What was your first encounter with orchids? Was it love at first sight? Or did it take a few new encounters to get hooked?

My first encounters were as a child looking forward to finding the first New England lady-slippers in the spring. We had some abandoned railroad tracks in the woods nearby where they thrived. My neighbor used to take me along with her own daughter for long walks, and she told us that this was an "orchid", as well as the tiny purple pogonia that grew all through the woody marshes. The lady-slippers were never to be picked, just visited.

My next encounters were in flower shops when I first started seeing them being offered as houseplants and was just amazed at the fragrant and exotic beauty, much too intimidated to buy one.

Then when I was on a special adventure, I saw a roadside table offering white phals for $15 and could not resist buying one even though this meant carrying it on a long trip to get it to my destination, where I gave it as a hostess gift.

After that I just had to get some of my own.