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woodstock-3-days-of-peace-and-music-flyer

We Were Stardust, We Were Golden

3-days-of-peace-and-music-woodstock-posterI was a rising high school senior in the summer of 1969. Far away from Bethel, NY, on the coast of California, I never even knew Woodstock was on the horizon. We all read newspapers and magazines and watched the nightly news. So we knew that something momentous happened on a muddy farm 3,000 miles to the east. Something terrifyingly huge, slightly obscene, and wickedly defiant had ignited while I lived my mini-skirted, innocent, bleach-blonded summer among the dry grasses of Northern California.

Woodstock, like most unexpected events, might not have occurred, had the stars not aligned. Two young guys, 24-year old Michael Lang, and 26-year old Artie Kornfeld had an idea for a Studio-in-the-Woods north of New York City. Kornfeld was already a vice-president at Capitol Records, but he and Lang needed financial backing. Enter two other young guys in their mid-twenties, entrepreneurs Joel Rosenman and John Roberts. Roberts was an heir to the Polident/Poli-grip fortune, and Rosenman was Robert’s good friend with a musical background. They had met on a golf course and were apartment mates in New York City. The two described themselves as “young men with unlimited capital.”

Within months, Woodstock morphed from a plan to build a studio that would attract big-named bands and musicians to an idea for an outdoor concert initially planned for just a few thousand. That audience of a few thousand grew, well-known bands, signed on, and larger and larger sites were sought. Simply, what followed at Yasgur’s farm would not have happened without these four young men, hundreds of performers, the generosity of Max and Mimi Yasgur and neighboring townsfolk, free-flowing dollars of John Roberts and his family, the 400,000 to 500,000 concert-goers, the rolling hills of Bethel, New York, and the adequate preparation. And helicopters. Dozens of them.

“The New York Thruway is closed, man,” Arlo Guthrie, exclaimed.

The NY Thruway wasn’t actually closed. But it very nearly was, and the smaller routes leading into the countryside were indeed jammed. Concert-goers abandoned their cars miles from the event. Musicians had to be fetched and returned by privately-contracted helicopters paid for by the producers. So many people got to Yasgur’s farm, sometimes days earlier than the event was to begin, that no tickets were actually sold on site. Everyone, with or without the advance tickets, was let in. (The tickets for the three-day event were $18 in advance and would have been $24 at the gate.)

1969 was, to use a cliché, a watershed year. The Beatles had happened and were happening still, and the music was changing monthly. The Vietnam War was raging on. Drugs, love, and freedom were marching across the country from every direction, particularly from the west coast. Revolution on campuses, in fashion, on television, and in music stormed like a tidal wave across the country, reaching every city and small town in America. Woodstock was both a catalyst and a result of an era that amazed everyone.

In Rockin’ the Free World! How the Rock & Roll Revolution Changed America and the World, Sean Kay writes that rock and roll was “an idea, an attitude, and a way of thinking about the world.” The rock and roll that exploded in New York state at Woodstock, with hundreds of thousands of participants, and then millions more who witnessed the film and soundtrack, changed history for all of us.

Woodstock was released six months later in March 1970 (the documentary film authorized by the producers, now in debt after the costs the event far exceeded any profit). Fifty years ago was certainly a different era. No smartphone cameras or audio recorders, no YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, or the Internet. Yet, the three-hour film allowed everyone to experience Woodstock. Performances were included by some already-famous artists and bands (Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Janis Joplin), and some were made famous by their appearance (Crosby, Stills & Nash, Richie Havens, Santana). The film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1970, although it hardly needed the award to be successful. The non-simultaneously-released soundtrack hit the record stores on May 11, 1970, in time for my 18th birthday, graduation from high school and a summer of musical bliss. Demonstrations against the Vietnam War ramped up when a generation who witnessed Woodstock vicariously sang along to Country Joe’s Vietnam song. It was unfortunate, but soldiers fighting in that war came home to a generation made even angrier by Jimi Hendrix’s Star-Spangled Banner and its striking and haunting guitar chords mimicking the sounds of battle. Yet, it is arguably those songs that helped the Vietnam War end in 1974.

A half-century after Woodstock, the songs and scenes are part of at least one or two generations’ psyche. A majority of parents, World War II vets, and Republicans were repulsed. Yet, Max Yasgur, the Republican dairy farmer who allowed the event on his land, supported the war. However, he believed in freedom of speech and was repulsed by the discrimination others in the geographic area felt towards the younger people attracted to Woodstock.

