A Healing Place

By Randy Noles
Clyde Butcher’s upcoming Mead Garden visit is a timely one.
Clyde Butcher’s upcoming Mead Garden visit is a timely one.

Legendary photographer Clyde Butcher is coming to Mead Garden. Here’s why it matters.

Clyde Butcher is among the greatest living wilderness photographers. Like Ansel Adams’ iconic images of the American West, Butcher’s haunting black-and-white landscapes of primal Florida, especially the Florida Everglades, are considered artistic masterpieces.

Butcher, now 75, is coming to Winter Park to photograph our own Mead Garden. And, after spending a couple of days roaming through the 47-acre wonderland with his camera equipment in tow, the white-bearded raconteur will give a presentation about his life and work.

And we’re all invited.

The event, which will include a reception and an opportunity to meet Butcher, will serve as a fundraiser for Mead Botanical Garden Inc. (MBG), the not-for-profit organization that operates “Winter Park’s Natural Place.”

It’s happening Thursday, September 22, under the stars at the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs headquarters, which is located within Mead Garden. The time is 6:45 to 9:30 p.m. A limited number of tickets are available starting at $100.

So, why is this announcement being touted here rather than in our calendar of events? Because, just as this issue of Winter Park Magazine was being completed, news broke of the horrific mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.

In Winter Park, there was a heart-tugging community service at Rollins College in Knowles Memorial Chapel — the historic building was bathed in rainbow-colored lights — and 49 small American flags were arrayed like a bed of colorful wildflowers on the City Hall lawn, one for each person who was murdered.

Vigils and other symbols of solidarity are important in the aftermath of tragedies. But Mother Nature can be important, too. Although Hippocrates had figured it out by the fourth century B.C., modern medical science is now confirming the power of so-called eco-therapy to help heal physical and psychological wounds.

Take Butcher, for example. After their teenaged son was killed by a drunk driver in 1986, he and his wife, Niki, retreated to south Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve, where they sought solace among the sawgrass marshes, mangrove forests and hardwood hammocks.

Working to assuage his grief, Butcher put aside color photography and concentrated on his now-iconic black-and-white landscapes, using large-format cameras. As his work attracted acclaim, he leveraged his celebrity to become a leading advocate for conservation.

So, there are several good reasons to attend this special event at Mead Garden. Proceeds will help MBG in its ongoing effort to reclaim and restore this irreplacable attraction, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2015.

Visit meadgarden.org for more details. I think we could all use a healthy, healing dose of nature. And we could all use some insight from a man who knows firsthand about its restorative power.

Share This Post