"When I write stories I am like someone who is in her own country, walking along streets that she has known since she was a child, between walls and trees that are hers." --Natalia Ginsburg

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Fiddleheads and Faeries

I know some of you have read this elsewhere, but as I have recently fulfilled my happy obligation to Shortbread Stories, I can now share this story from my blog. I am thankful to Shortbread Stories for a place to share my stories. This memoir was the subject of an editor's review last spring which encouraged me greatly. Hope you enjoy this. It is one of my favorite memories of time spent with my Dad.
Fiddleheads And Faeries
The cool breeze came rushing in the open windows of the pick-up truck. It whipped our hair around our faces. It filled our ears with the whispered promise of spring and our noses with the fresh wet scent of new grass and damp fertile earth. The truck jostled and bounced down the narrow beaten track, making us breathless with laughter and rattling our teeth as we bounced up and down on the springy seat.
We were “goin’ fiddleheadin” as Dad called it. Every year, when the world was young and teeming with new life, we would harvest the edible ferns that grew along the banks of Maritime brooks. When young and unfurled, the top was covered in a brown papery shell and resembled the head of a fiddle. To cook them, you removed the shell, boiled gently and served them steaming hot, slathered with butter and a lashing of strong cider vinegar; with any luck right next to a side of freshly caught rainbow trout.
As we tumbled from the truck, the sky was streaked with the orange and violet blush of sunset. We walked along a footpath toward the brook and were soon enveloped in a leafy canopy of silvery birch, strong maple, and tall poplar trees. In the lofty branches the weary lullaby of a sparrow could be heard as she settled her young for the night.
The brook babbled and chattered as it wound its way toward the meadow. It broke with a rush over the beaver’s dam. Slap-slap went the beaver’s tail on the water, announcing our arrival to his kin. We might see a porcupine waddling away unhurriedly, but we hoped not to spot or smell a skunk.
As we picked our way along, a riotous carpet of wildflowers spread graciously before us. Dog-toothed violets splashed their vivacious golden color. We caught a whiff of pungent trillium as they peeked sheepishly from their burgundy petals. Jack-in-the-pulpit stood tall and proud in their striped jackets and glossy green leaves. Violets and bluettes scattered their hues of deep and delicate blue throughout the meadow as we tread reverently with squeaking rubber boots through the masses.
If we looked long and hard enough, we might see a puffed pink lady slipper gracing a quiet spot in the wood. It was under one of these velvety blossoms I expected to catch a careless faerie swinging saucily from a slender green stem. I was convinced that when I found one, it would be here and on a night like this.
My hand brushed a sticky spider’s web. It was huge and hung between two young saplings. Its whispery strands were strung brightly with iridescent beads of evening dew. I shivered and quickened my step, not at all eager to meet or even spot the resident.
My feet squished and mucked in the springy moss and squeaked some more as I walked through the dewy grass. We filled our bags, sniffling noisily as the cold air chilled our noses and fingers. Our breath escaped our mouths and hung ghostly and white in the dusky light.
The nocturnal choir of frogs filled our heads with their wild song. Occasionally, it was punctuated by the deep bass note of a grand-daddy frog. A hoot owl sent shivers down my back with its haunting query.
As we returned wearily to the truck, a hush fell over the sleepy meadow. The moon sighed and shone its silvery light through the lacy tree-tops. The stars winked and smiled goodnight as the darkness yawned and pulled its velvety blanket of deep blue over the enchanted garden glen.


  1. It was in high glee when spring came after winter. Spring is a fascinating season full of marvelous nature and universe also.

  2. Another one of my favourites:):):) I knew u were waiting for fiddlehead season:)

  3. Most definetely one of my favorites. I could almost smell he forest, feel the cool air... You are amazing