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Posts tagged ‘Monarch Butterfly’

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Hue of You

“My teacher asked my favorite color. I said ‘Rainbow.’  I was punished to stand out of my class.”   Saket Assertive

On any given day, I am likely to give a different answer to the question, “What is your favorite color?” I guess you could say I am fickle.  I love the dark violet blue of the sky just after sunset. My favorite flowers tend to be purple (iris, Texas bluebonnet, lilacs), but oh those glorious pink roses.  The soft grey of wolves and pussy willows and kittens is amazing.  And when I see a big yellow dog, reminiscent of my long ago dog Murphy, my heart literally skips a beat.  I also love green, even speculating in the past that it was possibly God’s favorite color.

Today, my favorite color is ORANGE.  In all its shades and hues:  peach, terra cotta, sienna, vermillion, tangerine, amber, and coral just to name a few.  Orange is less vibrant than red but exudes more warmth than yellow.  It is earthy, enticing, and energetic.  According to one website, orange is associated with enthusiasm and creativity, vitality and endurance, curiosity and change. No wonder orange is a hue that speaks to me!

leaves 2

orange rose

bryce national canyon

poppies blurry

butterfly on ice plant

monument valley


angel arch

tulip fields

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I love quotes, but who would’ve thought I could find some about “ORANGE”?

 “There is no blue without yellow and without orange.”  Vincent Van Gogh

“Orange is the happiest color.”   Frank Sinatra

 “If love were a color, it’d be orange. Not because that’s a romantic color, but because it’s the sweetest.”  Jarod Kintz

“Orange is one of God’s favorite colors— He stuck it right there between red and yellow as the second color in the rainbow. He decorates entire forests with shades of orange every autumn. It shows up in sunrises at the start of the day, sunsets at the end of the day, and in the glow of the moon at the right time of night.”   Reggie Joiner

 “Orange is red brought nearer to humanity by yellow.”  Wassily Kandinsky

 “The woman had told the truth. The flowers were the color of sunset. And not the yellowish tinge of a lazy sun either, but the intense orange of a sun refusing to set on anyone else’s terms.”  Dolen Perkins-Valdez

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 This is my first time completing a weekly photo challenge.  I was inspired by the entries of two bloggers I follow: Tricia Booker Photography and  de Wets Wild.

This was fun!  What is your favorite color?


“Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit quietly, may alight upon You.”  Nathaniel Hawthorne

One of My Dad's Photos

One of My Dad’s Photos

I have always been enthralled by butterflies.  If they come into view, I stop to watch as they flit from flower to flower or hover over the garden, keeping just out of reach.  A friend always said her brother—when he was little—called them “flutterbys!”  Sounds right to me.  They are beautiful, delicate, ethereal.  They come in all colors and sizes, but most are cagey enough to not let me photograph them.  Here are a few that I have been able to capture in a picture:

black butterfly on thistle


orange on orange

tiger swallow on purple

However, it is the Monarch Butterfly that really fascinates me. A couple of times my dad and I have visited Pacific Grove, CA, one of the wintering sites for Monarchs as they travel on their annual migration.  It is absolutely amazing to see thousands of these gorgeous butterflies covering trees while they hibernate. On a cloudy day, you might miss them as they keep their wings folded to keep warm, so they look a lot like clumps of leaves.  The days we were there were more overcast than sunny, so our sightings were not as glorious as they might have been—but they amazed us!

See how easily they disappear:

Trees Hiding Monarch Butterflies

Trees Hiding Monarch Butterflies

Monarchs Hanging Like Leaves

Monarchs Hanging Like Leaves

But if you look closer, you can find them:

hanging monarchs

hanging monarchs 2

And sometimes you find them in the sunshine:

These Monarchs Are Actually Mating

These Monarchs Are Actually Mating

mating butterflies 2

monarch on ice plant

Learning the details about these beautiful insects and their life cycle just adds to the wonder of their existence.  Talk about marvels of nature!  There is a terrific website aptly named Monarch Butterfly Website that gives all the information you could ever want about Monarch Butterflies.  The site allows people to copy and distribute their articles and materials, as long as appropriate credit is given.  They share things like terrific photos—see below—as well as news items, coloring pages, and ways to help, raise and release these magnificent creatures yourself.

All Stages of the Monarch Butterfly from the Monarch Butterfly Website

All Stages of the Monarch Butterfly from the
Monarch Butterfly Website

Hibernating Monarchs from the Monarch Butterfly Website

Hibernating Monarchs from the Monarch Butterfly Website

From what I have learned, Monarch Butterflies are the only insects that migrate every year over 2500 miles in search of warmer climates for the winter. They need to hibernate in specific trees and—as caterpillars—need to eat certain plants (milkweed). Searching for those resources as well as warmer weather triggers the migrations. One wintering site is the small eucalyptus grove in Pacific Grove, CA.  Butterflies return to this site year after year, but it is different butterflies.  Actually, it is every fourth generation that makes it back to the original trees their ancestors visited.  Remarkable!  Reminds me, I need to go back to Pacific Grove to see these beautiful creatures in action once again—maybe this time I will catch them on a sunny day.

