Sammy, you don't mess with the Commander, do you?" Eddie playfully hit his younger brother in the stomach with the back of his hand. When the Commander says jump... , " Sam started. We say, 'yes ma'am, how high?'" Eddie ended with a forehead salute.
Jennifer Anne Kogler
My living room has an oak-wood floor, Persian carpets, floor-to-ceiling bookcases, a large ficus and large fern, a fireplace with a group of photographs and drawings over it, a glass-top coffee table with a bowl of dried pomegranates on it, and sofas and chairs covered in off-white linen.
Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray, to not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field; that, of course, they are many in number; or that, after all, they are other than the little, shriveled, meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome insects of the hour.
In my class - in all fifth-grade classes - we were required to read 'classics,' books like 'Shiloh,' which is about a white boy and the dog he rescues. And 'Old Yeller,' which is about a white boy and the dog that rescues him. And 'Where the Red Fern Grows,' which is about a white boy and the two dogs he trains.
The exact science of one molecule transformed into another - that Mabel could not explain, but then again she couldn't explain how a fetus formed in the womb, cells becoming beating heart and hoping soul. She could not fathom the hexagonal miracle of snowflakes formed from clouds, crystallized fern and feather that tumble down to light on a coat sleeve, white stars melting even as they strike. How did such force and beauty come to be in something so small and fleeting and unknowable?
Because that world's gone. The world where people walked around whistling that music. All the madrigal singers in the world can't make that other one real again. It's like dinosaurs. We can put them back together perfectly, bone for bone, but we don't know what they smelled like, what kind of sounds they made, or how big they really looked standing in the grass under all those fossil fern trees. Even the sunlight must have been different, and the wind. What can bones tell you about a kind of wind that doesn't blow anymore?
Peter S. Beagle
from the Prize winning poem - UNBORN in the book Terra Affirmative. "Under the surface / her body is curled, / seed of the one race, / shell of the world. She is thw waterfall, / she is the womb, / she is the bubble, /she is the tomb. Her hair flows upward, / blood red of the birth. / Her arms are folded / deep into the earth. She is the fern, / she is the bark, / she is the lantern, / she is the dark. Her eyes burn the flame / of the old and the young. / Her breath is the name / of each branch of each lung. She is the ingredient. / She is the blend. / She is the beginning. / She is the end.
I suppose it must be admitted that I was raised in a "dysfunctional" family, but in truth, I do not think I had any sense of that as I was growing up. Probably part of the reason was that all of my extended kin had families at least as dysfunctional as mine. Just to give a little of the flavor of it, my "Aunt Fern, " who lived just across the street and was one of the most present and puissant female relatives in my life, was, to be genealogically precise, my mother's brother's, first wife's, second husband's, father's, 3rd, 4th, and 5th wife. (She married "Uncle Lew" three times in the course of her seven matrimonial ventures.)
What was dark will always be dark, I know that. Death is still death. Hatred will never be far, in this life. But also, there is light. It is everywhere. It floods this world-the world brims with it. Once, I sat by the Coe and watched a shaft of light come down through the trees, through leaves, and wondered if there was a greater beauty, or a simpler one. There are many great beauties. but all of them-from the snow, to his fern-red hair, to my mare's eye reflecting the sky as she smelt the air of Rannoch Moor-have light in them, and are worth it. They are worth the darker parts.
Burn, burn tree and fern! Shrivel and scorch! A fizzling torch To light the night for our delight, Ya hey! Bake and toast 'em, fry and roast 'em! till beards blaze, and eyes glaze; till hair smells and skins crack, fat melts, and bones black in cinders lie beneath the sky! So dwarves shall die, and light the night for our delight, Ya hey! Ya-harri-hey! Ya hoy!
J. R. R. Tolkien
I breathe in the soft, saturated exhalations of cedar trees and salmonberry bushes, fireweed and wood fern, marsh hawks and meadow voles, marten and harbor seal and blacktail deer. I breathe in the same particles of air that made songs in the throats of hermit thrushes and gave voices to humpback whales, the same particles of air that lifted the wings of bald eagles and buzzed in the flight of hummingbirds, the same particles of air that rushed over the sea in storms, whirled in high mountain snows, whistled across the poles, and whispered through lush equatorial gardens... air that has passed continually through life on earth. I breathe it in, pass it on, share it in equal measure with billions of other living things, endlessly, infinitely.
