Hello everybody! I am still around and kicking. But I admit it's been a long time since the release of last posting. The summer we had, and which is now winding down, has been the hottest I've ever experienced. So keeping up performance wasn't the easiest. We northerners are not really used to extreme temps. And up here in the north-east it wasn't even too dry, as we did get occasional rain showers. But enough said about it.
While tourists, and with that business, returned to the island, the world got into a bigger and bigger turmoil.
Gas prices took a lot of money out of people's pockets (mine as well), and it is only now, towards the end of driving season that prices are falling a bit every day.
We all know the reason for those crazy prices everywhere: Putin's war in Ukraine. But if I am not mistaken, it starts looking up for Ukraine. Putin's reign may even come to an end, as Russians are getting fed up with the toll the war has taken on the country.
But over here on the home turf, things took a much better direction. In June Bea got our greenhouse going with tomato and cucumber plants coming up. And meanwhile we are enjoying the sweetest ever tomatoes and flashy green huge cucumbers. Outside we got corn, peas, green beans and nice potatoes. A huge surprise was this year's harvest of dill and parsley. Everything grew to amazing size and quantity. And even though we are not gonna eat it, I must mention our pumpkin plant. Bea had started it in the greenhouse but had left the rear window partially open. Soon enough the growing pumpkin plant found out about it and stack a vine through the opening.
From there is snaked itself about some 20ft into a driveway starting 2 pumpkins along the way. The first one grew to about 20lbs while the second one has me just marveling over at least 50lbs. and a 20inch diameter. And there is still no pumpkin inside the greenhouse!
But the biggest adventure this summer, and it also was a huge learning experience, was Bea's Monarch Butterfly raising. The background for that was that we learned about Monarchs being existential threatened because of their eggs can only be laid upon milkweed. And that plant has been almost eradicated, due to its toxicity. Of course, there are other threats as well, like pollution and diseases.
We have a small spot with milkweed in the garden and so has the local Roosevelt Park. Bea's adventure started by collecting eggs from milkweed, still on the leaves when brought in. Out came tiny small caterpillars which immediately started consuming the green milkweed leaves. Naturally that made for a daily chore to pick milkweed from the garden nto feed these little rascals. They soon grew to the respectable size of 2 inch. One day they were done with eating and hung them selves from a branch or the ceiling of the enclosure, crooked themselves up into a J and then it didn't take long before they entered into a different form of a green chrysalis. While doing that, which only took 1-2 minutes they stripped off their skin, which ultimately fell to the ground.
After about 2 weeks hanging around as a chrysalis, the puppet changes color from green to dark. This is due to a butterfly taking shape inside. And one happy day, the chrysalis is opening up and out slips a ready made living butterfly, which now gets busy drying up and puffing up its beautiful wings.
Our neighbour got so excited that she took this as an opportunity to create a butterfly-party where Monarchs could be seen in form of cookies and delicious cakes.
Of course, we learned about the various stages of butterflies in school, but we never knew all the beautiful details about it. Take f.ex. the fact that the genetic make-up for a butterfly is already present in the tiny eggs Bea collected. Or the fact that the caterpillar is going to liquefy itself when entering the stage of the Chrysalis.
Watch the video!
When the first butterfly "hatched" we got so excited and even called over a neighbour to witness this wonder. And I was so nervous as a dad tripping in the parking lot!
Since we just had had visitors from Germany, my cousin Anja and her husband Rolf, we now named the first two butterflies after them. The first one was a male so one day we released "Rolf" into the blue summer sky, followed by "Anja". We hope they will find their way to Mexico for their winter stay.
Over 30 other Monarchs have followed them. An experience I will never forget.
And now we are planning our own winter stay in the south again. Due to increased gas prices (and they might rise again) we have focused on an alternative destination for this winter. All I will say at this point is that it is about 600miles less to drive (one way), it is farther south and it'll be in Texas.
Hopefully, I will be getting into a more frequent writing mood again so you will see more postings soon.