The fiftieth anniversary of Woodstock was never pulled off this past summer. It was canceled by the event coordinators. Only three of those four young men are alive today. Yasgur moved to Florida and died four years after the event.

In Never a Dull Moment: 1971 The Year That Rock Exploded (2016), David Hepworth wrote that Woodstock the film “was a greater watershed than Woodstock the event. For the people who actually endured three days in the mud and chaos… the festival was a standard mixed bag. The people whose heads were really turned were the millions who had the experience mediated through” the film. The Woodstock Generation grew dramatically with the film and soundtrack.

You can relive Woodstock, or experience it for the first time, by watching the documentaries available on DVD at the library: the original three-hour Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music or PBS American Experience documentary, Woodstock: Three Days that Defined a Generation. Two pictorial works, Woodstock 1969: The Lasting Impact of the Counterculture (2018) and Woodstock: Three Days that Rocked the World (2019) are full of wonderfully nostalgic photos, quotes, and memories.

If you were a teen or young adult in 1969 or the years following, if you were at Woodstock, or you experienced it vicariously through the albums and documentary in 1970, the words of Joni Mitchell (who never was at Woodstock but was the girlfriend of Graham Nash) will resonate with you. I know they do with me.

“By the time we got to Woodstock, we were half a million strong. And everywhere there was song and celebration. And I dreamed I saw the bombers riding shotgun in the sky. And they were turning into butterflies above our nation. We are stardust billion-year-old carbon. We are golden, caught in the devil’s bargain. And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.”

Charlotte Canelli is the Director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, MA. Look for her article in the September 12, 2019 issue of the Transcript and Bulletin.

meditative-image-of-stones-and-sunset

Here, Now

meditative-image-of-stones-and-sunsetWhen you’re in the reading game, you get recommendations for all types about books you just HAVE to read. Sometimes books are suggested to me because people know that I am interested in a certain subject, genre or author. More often, the people doing the recommending are overwhelmed by how a particular book made them feel and they want to pass along the experience. I have learned to adjust my expectations accordingly. I try to weigh what I know about someone’s personality and reading preferences against my own before racing out to get a copy of the book. This can be problematic, since I work in a library and regularly get recommendations from people I don’t know at all.

A few years ago I got a recommendation from someone I did know. Tim was a friend from my college days with a keen mind and an easy laugh; he was also one of those people that go around doing good deeds for no reason. At nearly six feet seven inches tall, he was built like a linebacker. He’d driven off to Key West his senior year, and I had a comical vision of him jammed behind a steering wheel on what must have felt like the longest road trip ever. Tim never moved back to New England but we did exchange sporadic letters, emails and the occasional marathon phone call over the years. In spite of the distance I considered him one of my closest friends and delighted in hearing about where life had taken him. Of all the people I have known, and to good effect or bad, he was singular in his ability to live in the moment. During one of our last email volleys he mentioned reading Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Wherever You Go, There You Are. I jotted the title on a piece of paper, and scribbled “Tim” next to it. Then, as sometimes happens, my reminder got lost in the shuffle. Our friendship also went into one of its periodic hibernation modes as I juggled grad school and multiple part-time library jobs. When Christmas cards went unanswered, I was at last spurred to action. I went online to check his phone number, but as my cursor hovered over a White Pages link, the next entry down caught my eye. It was an obituary for someone with the same name. I clicked automatically, thinking of the laugh we’d have later about how different his namesake was. Alas, the obituary was in fact Tim’s. I would later find out – via a note on the outside of my eventually returned Christmas card – that Tim’s heart had given out, which I found ironic given his big-hearted nature.

When I recently saw Kabat-Zinn’s name in another author’s bibliography, I felt the universe prodding me to make good on my offhand promise to read Tim’s recommendation. I learned that Kabat-Zinn is the founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Unlike the author’s first book, Full Catastrophe Living, which was geared toward people managing pressing medical problems like those in his clinic, Wherever You Go, There You Are is meant as an introduction to the essence of mindfulness meditation. Very short chapters focus on different facets of the practice, and many chapters conclude with a suggestion for incorporating the different aspects into one’s life. Given this format, and in the spirit of being present in the moment rather than focusing on where I’m going, I’ve chosen to take my time with it in order to try the suggestions rather than skipping them to read the book straight through. I find the exercises, such as taking a few minutes several times a day to simply focus on my breath, to be quite helpful. I’m also amazed at the significant impact on my mindset, whether it is an ordinary day or one in which I am grappling with larger issues. In a meaningful coincidence, Tim’s recommendation is helping me process the grief caused by his death.

