Turkey Tracks: Pea Soup Fog

Turkey Tracks:  June 30, 2013

Pea Soup Fog

Pea soup fog in Maine is so thick you can’t see into it or beyond it–give or take the space just around you.

I’ve been on a mission for a while to capture the sense of that enveloping white mist with my camera.

I took this picture on Friday.  The fog had moved way inland.  It surrounded my car, limiting visibility to about 30 feet.


The camera actually captured more clarity than there actually was on the road.  And, makes the tree in the mist seem further away.  Interesting.

Pea  Soup Fog, June 2013

I love it when I’m on Route One in the summer, and the fog bank that can sit over the water for days starts to come onto land.  It sends out long tendrils of white at road level–almost as if the fog is trying to grab hold of road, rock, trees, meadows and pull itself ashore.

If you are on a boat on the water, suddenly you find yourself sitting in a white cocoon.  Only the boat and the water are both moving…

Mercy!  Everyone starts listening for other boats’ warning bells, the clanging of buoys, and any other hint of where one might be and what is near one…



Turkey Tracks: Counting Joys

Turkey Tracks:  June 30, 2013

Counting Joys

I am counting joys today.

Sunshine, after days of rain.

The new Corian kitchen counters are in.

And aren’t they beautiful?  I have snagged my sweaters on the shredding formica for the very last time.

The whole kitchen seems brighter and lighter…  The color is beautiful with the oak floors and white cabinets…

Kitchen counters, June 2013Kitchen Counters 2, June 2013

Many, many thanks to Lynn Gushee of Dream Kitchens in Rockland.  She’s amazing and is also helping me with some other details in the kitchen that needed tackling.

The leaky 70-gallon water tank is gone.  Mark and Cappy of Mark’s Appliance said they had never seen the inside of a water tank so corroded.  Friend Meg Barclay, an architect, tells me that was probably due to the acidity of our water from local granite.

We did more than replace the tank–we replaced the whole heating system, which was old and getting cranky.  The old boiler sat on the floor and was about 2 feet by 5 feet.  It took up the whole utility room and put out a constant wall of heat–so that in the humid summer, everything in the utility room was covered with a layer of running, condensing water.

Here’s the new boiler and the new water tank “helper.”  This system is more efficient and will use less propane (my house is heated by water, which I love).  The new helper has a lifetime warranty.

Yes, the new boiler is that little white box on the wall.


A new dog fence has been installed.  Penny is delirious and so am I.  She will not be patrolling the street below and nipping at feet peddling bicycles.  Thanks to Sarah Rheault and the folks from Invisible Fence.

The moss has been cleaned off the roof.   Thanks Horch Roofing.

The garage stairs, open to a bad fall from either the stairs or the floor of the attic, has been walled in.  Thanks to Ronald VanHeeswijk.  Neither I nor the grandchildren will fall off that death trap onto the concrete floor below.  Best of all, they can make the attic of the garage their own space this summer.

The back deck privacy wall has been painted and shored up for another year.  It’s pretty much rotten, and I will replace it next year.  Thanks to Margaret Rauenhorst, Ronald VanHeeswijk, and John Marr.

All the leaky faucets have been fixed, thanks to plumbers Wes Avery and Ben Varner.

Mulch and weeding and all the spring tasks have been accomplished, thanks to David Hannan.

Hope’s Edge, our CSA, has started, thanks to Tom Griffin and crew.

The strawberries are ripe in the garden.  The garlic scapes are ready to be cut.  The peas are coming in.  The cold frame is full of lettuce.  And, it’s summer in Maine!


Turkey Tracks: Refreshing Water!

Turkey Tracks:  June 30, 2013

Refreshing Water!

I follow Bonnie Hunter’s blog.  She’s an amazing quilter who specializes in scrappy quilts with an eye toward using up your quilting stash, finding cotton materials to reuse–as in cutting up cotton shirts–and using vintage sewing machines.  Periodically she holds “Quilt Cam” where she mounts a camera in her basement sewing room and as she sews, shows viewers what she is doing, and chats with them online.  She is sharing her own sewing time and urging those of us who can to join her in a sewing session.  When I can’t make a current Quilt Cam with her, I always replay her archived sessions and sew along in that way.

On a recent Quilt Cam, a friend of hers had just visited and made “the most refreshing water.”  Bonnie lives in North Carolina when she isn’t traveling and teaching, so it gets HOT and one gets THIRSTY.

The water is simple and absolutely delicious.  Take a gallon jar, slice a lime really thin, slice a cucumber really thin, throw in a handful of mint (especially if you have it in your yard as I do), fill the jar with water, and refrigerate it overnight.


This picture isn’t great, but you can see what mine looked like before I drank half of it.


Refreshing water

You can keep adding water until the lovely light taste is gone.  Then start over.

Cucumber juice is supposed to be really healthy.  But I don’t see why one couldn’t try other citrus and herb mixtures.  Orange with what?  Thyme?  Basil?  Rosemary?  Lemon with…   Grapefruit with…

Thank you Bonnie and Bonnie’s friend!

Turkey Tracks: She’s Back: Two New Nests

Turkey Tracks:  June 27, 2013

She’s Back


Two new nests have appeared on the far right side of the porch.

She’s sitting on the furthest away one.

She’s a ROBIN!

Phoebe has been singing his heart out for days now, and last night I noticed that the pair is settling back into the nest over the kitchen door.

