links: gleaming dragonflies, oliver sacks at 80
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.)
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.)