Monthly Archives: August 2015

Weekly Puzzler Answer #75

Check out this butterfly emerging from its chrysalis! An amazing moment for you to share with me. Did you guess this butterfly for last week’s puzzler?

I thought it was going to be a Viceroy, but as you can see, it was NOT orange and black when it emerged. But even so, WOW! If possible it was even more beautiful.

This is what a Viceroy looks like. Beautiful, right? It is a mimic of a Monarch–meaning in looking like a Monarch predators will avoid eating it since the bright orange and black signals they are distasteful. The Monarch IS distasteful, having eating the bitter Milkweed leaves before becoming a butterfly.


Here’s the next puzzler.

Weekly Puzzler #76

Well I have to say after last week’s puzzler, and a week of watching 4 Monarchs emerge from their chrysalises, I feel at a loss as to a new puzzler. Impossible to top the awe-inspiring videos of the butterflies emerging!

But it’s a new day and almost a new week AND a new month so let’s just go ahead and jump to a new question….

One day while I was out in a field recently, photographing “little wonders,” I found these lovely orange eggs that to me, looked like tiny works of art. They were on a goldenrod leaf, first 10 and then on a different day, just two side by side.

eggs--4As a Naturalist of course I wondered what they would become, deciding to bring the two home and hatch them out…I had a handful of Monarch eggs on Milkweed leaves in a small screened-in container, why not add these eggs and see what happened?

eggs-1324But ARE they butterfly eggs? What will come out of these lovely eggs? Check back next week to learn the answer AND hear the rest of the story.

Have a wonderful weekend! Can you believe it’s nearly September?

Nature For Your Soul

Mud Lake in Nederland, Colorado

Mud Lake in Nederland, Colorado

Years ago I worked at a small nature center in Nederland, Colorado and directed a book project with a group of 5 and 6 year olds called The Most Important Thing. Each student created one page in the book, filling in the blank after “the most important thing about me is….” Of course I had to make a page too. On my page it reads, “the most important thing about me is I love not man less but nature more.” I borrowed the lines from the end of a beautiful poem by Lord Byron.

There is pleasure in the pathless woods, There is rapture on the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, By the deep sea, the music in its roar, I love not man less but nature more.


My intimacy with nature defines me. Nature nourishes my spirit and makes my soul dance with joy. I am happiest when I am outside, surrounded by the beauty and wonder of nature.

Do you feel this way too? What would your page say? What is the most important thing about YOU?

lake-2416Lately I have been raising Monarch caterpillars   (because I feared their field was going to be mowed) and just recently, the first three emerged from their chrysalises, entering the world for the first time as winged adults. This morning I sat watching and waiting for close to 5 hours, wanting to be present when they emerged. In studying them so closely I noticed subtle changes that took place throughout the process. It was fascinating! And I was captivated. Not wanting to go anywhere else or do anything else for fear of missing it.

Have you ever had the pleasure of witnessing this? My gosh, it is absolutely miraculous! Breathtaking. A moment that rivals some of the most extraordinary natural events I have ever seen.

4 weeks ago, the creature was an egg the size of a freckle. The creature guess--2struggled out of its egg and became a caterpillar, eating, eating, eating, eating for two weeks until it was ready to make its chrysalis. And then. Then there was stillness. And inside the thin green walls of that chrysalis, the caterpillar was rearranging its parts. Close to two weeks later, it came out as a winged adult. 2 Weeks! My gosh, how is this possible?

“How does it do that?” someone asked at my recent Little Wonders program when we were talking about the metamorphosis of butterflies.

lake-0190I am sure science has a better answer than mine–which was simply that “I don’t know. But wow, is it miraculous!” Sometimes in nature it feels okay to me to not know EXACTLY how. I don’t need to know every single detail. My awe and wonder at the event brings me to tears, I am so amazed that such a thing is possible. And then, so incredibly grateful that I get to see it, know about it, learn from it, be inspired by it. Then watch it again. And again.

It makes me think of this great quote I came across many years ago by Albert Einstein. I will share it with you now–a bonus quote of the week for this last week in August:

“The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the source of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.”

Would people appreciate butterflies more if they witnessed this emergence? How can these miraculous events not make national news? These things happen every day! How can people see this and not feel compelled to share it with every single person they know? And then do EVERYTHING IN THEIR POWER to protect these amazing creatures, to make sure that they continue to thrive! (Read HERE about ways you can help Monarchs and coming soon, 10 things you didn’t know about butterflies…stay tuned.)

Watch with me as the first butterfly emerges… is it nature for your soul too?


Now, if that wasn’t enough and you are still wanting more, here’s a bonus... the BEST drug commercial you’ll ever see!

Do you take this drug? Are you– like me– addicted? Woo hoo, isn’t it wonderful!!! Amazing everyone doesn’t know about this! How can this be?

(Read the fine print as it goes along… what is your favorite part? Mine is the sentence that says “nature is not golf.” )

Hope to hear from you! Today I will be watching the last of the 4 original Monarchs emerging from its chrysalis! Can’t wait. Here’s wishing you a bit of magic in your day too….it’s everywhere, you just need to look!

Quote of the Week #34

jj-2135Have you ever had something go wrong, but later discovered that it turned out to be a GOOD THING because something wonderful happened because of it?

My husband and I spent Saturday evening on a blanket beside the Blue Ridge Parkway, enjoying wine, cheese and the lovely evening. We watched the sunset in the distance, found shapes in the clouds and basically did nothing but BE.

