Thursday, February 24, 2011

Butterflies of Joy

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Like the sun, I seem slow to rise today. Karl the Wonder Dog has been out and about, coffee cup is filled for the second time, the sun really is shinning bright red through the tamaracks and
the thermometer has been clutching zero like there is no other number. The weather lady says 6-10" of snow tomorrow so today will be a day to finish chores and enjoy as February winds down and we look towards spring.

The Internet is a fascinating affair and I for one cannot do without it anymore. I have met people from around the world and they are generous with their thoughts, opinions and gifts. Little boxes from people I may never see are especially meaningful in a time when so many parts of our world are experiencing disasters of all size. Kind comments make me smile appreciatively even when complicated days disrupt things.

A couple days ago I received an email from Cate Newton from the SRE Education Group. He had come upon The Vermont Gardener and wanted to share some information his group had put together on monarch butterflies. I have mentioned butterflies many times on my blog as I have always been fascinated by them. I can remember second grade with Miss Hawthorn when someone brought in a monarch chrysalis and we watched it hatch. There's something foggy about +50 years ago but I do remember that a walk into the back field above the barn and along the field my family planted in life saving potatoes found giant patches of milkweed covered with dancing monarchs. Along with parts of my memory, the number of monarchs has diminished.

Here at the house I leave patches of milkweed to spread out more roots and seeds in hopes that I can do my little part in maintaining these fine insects. But there are more interferences than Vermont's changing winters and the monarch numbers this year were the smallest we have seen.

Newton's website on monarch migration is Other websites are included and The Monarch Migration suggests that where I live here at 44° latitude, the peak fall migration should be around September 4th. This is interesting to me because this particular site was prepared in 2000 and yet despite the many environmental and climatological changes in +10 years, the monarchs are usually gone from here at the house by Labor Day but hang on a little longer at the nursery, along the river and at an elevation that's about 700 feet lower.

If you are interested in tracking monarchs, another site I use is Journey North. Sites abound and although we're a long way from seeing a monarch in New England, now is a good time to conduct your research and get your tracking info set up. Like the backyard bird counts we do with Cornell University, tracking butterflies can provide information on a world that has developed a strange spin.Give it a try!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the anemometer has stopped for the first time in days. As a Vermonter from Springfield I once knew always said "I kinda like it!"

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
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