Let me start by saying if you have been scared, anxious, or worried the last three months you are not alone. All of our situations are unique and important to us as individuals. Some of us may have underlying health issues, some of us own a business we put our heart and soul into, some of us are missing our normal routines, some of us are furloughed and don’t know when we will be earning a paycheck again, some of us suffer from anxiety or depression, some of us do not have family nearby and some of us have relatives with underlying health issues, some of us may lose our place to live or are currently homeless. The list goes on but whatever you are worried about at this time it is completely justified and I hope that you are able to find something to enjoy and that makes your heart happy during this unusual time in our history.
I know the Friends, as well as the library, have been busy behind the scenes finding the best way to adjust to new requirements and circumstances to ensure the safety of everyone. Stacy, our Program and Development Coordinator, has been busy working on new and innovative ways to support the library. First, she created a Safer at Home Reading Challenge and all donations from this will go directly to the library to fund their 2020 programs. She has also been working closely with our online appraisal volunteers to list items for sale on the sites we sell on in lieu of physical book sales. She has taken on the task of delivering materials to be appraised to them at their homes, picking them up and also shipping out any sales.
I have been busy behind the scenes with normal day-to-day activities, well as normal as they can be anyway! I have been working with Andria Rice from Youth Services to finalize prizes for the upcoming summer youth program. We have had to make quite a few changes but are confident in our choices and excited about this year’s program. Work, such as ordering books for our Give a Kid a Book and Books for Babies programs, continues. People have definitely shown an interest in volunteering again as soon as possible so I am very excited about that and look forward to seeing familiar faces and welcome new ones as soon as it is safe to do so.
Now on to something that makes my heart happy. Proceed with caution, this writer has tendency to ramble on and on!
It’s been five years ago since my husband and I moved to the area. I was excited to start a new chapter in my life and at the same time nervous to start over in an unfamiliar place, away from all that was comfortable to me. It was not easy being away from my friends and extended family. To be honest I even missed such mundane things as my grocery store!
The house we moved into was very nice but it just didn’t feel like home to me. I was inspired to make it my own, put my own personal touch to it. Sure there were little changes I could make but there wasn’t room in the budget for any major remodel inside or out.
I kept wondering what I could do to add some beauty to our yard and make it unique. The answer finally came to me. One day I was outside and noticed my first Monarch butterfly. In fact, once I started paying attention, I noticed many Monarchs in the area as well as a few Yellow Swallowtails. Also in frequent attendance were dragonflies and many, many birds. I decided to learn all I could about these beauties of nature. That was simple because the library had many resources to offer on the subject of butterflies and butterfly gardening. I decided to put most of my focus towards butterflies as I never really saw any at our home in Illinois despite having planted a butterfly bush. I even visited the awesome Butterfly House at Beaver Creek Reserve. If you have never been, I highly recommend it. It may even inspire you to plant a garden for our lovely winged friends.
Here are a few resources that contained valuable knowledge on the subject and are available at the library once they reopen:
I also recommend Birds and Blooms magazine, be sure to check it out when the library reopens as well.
Being the over-exuberant person that I am I checked out way more materials than I could find time to read but I was determined to have a butterfly-friendly yard. It was slow going at first, just a few plants during the first few years. I didn’t worry about milkweed at the time, which is a must for any butterfly garden, because we had three empty lots next to us that were filled with milkweed plants and all kinds of wildflowers. Not only do the adult butterflies love the flowers milkweed plants produce, but they also lay their eggs on the plant and the caterpillars depend on the leaves for food. Maybe that was my error in Illinois, no milkweed. Thank goodness for the library and the Internet to help guide me to success in this endeavor.
Two years ago the developer suddenly started building new homes in the subdivision so I had to ramp up the garden plans. I immediately started growing milkweed from seeds and we also tried transplanting some from the lots as well. I wanted to make sure that I could provide a place for all the “displaced” butterflies when everything else was torn down for the new homes. It was just my luck that I have rabbits that like milkweed too, which is normally mildly toxic to animals. Who knew, people still don’t believe me when I tell them I have milkweed eating rabbits! Never fear, all of the local nurseries seem to be selling at least common milkweed and in some cases a few other varieties such as whorled milkweed. Some even have a section for native plants and sections dedicated to butterfly and hummingbird favorites. One employee also recommended parsley for swallowtail caterpillars which turned to be a great success. So, with a few quick purchases, some good old chicken wire to keep those rascally rabbits out and a husband that supports my plant buying addiction craziness and also helps to plant said flowers/vegetation, I was back in the butterfly garden business.
While I have seen many caterpillars enjoying the bounty I have provided, I have yet to see a chrysalis or a butterfly emerge from one in my garden but I remain ever hopeful. If not, there is always the Butterfly House at Beaver Creek.
While we still have two empty lots next to us we have heard through the neighborhood gossip line that construction on those two will probably start this year. I am happy to report that I have several areas now that have thriving milkweed and a host of butterfly-friendly plants. I am so thankful for the wonderful garden centers in this area. The variety is endless and visiting them has become somewhat of an addiction, even if I can only browse. Work continues every year to ensure the milkweed comes back and also replacing/adding any perennials that didn’t make it through the winter. It’s a constant work in progress and I love it, it is a great stress reliever for me. It is so much fun to watch the caterpillars and then the butterflies. The neighbors probably aren’t happy because I also decided it was best not to put down lawn treatments to kill the dandelions as they are beneficial to bees. I was and still am determined to make my yard a safe habitat for all creatures that visit, great and small. I’ve also moved on to feeding the birds that come to the yard, especially those adorable hummingbirds, but that’s a story for another time.
My hope is that you will be inspired by my post to get involved with something that interests you and will also benefit our environment or put a smile on someone’s face because that’s what it’s all about really. I also hope that if you are experiencing a lot of stress that my story made you feel less alone and put a smile on YOUR face. I’d also like to add while it is not always easy to accept, change is something that is a constant in life and we continually need to adapt to move forward and grow as an individual and community. We could learn a lot from the butterfly, they go through an incredible metamorphosis in their life and come out stronger and more beautiful than ever. There is always something new we can learn or experience. If there is a silver lining to this pandemic it hopefully will be this – we learn to find the joy in little things, appreciate others more, be less judgmental and more tolerant of each other and our differences, be open to new ideas and experiences and always show empathy, compassion, and kindness for others and our environment, as well as ourselves. Wishing you all health and happiness during this time!