The Earth Has Ears

nature fungus tree-ear virginia blue-ridge
Tree-ear fungus

I’m having returning waves of nausea after accidentally allowing malevolent rays in through the closed drapes I had hoped would quarantine me from bizarro world.

By way of a chink in the blinks came recent news items belching details of the ongoing stranger-than-fiction conversion to the post-truth world, where enemies of the environment control the EPA, friends of the 1% control budget and economics,  and friends of the NRA and fans of war control the Defense Department, and so on and so on.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the seasons unfold apace and interesting fungus-infested rotten branches fall from the trees along the New Road. Thank god, some sense of life as we once knew it.

This particular branch, if you could see inside it, is little else than wood duff that was once cellulose and lignin, and now, mostly fungal threads.

The “tree ears” that manifest from those threads are gelatinous, translucent excrescences, the external fungus parts swollen and jelly-like after a rain. Before being hydrated, you would only have seem some black scaly growths that would have looked like the lichens that also inhabit such branches.

They are quite variable in form and color, as you can see from this page of google image results.

And now I will slink back into my hermetically-sealed cave, making a more sincere and complete effort to block out the death-rays of current events that would suck the life and soul out of me.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Mr. B, how the heck are you? Yep these things qualify as “ikky” but harmless. The yellow jelly fungi are called “witches butter.” We find those too.