What does it take to be human?

Imagination. That's what it takes. 

Like no other creature, humans can imagine things that don't exist yet and bring them into being. 

And where does our imagination come from? Nothing helps the imagination of children so much as growing up in nature.  Maybe it is not a forest, but only a vacant lot or abandoned field. Without the stimulation we get from nature, we could not be the humans we are. 

Think of a humming bird or butterfly. What a stimulation they are! How can anything fly like humming bird or a butterfly? How can anything be as be as beautiful?

My favorite, the Monarch butterfly, makes many contributions to our ecological stability, especilly to providing those wondrous experiences to children that help make us human. One of the most amazing things about Monarchs is that they migrate annually hundreds or even thousands of miles to winter in a small area in Michoacán, Mexico, a few hours northwest of Mexico City.    During these times, trees are covered with orange and black beauty. 

As Lincoln Brower and Homero Aridjisin write in the NYT, the wintering of the Monarch in fact may be near the end.  The aggregate area covered by the Monarch colonies has dwindled from an average of 22 acres between 1994 and 2003, to just 12 acres between 2003 and 2012. This year’s area hit a record low of 2.9 acres. The cause?  Illegal logging, which in turn is caused by poverty. 

It brings tears to my eyes to remember my boyhood summers chasing orange bits flitting though the air.  And it hurts to know that my granddaughter Natalie and grandson Thomas may have few -- if any -- chances to ever see a Monarch again. 

How do you feel about Monarchs?  About humming birds?  About all the wonders of nature?  Send me some words of help and encouragement!


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