I actually tried meditation ages ago, when I was suffering from cluster headaches and resisted the idea of treating them with a prescription. My then-doctor suggested meditation, and recommended The Relaxation Response, by mind-body medicine pioneer Dr. Herbert Benson, who went on to write several other books on the subject. This offers a quick introduction to using transcendental meditation to manage stress and stress-triggered illnesses. While the practice did help with stress, and therefore my headaches, I didn’t maintain the habit, especially after my headaches mercifully withdrew.  I guess that’s why Kabat-Zinn describes mindfulness as being simple, but not easy. So ingrained is our automaticity that it can be difficult to practice awareness within any given moment. That’s why I personally find reading about meditation to be so helpful; it serves as a gentle reminder to keep at it. While I work my way through those suggestions for bringing mindfulness back into my life, I’ve also been listening to the abridged version of Kabat-Zinn’s Coming to Our Senses, a work that connects mindfulness to both physical and spiritual wellbeing as well as examining how our individual development contributes to a healthier world as a whole. Warning: this is heady stuff, and I found myself rewinding a lot, so perhaps it is better listened to when not driving. Yet the ideas therein are compelling and worth the effort, and there are some great suggestions for various meditations in different postures including: sitting, lying down, standing and even walking. Kabat-Zinn has published numerous other books and CDs that are available in the Minuteman Library Network to help people begin or improve a meditation practice.

I wonder what Tim would think about our impromptu, beyond the grave book group. I regret that I didn’t read his recommendation while he was still alive so we could talk about it. Yet given his propensity for living in the moment I think if he could speak from the great beyond he’d probably just point out that I am here, now.

Kirstie David is the Literacy/Outreach Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, MA. Look for her article in the September 5, 2019 issue of the Transcript and Bulletin.

hand-spackling-plaster-on-sheetrock-wall

A Do-It Yourself Education

hand-spackling-plaster-on-sheetrock-wallWhen I was a kid, reading a book was the surest way to get information on any subject. Television like PBS and the History Channel were informative, but you couldn’t exactly call up a channel for information on a particular subject you wanted to learn about. But, as we all know, the internet has removed many of the barriers to self-education. You just need the motivation, access and time.

Today, for instance, I needed to patch a few holes in some drywall. Did I know the first thing about that? Nope. Usually for anything home maintenance related, I call my dad as he knows how to fix just about anything. But today I was feeling guilty that a grown woman was waiting for her dad to come visit just to fix something for her. So I decided I could do it. I know how to adult – I have all of the internet at my fingertips! So I watched a few videos on YouTube, figured out what would work, and went to the hardware store. I got the supplies and I patched those holes!

Now, I am not going to lie to you and say I did a great job. I did an “ok” job. But the fact that I followed the instructions and they worked was such a great feeling! I was a little messier than my dad would have been, but I’ll watch videos on sanding it, then paint it, and the wall will be fine.

In recent years, I wanted to learn a few new skills. But with a small child, and almost no extra time or money, I couldn’t go back to school or attend classes. So first, I took advantage of a deal on a website called Creativebug.com. They had a special to try the site for $.99 for three months of unlimited classes, after which a monthly fee kicked in. Classes included subjects like art and design, quilting, sewing, knitting, cooking, paper crafts, and more. There were thousands of classes, taught by professionals via video, and each class was split up into several videos so that you could watch the presentation and then pause and try the activity yourself. I really loved this set-up and the fact that I could watch a five minute part of a class, and then work on a new technique, like a new knitting stitch or a watercolor technique on a random Friday at 8am (or more likely 10pm).

After a few months, I wanted more than the craft classes offered and I signed up for a different service called Skillshare. The website was very similar to Creativebug, but it offered more technical classes. Again, there were thousands of classes to choose from, taught by professionals. The courses were under two main umbrellas called “Creative” and “Business,” and many of them centered on different computer programs, such as Photoshop or Illustrator. Depending on the class, the teacher might walk you through basic pointers on a specific program or tool, or take you all the way from a sketch to printing your own stickers. There were classes to help you create your own website, teach you how the stock market works, or assist you in keeping track of your finances.

