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JoAnn's Blog

Take Heart!


You know how you get up in the morning and check the weather forecast, and you see that rain is on its way again, so you figure you'd better get your walk in early, and maybe today is finally the day to scatter the last of the milkweed seeds that spent the winter in the garage after you stored all you thought you could possibly use in the refrigerator to plant when the weather warms up? So you head to the bike path and spread those seeds around the bare spots along one side, and it's already foggy and kind of damp, so they stick to the dirt instead of flying away, and you keep walking through the wet grass, even after your feet are soaked, scattering milkweed seeds and hoping they'll sprout and monarchs will come, along with all the other creatures that benefit from milkweed, until you reach the garlic mustard patch that goes on and on and on, and it gets harder and harder to find any bare spots?


But eventually you do, and all the seeds are spread, and by then you have to pee, so you walk into the clubhouse of the golf course in the public park that your tax dollars pay for, and you see that someone has knocked down two swallows' nests in the entranceway because heaven forbid some bird poops outside the clubhouse, and when you come back out, you notice that there is not one dandelion on the whole golf course, which you know means that the park has been poisoned with pesticides, and you wonder what will happen to the worms that those robins over there are hunting for, and wait a minute—are there any worms? And you wish the robins good luck and safe hunting, and you turn around to head home thinking, How on Earth are we going to fix this?


And then you realize that you just said "we." Because all over the world, millions of people like you are trying to do the right thing, trying to care for our planet in spite of what the greedy idiots in power say, doing whatever little bits and pieces they can to try to protect what they care about. Millions of people are planting milkweed and pulling out invasive weeds and picking up trash. Millions of people are remembering to bring (and even make) their own shopping bags and refusing plastic and recycling what can be recycled, and no, it's not enough, not yet, but you can't give up because it's still the right thing to do and at least—thank goodness—you are not alone.



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Evidence (A DMC Challenge Poem)

One way to find tiny monarch caterpillars on milkweed leaves is to look for their characteristic C-shaped chewprints.

I wrote this poem as a response to editor Carol Hinz's November 2017 Ditty of the Month Club challenge for Michelle Heidenrich Barnes's blog, Today's Little Ditty. The challenge was to write a poem that finds beauty in something not usually considered beautiful. Visit the padlet to read all the inspiring poems.


              Something is eating the milkweed plants,
              nibbling them naked,
              stripping the garden bare.
              Something is chomping this tattered leaf.
              It left its mark in the shape of a C—
              C for chewing
                       and crawling
                                 and caterpillar
                                           and cheering!
              Hooray! The monarchs are here!

              JoAnn Early Macken

Mary Lee Hahn is hosting Poetry Friday at A Year of Reading. Enjoy!

Whoops, I forgot this at first: For more monarch info and photos, see my Monarch page.

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Save the Monarchs--Before It's Too Late!

In “Monarch Population Status,” Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch describes the monarch butterfly's drastic recent habitat loss: He estimates that 29-33% of the monarch breeding range has been lost since 1996! He says, “due to the economic forces involving crop production and human population growth, these losses will continue. It is clear that if our goal is to save the monarch migration, we must find a way to mitigate the loss of monarch habitat.”

“While waiting for conditions to improve," he says, "let’s plant milkweed – lots and lots of it.” Yes, of course.

Here’s one more thing we can all do right now to help.

In “Last Call For Monarchs,” Mexican poet and environmentalist Homero Aridjis says, “Now, on the 20th anniversary of NAFTA, I (and all who cherish the monarch butterfly) am urging Presidents Enrique Peña Nieto and Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to put monarch survival on the agenda of their February 19-20 summit meeting.”

“To make up for the vast loss of grasslands to crops and urban development,” he says, “we need a milkweed corridor stretching along the entire migratory route of the monarch -- with plantings on roadsides, in fields and ditches, along railroad tracks, in pastures and meadows and gardens, in parks and public spaces -- so that successive generations of monarchs can breed during their journey north.”

Many of us are doing what we can to spread milkweed in our small corners of the country. (Let me know if you want seeds!) The Wild for Monarchs Blog suggests contacting President Obama to ask him to make this issue part of the agenda when he meets with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts.

Contact the White House to show President Obama the broad support for saving monarchs. The meeting is only a week away, but it takes only a minute to fill in the required contact fields and include a short message. Feel free to copy and modify this letter.

Dear President Obama,

The population of monarch butterflies has dropped drastically in recent years. Development, increased cropland acreage because of the ethanol mandate, and the use of herbicides and herbicide-tolerant crops have nearly eliminated milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s only food, from much of the butterfly's former habitat.

I understand you will be meeting with Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper later this month. Please take this opportunity to discuss a plan to protect the monarch butterfly on its migration route through our three countries.

I urge you to take steps now to save monarch butterflies while they still have a chance to recover. Thank you!

JoAnn Early Macken

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