It is likely that the smell of burning Pumas hung in the salty air of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge for some time after I screeched to a halt in front of these orchids in a damp spot near a path. Slat my dood met 'n nat vis! That's Afrikaans. Interestingly, the English equivalent also involves fish: Holy mackerel! We saw some good things during our fourth visit to this preserve, but these took the cake. Or the fish. They made me very happy.
I did not know what they were, of course, except that the were orchids. Later, some web searching ("white orchids jamaica bay", "white native orchids", "september orchids", "orchids new york state", bingo) revealed that they are Spiranthes cernua, nodding ladies' tresses, indigenous to our eastern states and to extreme southeastern Canada. Not uncommon in the United Sates at all: they like roadside ditches. But! But, might I suggest, not something we ordinarily stumble upon in the course of our New York City lives. No.
I felt very lucky.
One orchid was all on its own in the middle of the grassy path and Vince built a teepee for it.
Two people nearby were deflating their blow up kayak and oblivious to the flowers' presence. Earlier the male of the two had rushed into the information center in great excitement: We saw three big brown birds on the pond! What are they?
It seemed very funny at the time.
The ranger on duty suggested that they might be ibis. I thought I might know what they were, but only because I had just read this blog.
More about the big brown birds, and the rest of our afternoon there, later. Some good stuff...