Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A fern in frost

Christmas fern (frosted)
In my winter landscape, not much has a color other than some shade of brown. So when I’m out in the woods, anything that is non-brown is quick to catch my eye. One thing I always know to look for is the Christmas fern.

Christmas ferns stay green all winter, though they flatten out and don’t stand up the way they do during the growing season. Because they stay green, they were favored as household Christmas decorations at least as late as the 19th Century, particularly in those pre-electricity, pre-Christmas lights days that seem unimaginable today.

And really, those days were not that long ago. Even my father claims (though my mother always denied) that he did his schoolwork by a kerosene lantern because rural electrification did not arrive until he was in high school. Going into the forest to cut the fronds of the fern that soon came to be called a Christmas fern was a family tradition, as much as going to a farm to get a tree is today.

I’ve always tried to picture, and usually my imagination fails me, those Victorian ladies in their corsets and long skirts out in a forest delicately snipping Christmas ferns with their sewing scissors to decorate their living rooms and hallways. I just can’t make that whole picture work. But so they did, or so I’m told.

Today’s Christmas fern captured my eye because of the frost on the fronds, but I would have been just as glad to see it for its greenery alone on this grey day in an otherwise brown landscape.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

What a pretty picture. Just need a dusting of snow.