The encyclopedia (let’s be honest, Wikapedia) says that ferns in some form have  existed for 200 million years but that ferns as we know them have existed for 120 million years.  Boy, what a relief.  I mean, 120 million years.  That’s OK then.  Come on,guys, even 1000 years is hard to envision as real and not just fairy tales.  You know,people walking around looking like Jack and the beanstalk, Puss in Boots.  Hey I wonder if beanstalks as we know them existed. . . Oh, sorry.  Back to ferns.  Who can envision even one million years.   I know coal is petrified trees.  Well scientists tell us that but then I remember my grandmother throwing a scuttle-full  of coal on the fire and it seems sort of unlikely.  Do scientists sit around and chuckle and say , “Hmm, let’s say 200 million years.  We could even say one billion years.  How would they know, anyway?”  But then I revert to my respectful sensible homage to science.  When I look at the kindly ferns that hastily pop up in my front yard every spring, I freak out a bit.  Besides being older than dinosaurs (honestly, now, how many of you know if ferns are older than dinosaurs?) the fact that they propagate by spores is a bit odd.  Flowers, seeds, fruit, all those seem ” normal” but spores??? A bit spooky.  At night I imagine my ferns shooting up higher than street-lights just ready for a mild old dinosaur to munch on .  There are a few odd legends about the rare ( think nonexistent) fern flower.  Seems if you find one, usually on midsummer day, you get all sorts of good luck.  So I guess next month I’ll be checking out my ferns for flowers.  Maybe I’ll stick to the Victorian view of ferns as beautiful, discrete ornaments to be printed and stamped everywhere.  Think potted ferns in the conservatory and  Sylvia fending off Percy with her fan.  Somehow I can get my head around that more than the 200 million year stuff.

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