Even after the sun was long gone, we stayed, marveling over the cloud-filled sky and drama in the moving clouds. Eventually we packed up our things and headed out, driving the winding road 50 miles to our house. And when we arrived my husband realized there was a hole in his fleece and that his glasses were missing. Of course they must have fallen out of the hole and were back beside the Parkway.

Ugh! It was nearly 11:00 pm and we did not feel like driving back right then. And in the morning when it was pouring rain, we still not not want to get in the car and drive back. In late afternoon we headed out, deciding to enjoy a nice dinner at the Pisgah Inn before continuing on to our previous night’s picnic spot.

The clouds were thick in the sky, veiling the mountains and making everything foggy. Travel was slow-going on the winding Parkway, visibility only a few feet in front of the car.

Then, to our surprise, we exited a long tunnel and found we’d left the rain behind! In the distance, we could see blue sky and wispy clouds gathering on the horizon.

We arrived at our destination and TADA! there were the glasses, laying untouched in the grass beside the road.

Since we were there and the evening was lovely, we decided to make ourselves comfortable, ready to wait for another sunset….

WOW, talk about a sunset for the record books! At times the sky looked like it was on fire, painting the wispy clouds red and orange in colors that  looked fake. Every second the wind rearranged things and we watched, rapt, enjoying the spectacular show, marveling over the fact that if we hadn’t have lost the glasses we never would have gotten to see the sunset. Or meet the lovely couple from Ukraine named Vladimir and Valentina who stopped to join us in taking pictures.

…so this week’s quote:


Here’s more from those two nights if you’d like to see them! Hope you schedule time to see a sunset for yourself soon!

Dancing cloudsA sea of cloudsLovely lightingTalk about drama!A ceiling of cloudsFire in the sky!Looking through the cloudsShapes in the skyWhat colors!Nothing ordinary about this sunset!

Weekly Puzzler Answer #74

Did  you know the answer to last week’s puzzler? Have you ever seen these seeds on the forest floor and wondered what tree they’re from? puzzle-6149

Well now you’ll know! These are the seeds from a Southern Magnolia.


Check out the next puzzler HERE. And as always, have a wonderful weekend!! See you again soon!

Weekly Puzzler #75

aaaa999--2I was in the Milkweed patch recently (the same one I talk about HERE!) and happened to notice this caterpillar hanging from a leaf.

Woo hoo! This was exciting as I knew it was preparing to make its chrysalis.

Having never seen this kind of caterpillar before, I consulted a wonderful caterpillar field guide I have called Caterpillars of Eastern NA by David L. Wagner. Though there were several that looked very similar, I found one that I thought matched well I returned to the field two days later, found the chrysalis it had made and brought the whole plant home, where I put the stem in a bottle of water. (Because at the time I was afraid the field would get mowed… but not any more!!)

Then it was time to wait. Ten days later, the chrysalis turned dark and I knew it was going to emerge! Much to my delight, it emerged while I sat watching and waiting! But guess what? It wasn’t what I thought it would be!! But actually, it was even better!

So that’s this week’s puzzler. What kind of caterpillar is this and what will it become? Click HERE to watch an amazing video of the chrysalis opening to revel a brand new butterfly... guess who…. ?


Happy weekend and I will see you again soon!

Quote of the Week #33

I’d like to tell you a story as an introduction to this week’s quote. If you’ve been following my blog posts lately, you may know I have been talking about Monarch butterflies –their low numbers and the importance of their only food plant–Milkweed.

amonarchpair-1731So everyday that I go out in my car anywhere, I first must drive to the end of my road, 2.8 miles. Along the way I pass numerous meadows, some with horses, others filled with tall grasses or crops from local farmers. Around the bend and at the top of one small hill, on the right side, there is a field that slopes gently upwards and is FILLED WITH MILKWEED–3 different species! It is a glorious spot, always dancing with the wings of butterflies as they look for the sweet nectar of the orange and pink flowers.

This field is within a high-end, gated community with million dollar houses, but on the outskirts of where any people live and away from traffic. I have spent time there lately, photographing all of the treasures, from colorful butterflies to beetles, bugs and everything in between.

amonarchpair--2This field is an absolute GOLD MINE for the butterflies, including our beloved Monarchs!

But the Monarchs can’t talk of course so I decided to be their spokesperson. I decided to try to see who owns this field so I could ask if it would be at all possible to hold off on mowing it until late October, when all of the Monarchs have gone.

It wasn’t an easy or quick process and several people were involved, but in the end, I DID get to talk to the owner! And he seemed receptive to the idea of mowing later. He said he didn’t realize anyone cared about the field or the creatures there and now that he does, he will do his best to help out. !!

I am over the moon thrilled because this means I don’t have to be so worried about driving out one day and being heartbroken when I see a flattened field where all the Milkweed used to be. And all of the Monarchs and other butterflies will get to continue living there and I don’t have to be so desperate to find them all and “save them.”

And so, this week’s quotes:

“Life doesn’t require that we be the best, only that we try our best.”


“Every accomplishment starts with a decision to try.”


Sometimes when we think of something we’d like to do, we are stopped by the loud voices in our head saying, “That’s impossible! That won’t work! What are the chances!” Maybe next time you have one of those thoughts, you will remember this story and these quotes.

You’ll never know until you try!