Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 6

FROM THE EDITOR

CHANNELING ELIZABETH HUNTER

Time Flies,
Monarchs Should Too

Our former columnist's lifelong love of the magical migrating butterflies is, well, an inspiration.
By KURT RHEINHEIMER

I

t is certainly not a unique perception that as we
get older the years move along ever faster, even if
each still has 365 days and includes only one each
of the holidays that rush upon us more quickly
with each passing year.
Poignant among those wait, it can't be that long
since perceptions is the fact that this magazine's
former long-time columnist, Elizabeth Hunter, contributed her last column to these pages in the November/
December 2014 edition, five years ago as I write this.
(For those of you who were reading us then and miss
Elizabeth's heartfelt writing as much as we do, her updates via the phone are always in the realm of celebration-of things like a World Series championship for her
beloved Boston Red Sox, or a glorious mountain-top hike
on a crisp fall day, or a day of productive weeding on the
North Carolina mountain farm where she still lives.)
And perhaps most pointed among the many gentle
lessons Elizabeth taught us are those she imparted about
monarch butterflies, based on a love that began as a child
so obsessed that beginning at about age 10, she became
part of a monarch-tagging project conducted through
the University of Toronto. She became an expert netter,
and even better at bringing home caterpillers, "watching
them eat and pupate, then waiting for them to emerge so
I could watch their maiden flight."
Jump forward in time to her move from New England
to the North Carolina mountains in 1981, when she began her annual September immersion in that state's part
in the monarch migration south to trees in the mountains near Mexico City, Mexico.
By 1996, in one of her many columns about monarchs, Elizabeth wrote about the wonder that those butterflies become near-dormant during their Mexican overwintering, then, in spring, undertake their migration
back north. Monarchs, by the 10s of millions, thus fly
for some 2,500 miles between their fall and spring trips;
but then on the way back north lay their eggs on the first

6

BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

emerging milkweed plant
they find, and die.
That same year, Elizabeth began a pattern in
echo of her childhood-going outside and finding caterpillers in the summer and
carefully nurturing them in
a 10-gallon terrarium full of
milkweed stalks and twigs
until they carried out the
anguish-filled process of
finding a spot to undergo metamorphosis into chrysalis and, in another couple of weeks, butterflies ready to fly
south toward Mexico.
In her last column, "For the Wild World," Elizabeth
again touched on the monarchs and, noting both the
stunningly decreased butterfly populations and the too
many mowed-down Southern mountain milkweed patches, recounted telling an interested couple about how they
could help: Find some milkweed that is producing pods,
and at the point where they are bursting open, take some
home and empty their contents into a grocery bag. Then,
"close the bag around your wrist, rub the seeds and fluff
together, shake the bag so the seeds fall to the bottom,
then cut an opening in one corner and pour the seeds
out. Take them outside. Scatter them where you want
milkweed to germinate next spring. Don't keep them in
the house over the winter. The seeds need what nature
provides-periods of cold and moisture-to germinate."
An undertaking, should you wish to carry it out, that
must await the passing of two calendar seasons and the
ripening of a third.
But here, via the magic of the internet that did not exist in Elizabeth's childhood, nor during many of the years
of her sending us wonderful columns, is a shortcut: Pay
a visit to saveourmonarchs.org to buy seeds or to make a
donation, perhaps in Elizabeth's name. I did so today.


http://www.saveourmonarchs.org http://www.BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020

Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 6
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 8
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 10
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 12
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 13
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 14
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 16
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 18
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 20
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 22
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 24
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 28
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 34
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 38
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 42
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 43
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Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 45
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Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 50
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Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 55
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Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 61
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Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 64
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 66
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - Cover4
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