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A stand of Milkweed plants grows alongside a road close to my home. It’s only about 20 feet by 10 feet, but this island of Milkweed must look like an oasis to a female Monarch butterfly gliding above as she searches for a place to lay her eggs. These beautiful butterflies will only lay their eggs on Milkweed, the sole source of food for Monarch caterpillars. Milkweed plants are much less abundant nowadays, which is one of the reasons the amazing annual migration of the Monarchs from Mexico to the Eastern US is now endangered.
Recently I was approaching the island of Milkweed as I was driving home when up ahead I saw a mowing truck. With its mechanical arm outstretched, it was cutting the roadside vegetation and closing in on the Milkweed. My heart sank. This was not only a critical habitat but a sacred location to my 9-year-old son who I call the Butterfly Whisperer. My son is on a mission to help save the Monarchs and this milkweed is at the center of his efforts. He collects caterpillars and eggs off these plants and takes them home to raise in his bedroom safe from predators. He also collects this milkweed to feed his caterpillars. We have never seen a mower here before, but there it was like a hungry monster with ferocious teeth and I had little time to think.
I drove over and pulled up alongside the mower saying to myself, “I don’t know who’s driving this thing but he is going to think I am nuts when I ask him to stop.” The mower was very loud but, fortunately, the driver saw my car approaching and turned his mechanical monster off as he could see I was stopping alongside. I saw a young man was at the controls as I began with, “you are probably going to think I’m crazy but you’re about to cut down some very important plants.” I thought he would likely not care about the little insects or that he would tell me he was just following orders.
I have sometimes wondered if I would throw myself in front of a logging truck if I lived near the giant sequoia trees. Well, would I do it now? Would I throw myself between the mower and the Milkweed? How far would I go? Fortunately, the young man told me that he had cut enough for what he needed to do and he could stop where he was. I felt relief wash over me as I smiled and thanked him. It also gave me added strength to continue my environmental education work, which can sometimes be a frustrating effort. Certainly not everyone will listen or try to do their part, but maybe enough people will. Long live the Monarchs!
“The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” ~ Steve Jobs
When I saw the plaque pictured here in a catalogue recently, I knew I had to have it. This quote by Steve Jobs spoke to me. As I stepped back to decide if I had chosen the right spot to hang my new plaque, I felt inspired to share with you what this quote means to me.
Each and every one of us can have a positive impact on the environment and other people’s lives, but not everyone realizes this. People who think they can make a big difference in the world are often seen as crazy, but if we all acted with the thought that we can change the world, now that would make a world of difference. Think It’s a Wonderful Life and Schindler’s List. One story real and the other not, but both send the message that your choices CAN profoundly affect others.
When it comes to environmental protection, I wish everyone realized that they can have a big impact by considering the environment as they go through their day. It does make a positive impact when you choose not to idle your car, run the dishwasher only when its full, avoid disposable products, hold onto that empty bottle until you find a recycling bin.
Fixing a faucet with a slow leak matters. According to the USGS, a faucet dripping just 10 drips a minute, wastes almost 350 gallons of water a year. Did you know that if every American replaced just one light bulb with an Energy Star certified bulb, we would prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars?
You may or may not be crazy, but you can certainly change the world.