The orchid thrills me: thin like parchment but softer and slightly sticky, anatomically intricate, translucent, gaily varied in size and color (sometimes garish and sometimes plain, sometimes enormous and sometimes tiny), veiny, delicate. I have seen orchids grow wild in the Everglades. I have seen orchids in commercial greenhouses and private ones. I have seen orchids in people's homes, including this one. I have seen orchids from afar and from close up. I have even read about them in Susan Orlean's book about wild Florida and men, one in particular, wild for hunting and stealing rare specimens (The Orchid Thief).
No matter how often and no matter where I see an orchid, I always feel I must pinch myself to wake from an impossible dream.
Few things are as phantasmagoric as the orchid.