ISA conference in Orlando, FL

This week the annual international congress of the International Society Arboriculture is taking place in Orlando, Florida in the Gaylord Palms Resort.

The conference is much like past conferences, but the venue… what can I say?! I feel like I am on a Mars mission. The Gaylord is a complex stuck in the middle of nowhere in Kissemmee, somewhere between Sea World, Universal Studios and Disney World. Part of the complex is under a big glas cupola, so you spend you time in a completely artificial, controlled environment.

Most bizarre.

When ITCC and the conference were in Nashville some years ago, we were also in a Gaylord resort, so I had a rough idea of what to expect, decided to embrace the difference and came here with my positive head firmly screwed onto my shoulders.

Yet I still find myself profoundly puzzled.

An example?

I decided to go for a swim on Saturday. The pool area is divided into two sections: kids and adult. While the kids are all going nuts over in their area, the parents hang out over in their area. Swimming? Nope, they just stand and sit in the pool, downing one long drink after another, having food served to them right there in the pool.

Eeeek!

One thing that struck me is that no one was leaving the pool. Gives a totally new meaning to getting pissed. So for two reasons my attempt to swim was abortive: a) because of concerns regarding quality of the water. Mind you, with the amounts of chlorine in it, I should probably have been more worried about my swimming trunks being dissolved off my body rather than a bit of urine and b) because it was physically not possible due to all of the human blobs drifting and standing around in the way – it would have been like attempting to navigate a field of tipsy icebergs!

Huh, bet they are the same folk that clutter up escalators!

Anyway, be that as it may…

The conference kicked off with the opening ceremony yesterday where I was presented with ISA’s Millard F. Blair Award for Exceptional Contribution to Practical Arboriculture.

The reason I mention this here is not to shamelessly self promote, but rather to take the occasion to thank all of the people who have been part of this process, who have supported, inspired and accompanied me over the course of the past 25 years. And goodness knows there have been many!

As I said last night, I prefer not to name names, as the list would go on and on and I would be afraid to forget someone. Suffice to say that I consider myself very fortunate and privileged to have found arboriculture and having been able to contribute something towards it.

Thank you all.