The Slower You Go

One of our most striking woodland orchids--easily missed!
One of our most striking woodland orchids--easily missed!

I think I say it a couple of times in the books–the slower you go, the more you see. The more you see the more you know and come to care about in the particular.

I don’t know how many times we must have driven past this cluster of Showy Orchis and the other several striking bunches of that not-common species in our travels.

It took me walking down (running, actually) to fetch the wandering dog home from one of his nasally-induced rambles to see the most perfect specimen of this prized plant on the bank–at eye level even so the photographer could avoid wallowing on his belly for the shot.

I don’t seem to be able to find the “studio lighting” for this plant that would make it a great shot. It’s a “deep” plant in that the blooms arise from all sides of the stem. It grows typically in deeper woods–even piney woods–where the lighting and background clutter are rarely ideal.

But I love the way each is a prim old-fashioned lady in her lavender bonnet and ruffled white bodice.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. How many ground orchid species are there in Floyd County (roughly)? I think there are about 4 native species here in S. Florida, along with a couple of exotics from Africa.