marklafon (marklafon) wrote,

Evolving native species

In the southern mountains there are folk tales about gardenels. They are akin to Venus Flytraps or more accurately, Pitcher Plants. Pitcher Plants have a cup-like part in which a sweet liquid collects. Insects crawl in, become mired in the liquid, a lid slowly closes, and the bug is digested by the secretions of the plant. Well, gardenels are a sort of Pitcher Plant that are big enough to be mistaken, in bad light, for an abandoned shack. Supposedly people enter seeking shelter, go to sleep, and become plant food after the "door" closes and traps them inside. Manley Wade Wellman mentions gardenels in his Silver John tales. One of the stories involves a witch powerful enough to live in a 2-story gardenel.

As I mentioned, the tales are from the southern mountains. The Carolinas and Georgia mainly, not West Virginia. But when I was in WV I kept finding abandoned and rusted out double-wide mobile homes in out of the way places. Once I found a whole hillside with over a dozen of them arranged haphazardly with no trace of a road or signs that they had ever been inhabited. I was told that it was just a junk yard of sorts and that the rusting hulks had been dumped there. But... I remembered the stories of the gardenels and decided that the "abandoned" trailers must have really been modern gardenels. They had grown there, thus the lack of a plan in their placement and the lack of any roads. Clearly the plants have evolved from resembling shacks to resembling abandoned mobile homes. I sure would not want to try and spend the night in one.

Once I made the gardenel/trailer connection I set to wondering if any other traditional critters and plants had adapted to modern life. I saw a few gravel lots in the middle of nowhere that might have been flats (a creature that resembles a grassy spot until it rises up and envelopes you). And try as I might I could not find any behinders, but then they are hard to see since they are always behind you. I think that the painters (panthers) and bammoths (smaller hill cousins of the mammoths) are extinct. However I did manage to convince a few of my fellow Ohio workers to beware of hoopsnakes, rattlers and cottonmouths. And, after meeting a few of the locals, the Buckeyes were very receptive to stories of WV Sasquatch. (My 16 year old son has just gotten new shoes, size 11 EEEEEE. Bigfoot is a family member.)

I did, on a path in the woods, find some bones, mainly vertibrae, that were rather large. I decided that they were from a deer. Only a deer, bear, or human would have had ones that were large and I did not poke around lest I find anything to disprove my deer theory. Yep, that roundish brown rock I could see half buried in the leaf mould was a rock and I was not going to risk finding out it wasn't. I just went back to my van and did some paperwork. With the doors locked and the windows up and watching the woods constantly until I was ready to move on.
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