Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Some Good News About Monarchs

We didn't get a Christmas tree this year. The kids weren't interested, apparently having entered a post-materialist world where the smartphone cornucopia renders most other possessions unnecessary. To fill the void where a Christmas tree once stood, I'm imagining evergreen trees in a forest high in the mountains of Mexico, densely decorated not with lights and tinsel but with monarch butterflies.

Not until this month did word arrive that the monarchs had finally made it safely to their mountain forests of Mexico. November 26, more than three weeks later than usual, the main population showed up, larger than last year's record low, but still with a long way to go to recover. Among them may be the few scattered monarchs seen in Princeton in late summer. May they have a safe overwintering, and much milkweed in the new year.

Addendum, Dec. 30: We may have a concept here, that each gardener, by planting milkweed, and each farmer, by allowing milkweed to grow, might contribute to the decorating of oyamel fir trees in that small mountainous area where monarchs congregate each winter. What other species engages so broadly with a continent, then congregates in such ornamental fashion to make its status known each winter?

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