My Mother taught me to be
kind to animals, all animals. My Dad one day built a cage to raise
Monarchs and enrolled me in a Monarch tagging program out of the
University of Toronto. The same program that eventually led to the
discovery of the wintering grounds of the Mid-Western and Eastern
Monarchs. My Grandma (Mom's side) took us to the desert each Spring and
other locales. We would spend the summers with my Grandparents (Dad's
side) in the mountains of California where I would spend days in the
Sierra Nevada Mountains fishing and exploring.
At a young age, I began my appreciation of the wild things around me. The diversity of species both animal and plant. The different environments, desert, beach, alpine, redwood forests, grasslands, high meadows, bogs, swamps, rolling hills and more. How they grew, how the animals depended on them, how they looked in the wild. Once I had that Monarch Cage, I wanted to create what I saw in nature. And my parents let me. They let me plant the yard with butterfly friendly plants, host and nectar plants. My friend and I would get on our bikes with Folgers Coffee cans, slits in the lids and head off looking for creatures. We would grab Monarchs off the Narrow Leaved Milkweed plants that lived along the railroad tracks.Its seeds tossed into the air and carried along by passing trains. Anise Swallowtails off Sweet Fennel that grew in disturbed places, vacant parking lots, fields. Mourning Cloaks off the elm at the end of the street. Some years there were so many caterpillars, the chrysalis looked like Christmas Lights hanging from the gutters. Buckeyes from Plantain in the field of our Elementary School. And then we discovered Polyphemus Moths on Birch trees throughout the neighborhood. I was allowed to plant Passionflower for Gulf Fritillaries. Red Admirals munched on a plant called Baby Tears that grew along paths in the shade. And I collected Tomato Hornworms off of Tomato Plants. Fuschias and Salvias were planted for the Hummingbirds.
I was addicted. And then one day I found on a hillside when staying the summer with my Grandma a massive field of Shooting Stars. I had never seen them before. They were amazing and the next week, they were gone. Bulldozed for a new Cinema being built on the hill. I was in shock, if only I had dug them up, rescued them. If only.