“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus
I spent the better part of 6 days walking down the Manu Road in Peru. To get to the Manu Road you drive across the high passes of the western slope of the Andes, between Cusco and Paucartambo, mostly above 11,000 feet. The Manu Road itself begins in the Puma, among dry grasslands and stunted trees, and then winds down through the Elfin Forest into Cloud Forest and and then on down into the Foothills and the beginnings of Rainforest. There is a lot to see. So many birds. So many butterflies. So many flowers. I was especially taken by the orchids. I will not be able, I am sure, to identify half of what I photographed, but I found some information on this one…common along the road in both Elfin and Cloud Forest. It is epidendum, a terrestrial orchid and it apparently blooms all year long, which is way it is called, locally, wiñaywayna, or “always young”.
I am pretty sure no one who has survived their youth would, when all is said and done, wish to be “always young” but amid the aches and pains and bother of getting old, it is easy to develop at least some nostalgia for the physical vigor of youth. I am certain that in many ways I would have enjoyed the trek down the Manu road more 50, or even 40, years ago when I was in better shape physically. At 71, the daily hike along the road took a tole on my feet, legs, knees and lower back, and I would not have made it far at all if we had had to walk UP the road…not without frequent rest stops to catch my breath. The best investment I made for the trip was a pair of orthopedic insoles for my new boots. Still, there is a part of me that has remained “always young” and is, if anything, younger now than 40 years ago…and that is my capacity for wonder…for being awed and delighted with the things God puts in front of me in this world. I mean, look at that orchid! I am certain my eye is more generous today than it has ever been, and in that way I am not “always young” but growing younger every day. Age has its compensations…at least it does if you practice a generous eye.
I revel in the beauty of the wiñaywayna, the always young orchid on the roadside in the Elfin Forest of the Andes of Peru. God is good. God’s goodness is always young! Happy Sunday!
Moving on from the road-side stop between Cusco and Paucartambo, we arrived at Wayqecha Biological Station and Birding Lodge, at the upper edge of the cloud forest zone on my Birding the Manu Road adventure with Amazon Journeys late in the day. Photographing hummingbirds (or any birds) by natural light in the cloud forest on the eastern slopes of the Andes of Peru is not easy. Light levels are often low. There is often a lot of mist (not to say cloud…but it often amounts to to what you would have to call “cloud”) between you and the bird. And, of course, the birds do not sit still. This is, I am pretty sure, an Amethyst-throated Sunangel, seen around the feeders at Wayqecha. The clouds were moving in, and I don’t use flash for birds, so this is the best shot I could have hoped for. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr. (ISO 2000 by the way.)