Manning's Ferns Part II

In the fall days that followed Manning spent much time in his garden. Under the Harvest Light he picked tomatoes, melons, pumpkins, and cabbage. He climbed his ladder to pick one rosy apple after another. Sophie washed and pared the apples, creating wonders for the palette from apple sauce to apple and blueberry pie.

While Manning cultivated his garden and Sophie canned or pickled more vegetables, the forest was alive with a flaming brilliance. Maple leaves shone like lanterns. Squirrels and chipmunks gathered acorns that rained down from the ancient oaks. The animals buried their treasure around and under tree roots. Each afternoon was filled with all sorts of bustling about. The Woodlands were preparing for winter.

Often Nikki the Anciennan Hummingbird flew into the Woodland Whimbles' garden. One morning, after zooming in and out of one late rose bloom after another, she flew to Manning's shoulder.

"How does your garden grow, Master Manning?" she inquired.

"Sophie and I have been pleased with our harvest, Nikki. Thank you for asking," the Whimble responded.

Nikki felt a sadness surrounding her friend. He never mentioned his favorite glen, now devoid of the lushest of Caelumen ferns. The loss was too great. The hummingbird sat quietly with Manning for awhile before giving him a tiny beak tickling kiss and lifted from his shoulder to disappear from view.  (to be continued from The Woodlands - Caelumen)