today i found out that when monarch butterflies migrate south for the winter, all the ones that go across the middle of lake superior suddenly stop going south and go west for five miles and then continue south. which really freaked scientists out cos like What is in the Middle of Lake Superior what do Butterflies know that We Dont Is This The End Times etc. anyway turns out about a hundred million years ago there was a mountain there and the butterflies still think they gotta fly around it. classic butterflies
“Yes, nature is carefully managed national parks and vast boreal forest and uninhabited arctic. But nature is also the birds in your backyard; the bees whizzing down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan; the pines in rows in forest plantations; the blackberries and butterfly bushes that grow alongside the urban river; the Chinese tree-of-heaven or “ghetto palm” growing behind the corner store; the quail strutting through the farmer’s field; the old field overgrown with weeds and shrubs and snakes and burrowing mammals; the jungle thick with plants labeled “invasive” pests; the carefully designed landscape garden; the green roof; the highway median; the five-hundred-year-old orchard folded into the heart of the Amazon; the avocado tree that sprouts in your compost pile.”
Very cool little piece on what can be done with vacant lots. Life is everywhere, even in spaces we typically think of as empty or dead.
There’s a nice vacant lot near where I live and I’ve seen at least 5 groundhog holes there, and a bird’s nest with 4 eggs!
Some random encounters from today’s woods-walk, featuring a very relaxed American toad, the first bloodroot flower of the spring, a crawdad hole, a yellow trout lily, and THE most aggressive garter snake I’ve ever met in my life. I didn’t even try to catch him—he started striking at me as soon as I got close.
Bloodroot!! I love it! For those wondering, here is a photo of a flower we pulled in a field bio class:
Hence the name!
When I was a kid I used to paint my face with bloodroot, which is a terrible idea because it’s actually pretty corrosive and can badly scar your skin. I didn’t know that, only that indigenous people used to mix it with fat to make body paint. Guess I got lucky—my skin is usually pretty sensitive.
It’s also really interesting because the seeds are propagated by ants. They grow little nutritious attachments called elaiosomes that attract ants, and when those are eaten, the ants put the bloodroot seeds into their trash middens, where they are protected until they germinate. Trout lilys are the same—those you can eat or make into tea. Never tried it, but I’ll harvest some next week and see what I think.