indian pipes

8.10.13 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
8.10.13 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

That without suspecting it you should send me the preferred flower of life, seems almost supernatural, and the sweet glee that I felt at meeting it, I could confide to none. I still cherish the clutch with which I bore it from the ground when a wondering Child, an unearthly booty, and maturity only enhances the mystery, never decreases it.
~ Emily Dickinson
(Letter to Mabel Loomis Todd, September 1882)

“The preferred flower of life” Emily is referring to is the Indian pipe, a ghostly flower with no chlorophyll. Like Emily, I was captivated by Indian pipes as a child, whenever I found them while playing in the woods. Native to New England, the flowers are about 3/4 of an inch long, and bloom from June to September. In one of her poems, Emily compares it to a spirit: “‘Tis whiter than an Indian Pipe –” (#1513)

My father has been in the hospital this month with a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in his lung. He is too old (91) and too frail to tolerate a treatment with clot busters, so the doctor is opting for a conservative treatment with blood thinners. Time will tell if this will be helpful or not. Now that he is home he is hooked up to oxygen around the clock. It’s been a very stressful time for all of us, and I’ve spent many hours at Dad’s bedside, leaving Tim here to cope with his terminally ill brother, Toby.

These Indian pipes were growing near Dad’s house in the woods, and the sight of them stirred up some pleasant childhood memories for me. I put the camera on the ground for this shot and was delighted with the results! A bug’s eye view!

22 thoughts on “indian pipes”

  1. Sounds like you’re family is going through a lot. May love and nature carry you through.

    BTW we have Indian Pipes here in Nova Scotia. Very kewl.

    1. Thank you for your supportive thoughts, Sybil. It seems New England and Nova Scotia share a lot of the same native plants and animals. I suspect I would feel at home up north there. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Laurie. Mother Nature has been slipping me little surprises to savor just when I seem to need them the most…

  2. *Hugs* I’m sorry you’re going through so much at once, but so glad you were able to find something to bring you a moment of peace and joy. I first saw Indian Pipes while hiking in West Virginia many years ago, and recently saw them again on another hike (in WV). They are fascinating.

    1. Thank you, Robin. I wonder how far north and south the range is for Indian pipes… I’ve been finding peace and joy while visiting your blog, breezes at dawn, too. I hope you don’t mind that I don’t always leave a comment and just click the “like” button to let you known I’ve been there appreciating your inspiring photos and quotes.

      1. I don’t mind in the least, Barbara. I sometimes do the same thing. I don’t always have something to add to the comments already there or maybe I’m just wordless some days, so I use the Like button so you’ll know I’ve been here, and that I appreciate your posts. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your well wishes, Rosie. Looks like Indian pipes are an east coast species. It’s probably too hot and dry for them to thrive out west there. They seem to like moist spots deep in the woods.

    1. Thank you for the hug and your support, Hanneke. There is so much variety to explore in the world and I love how much we discover and learn from each other in the blogosphere.

  3. Oh dear! I pray that the treatment with blood thinners work wonders for your dad..I pray that he may gain the strength to overcome the illness. You are a strong woman. May God bless you.. how many people take care of their own parents nowadays? *sigh*
    The picture is fascinating ..

    1. Thank you so much for your prayer, Sonali. I really don’t know how many people are in a position to care for their parents at home in our times. Families are so much smaller than they used to be and likely to be spread out, living long distances away from each other. In times past their were more children living close to home so that the load of caring for elders could be shared.

  4. Hi Barbara. Years ago my Mom found these growing in a little maple grove on our property. She tried to protect them by putting in wooden markers but they didn’t reappear for years. Now I see them there regularly. Jane

    1. How interesting that your mom’s Indian pipes reappeared after so many years. I wonder what conditions changed, or maybe some creature brought some new seeds along to the maple grove somehow. It’s nice to know your mom cared so much for these mysterious little flowers!

  5. Such a bittersweet post Barbara, the joy of seeing a reminder of your childhood (which are most unusual and of course I have never seen here in Australia) and the sad news of your father’s failing health. Stay close to him Barbara, and take care. xxx

    1. Thank you, Joanne. The month of August was a wild ride on the emotional roller coaster – feeling stretched in every direction. Auntie is now in a nursing home, where she has actually perked up a little, and Dad is resting peacefully at home, allowing nature to take its course, as he puts it. *hugs*

  6. You did well in capturing these Indian Pipes. I’ve often tried to photograph them but never really liked the results. I like your result here! Is your dad and Tim’s brother still doing OK? Thought of you often during the past month.

    1. Thank you, Kathy! Sometimes a bug’s eye camera view works wonders. 🙂

      Dad is resting peacefully at home, sleeping through even the football games on TV. Tim’s brother’s pain is spreading and increasing – he is sleeping more but when he’s up he’s as busy as ever. Hope your dad is doing all right – it was wonderful you got to have such a long visit with him and your mom. *hugs*

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