There are other websites that offer similar subscriptions service platforms, like Blueprint and Lynda, but there are also plenty of free options. YouTube is by far the most well-known free video platform, but it is also the wild west, where anyone, competent or not can upload anything.  Similarly, the site wikihow.com is a place where anyone can upload images and written instructions, not just videos. Instructables.com is sort of an in-between, where anyone can upload videos and instructions on how to make something, but there are “curators” who control the site and make sure videos are appropriate. Originally created in the MIT Media Lab as a place for makers to share projects they were working on, it has opened up so that anyone can share their passion for making homemade lasers, 3d printers, or even cosplay outfits.

For more structured, traditional education, there are also free opportunities out there. Khan Academy was originally created for students, but anyone can use the site and refresh their algebra skills (also a life saver for parents trying to help their child with their homework!) Edx.org is an amazing website that allows you to access free college classes from such heavyweights as Harvard, Berkeley, MIT and more. It does not have unlimited free access, but you can pay for that if you wish. Otherwise, there are still many classes to take for free – they are open to you as a student for a couple of months. A unique quality of EDX is the ability to actually earn certificates and, sometimes, college credits. (Lynda.com also offers professional certificates, through a paid subscription fee.)

And last but certainly not least, we have the library! Beyond books, you can access the databases listed on our website, most of them from your own home. You can search for old Boston Globe articles, look up entries in Britannica, or learn a language with Mango. You can   get mobile apps like Hoopla, Libby or Overdrive, to download books and other media with your library card. Kanopy offers independent and award-winning movies, and with Flipster you can download whole issues of magazines.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are so many resources out there, you can learn just about anything. Now you just need to find the time!

Nicole Guerra-Coon is the Assistant Children’s Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, MA. Look for her article in the August 29, 2019 issue of the Transcript and Bulletin.

stack-of-lengthy-books

The Long and the Short of It

stack-of-lengthy-booksWhen I first started my career as a librarian, I secretly judged people who asked me about the number of pages in a book before they were even curious about its plot. I used my “concern” about dwindling reading habits of America’s youth as a thin disguise for my own smug attitude concerning my love for long, meandering novels. At one time, I could read three or four books simultaneously and couldn’t understand why the length of a book mattered. If a book is interesting and well-written, why would anyone care about the length? I couldn’t fathom a different answer than my own.

No matter how well-concealed, this is not a good attitude for anyone in a position to recommend books, especially to kids. Age and experience have thankfully intervened to eliminate the uninformed judgements of my youth. The past fourteen years as a youth services professional in a public library has taught me all the reasons book length is such an important factor for many readers. Kids definitely judge books by their covers, and by extension, they factor in how difficult a book might be simply by looking at it. While many kids do love massive tomes like J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series or Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson novels, some see a large book and immediately worry they can’t finish it.

Large books can be intimidating to kids struggling with reading comprehension or attention span challenges. Sometimes even strong readers quail at huge novels when they know a school assignment is due in less than a month. In addition, many kids (and adults) prefer a plot that moves along at a brisk pace. Longer books can often involve many characters or subplots that bog a reader down in more detail than he or she enjoys.

Finally, motherhood has humbled me. For the first three or four years of my daughter’s life, I was so tired that I could only finish a few pages before drifting off. Frequently, I was rudely awoken by my own book hitting me in the face. And forget reading multiple books at once. As with all things pre-child, that life was over. One quick solution that kept me reading (and awake) involved turning to short stories for some relief. Short stories offer the feeling of success during dark reading times. Readers can easily finish a story or two in a few minutes and don’t feel compelled to read the whole book cover to cover. Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson satisfied my craving for character-driven stories without the slow plot that usually accompanies them. I also always enjoy short story offerings from Flannery O’Connor, especially A Good Man is Hard to Find.

Many mothers know the reality of “mom brain,” that foggy feeling and memory shortage that seems to go hand in hand with raising little kids. During that time, I would look at long novels with their cast of characters and realize that I would never be able to keep all the names or plot twists straight. I loved long series but frequently forgot what happened from one installment to the next. Sometimes I even forgot what happened in the beginning of the book by the time I reached the end. I shelved my intricate fantasy novels and moved on to shorter, more humorous reads like A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Bachman. This story of a grumpy old man who meets his match in his new neighbors kept me laughing and turning the pages.

