Reading Ferns


Last night the remnants of a Pacific typhoon dumped rain on our Alaska panhandle. Aki and are trying to sneak in a forest/beach visit during a lull in the storm. The little dog dashes up and down the trail, apparently inspired by fresh pee mail. I’m relieved not to have to keep the bill of my ball cap down, happy to be able to point my camera up toward the canopy without having it smeared with rain drops.2

Everything is fresh washed and glistening by moisture delivered by the typhoon. Drops of runoff have collected along the base of bear-bread fungus, making it look like an alligator’s jaw. Others make the reddening blue berry leaves sparkle in the gray light. While somewhere in the Lower 48 States, people wearing cartoon dark glasses watch the moon extinguishing the sun, I stare up at the underside of broad devil’s club leaves that collect storm light.3

We find a fern, delicate as Queen Anne’s lace, shiver in a tiny breeze. Giving up on summer, the fern and its clan are already ghosting to white. Soon they will dry to dark-brown and then be crumbled by the first hard frost. In minutes we are back at the car. I have to coax Aki into it. We didn’t see anyone during the walk. Is she disappointed by the lack of dog company, or does the wise little thing know how to read fern sign?4

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