Monday, August 3, 2009
Ghastly ghost flowers
This summer, it has been unusually rainy in New Jersey -- it rained almost every day in June, and July was unseasonably cool and damp as well. One of the results of this downpour has been the proliferation of every type of mushroom in the woods. And among the strange collection of yellow and brown amanitas, jelly molds and fungus, death caps and destroying angels, a strange flower blooms.
I walk in the woods almost every day that the weather cooperates, even if only for a few minutes, but I have never before seen the elusive Indian Pipe in one of my favorite walking places, though I have looked for them in the darkest shadows among the mushrooms. Pale and waxy, they resemble mushrooms themselves - a tiny cluster of pale white stems bearing drooping bell-like blossoms. Flecked with the dark soil from which they erupt after a heavy rain, they seem to favor woods like the one I frequent, full of birch and beech, pine and poplar.
Among their other names are ghost flower, corpse plant, and fairy smoke -- quite a poetic plant! With that in mind I imagined that at its roots a wan fairy might lie in wait beneath the earth. I will probably do several paintings on this theme, but this is the first. I haven't decided whether to offer her up for Etsy or eBay yet, but I wanted to share her right away.