But what my car needs is gas, not memories! How can you make a car go on memories?' B.D. scratched under her Admiral's hat. 'What'd you think gas was, girl? 'Course there's all sorts of fuel, wind and wishes and chocolate cake and collard greens and water and brawn, but you're wanting the kind that burns in an engine. That kind of gas is nothing more than the past stored up and fermented and kept down in the cellar of the earth till it's wanted. Gas is saved-up sunlight. Giant ferns and apples of immortality and dimetrodons and cyclopses and werewhales drank up the sun as it shone on their backs a million years ago and used it to be a bigger fern or make more werewhales or drop seeds of improbability.' Her otter's paws moved quick and sure, selecting a squat, square bottle here and a round rosy one there. 'It so happens sunshine has a fearful memory. It sticks around even after its favorite dimetrodon dies. Gets hard and wily. Turns into something you can touch, something you can drill, something you can pour. But it still remembers having one eye and slapping the ocean's face with a great heavy tail. It liked making more dinosaurs and growing a frond as tall as a bank. It likes to make things alive, to make things go.
Catherynne M. Valente
The heartbeat is an irregular bell tolling; the footprints create ammonite patterns in the snow; they spiral in serpentine undulations, toward a complicated centre of mass, forming a beautifully inscribed hieroglyph, the earth acting as papyrus. It's all signs and symbols; reading the emotions of another is an art, and tonight she lacks the imagination needed in order to be creative. Bewitching to behold, wings tucked neatly into the back of a loose summer jacket; his bare feet, dusky and dusty, tumble languidly toward her, over the soft crumbling ground. Dawn finds her dreams more beautiful to inhabit than reality. To her it becomes more real than the bed sheets she's pulling close to her chest. As he approaches, she continues to watch the invocation of her desire. Wherever he steps the snow flees, it's as if spring flowers from the very tips of his toes. She holds her breath as he slips his hand into hers, leading her away from the top of the hill on which they are standing. They don't follow the path, instead they tread boldly over willow roots, twigs and fern leaves. Looking upwards, in order to see the colour of the sky, Dawn crosses her fingers for a shade of blue.
On the first day of November last year, sacred to many religious calendars but especially the Celtic, I went for a walk among bare oaks and birch. Nothing much was going on. Scarlet sumac had passed and the bees were dead. The pond had slicked overnight into that shiny and deceptive glaze of delusion, first ice. It made me remember sakes and conjure a vision of myself skimming backward on one foot, the other extended; the arms become wings. Minnesota girls know that this is not a difficult maneuver if one's limber and practices even a little after school before the boys claim the rink for hockey. I think I can still do it - one thinks many foolish things when November's bright sun skips over the entrancing first freeze. A flock of sparrows reels through the air looking more like a flying net than seventy conscious birds, a black veil thrown on the wind. When one sparrow dodges, the whole net swerves, dips: one mind. Am I part of anything like that? Maybe not. The last few years of my life have been characterized by stripping away, one by one, loves and communities that sustain the soul. A young colleague, new to my English department, recently asked me who I hang around with at school. "Nobody," I had to say, feeling briefly ashamed. This solitude is one of the surprises of middle age, especially if one's youth has been rich in love and friendship and children. If you do your job right, children leave home; few communities can stand an individual's most pitiful, amateur truth telling. So the soul must stand in her own meager feathers and learn to fly - or simply take hopeful jumps into the wind. In the Christian calendar, November 1 is the Feast of All Saints, a day honoring not only those who are known and recognized as enlightened souls, but more especially the unknowns, saints who walk beside us unrecognized down the millennia. In Buddhism, we honor the bodhisattvas - saints - who refuse enlightenment and return willingly to the wheel of karma to help other beings. Similarly, in Judaism, anonymous holy men pray the world from its well-merited destruction. We never know who is walking beside us, who is our spiritual teacher. That one - who annoys you so - pretends for a day that he's the one, your personal Obi Wan Kenobi. The first of November is a splendid, subversive holiday. Imagine a hectic procession of revelers - the half-mad bag lady; a mumbling, scarred janitor whose ravaged face made the children turn away; the austere, unsmiling mother superior who seemed with great focus and clarity to do harm; a haunted music teacher, survivor of Auschwitz. I bring them before my mind's eye, these old firends of my soul, awakening to dance their day. Crazy saints; but who knows what was home in the heart? This is the feast of those who tried to take the path, so clumsily that no one knew or notice, the feast, indeed, of most of us. It's an ugly woods, I was saying to myself, padding along a trail where other walkers had broken ground before me. And then I found an extraordinary bouquet. Someone had bound an offering of dry seed pods, yew, lyme grass, red berries, and brown fern and laid it on the path: "nothing special," as Buddhists say, meaning "everything." Gathered to formality, each dry stalk proclaimed a slant, an attitude, infinite shades of neutral. All contemplative acts, silences, poems, honor the world this way. Brought together by the eye of love, a milkweed pod, a twig, allow us to see how things have been all along. A feast of being.
Mary Rose O'Reilley