I also included this shot, of a strange non-fungus, “monotropa uniflora,” called by various names like “Ghost Plant,” “Indian Pipe,” or “Ghost Pipe.”
I would not care to hear whatever dark and sinister tune might whisper out of these pale ghost pipes.
From a distance, it has a pale, porcelain prettiness, and the stems are a rather nice pink, but on closer inspection, the overall effect is of an unhealthy, repellent fleshiness. But perhaps I’m just projecting, because of its vampirish lifestyle.
A lot of fascinating info on Tom Volk’s Fungus Web Page.
My first surprise, was to find out that it’s a herbaceous perennial plant, and somehow related to much more cheerful plants:
cranberries, rhododendrons, azaleas, and blueberries!
Seems like it would be a strained relationship.
That pale, creepy Uncle Fester we never discuss when the young blueberries are around.
Not only did we find it growing amidst the various fungi, but like them, it lacks chlorophyll.
A parasitic existence, living on fungi.
It’s host fungi, in turn, have a symbiotic relationship to trees, often beeches.
Professor Volk mentions a “one-way flow of carbohydrates,” which immediately brought an image of me in a pasta restaurant.
Given its somewhat creepy appearance, and parasitic nature, its not surprising to find another, creepy, nickname,
I’ve only seen it a couple of times in my life, and was surprised to find it again, embedded in greenish glass, in the Corning Glass Museum!
This is an amazing glass creation by Paul Stankard, “Cloistered Tri-Level Botanical with Indian Pipe Flower and Spirits”
I’m sorry it’s not a better picture, I photographed it inside a glass case, which could have used a wash. We know which visitors are making things smeary, we can identify their fingerprints.
But if you look closely, you can make out the spirits on the underside of this strange plant.
Here’s a link to a better image, on the museum website
Apparently Native Americans discovered a number of medicinal uses, including a root tea, used as a sedative and soporific.
I don’t experiment with such things, and in this case, doesn’t it look like, as a sleeping aid, it might just work a bit too well?
There were old Monty Python sketches, that started with “Well, I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition…”
When we visited the new wing of the Corning Glass Museum, I didn’t expect crows. But there were quite a few.
And this was my kind of ornithology – – indoors, out of the snow and sleet, and the subjects holding very still.
Among the creatures depicted on, and of glass, over the millennia, birds are clearly flying high, a perennial favorite.
The crows in the pictures above, are not glass. They’re taxidermied in the act of dismantling a ruby glass chandelier.
I’ve always kind of liked crows.
They’re a lot like some of my friends – – not outwardly colorful, but very smart, and horrible singers.
And some of them, easily distracted by shiny objects.
You’ve probably heard about the little girl in Seattle, who liked feeding the local crows.
The crows began to reciprocate by bringing her lots of interesting junk. Including bits of glass, some beads and tiny lightbulbs.
Here’s a funny coincidence, not making this up.
While I’m writing this, I’m listening online to the Rochester NPR station (WXXI 91.5 FM).
They’re playing Schubert’s “Winterreise”
It’s a song cycle in German, not really my kind of thing, but growing on me. Parts of it are beautiful, but very formal, and sorry, just a bit somber.
And the commentator just mentioned the song was “Die Krähe” (“The Crow”)!
I looked it up: “A crow has been following him. It has never left him, expecting to take his body as its prey.”
If Schubert had just been walking with a ruby glass chandelier, he could have tossed it on the path, and run for it!
One more installation, and let this be a warning, to any crows following me, and getting ideas.
“13 Crows” by Michael Rogers. The description from the museum site: “Transparent light grey glass; cast, applied pigment; assembled, paper, glue, and wire. 13 cast glass crows. The bodies are wrapped and glued, mummy-like, with newsprint ripped from the front pages of a Japanese newspaper. The crows are hung upside down, suspended by their tails from a twisted wire.”
P.S. I then looked at some of the blogs I follow, and look what Frenchapple 10 “Creartful Dodger” posted [wordpress.com/read/feeds/2949462/posts/1733572267]
It was just Day of the Crows around here!!
It will be a long time before we see anything green or blooming in the Northeast.
Winter is a good time to look for interesting stalks and seed pods in the snow.
Well, this plant is not native to New York, and I think, it’s more interesting than beautiful.
I’ve seen it, in gardens, roadsides and woods, all my life.
Wikipedia indicates that Lunaria annua is naturalized, but native to the Balkans and SW Asia.
In both Europe and Asia, the common names refer to money: silver dollar plant, the Pope’s money, coins of Judas, etc.
We’ve always called it “honesty.”
In winter, the stalks resemble an abandoned optician’s shop, vandalized by the winter, with old wire-rimmed spectacles, gone cloudy, or missing lenses.
It’s a tough, almost shrubby plant, that needs no care, and produces nice purple flowers, and self-seeds reliably.
The seed pods are brownish, flat, and oval – -you can see one hanging on in the pictures, darkened by exposure.
But when the outer layers drop off, it’s the inner part of the seed pod that a lot of people like to gather – – almost pearly, like discs of translucent parchment or paper.
In the last shot above, the membrane is shredded by the winter weather. (Tattered honesty, this is New York, after all)
I think the last shot looks a bit sinister, like a display for “Sweeney Todd, Eye Doctor”
If you gather it in the fall, when it’s good and dry, you can slip off the outer covers, scatter the seeds, and bring in the money.
My next few posts are going to be pictures from the Corning Glass Museum.
This is part of my series “Shameless Plugs for Upstate New York” – – my icy, crumbling, semi-medieval homeland.
The museum is a highlight of the “Southern Tier.”
This is the area along the Pennsylvania border, more often synonymous with job loss, aging population, and population loss.
Unless you’re making cheese, or meth, you’re often unemployed.
So Corning, NY, about four hours from New York City, seems a strange setting for a huge, rich treasure trove of ancient and modern glass – – that symbol of beauty, fragility, and civilization.
The explanation is the Corning Glass Company — operating here since 1868.
They’ve made glassware, windshields, Pyrex, Corelle, the telescope mirror for the Palomar Observatory, photochromatic lenses, and the glass for Edison’s light bulbs.
One of their offshoots, Steuben Glass, now defunct, made engraved pieces, for more than a century, that the White House used to present to foreign dignitaries, etc.
More recently, the company’s invented catalytic converters, touchscreens, and fiber optic cable.
But getting back to the museum.
Artists make pilgrimages here from around the world.
The bowl in the photograph has been on display, I think, since the 1980’s, and has always been one my favorites.
“Cityscape” is by Jay Munger, a California artist.
A Pyrex bowl, cut, sandblasted, and painted.