Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Great Orchid Hunt: Part II

I went out alone yesterday to see if the Calypsos were in bloom. To my great delight, every patch I'd seen a week ago was in full flower! Many were right along this muddy ATV track...(I worry for their safety).... The sun was in the West and each patch of orchids glowed in the slanting evening light.

The groups of blooms were dense and bright----not much else in the underbrush is in leaf or flower yet.

Each bloom was only about 5" high. I was alone on the trail-----good, as no one saw me crawling around on my stomach trying to get perfect camera focus.

Totally captivating! I think this was my favorite group.

What I hadn't expected was their scent. It was a strong perfume that floated in a halo around them----I had to get very close. Sharp, sweet.....can't even describe what it reminded me of. I took a few very deep breaths----when is the next time I'll be able to enjoy a full-body infusion of orchid essence?

So far, the images I've seen of Calypso bulbosa show a more rounded lip, and no yellow, hairy spot. Kind of like this orchid's soul patch. Look at that cleft chin!

This is my favorite shot. Don't they look like they're having a great time?

It was a good evening for me. Finding anything in my life that truly delights me has been difficult and rare these days. I thought that with the advent of Spring, I would feel brighter, feel better, more optimistic. Recent events have been weighing me down, however. It seems I can't quite get out from under a dark cloud. Seeing these Calypso orchids in all their fragile beauty gave me a lift.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Great Orchid Hunt 2008

Here is a pretty picture from Wikipedia of Calypso bulbosa, the Calypso Orchid. Also known as Fairy Slipper or Venus's Slipper. I saw these orchids blooming about 30 miles out of town while on a horseback ride 2 years ago and swore to see them again one spring. This past week, some friends from work and I went out to hunt for these elusive and rare creatures....

Corinne and Erin-----Corinne has a Master's in Arctic Biology/Botany, so she brought a HUGE reference book for us to accurately identify anything and everything that we found. Here, Erin found a little prezzie in the roadside weeds....

And gave it to her sister.

This is the culmination of our search----many, many clumps of Calypso orchids in their nascent bloom state. Buds just forming on tiny stalks, they'll be open in a few more days. When I told people that I was going orchid hunting, they all asked how I would dig them up or transplant them. No! I wouldn't even touch them. My approach to orchids is as to something sacred and sacrosanct. I would NEVER dig these up. Also, they die in captivity, so why would I ever kill them with my selfishness? Sometimes, you don't need to have or own a thing to know it is good and beautiful and enjoy the heck out of it. These orchids will be there for years to come if no one disturbs them.

Also along the trail we found and identified many sprouting clumps of Lousewort. Corinne identified it for me as Pedicularis, which I promptly forgot and called it Ridicularis. (It just sounded so Harry Potter....) Oops.

I carefully dug up a clump and brought it home, recognising that I have very similar soil conditions to that which we found it in. Fun! So far (three days later) it's doing well.

I haven't had such a good time in quite awhile. This spring seems to be all work and no play thus far. It was awesome to grub about in the underbrush examining plants and identifying them. Seriously awesome! We're going out again next week to see if we can catch the Calypsos in bloom..... More fun!