So we were supposed to be in Cuba last week over the Holidays however our plane left without us, 11 hours prior to the originally scheduled departure time. Who has ever heard of such a thing? I certainly haven’t but can tell you that it will never happen to me again. We started checking and rechecking flight plans over a day ago. So far so good. And so we have spent the week here trying not to mope around in anticipation of getting on that plane and heading out this week. Admittedly I am finding it difficult to get back the level of sheer excitement I was experiencing last week but hopefully that will return once we are safely on the plane and on our way.
Sort of like this except in real trees rather than in a greenhouse.
From a plant-lovers perspective alone our trip should be nothing short of fantastic. We are staying in a UNESCO Biosphere nestled within the Sierra Maestra mountains and located just outside the city of Santiago de Cuba where there are a reported 138 endemic plant species in addition to all sorts of tree ferns, cacti, and epiphytic plants. I’ve still not decided exactly which film cameras I will be bringing but I have stocked up on extra digital camera cards to avoid any situations that would require deleting images in order to make room. I can’t wait to make all kinds of amazing discoveries and I can’t wait to come back and share those here with you (okay maybe I can wait to come back).
All-in-all not a bad way to start the year.
Like this but 20,000 times better. And with tarantulas. (At the Montreal Botanical Gardens. Oct 07)
Until then, I want to wish you all a very relaxing and enjoyable New Year. See you in 2008!
Allow me to introduce to you yet another alternative to the Christmas Tree.
A few weeks back I bought this tiny $3.00 string of miniature LED lights meant for creating miniature Winter Wonderlands. I have a thing for miniatures that stems from repeated childhood trips to the Hobby Shop to visit the rotating display of doll house props for a doll house that would never be. I have to admit that I didn’t really care about the doll house as a play object but rather imagined it as a vessel to hold all those neat miniature Victorian-era do-dads. I just love tiny things and dioramas: tiny food packaging, tiny figurines, tiny ghetto blasters, HO scale anything… everything is more fun in miniature form.
Since I do not have space to store, let alone display the props of a Winter Wonderland (although I do collect HO scale models for a possible future giant diorama that will never be) I thought the lights would be best put to use draped over a small plant. This Tillandsia streptophylla* is larger than my outstretched hand and doesn’t particularly match the scale of the lights, however I enjoy turning them on at night, pausing while reading a book to gaze up at the brightly illuminated bulbs.
*Note that my Tillandsia is starting to put out a flower stalk from the centre!
I know that time is getting tight now as the Holiday Season kicks into gear but I wanted to be sure and mention some gifts to make if you’re coming up dry on ideas for the gardener friend in your life. A lot of these ideas use materials harvested from your own garden but I have found that in a pinch the herbs can be purchased at affordable prices from the bulk bins of local health food stores.
I watched “Everything’s Cool” yesterday afternoon, hot on the heels of the UN conference on climate change held in Bali last week where my country was globally humiliated ONCE AGAIN by our Prime Minister’s refusal to support a new climate change agreement — an action supported by the rest of the planet, excluding our neighbours to the south. As 2007 comes to a close it is hard to believe that any nation would continue to deny that global warming needs to be addressed seriously let alone deny that it exists at all. It is this massive example of it-ain’t-real-until-I-say-it-is psychology that is at the heart of what the film makers attempt to expose and challenge in this documentary.
The movie begins in 2004 as the filmmakers cross America in a giant biodiesel-powered public service announcement delivery system talking to Americans about their views on climate change and conducting talking-heads-style interviews with well-known global warming “messengers” like Ross Gelbspan, one of the first investigative journalists to take the topic on, and Bill McKibben, acclaimed environmental writer and the author of several books including “The End of Nature” (in addition to my personal favourite, “The Age of Missing Information“).
The film goes on to address the controversy surrounding global warming and trace the roots of this controversy laying blame in the politicization of what is essentially a scientific matter, positioning global warming as a postulated theory rather than fact. The filmmakers explain that it is the uncertainty created by this never-ending “debate” that feeds indifference and inaction.
I am not a journalist with a need to present an unbiased opinion so I can say here that I believe global warming exists. I believe it is not a theory but a reality. My beliefs are based on the information I have read and on my own experiences as a human who has lived in this area long enough to see the changes that have occurred and as a gardener who experiences the climate and the seasons with all of my senses. Unfortunately as a believer this film felt a bit too simplistic and out-of-date, however I will say that I don’t think I am the intended audience. I don’t think it was made to convince the already convinced or speak to the choir but was instead meant to tip fence sitters over from the “wondering” side to the “believing” side. Because once we’re all on the same side of the fence we can actually start to get some shit done.
- American Horticultural Society (November/December 2007 – Volume 86, Number 6)
I was interviewed a few month back for an article on gardening blogs entitled, “Virtual Gardening in the Blogosphere” by Doug Green. I will admit that it’s been only about eight months since I began to tentatively tiptoe my way towards even remotely considering this site a “blog” making it kind of strange to talk about it publicly in those terms. Since this interview I have done a few more in which the interviewee has referred to this site as a “blog.” Despite the transitions this site has taken over the years I can’t say I will ever feel comfortable with the word. Can’t we all just agree to call it an “Internet Website”?
A brief history: I started this site as an “online magazine” (the popular term of the time) back before the word “blog” existed. About a year or so in I started a “journals” section on the site but it wasn’t quite a blog given that I hand coded each and every entry including editing text, and resizing and colour correcting photos for submitting writers. Back then I designed and hand-coded each and every article myself (often with a unique design) except the forums. Sometimes I look back at that time and can’t believe how much time and work I put into this project in addition to my regular work and other personal projects. It wasn’t until last year when I finally resolved that after seven plus years an online magazine was not the best place to put my energy anymore that I finally began to identify this site as a psuedo-blog, a website that among other things happens to contain a blog within it. That was a very hard decision to come to and an even harder one to announce publicly. It is out of that history that I still struggle with the term and am now resolving to secretly substitute under my breath the phrase, “Gayla’s Very Special Place for People Who Like Plants and Gardening on the World Wide Web” anytime the word “blog” is used.
As an aside Hanna at This Garden is Illegal has an interesting conversation going about gardening and age. This question comes up a lot for me in interviews… people want to know what the demographic is of this site and whether young people garden. Through my own personal experiences with social gardening and activism networks, meeting members of this site, selling products at events, and traveling to various locations around North America to speak, I can say for certain that young people do garden and that readers of my book and this site are of all ages. I am learning more and more that what we are bound by is a shared passion for plants and gardening that isn’t so much about age, or the kind of space we inhabit but about perspective and a common approach.
p.s. Hanna, I collect stamps AND have brought the odd air sickness bag home from travels.
p.s.s. Would anyone happen to have a copy they are done reading and can send me? I can’t get a copy here and would like to see it in context of the mag. Thanks!