Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hurricanes and tornadoes

We were the veterans, the year of '92, the big one until Katrina. After August 1992, whenever a TV reporter "in the eye of the storm" stood in a puddle with his collar turned up, we rolled our eyes. Whenever they recounted the terrors of the wind, against a backdrop of palm fronds and leafy boughs, we'd chant:
"Leaves on the trees! Ain't no hurri-cane!"

Hurricane Andrew gave us our standards and our bragging rights. But only about twenty-four people died. Five of them, a mile or so away, had been in a small apartment complex. The way the building had been tossed around it was said, meant "That had to be a tornado."

Joplin, Missouri looks now like Homestead and Redland in August 1992. Andrew also had winds of 200 miles an hour. But hurricanes are better than tornadoes, we say- you can prepare. You can buy bottled water and baked beans and nail plywood over windows. Andrew was strange though, came up suddenly, out of the blue. We were OK. No last minute hysteria at Home Depot. We already had plywood and double headed nails and an old house with wooden window frames you could hammer nails into. That's why our house held while most around us popped. Would plywood make that difference now?
Maybe this hurricane season we'll find out.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Redland Orchid Festival: Origins

The last big orchid event of the year has come and gone and here I am mentioning it now: The Redland International Orchid Festival. Well, exactly, because now it's all over I have the time. But it's also hard to decide: What is a blog? Is it basically just to promote your stuff like a tupperware party? It seems tacky to write up events In Which We Have a Commercial and Monetary Interest. (So Republican!) On the other hand there is the Need To Put Food On the Table. (Another whiny Dem!)

Well, Redland is the Big One - biggest orchid happening in the US! And the Motes's should make something of it because it was Dr. Motes who invented it. And it was an invention. A new mind set.

The idea of putting on an orchid show in the middle of May, outdoors, in South Florida, was considered nuts. Too hot. The season is over and everyone who could (i e the sort of people who had money to buy orchids!) was out of here. As though Miami Dade was the backyard of Buckingham Palace and after the races at Ascot, all the toffs motored up to Scotland for the grouse shooting. Or colonial India when the Brits made for the hill country, leaving the peasants sweating in the plains. Well, that does still happen. Apparently you can't swing a cat in the hills of North Carolina in the summer without hitting a wussy South Floridian.
Anyway, the reaction to Dr. Motes' proposal was: No-one wants to be here in May and those who are, won't come (too hot) and You're nuts.

Dr. Motes' argument was: Precisely because there was nothing on- what a great time to have something on! And more importantly, it would give orchid lovers the chance to see and buy orchids blooming at that time of year- All the orchid shows were clustered in the cool season - October through March.
And surely orchid lovers were used to working up a bit of sweat, looking after...their orchids!
And talking of sweat - who needs big exhibits? Bring in your plants for sale, lay them out on the tables, someone opens the gates and stand back!
And that, my children, is what happened.