Until then, this video “Amazing Journeys: Monarch Butterflies—Mexico” gives a first-hand glimpse into the “mysterious and wondrous migrations” of the Monarch Butterfly.  Enjoy.

Photo Adventures with Dad

I cannot say that my dad was a stereotypical father, doing the things that you might see in commercials or on television shows.  He did not read me bedtime stories, play board games, or tuck me in at night.  He did not teach me to throw a baseball or take me for walks.  He did not help me with my homework or talk to me about boys or dating or growing up.  He did take me out driving once when I had my learner’s permit, but the main instruction had been from the required class offered by the high school.  No, I cannot say my dad is typical.

My memories of him when I was a kid are minimal.  Basically, he worked, a lot, so he was not home that much.  But I do have great recollections of watching TV with him in the evenings, as he would unwind from the day.  Somehow, the Lady Thunderbirds (a women’s roller derby team) and favorite wrestlers such as Gorgeous George were more exciting to watch when I could cheer them on along with Dad. On weekends, I could help him mix the sugary liquid that would fill the hummingbird feeders hanging in the backyard.  My job was to keep an eye out for the little birds, calling out when they were in sight.  Along with Mom, we would also feed the birds and squirrels that visited the back yard, loving it if they stayed around long enough to watch them in action.

I have always liked Christmas!  One reason was that from a young age—maybe 6 or 7—I was able to travel with Dad to lot after lot, in search of the perfect Christmas tree.  We did not really talk strategy, but we knew a good tree when we saw it.  And, indeed, when he would carefully place the lights on the tree before we all pitched in to help with the ornaments and icicles, the tree looked glorious.  The first year I was an adult living away from home for the holidays, I could feel Dad with me as I selected the perfect tree, all on my own. 

But our best adventures by far came when we would take off together on some Nature Photography Expeditions.  I had received a Brownie camera as a gift when I was in the sixth grade, and since then always dabbled in taking pictures to capture whatever event was unfolding.  Dad, too, enjoyed photography and spent some of his time taking photographs for church directories, an occasional wedding, and some high school year books.  But it was the nature photos of flowers and birds and squirrels and deer that fascinated us both.  After I moved out on my own, we would make plans to go somewhere together to take pictures. 

We did not have to go far, although some of our trips did keep us out overnight.  Often it was just the two of us, but—when possible—Mom would join the expedition.  We had fun, even as we trudged around in the heat, always seemed to have to walk up hill to get back to the car, or commiserated over the birds that often proved too illusive for our efforts.  Back then, before digital cameras, we would eagerly wait to get our photos back, so we could admire each other’s great shots and relive the adventure.

This Father’s Day, Dad is in a Rehab Center, waiting for antibiotics to do their job and eradicate a bad infection. He is frustrated about not being able to go home.  I am hoping that the memories of our photo expeditions might help him remember the lessons we learned over the years, together:

  1. If you want to capture the best photos, you often have to put up with heat, dust, and pesky little bugs.
  2. No matter what path you take, you will probably be trudging uphill, but at the end of the day—you get some great shots and make it home.
  3. Patience is one of the best skills of a good photographer—the light will change, the butterfly or bird will stand still eventually, the wind will die down, and we’ll always get home at the end of a good day.
  4. Enjoying memories and photos long after the shared expedition is an added bonus we can always treasure, even if we cannot go walking as far as we used to, to get the photo.

These lessons hold true, no matter where we wandered:  whale watching around Anacapa Island, trekking to the Salton Sea or through the Red Canyon, driving through the Petrified Forest, visiting Yosemite in the winter, or capturing birds and squirrels in action in the back yard.  The photos below showcase some of the photos/memories we shared over the years.  Dad, I hope they help keep your spirits up as you work to get better and back home. Even though neither of us walks so well anymore, let’s think about planning another expedition, okay?

We took many trips to the Los Angeles County Arboretum (Arcadia, CA).  The rose garden is delightful, the peacocks often put on a show, and orchids are in bloom once a year!

The Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve (Lancaster, CA) is about an hour away from    home, but it transports visitors back in time to a less hectic, less populated world.  In a good year, the hills are truly alive with color—mostly California Poppies, but also Cream Cups and Lupine and maybe some other blossoms clinging to the hills. 

We made one trip to Mono Lake, near Lee Vining, California, stayed for the sunset and then waited and waited and waited for the moonrise.  We were not prepared for it to be so many hours later, so we headed back to the car in the dark—wondering if we would ever get there. We did, by the way, but it took quite some time. 

We have enjoyed many zoos together.  I’m pretty sure it was Dad who stayed with me for hours to watch the baby elephant at the Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago) when I was a kid.  But as adults, we have also visited zoos in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Fresno.  Capturing shots where the animals do not look closed in and confined is always the goal. 


Monterey, California, is also a terrific destination.  One time, we took a Wildflower Tour hosted by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  On that trip, we toured through the Carmel Valley, finding some wild flowers as well as a lovely little oak grove.  A gourmet lunch was served on china with linen table cloths and napkins over picnic tables nestled under a small grove of redwoods.  Later we drove down the Big Sur Coastline.  On another trip, we stopped and waited and waited and waited to see the butterflies in the Monarch Grove Sanctuary, Pacific Grove, California. 

Dad, get better so we can plan another trip!  Happy Father’s Day!

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