While visiting my sister’s family in St. Paul last month, I went the Minnesota Zoo. The Aveda Butterfly Garden was open at the time, located at the end of the Tropics Trail, and it featured more than 40 different species of butterflies and moths.
I learned a secret about butterfly gardens. They have the power to transform raucous children into patient, mild-mannered angels. Why? Because if you remain perfectly still, there’s a small chance a butterfly will flitter upon your shoulder, hair or an outstretched hand.
As a kid, I remember being transfixed by cottonwood trees filled with Monarch butterflies and often wondered about the great migration they would make to Mexico. The zoo’s website has some FAQs about butterflies that explain part of that journey:
The Monarch flying in your garden does make it to Mexico, but this individual butterfly does not return from Mexico to Minnesota. In July, the monarch begins the 3,000 to 4,000 miles trip to warmer weather. They have been known to fly 100 miles a day and reach speeds up to 30 m.p.h. The average flight speed is 10 m.p.h. In February the monarch begins the trip north. The females stop to lay eggs on milkweed plants along the way and then die. This first generation lives 6 to 9 months. The second and third generations live 6 weeks and the fourth generation returns to Minnesota. They produce the 5th generation, which makes the trip to Mexico.
The Aveda Butterfly Garden was only open from June 15 – September 2 this year. But, if you live in Minnesota or will be traveling through next summer, be sure to check the Minnesota Zoo website to see if it will be returning. It’s worth the trip!
Minnesota has a lot of things I don’t miss – mosquitos, deer ticks and the ubiquitous threat of Lyme disease, the oppressive humidity. 90 degree temperatures. However, I can overlook those things because there are more reasons to be fond of the state. I’ll be thinking of them as I fly out of Seattle and into Minneapolis tomorrow.
1. Being called Auntie Jojo. Nothing beats waking up on your sister’s couch to two snickering little people, whispering and daring each other to poke you as though you’re a sleeping animal. You offer a fake snore to rouse their curiosity, and suddenly there’s a knee in your gut and a tiny face in yours begging for attention. “Get UP, Auntie Jojo!” 2. Thunderstorms. Unless you’ve lived in the Midwest, you can’t imagine the sky before a storm – heaving turquoise, warped grey clouds, and the air hanging heavy with anticipation. As a child, you can barely breathe. A crash of thunder on the heels of the first lightning strike provokes a blast of wind from the southwest. Your favorite cottonwood doubles over upon impact. Hail clobbers the windows, forcing you inside. You hide. Pray in a corner of the basement that it’s not a tornado. But afterwards – that’s when the magic happens. Gold spills hot across the horizon and the breeze skims the waters of Lake Minnewaska, offering an apology for her brief, but violent, harangue. All is forgiven. 3. Taking photos with my youngest brother. We’ve torn up rural routes all across Pope County in search of subject matter, escaped swarms of blood-thirsty mosquitos and evaded Lyme disease. He even let me photograph his wedding! I edited out no less than 50 mosquitos in the photo below…
Of course, there are so many other things I love about going home – breakfast with my dad at the Gingerbread Café, where you can still have a meal and coffee for under $10. My grandma’s stories about how she met grandpa. My mom’s cookies.
Pretending that I’m still a kid and the whole world is still before me.
I think I missed my calling as an exotic dancer. I can do just about anything in heels, and you wouldn’t believe the awkward positions I’ve assumed in pursuit of the perfect shot. I’ve been on my back in front of my house, on my belly in front of Roozengaarde during the Tulip Festival, and on my elbows and knees just about everywhere else. And this weekend, I got the opportunity to straddle a street sign while standing on a guard rail on Padilla Bay. I needed that pole to help steady my shot. My camera may be ubiquitous, but my tripod certainly is not. (I’m too much of a free spirit to be burdened by lots of equipment, but yes – I do pay for it on occasion.)
Andy captured me on his cellphone while I framed my subject, and luckily, he chose a tasteful angle. Two feet to the left and this would have been an entirely different picture!
12 years ago, I was living east of Kansas City, Missouri and driving 20 miles through blizzards nearly everyday to get to and from work. On one particularly frightening evening, I discovered this delightful thing called freezing rain. I grew up in central Minnesota, so freezing rain was a new concept. Precipitation always just came down in the form of snow. So, when a layer of ice accumulated on my windshield that night, I was terrified. I had to roll down my window and drive with my head outside to navigate the last mile to my apartment.
Two days later, when I journeyed down I-70 again to return to work, I was shocked to discover the ice-storm carnage. Multiple semi-trucks littered the ditches, some overturned. Cars were strewn about like an angry giant-child had taken to the freeway. That day, I made the decision to get the heck out the Midwest! I had recently separated from my husband, so I saw no reason to stay in Missouri and subject myself to the weather any longer. If it wasn’t ice-storms and blizzards in the winter, it was tornadoes in the summer. No thanks!
I moved to the Seattle, Washington area. Snow is rare, and I have not yet experienced an ice-storm here. Mostly, it just rains, and I’m okay with that! Rain or shine, the Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I know many people who follow my blog may think “home” is more of an Ireland state of mind for me. But, when I saw the photo challenge this week, I knew exactly where I belonged.