Snow, Monarchs, and Fruit Trees: Haphazard Ramblings

Snow, Monarchs, and Fruit Trees: Haphazard Ramblings

This morning I am having some trouble deciding what to post.  As I was scrolling through my social media feed I noticed that a page out of Texas was having trouble with people stealing their content and posting it as their own, without any attribution. Their page is used to educate the public on the Monarch Butterfly and is filled with a plethora of information! They do a great job. But, let’s just say that using content without the permission of the owner or attribution of the original creator is wrong and leave it at that. We all know there are copyright laws.  Enough said.

Spring Snow

Then, I looked outside. Snow! It is extremely sunny but we got six inches of snow over the last 24 hours.  It’s beautiful – no doubt! But, it is also April 4th!  Despite having five days off for Spring Break, my boys were hoping to be off today for a snow day. No luck. But, Spring is always iffy, that is for sure!

We’ve had spring weather in the last few years where it reached 80 degrees in March. Our fruit tree buds swelled and blossomed in the sun and warmth, only to not have any pollinators be around to help make the fruit. Naturally, it got cold again and we had a very small harvest. And, we have times like this, cold & snow sitting on the closed buds and grounds, hopefully providing a another blanketing layer of insulation and warmth, not killing the tender, soon to be foliage with frost.  Yes, spring is iffy.

Fruit Trees

Our fruit trees have been trimmed, the branches disposed of, thanks to a friend.  We are hoping the timing of sun, warmth, blossoms and insects all work in concert this spring. A track meet was already canceled that was supposed to take place yesterday. I am sure the tennis match will be cancelled for tomorrow too.  One thing you can count on is that you can’t count on it being spring like in the spring!

The Iconic Monarch Butterfly: Part I in a series

Back to the Monarchs.  On Thursdays, the organization Journey North posts updates on Monarch migration.  If you visit the linked page today, you will see the post from last Thursday, March 29th. As you can see, the generation of Monarchs that overwinter in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Central Mexico are headed north! As they move further and further towards us in the upper mid-west, they are reproducing and laying eggs.The monarchs that arrive in our yards in late Spring and Early Summer are descendants of the butterflies that overwinter in Mexico.  The adult female monarch typically only lays eggs on milkweed plants along the way.  Habitat loss has made a major contribution to the Monarch’s plight.  It is essential there be milkweed for the monarchs as that species of plant sustains their entire life cycle.


Monarch conservation and habitat restoration has become a huge part of my life over the last 15 years. I am not new to their cause and therefore have a multitude of experience and knowledge which I can share with you. If you are interested in knowing more about what experience I have, please check out:  A Journey in Habitat Conservation & Restoration for the Monarch Butterfly.  I hope you stop back for some regular posts from this blog on The Iconic Monarch Butterfly!

Now, we just need the snow to melt!

Spring Haiku

Spring Haiku


Spring Beckons A Smile

Sun Warms Our Soil and our Souls

Welcome New Season

Maple Buds Ready

Plump Knobs Containing Green Leaves

Silently Opens

White Clouds Reflecting

Bright Sunshine in the Blue Sky

Whispers of Spring Call

Spring: Bright Clouds White Snow

Light Dances Off Every Surface

Teasing Us Forward

Yellow Daffodils

Soon to be Springing Up Now

Trumpets Announcing


Photo Challenge: Exotic – Scenes from the Na Pali Coast of Kauai & Confused Water.

Photo Challenge: Exotic – Scenes from the Na Pali Coast of Kauai & Confused Water.

I ran across another photo challenge today and thought I would participate. The challenge, posed by DutchGoesThePhoto, is to post photographs exhibiting what is Exotic to you.

I immediately thought of the most exotic places I have been and the Hawaiian island of Kauai was at the top of the list. Here you will see a series of beach scenes taken on a family vacation to this island in July of 2013. The beach, Hanakapi’ai, is located on the Na Pali coast of Kauai and can only be reached by hiking to it through a rainforest or jungle, as my boys called it. There are no access roads and the hike is somewhat difficult. It also can be very muddy and slippery as you cautiously make your way along a narrow trail perched several hundred feet above the shore. The hike is worth it once you get to this beautiful beach, but one must also take care to heed the warnings of danger along the way.  The photos are from various spots on our hike, getting closer and closer to the water.



The water here is very dangerous, and although you can see, and we did see, people swimming in the surf, it is highly recommended that you do not swim at this beach. In fact, it is prohibited! People have died here. The surf is what the Hawaiian’s refer to as confused. Perhaps, it is the lava formations jutting out into the turquoise waters that form dangerous rip tides and under-toe currents. Or, perhaps it is because the fresh water from the mountains actually meet the sea water of the ocean at this beach. It might also be that there are no reefs at this particular location on Kauai to break the power of the ocean waves. In any case, one can just feel the extraordinary power of nature in this truly exotic location. If one value’s their own life, it is a place to heed the warnings and just appreciate the beauty by looking at the water. But, it is exotic enough to warrant a visit, for sure.




