The Exploded Life of Tiny Orchids (Part 2)

Last time we spoke, my bike was spilling its guts across Deborah Wace’s doorstep deep in the Tasmanian bush. Deborah is an orchid expert. Luckily she and her husband Laurie are resourceful folks, used to making and mending what they just can’t run into town to buy.

Deborah Wace with one of her orchid prints

And so it went with my bike repair.

On a bike, the bottom bracket is the unit that helps the crank spin freely. On older bikes such as mine, it’s composed of two bearings. Each bearing contains ball bearings held in a round frame. On my bike, because I took off on it without greasing the bearings, the round frame ran dry and bent.

Then, on Deborah’s doorstep, the bearings fell out.

Luckily, I was able to find them and re-seat them in the bearing holder. Laurie loaned me some tools ( (axle grease, multi-tool, toilet paper and standard spanner for a metric pedal) and in short order I affected a “She’ll be Right” repair”. As in “she’ll be right until I get the right part….”

It was during my stay with Deborah and Laurie that I learned about bearded orchids.

The Tasmanian bearded orchid that grows wild around Deborah’s home

A self described orchid “advocate”, Deborah has taken to these tiny flowers, and through the power of her super-size engravings, has made them tall – really tall – as in human height. Suddenly it’s us humans that feel small and we start thinking about all the things we’ve ever done to slight the orchid. Blow up a tiny bearded plant to 6-foot tall and you feel like a lady Grizzly Adams is in the room and you better play real nice.

Respect: Deborah and one of her orchid prints

This super-sizing is a painstaking process. To get a better sense of each orchid, Deborah first meticulously studies the whole plant – root, stem, leaves and flower. Using a microscope and lighted magnifying glass she analyzes the whole thing – not just the flower. Then, when she’s studied it from every angle, she makes a print of the entire plant.

Tools of the trade – and what they produce

Which brings us back to the horse and bike thing. Yeah, I miss the flash and companionship of horse travel – loads. But the whole point of visiting Tasmania was to learn about its people – folks like Deborah and Laurie. And for that, I reckon my junk-shop bike, as long as she breaks down regularly, will keep me in orchids and grease and fine new friends.

So are you ready to get big with a tiny orchid? Then click the player below and enjoy Deborah’s story.

For more on Deborah’s artwork, be sure to drop by her site.

(Thanks Deborah and Laurie for the orchid story, wallaby curry, road trip bread and Doc Watson pickin’. Reuben and Isobel, sure hope you enjoyed your new bikes on Bruny Island!)

2010-12-08 16:18:22

Hey brother, remember that email the other day when you asked me what it meant if there was a clicking sound coming from your bottom bracket? Well, that means that your bearings are dry…

Oh – right, I see you’ve found the answer yourself 😉

Love the audio shorts for each story!


2010-12-10 16:30:42

jeee. we gotta look out for the little one’s
they are the precious ones. those that get stepped on. i love the audios and pictures Bernie, can almost smell the countryside from here. great finds.



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