by Chuck Nishihira
With shrugged shoulders and a smile on my face I drop my camera pack to the ground again. The climb is very steep and getting to the top quickly, would be nice. But, the thought repeating in my head today is “don’t be lazy…don’t be lazy…don’t be lazy”. You would be surprised that even in a cloud forest it can be easy to convince yourself that you don’t really need that photo. Or, that you’ll get the photo on the way down. Or, that there will be more on level ground. Today the plants themselves are helping me out, making it impossible to pass them by. Just when you are convinced that there couldn’t be another jewel orchid that is surprising, there it is! It’s pretty 2″ leaves that are partly velvety, partly iridescent are held up on trailing, branching stems. The stems themselves seem to be supported by the leaflitter layer, the roots barely entering the ground. Many times they seem unceremoniously thrown on the ground and covered a little with some loose leaves and detritus. Yet, they always find a way to hold their leaves up proudly. It is unclear to me if this jewel represents a Platythelys or Aspidogyne species. Whatever it is, it was a joy to observe and photograph. Sitting on this ledge down in the leaf litter I feel rested again and start looking toward the top. I can’t wait to stumble upon the next jewel orchid, as they always make opening my pack and pulling out the camera so effortless.