Now that my daughter is school-aged and a beginning reader herself, I truly understand how busy lives constrain reading time for most families. There are only so many hours in the day and parents and kids are both exhausted at the end of them. Happily, I can report that most parents are doing the right thing and insisting on reading at least twenty minutes a day. But I also can now appreciate the grateful looks overwhelmed parents have given me when I help their child find an appropriate book that’s not “too long.”

On a personal level, I’ve found a new way to reconnect with my love for drawn-out, character driven novels by incorporating audiobooks into my daily life. While I don’t have a long commute, I seem to spend a lot of time in my car, to-ing and fro-ing from errands to pick-ups and drop-offs. Even in short bursts, I listen to thirty to forty-five minutes of a book per day. In addition, I also try to make the tedium of chores more bearable by listening to a book as I bustle around the house, folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, picking up toys or making the beds. Recently, Pachinko, an epic tale following four generations of Japanese-born Koreans, powered me through spring cleaning.

Most audiobook devotees will tell you the narrator plays a key role in the success of an audiobook. A reader can make or break your interest in continuing to listen to a story. If the audiobook reader has great inflection and creates different but believable voices for each character, I’m hooked. If the narrator as an irritating voice or mispronounces words, I know I’ll never commit to listening to the story. Currently, the talented actress Liyah Summers is narrating The Priory of the Orange Tree, an intricately detailed British fantasy that rivals Game of Thrones for its unexpected twists and turns.

If you are looking for ways to incorporate more reading into a busy life, check out the library’s Overdrive and Hoopla services. Each of these services provide access to free e-books and digital audiobooks through easy to download apps for your mobile device. All you need is Norwood library card to gain access to these amazing digital resources.

All of this has made me a better librarian. I can’t truly help people if I judge them or their requests. I don’t think twice now if a child asks me how long each summer reading book is before making their selection. I understand the practical concerns and, frankly, differing preferences most people have. If a child or adult tells me they like a book that “moves along” or is “exciting,” I know to dispense with involved plots and lengthy descriptive prose in favor of well-written, shorter books with more appeal and a faster pace. I’m here to help kids and adults create their own positive reading experiences so they can develop a lifelong love affair with books.

Kate Tigue is the Head of Youth Services at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, MA. Look for her article in the August 22, 2019 issue of the Transcript and Bulletin.

orchid-thief-book-cover

The Ghost Orchid: Mystery of the Swamp

orchid-thief-book-coverSeeing the ghost orchid was not on the Charlotte Canelli bucket list. I actually don’t have an official bucket list, although I’ve been known to mentally check things off a list-of-sorts. I am hard-pressed to adopt any I-must-do-this-before-I-die obsessions. Spending a night in a Russian monastery was a happy consequence of a purposeful trip to the Soviet Union. Sipping mead in an Irish castle, viewing fields of Texas bluebonnets in the spring, and observing a Santeria ceremony in Cuba were the rewards of other whimsical adventures. My life has been a chaotic mixture of loss, love, joy, and pain, and I’ve happened upon many serendipitous experiences along the way.

How I came to trod over a mile into southwestern Florida’s Corkscrew Swamp to view the elusive super-ghost orchid is no mystery to me. I simply awoke one sunny and hot July morning in Fort Myers, Florida, and placed it on top of my must-do-today list.

The ghost orchid (or Dendrophylax lindenii in horticultural parlance) is one of the rarest flowers in the world. It is an epiphyte – a plant that grows on air. The ghost orchid and other epiphytes are not parasites, but like bromeliads, mosses, etc., they derive their nutrients from the water, air, and the detritus of their host plants. Ghost orchids are native to the Everglades of Florida and Cuba, in the moist and warm environments that make their lives possible.

The ghost orchid flowers in an 85-day blooming phase, mainly between June and August. The ghost orchid got its name because it is a master at camouflage – it is challenging to make out from its background – the trunk of a tree. Its thin, pale-white petals and curling tendrils form what looks like the hind legs of a frog, and it is also called the white frog orchid.

When Charles Darwin became fascinated by orchids later in his life, he suggested that a particular pollinator would be found for each specific orchid. In Chasing Ghosts in the Everglades (Forbes Magazine, July 19, 2019), the story is told of a team of three photographers who braved Florida swamps filled with alligators, panthers, snakes and bears. Armed with high-powered cameras, they were on a mission to photograph, at last, the ghost orchid’s mysterious pollinator. A beautiful fifteen-minute bioGraphic film can be viewed embedded in the Forbes article, or directly on YouTube.

