Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What have I become?

Platanthera leucophaea:

Since obtaining my digital SLR, I have been looking for a certain orchid this summer. This orchid is the Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid (Platanthera leucophaea).

Every few weeks I would drive out to a protected preserve in hopes of finding it. Each time, nothing. Since this is a rare, legally endangered, and protected plant, it is not permitted to wander through the preserve. The best I could hope for is a glimpse of it, or hope that it would be growing near the edge of the preserve. To make matters worse, this plant is notorious for not being a reliable bloomer and laying dormant for years. It takes anywhere from 3-7 years to reach maturity from seed. I could have easily spent the summer looking for it and never seeing it--year after year. Of course, it has a limited blooming period, so if it is bloom, I could easily miss it by going out to look for it at the wrong time.

I drove out to the preserve again this past Sunday. I pulled up to the preserve and once again saw nothing when I got out of my car. Then a nagging sense enticed me to walk further around the perimeter of the preserve that I have not done on earlier occasions.

I finally saw it in all its glory. On top of it all, it was located at the border of the preserve, enabling me to photograph it, touch it, smell it, and admire it without violation.

Finally my efforts paid off.

However, it was not without a price.

The price was the following:

I did not go to bed the previous evening because I had to get up very early and it was just simpler to stay awake until I needed to get ready and leave.

I had to leave my house at 3:30 am in order to be at the location to have the best lighting for photography.

I had a long drive.

I endured biting flies. This was nothing in comparison the wrath of the mosquitoes.

I endured the wrath of what seemed like a swarm of mosquitoes. I estimate around 50-75 bites on my body easily. I am not exaggerating here. Some of the mosquitoes were quite large--ones that I have never seen before. When they first landed on me, I thought they were wasps and I panicked because I left my epinephrine in the car and I was not sure if anyone would hear my calls for help in case of anaphylaxis.

The mosquitoes ignored the insect repellent I had applied and did not care about full sunlight.

The mosquitoes were able to fully penetrate through my clothing without difficulty. My photography tactic was set up the camera, swat swat swat, focus, swat swat swat, snap picture, swat swat swat, repeat.

Prior to each swat swat swat, I would see at least 20-30 mosquitoes on me since the last swat swat swat.

Because of the previous rains, the ground was quite swampy in some places. The water got into my waterproof hiking shoes through the openings at my ankles. My feet and socks got completely soaked. Somehow, even the mosquitoes got through the opening of my shoes and completely feasted on my ankles.

A tick was brought into my car somehow. But got tick out.

I got sunburned in a few spots where I somehow managed not to get the sunblock applied properly. So, what is not bitten is burned on me. Dermatological discomfort right now is mildly putting it...

If someone would have asked me a year ago if I would endure all this to see and photograph the Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid, I would have said no. I would be simply content to look at a picture of it in a book.

Somehow, things are different now. Something in me has changed.

Perhaps this sentiment may convey the change in me:

Excerpt from Wild Orchids Across North America by Philip E. Keenan:

"Orchid lovers are all brushed with the romantic idealism of Don Quixote. We travel great distances to search and photograph, save and conserve these special species. We recognize and appreciate the natural beauty missed by the maddening crowds more interested in the artificial. We experience the equivalent excitement of big game hunters, mountain climbers, and hybridizers nurturing new varieties, and then we finally pull into our driveway back home and are nudged back into reality. Another successful journey is over--until the next time."

Maybe what has happened is that I have become a romantic?

Picture taken with my Nikon D-50 SLR


Anonymous tomjoe said...

Nice flower, where can i get one for a corsage?

Thursday, July 13, 2006 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Invisible said...

Ohhhh I love Orchids! Ive been meaning to get one for a while now! I recently got married and my husbands grandmothers are actually part of the Orchid Society in London and they have so many beautiful different types which they grow at home in their green houses they really are experts! I was on the look out for one yesterday and instead came home with 2 mini cactus' which have flowered... They are amazing I didnt know that Cactus' flower but apparently they do!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 8:11:00 AM  

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