Indian Pipe (World Among Many)

With roots set deep, with leaves translucent, the plant’s waxy fingers pull death from the ground. The Corpse Plant, epiparasitic, is a smoky spirit of the dark woods, of fecund banks near rotting beech or pine trees, nodding its head to offerings from water, leaf and soil. The plant takes nutrients given by a fungus down below. I enter its realm and seize one moment, symbiotic, playing with its name– this Indian Pipe, remembering days of dried tobacco shared…

Indian Pipe (Corpse Plant)

I descend the hill from Corpse Plant town, tune in to the news from the Republic, more words from the hatred groups, from Zombies crawling out of holes in honor of Monster Mouth. A Slag-for-Brain reports, “I am a settler. I am descended from settlers– not from immigrants.” Oh really. Well, I’m a settler, too. Descended from lines of immigrants. From farmers, businessmen, explorers, not from media zombies yapping their lameness through the press.

Every species has a context, an ecological connection to a larger world. Here, my woodland of the Indian Pipe.

domestic lilies, too, have an ecological context… here, the writer’s front yard…

The Corpse Plant colony reminds me that it’s not the Earth that brings bad news. As Utah Phillips said, “The earth is not dying, it is being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.” Today we can find the names of fellas (mostly) running the top 100 companies in the world responsible for more than 70% of the greenhouse gas emissions since 1988 []. The Corpse Plant doesn’t represent the bad news as I hear it. In fact, Indian Pipe feeds on the dead and glorifies the final victory of Nature. Dried tobacco, smoked and shared poetically.

new tent ready for the big woods of Baxter & the lakes of Rangeley, Maine

A bunch of streamers for the R.I. salt & the backwoods of Down East…

So I fish and get back in the flow. [Actually I’m heading to Rhode Island soon & then to off-the-grid Maine for a while, so if I don’t get to your comments right away, I’ll be sure to do so on return.] I’m reminded of an old joke, just to lighten the load. Bob Stanton shared it with us as a Rivertop comment back in July 2013. Many fly-fishers and their spouses might relate, as well as others passionate about the big outdoors, so here it is again…

A man and a woman begin dating. He confesses to her, “I don’t drink, do drugs, gamble, or chase women. But I do fly fish.” After a few years of  marriage, she was heard to say to a friend, “You know, at first it didn’t sound so bad…, but now I kind of wish he did some of the other stuff.”


World among many #1…

World among many #2

World among many #3… Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat, July 2018.

About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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18 Responses to Indian Pipe (World Among Many)

  1. Bob Matuzak says:

    Many, many moons ago, while living in Kinderhook, we went to Arcadia and Mt Desert Island. Climbed Mt. Cadillac so we’d be the first Americans to feel old Sol’s rays for that particular day…
    Anyways – Small homesteads along the coast had stands that offered a lobster, bag of chips and a lemonade for $5. Boiled ‘en in a lengthways cut 55 gallon drum. It was fall and for two weeks I ate Lobster and blueberry pancakes everyday.
    Man, that was livin’.
    Thanks for bringing back the memories.
    Enjoy your trip! Watch out for those Maniacs (get it? Maine – iacs) and mooses!

    • Thanks, Bob.(M.)! Your account of coastal Maine reminds me of autumn at Acadia & other locales, my favorite time to visit. Timing’s off for this visit but we’ll be mostly inland in the wilds where I hope the trout will be hungry, the loons loquacious, the moose inquisitive, and the other Main-iacs, viz., mosquitoes, well-behaved… Ah, and blueberry pancakes….

  2. Leigh Smith says:

    How funny – I just saw an indian pipe in my yard and wondered what it was. Another great post.

  3. Bob Stanton says:

    Just took some pictures of Indian Pipe the other day at Rimrock, Walter, along with those of some American Chestnut that grow up there. Enjoy your northward swing! This Bob Stanton, he thinks he’s a funny guy, doesn’t he?

  4. Brent says:

    Glad you like that tent! Enjoy your world among many in Maine, and take some good pictures.

  5. plaidcamper says:

    Another good one, Walt! You’d think, given we’re all going to be fungus food at some point, we’d show a bit of humility – and care, while we’re here. I guess money and racism makes one immortal…
    Have fun away from the zombie hordes, and I hope the fish bite, the mosquitoes are manageable, and the new tent is comfortable. Traveling light with that one, looks just right.
    I hope Bob has a store of jokes, and you’ll share some more here!

    • Hey thanks Adam, and I like what you suggest… humility is key… fear not the fungi of the future & of present time… humanity needs to be humbler, for without humility & care there isn’t much hope for the world or for ourselves.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I so agree with your assessment of life in the USA just now. The Mouth who loves himself and chaos only – it is just beyond belief.
    Love the Indian Pipe reverie and wish you peaceful days in Maine, a place I dearly love. When we have a day with low dewpoints and clear blue skies, I tell myself “it’s a Maine day.” Here near Philly there haven’t been too many this summer.

    • Indeed these are crazy times that we’re subjected to… beyond belief. Thanks for your good wishes and reflections, Mary, and I hope that you experience some “Maine days” soon, whether they be clear blue days near Philly or Down East or wherever you may be!

  7. It’s time we shout it from the top of every mountain! You may wish to check out Buffy Saint-Marie’s song, “Welcome Welcome Emigrante” although I have a feeling you are already familiar with it. Someday, I hope to see you in that Land of Fishing Legends! It might be at Upper Dam, or maybe below Camp Ten Bridge or perhaps at Little Boy falls or on the upper reaches of the Cupsuptic.

  8. That would be awesome, or maybe in a place like this, the Penobscot & Katahdin region visited by Thoreau, fishing for brook trout or landlocked salmon… Meanwhile I’ll check on Buffy’s song… not sure yet if I know that one. Thanks much!

  9. JZ says:

    Indian Pipe, I have come across that before and never new what it was. My memory recalls seeing something similar also but in orange and white. Some kind of crazy relative of Indian pipe perhaps. I’ve been busy vacationing Walt, fishing a couple of brook trout streams in Lake Placid. Wonderful area for the fisher to travel too. Very rocky area, boulders the size of cars abound. Small secret intimate bodies of water where are brightly colored friends reside in cascading pools. I must say, they are thriving well and its generally an area that has a rich tradition in fishing.
    I hope you have the time of your life in Maine Walt. I did going back 10 plus years ago. I remember the brook trout waters there especially. They were exceptional! Travel safe, catch some fish and raise a cold IPA. Oh, make sure to hold hands with your wife, its a romantic kind of state for sure. lol..

    • Thank you, JZ; I’m glad you had some fun times there near Lake Placid. Those brook trout streams are rocky wonders, for sure… We just returned from a week or more in Maine, and the streams there were a lot like those in the northern Adirondacks, rocky, tannic, swift, and full of brook trout (and salmon in some places). We enjoyed Baxter wilds & then the great Rangeley district (with its IPAs, good food, and legendary fishing heritage). Oh, and by the way, I did hold hands with my wife!

  10. Dude, that was awesome. These days I can no longer listen to news of our republic. It is just background noise to me. I don’t tune in anymore because it is depressing and well I will leave it at that. I love doing things like fishing and projects to focus my energies and make the best use of my limited time on this planet. Cheers!

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