A Roll in the Universe

Website of Keera Ann Fox, an American in Bergen, Norway

The ferns of fall

When I was a child, I hated autumn. I saw no colors, only leaden skies, naked ground and continuous rain. And the ugliest thing ever was to see the green fern leaves turning brown.

Fall-colored ferns close-up

Fall-colored ferns close-up

Ferns are often called snake grass (“ormegras”) here in Norway, and are seen as similar to seaweed: A creepy plant that hides in shadow, and hides things in shadow (supposedly), and wraps around your legs as you try to move between them. I never had the loathing my Norwegian friends had, but I liked ferns only when they were lush and green. I hated how they looked when they started to turn into a brown-spotted mess in fall.

As an adult I have come to see and appreciate this time of year in a completely different way, and now autumn is my favorite season. I see the colors changing, I feel the air get crisper and easier to breathe, I enjoy seeing the stars return with the darker evenings, and I know now that the gray, soggy part is just November. Recently, I made a new discovery about fall.

When I took a walk about a month ago, I came across a clearing in the woods, completely covered in ferns. The ferns had already changed color to a breathtaking bronze. And that’s when it hit me: I love how ferns look this time of year. They are no longer ugly, but instead provide a rusty, lacy contrast to the solid greens still around them.

Fall-colored ferns

Fall-colored ferns


  1. It’s amazing how ‘ugly brown weeds’ turn into beautiful bronze plants sometime after one is fifty or so…; )

  2. When they are young fiddleheads they are delicious when lightly sauteed.

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