links: gleaming dragonflies, oliver sacks at 80

Tiffany dragonfly hair ornament (photo from Metropolitan Museum of Art)

LATEST LINKS: Too-hot-to-handle weather has had me indoors for a broad swath of each recent day, and that means more than the usual dose of web browsing—and a couple of new links to share. One (a video) is an extraordinary take on dragonflies; the other a moving essay on what I think is the garden’s most important and insistent message: that nothing lasts. The latter is delivered not by a gardener at all, but by the neurologist Oliver Sacks. Some decidedly non-horticultural but ever-so-moving links I think you’ll like:

video: dragonflies of a different order

LATELY WE LOOKED AT DRAGONFLIES on the blog together (remember?), so when a friend alerted me that the Metropolitan Museum of Art had their eye on the order of odonates, too, I had to have a look. I was especially interested because the narrator of the gleaming new video is Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, curator of American decorative arts at the Met, with whom I intersected briefly long ago when we co-conspired to plan a surprise 60th birthday party for a mutual friend, a great gardener. That’s another story altogether; the story this time involves Louis Comfort Tiffany, and as promised, a couple of very special dragonflies. Watch the video here. (Photo of Tiffany hair ornament, above, from the Met website.)

(Want more? Listen to and watch this slideshow on bugs galore as a motif within the Met’s collections. Who knew, for instance, that Napoleon had his robes embroidered in bees—industrious, and with a society that’s highly organized with royalty at the top, and also able to sting as needed? Good choice, Mr. Emperor.)

Oliver Sacks portrait, from oliversacks.com

nothing lasts: oliver sacks, on reaching 80

DECADES AGO, when I was garden editor at “Newsday” newspaper, I was invited to take a walk in New York Botanical Garden with one of its then-daily visitors, the neurologist and author Dr. Oliver Sacks. (Among his many books: “Awakenings,” and most recently “Hallucinations.”) It remains probably the most treasured interview memory of my journalism career.

Sacks will turn 80 on Tuesday, and in his essay on that in today’s “New York Times,” he speaks of being “freed from the factitious urgencies of earlier days, free to explore whatever I wish,” and of being “more conscious of transience and, perhaps, of beauty.” No matter your own age, read it.

Want more? I love listening to Oliver Sacks on his occasional interviews on the public-radio program Radiolab, talking for instance about his face blindness (true: he cannot remember faces, to an extreme degree) or how he works past blocks in creativity. (Sacks’s website is here; photo from oliversacks.com.)

  1. Alison says:

    Thanks for the link to Oliver Sacks’ essay on turning 80, I loved it. I have read just about all his books, his topics and the subjects that he covers, are fascinating.

    1. margaret says:

      Isn’t he amazing, Alison? A shy and unassuming man, who is also a total genius. I find his way of thinking fascinating, and always am on the lookout for more of his points of view.

  2. Linda L Smith says:

    Every day you make my life better. Thank you for this great post and all the links. You never cease to amaze or educate me.

  3. Sara says:

    Finished reading “Parables” a few days ago and am still pondering so many things you said. Funny, at first I thought we had little in common: I’m not much of a gardener and never had a Big Girl job in the corporate world. And yet this book– and “Peace Here” before it–spoke clearly to me. Thank you for tweaking my curiosity about the parables within my own backyard.

  4. Jo says:

    Thank you so much for the dragonfly and Oliver Sachs links. The two brought forth that warm heart feeling that surrounds both beauty of life and its creations.

  5. Jan says:

    As I live through this 81st year of my life I really appreciated reading this. Thank you for the link. I often wonder how people my age who are not in touch with the outdoor environment in some way can continue without the wonder of awakening every day to a new flower, a new smell, a new sky and not wonder at it all. I am in awe of it all – still.

  6. Rae says:

    With your articles about freezing many items to the above link you have made my life more interesting and interested in learning more. Thanks so much. I wished I lived close to your garden, etc.

  7. Suellen says:

    I am an old fan of Oliver Sacks and have some of his books. Thanks for sharing this essay. I hope I am able to age as gracefully as he has.


  8. Lorie says:

    On the eve of turning 76, that was a treat. Lessons to be learned; Oliver is simply eloquent while being totally honest.

  9. Martha in Austin TX says:

    Thank you, Margaret Roach and Jack, for all that you two bring into our world, the things you notice, engage our attentions toward–things that, one by one, change us and our world. You are magnificent.

    A grateful bit to Jack–from yesterday’s NPR–which he’s probably already heard and knows all about, but it’s so important it can be repeated:
    Peter Gabriel’s ‘Interspecies Internet’ | Here & Now hereandnow.wbur.org/2013/07/09/gabriel-interspecies-internet
    21 hours ago – Here and Now with Robin Young … of animal cognition, language, enrichment …and facilitate communication between species.

  10. Thanks for sharing this link. It was comforting. I spent the past two weeks with my 88 year old mother, and often wondered what she was thinking–in the quiet moments. She is full of life and vigor, and it is inspirational to the rest of us.

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