October is a magical month. Nature’s paint brush thrives with the fall colors. The hues change from green to red to orange to yellow to brown. And the fleeting colors and leaves hang on for life as the wind blows. Today the leaves gently fell from the trees like the first light snowfall. The first half of the month was unseasonably cold, cloudy and rainy, but the bright autumn colors kept the landscape bright and happy. I love October!
The wind dominates the weather. Eighty-mile an hour winds were recorded with twenty-foot waves pounding the Lake Superior shore. Some days and nights the waves from the lake pound our sandstone cliff. The spray can actually travel 75 feet to splash our house.
Interesting birds are migrating through from the north. Yellow rump warblers eat flies sunning themselves on our house, hermit thrush jump in the leaf litter, palm warblers wag their tails, and my favorite white-throated sparrows look for food in the brush. The junkos, harbingers of winter, are everywhere, and groups of snow buntings have just arrived.
Wildlife and humans hunker down into thoughts of the winter ahead. The brisk temperatures and short days become a message that our warmth is fleeting. The chickadees, gold finch and nuthatches are busy emptying our bird feeder. It is amazing they can remember where they hide their seeds. The squirrels and chipmunks wait below for scraps to be part eating and hiding fun.
The big lake is seldom quiet. The sound of moving water and lack of human noise is refreshing. We love our sounds from nature, and our one square inch of silence. https://onesquareinch.org/
Plastic lasts more than a lifetime! Humans have created 9 billion tons of plastic since 1950 and most of this plastic still exists on earth. Only 9 percent has been recycled, and 11 percent incinerated. That leaves much of the plastic ever produced floating around in our waterways, poisoning fish, or releasing chemicals in landfills. As citizens of this planet we should be doing everything we can to reduce the amount of plastic we use.
The PBS NewsHour is doing an interesting series on plastic this week. I hope you will watch. See below:
A month ago I spent a couple of weeks in Germany, and was I impressed! Other Americans I talked to shared my thoughts of awe with Germany. First they take care of their infrastructure. They maintain their roads, trains, bike lanes, public transport, even restrooms reach a high standard. As I enjoyed riding trains through the countryside, I saw many solar farms and some wind farms. Renewable energy has overtaken coal consumption in Germany.
There is no litter in Germany. A twenty-five cent deposit is charged on plastic bottles. Germany leads the world in recycling. It’s just natural for Germans to be good to the Earth, and it is hopeful that when you do things right it does lead to success. Yahoo, awesome Germany!
More good news stories:
** Oklahoma has changed their mowing along highways to help the monarch butterflies.
** Starbucks and Seattle are ending their consumption of plastic straws, and Penzance, Great Britain has become a plastic-free town.
** California has already made their green energy goals for 2020.
It makes me so happy when butterflies dance along as I walk the road by my house. One day there were dancing sulfurs, another day monarchs, swallow-tail and white admirals. I was watching a northern pearly eye, it flew at me, and decided to sit on my hand for 10 minutes as I continued my walk. July is easy to see painted ladies, red admirals, wood nymph butterflies, checkerspots, fritillaries and many skippers. This is the best time of the year to see butterflies! Get outside and look.
Seeing butterflies is so much easier than seeing birds, but the birds sing their ”I love life” song? some of them must have raised their first family and ready to start again? Song sparrows, red starts, chickadees, chestnut-sided warblers, vireos, and white-throated sparrows seem to sing just for me. I sure appreciate their happy songs.
They dance not for me
Yet mine is their glee!
Thus pleasure is spread through the earth
In stray gifts to be claimed by whoever shall find;
Thus a rich-loving kindness, redundantly kind,
Moves all nature to gladness and mirth.
What can you do to help our birds, bees and butterflies? Can you plant some milkweed or other native plants? Can you become aware and reduce the chemicals you use? Can you learn about neonicotinoids and be sure you never purchase plants that have been treated with them? For your information, neonicotinoids have recently been banned from use by the European Union.
Yesterday I had a mourning cloak, a painted lady, a red admiral, hummingbirds, and monarch caterpillars in my yard. Milkweed and native plants make a big difference for pollinators. I am not a fan of lists because experience is better, but here are some native plant lists to get you started: https://www.nwf.org/NativePlantFinder/About and from Audubon
Planting purple cone flowers, bee balm, black-eyed Susan and milkweed are easy ways to get started. After years of trying to get milkweed to grow, I now have swamp milkweed everywhere. It has reseeded itself and thrives in my yard. Also, common milkweed and butterfly weed have sprouted up, but only a few monarch butterflies. The few monarch butterflies have a big job ahead of them, and I am still hopeful we can get their numbers to improve! If everyone does a small part, it can make a big difference!
Below is a video from PBS about monarch caterpillars, enjoy!