Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Aftermath

It's January 17th, my birthday on the 12th has come and gone and the cold has been gone for several days - although we're getting another minor cold front tonight and tomorrow night.  The front that is coming is supposed to get no colder than the mid to low 50's -my plants can stand that - especially if it lasts only 2 nights.

Now I have a case of the flu or something - achy all over, low fever, very tired and draggy - no sore throat or head congestion, so I'm not sure what it is, but I won't be taking any pictures of the back yard until I feel better.

I believe all my plants made it through the longest and most severe cold snap in 70 years, but that was because every night my husband and I were throwing sheets and blankets all over the most delicate plants.  Even so, there is lots of leaf drop on a few of my trees, my pea vine is partly shriveled, but already new growth is coming and new blue flowers.  My lipstick plant took the worst blow - everything withered, leaves and long red tassels - but I see buds, so I know it will come back.  I was out yesterday trimming some of the dead stuff off here and there, but conservatively, since these plants have already taken a shock and don't need anymore.

I have only seen 2 butterflies in a few days where before we had at least 30 a day flying over and around our yard.  I brought two caterpillars in during the cold days and provided them with pieces of milkweed to eat.  They have now made their chrysalli (plural???) and will come out in about a week, if all goes well.

Today - finally - my husband planted the last of the butterfly flowers and bushes we purchased at Butterfly Gardens on New Year's Eve.  I had planted 3 or 4 of them (we had a total of 10) and he did the rest today.  They look great and we will keep them watered and - of course - covered - if the temps go too low, which I dearly hope they do not.  This is NOT North Dakota after all - enough!!

Now all we need are the poor butterflies to come back.  Yesterday I saw a Monarch and a Gulf Fritillary - that was it.  I hope they didn't have a huge die-off, but I'm afraid with 2 or 3 nights in the mid 30's, they did indeed die, like the poor Monarch I found on the 2nd day of the cold blast - perfectly formed and lying dead on the ground.  He now adorns my bookcase, but I would have been much happier if he had had the butterfly life he was supposed to have....

I am watching what is happening in Haiti and praying.  My husband and I made a donation to Samaritan's Purse, which I know was one of the first to have a plane on the ground with supplies after the quake.  It's too much for my mind to grasp - the level of suffering, the pure horror - and prayer is all I can do at this point. 

Now I'm going to sip my Chamomile tea and lay back, hoping to feel better soon!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Please Pray for Wildlife in South Florida

It is going to be one of the coldest weekends on record for South Florida.  Ever.  Snow and sleet is forecast for north and central Florida.  The overnight temps here will dip to freezing or below.  While often before it gets so cold at night the sun is out warming up during the day - so at least animals and birds and critters can soak up a little warmth and get some food to fortify them through the cold it is very dreary and rainy.  It is to get no warmer that the high 40's today and it is raining as I write.  There will be no chance for creatures to warm up during the day to face the onslaught of Big Cold tonight.

My butterfly flowers and plants - my backyard is full of them - are in danger, too.  I hope it stops raining later so that I can throw sheets and blankets over as much of the plants as I can.  I don't think it would work very well if they are soaking wet.

This is today's satellite photo as of this morning.

 See that sharp line?  Above that is freezing cold - you could cut yourself on that line it is so severe.  There is no uncertain, hazy look to those clouds.

Now for the radar this morning:

Aha!  See the pink at the top of the green blob?  That is mixed precipitation - sleet, freezing rain.  There is a small blue line above the pink one - that is snow on the Florida/Georgia border.  All of that fine mess is headed south toward my poor, already-been-cold-several-nights butterfly garden......

Friday, January 8, 2010


Well, I've survived my first week back at work, after 2 solid, wonderful weeks off that went WAY too fast.  I tried to consciously hold onto each day, but they slipped away anyway - darn time. 

In other news, it has been record cold here in South Florida.  It has been in the low 40's and mid to high 30's for way too many nights now.  My butterfly garden in the back yard looks ok, but as the weeks go by, I'll probably see some leaf drop, although they appear to have survived so far.  In the morning, when the sun first comes up, there are bees that sluggishly fly to the flowers - they seem to be a bit befuddled.  I have a hummingbird feeder and, although I've seen a hummingbird on occasion in my Cape Honeysuckle, never have I seen one at the feeder.  What the feeder collects is bees.  When I take it down to refill it, there are usually several bees trying to suck the last drops of sugar water from the little holes where hummingbird beaks are supposed to fit.  Poor babies - in this cold, I don't begrudge any creature anything.  I've been making sure there is seed out there every day and that the feeders are filled.  I just have fantasies of making it warm for them, too.  Fantasies like a heated roof on my house, so all the birds and critters could just stand on the roof and at least have warm feet and legs.  Or a heated backyard somehow - enough heaters and heat lamps to make it much warmer for whoever chooses to spend the night in my yard.  Unfortunately, I looked up heat lamps and they are WAY too expensive for little old me.  So I have to just put out extra food and hope for the best.  I'm worried about the parrots down here.  We have several species, all escapes from homes over the last 60 years or more.  The Monk Parakeeet lives in a birdie "condo" - literally, a huge stick nest with several rooms in it that many birds live in - so they can survive even in Chicago and New York - they have been reported up there.  The rest of the parrots are Macaws, Nanday Conures - whatever parrots breeds you can imagine that people keep as pets.  The only species I haven't seen much of, if ever, is Cockatoos.  I even saw a Lorikeet once in a parking lot tree.  These are the birds that don't have defenses against the cold and the ones I wish I had a barn for or a heated back yard.  As I enjoy the brisk temperatures myself - I love the cold - I worry about my beautiful plants and the birds and butterflies. 

I did find a perfectly formed Monarch butterfly in the grass in my back yard yesterday.  It had evidently gotten too cold for him/her.  I brought him inside and put him on my bookcase, since he is perfect and beautiful - just dead.  Then I got the idea of looking for caterpillars on the host plants.  I found only 2 Monarch caterpillars who wouldn't move.  I brought them in with some of their host plant and they are residing in a net butterfly "cage" in my computer room.  Once they warmed up, they revived. 

Saturday here is supposed to get no warmer than the low 50's even in the middle of the day.  AND it's supposed to be overcast and rainy.  Then, after dark the lows are to be in the low to mid 30's again.  Sigh. 

On New Year's Eve  my husband and I went to Butterfly Garden in Coconut Creek - it was beautiful, as always.  This was my Christmas present - and, in addition to the visit, I could purchase some more plants for our garden.  I bought 10 plants - yes, 10, that have been residing on my back porch, watered each day and covered with blankets at night.  The first available day to plant them, when the temperature will be livable, will be on this upcoming Tuesday.  It should stay warm enough for at least 4 days after that, so I'll plant them at that time. 

So - at the risk of being redundant, since everyone else is saying the same thing - uh......what was that about Global Warming???