Friday, October 14, 2011

The Visitor And The Vine

There is no doubt the seasons are changing.  The long dry summer didn't leave much variety to the landscape and if our leaves change colors they will simply be to different shades of brown.  Leaves have been falling all summer due to the stress of the heat and drought.  It did indeed look like Fall for most of August and September, just not as colorful.

Two weeks ago as we were driving to work and school, I noticed in the sky, the familiar pattern of geese in formation.  This delightful sight of birds, harbingers of  Fall, were headed south.  Their journey in progress with seasonal changes chasing them to warmer regions.  Seeing them was as good as hearing them.  Anyone that has heard geese on their migrational route knows their sound.  Their fluttering coo is unmistakable.  The sound makes one look up and around until finally you find the flock either in formation or in complete albeit temporary disorganization.  A sign and sound of Fall.

Listening to a radio gardening program brought a migration recording site to my attention. is a place where people can  record migrational sightings of various birds and insects.  It was not long before I saw the first Monarch butterfly in my back yard.

I joined Journeynorth and soon began recording the sightings of the Monarchs as they passed my way.  I would only see one butterfly at a time but really, one is magnificent enough.  These darling creatures, alone or in massive groups, are a sight to behold.  There really is nothing like the Monarch. 

Every child knows a Monarch when they see one.  There are thousands of other kinds of butterflies but you know a Monarch instantly.  Their brilliant orange and black colors stand out more than enough to catch one's eye.  Monarchs flying solo have fluttered around my back yard, passing through, checking out the landscape and resting on this one  particular vine growing on my side fence.  Each sighting was reported and recorded on the Journeynorth site.  There seems to be a great deal of participation as this journey has been charted for all to see.

This evening, after work, I noticed yet another lone Monarch flitting and fluttering around my back yard.  It lingered around the vine and the fence.  Flexing it's lovely wings, it inspected this vine that the summer could not kill.  I begged my daughter to grab her camera and within minutes we had the following photo of our visitor.

The camera revealed what my eyes could not detect.  This hardy vine that has endured searing temperatures and only one rain in six months had growth.  Perhaps it is the making of the little purple flowers I have seen on the vine in the past, perhaps it is simply stretching to new lengths.  Whatever it's doing, the Monarchs love the vine.  Love it enough to linger and spend great amounts of time inspecting and resting on it.

The Monarchs make their annual pilgrimage from the USA to Mexico following a route they have never followed before, heading to a destination they have never seen.  Driven my instinct, they fly thousands of miles to one single place where they remain protected from the harshness of Winter.

It's a fascinating notion. A mystery flying delicately before us for a short time, then on to another yard and another vine.  If you happen to see the Monarchs this Fall, take a moment to ponder their journey and soak in the sight.  Soon they will be gone and we will have to wait until Spring to see them again.

A simple yet remarkable gift from Mother Nature.

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