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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

This Bird’s on Energizer Batteries…It Keeps Growing and Growing

It’s the Autumnal Equinox again, the first day of Fall. One year ago I went ballistic on the backyard Bird of Paradise, cutting down hundreds of her sturdy green stalks. She received her army-regulation crew-cut, and although one couldn’t call it a pretty look, at least the bird wasn’t taking over our yard anymore. I like anniversaries, and today is the 52-week anniversary of the slaying of the bird, so I decided to check in with the bird once more.

On March 20, 2009, the Spring Equinox, I did a 6-month progress check on the bird. She’d grown 30 inches.

Six months later she is well past the 36” mark, as seen in the photo above. Yardsticks don’t lie!
I wrote about the initial taming of the bird, as well as the 6-month progress report. Both can be found under the March section of this blog. The trimming of this bird’s feathers was an exhausting ordeal that involved many different tools and five hours of work as well as some real satisfaction and a few surprise finds. The piece I wrote about it is good for a laugh.

Most plant growth is so gradual that it’s hard to detect, like hair growth or kids’ height growth. But when you consult a photo from 6 or 12 month back, you see the difference. It's incredible to me that with no encouragement (water) whatsoever, this plant has grown more than 3 feet in a year. Amazing? Scary? Both.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Butterfly-Moon-Flower: A Hippie's Paradise (Sept. 7, 2009, Labor Day)

Seemingly overnight, the monarchs appeared. I saw at least twenty over a three-day period. Vibrant, darting through the garden, joyfully flying free. I wondered if it is Monarch Season. As always, the Internet had answers. From

“In all the world, no butterflies migrate like the Monarchs of North America. They travel much farther than all other tropical butterflies, up to three thousand miles. They are the only butterflies to make such a long, two way migration every year.
When the late summer and early fall Monarchs emerge from their pupae, or chrysalides…the fat they have stored in the abdomen is a critical element of their survival for the winter. This fat not only fuels their flight of one to three thousand miles, but must last until the next spring when they begin the flight back north. As they migrate southwards, Monarchs stop to nectar, and they actually gain weight during the trip.”

This intrigued me. Butterflies, the most delicate creatures around, have (and need) fat? Who knew?!
A day or two later I noticed that the Yucca trees around town are in bloom. Another piece of magic from Nature. Plants’ nonverbal, synchronized blooming amazes me, in part because humans have the hardest time coordinating schedules even with the aid of the phone, email, Blackberry, Outlook and wall calendar! Like many plants, the Yucca is full of surprises. The plant and the bloom are a bit incongruous—the Beauty and the Beast of the plant world. Its bark is coarse and grayish, its green leaves spiky, and yet it produces a bouquet of soft, luminous white petals.

A few nights ago on Sept. 4, I enjoyed a third surprise gift from Nature: a full Harvest Moon. It glowed amber yellow against a periwinkle sky, a dramatic contrast. Being eternally curious as well as an Internet junkie, I wanted to know more about the Harvest Moon, so I went online to research. It turns out that the Harvest Moon occurs when the moon is full near the time of the Autumn Equinox. The moon looked bigger to me that night, which is because of the seasonal tilt of the earth.

Some people don’t want to know the science behind Nature’s beauty. Maybe that ruins the magic for them, like magazine photos of celebrities without their makeup. Some people just want to enjoy the view, not bother with the “whys.” That’s not me. When I see something that amazes me I always want to know why and how Nature does what she does. But yes, there are times when it’s just nice to enjoy what you see. Monarchs, Yucca blossoms, and a Harvest Moon are little gifts from Nature, and you don’t have to be a Flower Child to see that.