Our place on the small green planet

By Valli Geiger | Oct 17, 2019

This is my first of a series of thoughts on life in our small community.

This summer, monarch butterflies laid eggs on a mysterious crop of wild milkweed that showed up on the south side of our house, first one lone plant last summer, this summer 11 plants. Volunteer sunflowers, 12 feet high and still growing. These are the miracles of plants, our job how to make room for nature’s sprawl, how to find edges we can give to butterflies, honey bees and birds. These wild milkweeds appear to be a favorite of all three: honey bees, bumble bees, monarch butterflies and humming birds drink deeply from their clusters of small white flowers.

Six years ago, the numbers of monarch butterflies dropped precipitously. They appear to be increasing again in number. What made the difference? Human awareness? People teaching one another what a milkweed looks like and how critical they are to the monarch butterfly life cycle? The phasing out of neonicotinoids, an insecticide applied to plants and seeds? Planting butterfly bushes, a source of nectar? Allowing wild milkweed to grow, planting more native plants including milkweed, fennel, lupine, nettle and thistle?

It appears the idea of a world without butterflies changed enough people’s actions to make a difference. A few more drops in the bucket might have turned things around.

A quote by Albert Einstein sums up the matter:

“A human being is part of the whole, called by our universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest…a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

How do we expand our circle of caring beyond ourselves, beyond our families, beyond our fellow church members, beyond the people of our race, beyond people to include in our caring for the butterflies, bees, birds, coyotes, trees, and whales? This small green planet groaning and burning?

How does every single soul on the planet and every single member of our community take action, do our part, big or small to value our neighbors, our community, those human and not human who live here? How does everyone add their drop to the bucket needed to cool the planet, to use less, love more, save butterflies?

What can people do? Ask any gardening store before buying a plant if it has been treated with neonicotinoids, set aside a small portion of a yard for milkweed, plant bee and butterfly loving plants like mountain mint, lupine, swamp milkweed,  lavender, New England astor, and verbena. But most of all, enjoy the fall with its final blaze of color. Oh, and don’t use RoundUp. It's a bee, butterfly and bird killer.

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