Silent Sunday: Scenes From a Visit Home

Silent Sunday: Scenes From a Visit Home

Great Grandma’s Violet Still Around
A Fascination with Ramshackle Barns
Not Home Anymore
old licenseplates
Special License Plates – Panama Canal Plate is Cool!
Only Part of a Collection
Cabbages are grown here.
Christmas Cactus in Bloom —- Thanksgiving Cactus, I mean.  A lesson on photoperiod.
Recommended Environmental Readings

Recommended Environmental Readings

If you just want my book recommendations, skip to the end of the blog. If you want to know why I am recommending the books, then I guess you need to read the post!

My graduate course on Environmental History is almost over. It has been a whirlwind tour of the last several centuries worth of changes in how we, as Americans, perceive the wilderness and how we have managed it.  There has been a great deal of reading, accompanied by a paper each week. Starting with Thoreau and the transcendentalists, up through Muir and the Westward Expansion, including the formation of our National Park System, and forward to Aldo Leopold, the birth of the science of ecology and influence science has on helping us monitor our environment, it has been a large volume of information to digest, assimilate, summarize, and ponder. We ended our course readings with William Cronon’s twenty page 1996 essay on “The Trouble with Wilderness“. Cronon is an environmental historian with a dossier as long as a cross-country trek, hailing from the esteemed institutions of Yale and University of Wisconsin, Madison. If you have a chance to read this, or any of his other prolific works, I would highly recommend it. He is a gifted writer.  But, be ready for your head to spin!

Most, if not all, of this literature and these authors were new to me. Of course, I knew who these historical figures were, but not what they stood for or what inspired them to write some of the classic literature they delivered. Through all of them, I was able to form some connections to the way I feel about nature and the our wilderness today.  Given their time in history, one could at least partially understand why they undertook certain actions. Thoreau, being Emerson’s protege, was adept at his prose and conveying the connection some of us feel with our earth home. However, few of us could. or would want to, live in the wild for an extended period of time such as Thoreau did on Walden Pond.  It left an odd impression as I am sure it did for some of his countrymen at the time.

We probably owe our National Park System to John Muir, to a great extent.  He definitely fought for the early parklands and developed political connections, such as Theodore Roosevelt, to help his cause.  Certainly, the few National Parks I have visited including Haleakala Volcano, Rocky Mountain National Park, The Everglades, and The Badlands inspire awe – even if it had been during their most travelled and civilized state.  I can only imagine what Yellowstone or Yosemite looked like a century or two ago.  I am thankful there was someone to fight for the wilderness in the past.

I found myself connecting to Leopold, as  I read an excerpt from his classic, A Sand County Almanac, through his love of science, ecology, and botany. He was an original citizen scientist – collecting phenology data on plants near his shack in  a rural Wisconsin county near Baraboo, over many years. Believe it or not, his data is even still being used today to help determine the effects of climate change and global warming on plant adaptations such as an earlier bloom time. It made me feel like documenting my own observations on Monarch migration and spring arrival since 2006 is a worthwhile thing to continue to do.

We had only a slight exposure to Rachel Carson, author of the famous, Silent Spring, in the 1960’s.  I think we owe a debt of awareness and citizen action to her, even before being I am really cogniscent of what she wrote.

The course highlighted the social injustices that have occurred in America during acts of wilderness conservation and preservation. While not much as included from the views of the indigenous peoples, it is obvious they were unjustly treated by many, including our government.

So, while the course is over, I am left with a whole list of books want to read. I thought I would share this list with you.

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold (1949)

Gloryland by Shelton Johnson (2010)

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962)

American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau (2008)  an anthology edited by Bill McKibben

Happy Reading! I hope one or more of these inspired writers inspires you to take care of our Wilderness – even if it is right in your own backyard! (Read Cronon’s essay, too!)

Thank you to for sponsoring Slice of Life Tuesdays!







A Singular Haiku

A Singular Haiku

Not much in me today. A singular haiku is all I can post. Reevaluating myself.


Frost Haiku

White covering grass

Stiff, still, silent frost comes in

Overnight to morn

Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge: Temporary

Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge: Temporary

Yesterday, we saw a bald eagle feasting on a carcass in the coulee (valley with only one way in or out). Although he stayed most of the afternoon, we knew his visit was temporary. It had been two years since we noticed any bald eagles near the dry creek bed adjacent to our home.  It was a temporary visit, brought forth I am sure by the eagle spying the dead animal on the ground.  In the same vein, the animal’s body he was feasting on had succumbed to a temporary life – just as we all do.

Bald eagles are majestic, as so many of my Facebook friends have said. Fortunately, their fate has become more enduring than temporary, as they faced extinction during the earlier years of my life. My husband and I commented on how we would never have expected to have a bald eagle literally fly through our back yard when we were growing up in New York State.

Much of my afternoon was spent watching and photographing this beautiful bird, the symbol of our country.  It was a temporary interruption to my planned schedule for the day. But, one well worth it. Enjoy some shots of my Temporary Visitor, the Bald Eagle.