“Something in White” by Karen J. Weyant

2 01 2008
I’ve been missing snow. I know, sometime in late February or early March, I’m going to look back at this post and think that I was crazy, but we’ve had a brown season thus far. We did have some storms, but in a day or so, the snow had either melted or it had turned into these hard, black piles of slush and ice. So even though the mini-storm yesterday ruined our traveling plans for New Year’s Day, the landscape was beautiful. And today, it looks like the weather is clearing up just a bit — the sky is sporting a pinkish tint and the roads have been plowed. And the snow is still white.

It’s funny, but I’ve always been fascinated with white in nature. Perhaps this is because I grew up in Western PA where it seems at least half of the year sports a white winter coat. But in the lush green springs and the colorful falls, I’ve always looked for white — in flowers, in animals, in plants. I love albino animals, and even now, when I go home, I try to get my father to talk about the albino herd of deer that used to live by his farm when he was growing up (he may be exaggerating — it might not have been a whole herd, but he always has interesting stories!). Daisies are my favorite flowers. And I’ve already mentioned my desire to spot a white monarch.

But there’s one plant I would really like to see — the Ghost Plant or Indian Pipe pictured above. I know they are rare — and to be honest, I’m not even sure if I could possibly find them around here, but in the photos I’ve seen (This one is from Wikipedia), they look fascinating. And of course, the folklore behind these plants is just as fascinating. Some sources suggest that this plant, often also named the Corpse Plant, is so named because the long white tubes look like corpse fingers reaching out of the earth. Other sources suggest that the plants were once groups of Indians who smoked peace pipes — when the nature gods found out that they were smoking these pipes without permission they were turned into plants. (I am really paraphrasing here — so for any folklorists out there — please feel free to correct my stories).

I’m not sure why I am thinking of the Ghost Plant today. Perhaps it’s because this plant is trying to grow in one of my poems; but more than likely, it’s because when I first got up this morning, the sky looked like a ghost plant — almost translucent with just a hint of color. Now, however, the world has once again turned gray.”