The ferns are all dying now, but just before they die, they will turn to gold. This is because King Midas has walked through the woods and touched all of his favorite things. Immediately, they turned to gold overnight. When I come by this way again, they will have disappeared. The Winter Thief will have stolen all the gold. In its place I will find dried and twisted plant material and nothing more.
|A visit from King Midas.|
But I know the dead plant material is just a ruse. The gold is still brilliant and shining, hidden somewhere in a cave by the thief. Throughout the winter, he will look at the gold to remind himself of the sun, which he will sorely miss, having ignored it when he had the chance. But it will grow colder and colder, and he will need to buy wood for his fire. He will pay for it in gold, the very gold that he stole from the ferns. He will be charged a premium price because all the other wood in the forest will be frozen, and it will be too late to chop his own. When he runs out, he will buy more and more wood, until he has no gold left.
When he hands his last bit of gold over for the wood for his cooking and heating fires, the season will change and the sun will return. New lush and green ferns will appear, but the thief will not bother to see their beauty. Instead of appreciating them and the sun when he has the two together, the Winter Thief will lay in wait in the woods for King Midas to come by again, bringing gold to whatever he touches. It is a delicate balance the thief has struck, paying dearly for the memory of that which is free.