Correspondences

Looking at the photo Butterfly on Asters by Lisa Smith Nelson, I’m immediately reminded of a story in Robin Wall Kimmerer’s “Braiding Sweetgrass”.  Kimmerer is asked by her college advisor why she wants to study botany.  She tells him she is hoping to learn “about why asters and goldenrod looked so beautiful together”.  Her advisor is appalled.  To him, the beauty of a field of flowers has no place in science.

I could have told her, as her artist friends later did, about complementary colors.  But I did not know, as she learned in her further studies, that the eyes of bees, like those of humans, are naturally attracted to complementary colors.  I looked up butterflies and their vision, too, is similarly color sensitive.  When asters and goldenrod grow together, they complement each other in more than color—they attract more pollinators.  Plants need pollinators to reproduce. 

The combination of purple and yellow is part of the ecosystem.

It seems that beauty is indeed a necessity for life.

which came first–
the delicate wings
or the seed?

Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday prompt this week was a photo chosen and taken by Lisa Smith Nelson, above.

To the Monarch (May 2020)

may grid s

Who will
carry the end
back to the beginning?
who will remember the lost, re
locate
the disappeared?  Who will fill life
with futures, release those
fragile wings to
the skies?

brown monarch s

I decided to do my May grid and a butterfly cinquain for both the NaPoWriMo Day 30 prompt, “something that returns”, and Colleen’s #Tanka Tuesday prompt theme, chosen by Elizabeth from Tea and Paper, “the day after”.

When Nina and I first started blogging at memadtwo, one of my recurring themes was endangered species.  I posted twice (here and here) about the Monarch Butterfly, and wrote in one post:

Most people know that monarchs migrate from the United States and Canada to central Mexico to hibernate in winter. This can mean a trip of nearly 3,000 miles!

Between 2012 and 2013 the amount of butterflies who wintered in the Mexican forest decreased by 40%. The forest habitat itself is disappearing as a result of illegal logging. But the extreme weather conditions of the last few years, due to climate change, have also caused lower hatching rates. Another factor is the loss of milkweed plants, the primary food source for monarchs, killed by agricultural herbicides.

may grid close up s

Perhaps the coronavirus will provide these beautiful creatures with some respite from human destruction.

When looking for music about migration I remembered Steve Earle’s song.  Monarchs remind us that borders are only the lines that we ourselves choose to draw.

Thanks to Maureen Thorson and all the participants in NaPoWriMo 2020 for helping me to travel all over the world and creating bridges that reached far beyond the walls and borders of our politics and our forced isolation.

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