Orchids remind me of my grandmother because she used to breed them when she was alive. When I was young I would stand in her garden and contemplate their ugly beauty. She grew ones that were trained up a supporting stick and had skinny yellow petals with deep red markings. I wondered why she didn’t choose the bigger, prettier ones with lush vivid petals, like these orchids at the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens in Big Island, Hawaii.
Years later, I read a book called The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean, which is about a horticulturalist named John Laroche and his quest for the rare ghost orchid. It is a broad tale about orchid obsession and the lengths to which plant collectors will trek into dark swamps and headhunter-inhabited rainforests to find rare orchids. Orchids like humidity and the shyest ones live in the humid low-light density of forests. It’s a wonder that we think we can buy them from the supermarket and grow them in our houses. I’m minded to read the book again.
~ Spotted Cow
Hawaii is Geography 101. The islands were born from volcanoes and continue to grow from volcanic power to this day. We spent a couple of long days at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Big Island where you can get up close and personal with the world’s youngest and most active volcano, Kilauea – her name sounds like Killer Whale and she’s massive. Her latest eruption started in 1983!
It was instant gratification. Our first view of Kilauea’s smoking Halema’uma’u crater was from the Volcano House lookout, across the street from the Visitor Center. Hawaiians believe that the crater is home to the goddess Pele. She was puffing away serenely into the blue sky. Serenely, by the way, is about 1000°C.
There is a closer viewing from the Jaggar Museum lookout where there are also telescopes for more intimate observations. We returned after dinner to check out the red lava glow. It looks more dangerous and mysterious at night.
The museum itself is one room packed full of interesting information about volcanoes and the equipment used to measure seismic activity. The youngsters were jumping up and down to test the interactive seismograph. And I learnt more about lava than I knew was possible.
~ Spotted Cow
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