Friday, May 12, 2017

All Is Well

Last week I heard a ruckus in the
duckyard. When I went to see
who was so unhappy, I found
the broody Toostie Roll, in the background in this picture,
INSIDE the BE BEs enclosure. She had figured out
how to get in but not to get out, AND once
was not enough . . . she trapped herself several
times in an effort to BE with her younger sisters.
Sunrise, with the sun actually shining on this morning here at MuRefuge, casts a lovely glow upon the blooming 'Martha Roderick' Alumroot ((Heuchera micrantha) and all the surrounding lush green plants. Ah . . . meditating on the loveliness as I sit in stillness. "All is well."

This week on Tuesday past was a momentous occasion: the BE BEs joined their five sisters in the duckyard. This is the first picture taken of them all together beneath the just beginning to flower Buckeye Tree (Aesculus californica). "All is well."

The BE BEs quickly ensconced themselves in the "pond" which is actually a sunken antique bathtub. Overhanging the water are healthy, thriving Native Rushes (Juncas patens) which at this time of the year are beginning to flower and soon will produce seeds the ducks love to eat. "All is well."

Soon they were all foraging together as though all seven have always been a flock. "All is well."

And later on all seven ducks are pictured here near their food trays (located to the left of Coco who is on the far left) and stainless steel water bowls with nary a squabble. "All is well." Oops, Ms. Crone is missing in this picture;
perhaps BEing the most elderly of the seven, she has retired to a shady spot.

Not, here she is on the right with Coco and Ms. Blue. "All is well."

The picture below was taken with the evening sunlight illuminating the same as above 'Martha Roderick' Alumroot. "All is well."

Earlier today the flock poured through the veggie garden gate as it opened into MuRefuge's "backyard." Foraging among the Yellow eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium californicum) and beyond, all seven making joyous, happiness burbling sounds as creepy crawlies were found amidst the plants and mulch, and quickly ingested.

"All is well." May we each celebrate with a 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Tribute to Miss Louise Hallberg

"Crummy pic. of  glorious little plant grown by Louise's mother.
I have had it forever - tough as nails and covered with flowers for a long time,"
says guest author 
of this post, Kathy Spalding.
She also shares that "Louise is my hero and I miss her everyday.
She's why I continue the fight."

Louise Hallberg had a funny effect on people. "She's so sweet!" gushed all who met the tiny old dear in the sun hat and butterfly-bedecked skirt. Luring one and all to her fairytale gardens with their overstuffed beds of blossoms, Miss Hallberg skillfully guided unsuspecting humans into her pollen-laden trap. Once captured, they would do the unthinkable: Serve insects.

Miss Hallberg was the Butterfly Lady, a fragile title for this powerful naturalist. Disarming everyone with smiles and chuckles, she was constantly learning, questioning, and observing right along with her visitors. She pursued answers with tireless drive, like a Monarch devouring milkweed. Or, more aptly, a Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillar eating Aristolochia californica.

Often her vision for the gardens made one question her sanity, but she would bring her seemingly crazy plans to fruition. A weedy slope became a wildlife paradise, a sterile patch a dragonfly-laden pond, a dull path transformed by a creek. (Yeah, Miss Hallberg had a creek installed. Who DOES that?)

While concentrating her efforts on her property, Miss Hallberg's labors extended far beyond its borders. Her work expanded our knowledge of habitat fragmentation and restoration, pesticide damage, and climate change. Her continuous value as an educator is incalculable.

On January 8, 2017, Miss Hallberg celebrated her 100th birthday (record-setting rain totals befitting a weather-reporter such as herself). "Keep the gardens going," she implored the celebrants filling Graton's Community Club. It's the least we can do and doesn't even begin to repay her tremendous contributions.

Miss Hallberg has shuffled off this mortal coil, but her work continues. The gardens' visitors have spread her vision like Pipevine, popping up as a garden here, a school program there. Many think of Miss Hallberg whenever we find a caterpillar, see a quail, or write a representative. She will certainly be on everyone's mind at this year's Open Gardens Celebration on June 25.

Want your own butterfly garden? Find out what butterflies live in your locale and grow their larval host plants. Add flowering native plants. Halt pesticide use. Then hold onto your sun hat, things are gonna get wild.

On February 25, 2017, Sonoma County lost one of its treasures when Miss Louise Hallberg passed. Even though we will miss her presence here in Sonoma County, Hallberg Butterfly Gardens remains vibrantly alive.

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Day, May 1, 2017

California Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewissi)
with this morning's rising sun shining on the
fragrant white blossoms.
May 1 is known as Beltane in "the old country" "across the pond", the cross quarter day halfway between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. The Beltane festival has been celebrated for thousands of years by those connected to the natural cycles of Mother Earth. Here in this country May Day has been a traditional celebration marking the zenith of Spring with all her vibrancy. 

As children growing up in Iowa, my friends and I used to make "May Day" baskets and fill them with whatever early flowers were available. Then we would hang one on each door handle
 of neighbors, ring the doorbell and run away so the person would not know who delivered the May basket.

Since I cannot deliver in person a May Day basket to you, I will share with you pictures of flowers in bloom here at MuRefuge on this gloriously sunny morning.

Dwight's sculpture inscribed with Mu (the Japanese character
we have loosely translated to mean "everything or nothing,"
for which MuRefuge is named), is in the background with
Point Reyes Meadowfoam (Limnanthes douglasii ssp. sulphurea) in front.
May you each have a delightful Beltane and