What this intrepid threesome of researching photographers (Peter Houlihan, Max Stone, and Carlton Ward, Jr.) found just this summer is astounding. Just as Darwin had predicted, a specific moth, the fig sphinx moth, is the fantastic insect with a proboscis long enough to pollinate the ghost orchid. Its proboscis is also short enough so that the moth withdraws with pollen on its face.

Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary lies just east of Naples and south of Fort Myers, Florida. It is found off the roads east of the high-rise condominiums and beaches of the Gulf, north of the Everglades, and just west of orange groves and sugar cane fields. The 13,000 acres of Corkscrew Swamp, a beautiful preserve of inland watershed and Bald cypress forest that was saved by the efforts of ecologists, primarily the National Audubon Society, in the mid-1900s. Corkscrew Swamp (named for the winding Corkscrew River) is home to wide varieties of wildlife and flora. Its most-famous flower is the super-ghost orchid found about one mile into the swamp. A ghost orchid with a plethora of blooms is called a super ghost. While it usually blooms in the summer months, it has been seen blooming as early as March and as late as December.

On the Saturday of my ghost orchid hunt, the temperature between 8 and 10 am rose from a bearable 75 degrees to the muggy mid-80s. Steam rose from the slick puddles on the wooden boardwalk; it rains nearly every summer evening in southwest Florida. My friend and I, warned about the mosquitoes and bugs of the swamp at dawn and dusk, were outfitted in long-sleeved shirts and long cotton pants. We packed socks, hats, and Off spray, planning to grab them all at the first sign of pesky bugs. Our overkill clothing and my poor choice of footwear (sandals) became apparent when I slipped and slid along the slimy boards. Happily, no mosquitoes could be found, but I began to doubt my passion for the ghost orchid. Yet, we braved deep into the swamp.

We were warned in the visitors’ center that the camera scope, trained on the ghost orchid and live on the website, was not operating that morning. Neither was the cash register so that we could rent a pair of binoculars. A lightning strike the night before wiped out the visitors’ center Internet and any capabilities to record the flower. One mile in, we arrived at the famous plant. We were surprised and disappointed to see that the orchid was hanging high up in a tree, and yards away from the boardwalk. Several obsessive naturalists (armed with high-powered cameras and binoculars) were not only aloof, but they were stingy, keeping their equipment to themselves.

Steadfast and hopeful, I trained my iPhone camera on a white mass against the dark Bald cypress and snapped a photo. Hot, sweaty and getting cranky, we turned around and tromped the mile back to the center, the rental car, air conditioning, and our picnic breakfast.

My coveted photo of the ghost orchid is blurry and vague. It is undoubtedly the ghost, but the arching tendrils and pale-white beauty are better seen in photographs available everywhere but in my camera.

In January 1995, an article by writer Susan Orlean was published in The New Yorker magazine. Orchid Fever chronicling the life and antics of orchid-hunter, John Laroche. In her follow-up book, The Orchid Thief: a True Story of Beauty and Obsession (1998), Orlean expands the story of Laroche. At worst, he is a scallywag thief. At best, he is a self-taught horticulturalist. More importantly, though, Orlean’s book is a thorough investigation of the history and business of orchids.

It should be noted that Adaptation is the film starring Nicholas Cage and Meryl Streep that is loosely based on Susan Orlean’s book. It was released in 2002 and is a fanciful and surreal take on the Orlean’s story. In this case, the book is far better than the film. Another book, published in 2004, and titled Orchid Fever by Richard Hansen, similarly chronicles the obsession with orchids. Many reviews suggest reading Orlean’s book instead.

I will never forget my own encounter with the ghost orchid – a momentary fascination that brought me into the swamp one hot morning this past July. Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp is pure delight. The boardwalk is the longest in the world at two and one-quarter miles long. The Bald cypress forest is hundreds of years old. The pristine wilderness is serene, yet full of life. Birds like the diving Anhinga and Black-bellied Whistling Duck live in an environment rich in prey. Alligators play hide-and-seek under the waters of the swamp and bromeliads, and a surplus of mosses hang from the trees. More adventures await me in Corkscrew Swamp.

Charlotte Canelli is the Director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, MA. Look for her article in the August 15, 2019 issue of the Transcript and Bulletin.

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