This post is for Dave:
Dave, you need to come to Santa Barbara.
Come spend the day among the orchids. Wander through the greenhouses, through the shadows and humidity, up and down the aisles, along the mossy walkways, over paths of bark and rivulets of cool water.
Walk among the leaves. Brush past long, draped, sinuous leaves. Look up - wooden lath crates hang, full of wide, heavy, leaves. See the tables with pots full and layered thick with leaves, deep-green leathery leaves. Admire little living poufs - teeny tiny jots of leaves.
Green, fecund, prolific leaves cradle orchid blossoms large and small. Pads of leaves toss blossoms out headlong into the air where the flowers hang, and dangle, suspended, in a little pleat between two dimensions: our reality and full fantasy.
I know it seems I overstate the environment. Who could imagine the jeweled tones, the dizzying display of drama that has been hoisted up on stems like silken banners on opening day at Santa Anita Racetrack?
But I assure you - there is no embellishment to my descriptions, no fabrication or misrepresentation to what is told here.
I offer these pictures as proof that I have not romanticized the truth - although this place is aswirl with romance and flirtation. Nature Herself is flaunting Her power, displaying talismans and charms, and amulets of every color and variety. She is bewitching.
These are the floral fruits of the natural world - plucked from the understory of a jungle somewhere, or lifted from a tangle of vine and heat and visions of neon-bright birds that dart among dark branches. Some are taken from the bark of trees whose feet are planted in a thick, living swamp hung with curtains of Spanish moss - or from a quiet, shady creekside grotto.
They have been assembled here - thousands of them. They will obfuscate and mesmerize - and yet, at the same time, bring life into razor-sharp focus.
We are all living under the same blue dome, these flowers and we. And just as their jubilant display announces the full measure of the grand design and enormity and beauty of life....
...so must we. These flowers fairly shout their raison d'être. And we - I - shuffling, and weary, and jaded a bit - can only wonder at my purpose and place in it all.
But I have found that here, I (and we) can slip into that little pleat where the orchids live - the ruffle between the dimensions that offers them a nurturing home between reality and the unreal - between truth and true divinity.
Dave - come walk among the orchids - and God.
Here is a little slideshow I made from the pics I took today.....