So, another nesting is starting…

Summer is such fun…


Interesting Information: Is Popcorn Giving You Heart Disease?

Interesting Information:  June 27, 2013

Is Popcorn Giving You Heart Disease?

I love popcorn!!

But I gave away my microwave and quit using microwave popcorn years ago.

(Giving away the microwave is a whole other conversation we could have.  But note that I do not miss the microwave.)

At first, it seemed so easy to pop popcorn in the microwave.

But, then I read that like teflon, microwave popcorn contains a very dangerous chemical–one that is being connected now to heart disease.

I bought an air popper, which pops in no time.  I add some sea salt and LOTS AND LOTS of healthy, gorgeous butter.  It’s so much better than the microwave stuff, and the air popper is just about as fast.  Plus, air poppers are under $30.

Here’s the web site for the whole story:

Is popcorn giving you heart disease? | Fox News.

Turkey Tracks: A Lovely Literary Evening

Turkey Tracks:  June 23, 2013

A Lovely Literary Evening

Last Thursday, Sister-in-Law Maryanan Enright drive up from Boston to join me for a literary evening in Maine.

The Community School fundraiser was hosted by the CellarDoor Winery in Lincolnville, and the delicious food was prepared by Megunticook Market.  Richard Russo put together a panel of writers to entertain–himself, Monica Wood, and Bill Roorbach.  All three are recipients of recent literary awards, and all three live and work in Maine.  And all three have published recent memoirs, so the discussion revolved around the line between fact and fiction and the role of memory in our lives.

Russo you might know from the novel EMPIRE FALLS, which was made into a movie.  Russo had an enduring friendship with Paul Newman, as Newman starred in many of the movies made from Russo’s books.  Monica Wood is sublime.  I most recently read (again) her EARNIE’S ARK.  Bill Roorbach is new to me, but he has the most delightful sense of wry humor, and I bought his latest, which has won literary prizes.  Maryann went home with Wood’s recent memoir, WHEN WE WERE THE KENNEDY’S and EARNIE’S ARK.  We have promised to switch the books all around later in the summer.  I’m currently reading Russo’s THAT OLD CAPE MAGIC and will start Roorbach’s latest novel soon–LIFE AMONG GIANTS.

Here’s Maryann at the Cellar Door Winery’s front walk:

Maryann, Cellar door, June 2013

That stand of poppies is emblematic of how beautiful they have been this year in Maine.  Some people have scads of them around their houses–all nodding in orange splendor:

Cellar Door, poppies

Here’s the back view from the main building.  You can see a vineyard in the distance.  Maryann really wanted to go sit in those chairs:

Cellar Door Winery back view

We are at the solstice summer hump–so now the days will begin to shorten once more.  But for now, the evenings are long and lovely, and the chickens don’t go to roost until after 8 p.m. most nights.

The mother bird has rebuilt five of the front porch nests.  Two are pretty developed.  I still can’t see exactly what she is, and she does not seem to be actively sitting on a nest.  I’m suspecting a Robin mother…

The mystery continues…

Interesting Information: A Really Nasty History: Cell Phone Safety

Interesting Information:  June 23, 2013


A Really Nasty History:  Cell Phone Safety


I love having a cell phone–though I don’t use it as much as others I know.  Having it makes me feel safe in lots of ways–especially when I go into the woods alone.  I have an android that I inherited from John, and it does pretty much everything the ipad I also inherited from John can do.

Like many of you, I have considered getting rid of my land line and going totally with the cell.

Like many of you maybe, I listened to a Diane Riem program that pretty much said that we would all eventually get rid of the clunky land-line infrastructure, which industry and taxpayers helped to build.

BUT, BUT, cell phone safety is an issue I’ve followed for some years now–since Devra Davis, a premier scientist, raised cell phone safety in THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE WAR ON CANCER, which I’ve written about elsewhere on this blog.  Davis has since gone on to write a book about this issue as I recall.  I think I was too depressed about the whole issue to read it.  And needless to say, the issue of cell phone safety did not even come up on the Diane Riem program.  Or the fact that in France, there are billboards urging parents NOT to let children use cell phones as the effect is much greater on their still-immature sculls.

Would it surprise you to know that the FDA EXEMPTED cell phones from pre-market testing before allowing them to be sold?

Would it surprise you to know that subsequent extensive testing has shown that cell phones do cause brain tumors?  Or that industry, in league with the FDA, has sought to hide this nasty truth.  Or that Tom Wheeler, the presumptive candidate to head the FCC, was one of the people who tried to hide the truth about cell phones.

A friend from our own Citizens for a Green Camden forwarded this email along.  It details the very nasty history of cell phone studies, the government’s role in ignoring what science is telling us, and Tom Wheeler’s role in it all.

Ed Friedman is a leader of those who are spearheading the Maine citizen fight against mandatory Smart Meters–which is yet another huge technological problem that is being foisted on an unsuspecting citizenry.  Smart Meters are collecting data which should be private, and there is a lot of evidence that they are not safe.

Here is the nasty history, and I hope you take the time to read it–and to keep in mind that this particular history is matched by others written by Devra Davis.  There were studies done in…Sweden I think…showing the same, dangerous results.  Those studies were hidden for many years.


* * *


—– Forwarded Message —–
From: Ed Friedman <edfomb@comcast.net>
To: Ed Friedman <edfomb@comcast.net>
Sent: Saturday, June 22, 2013 8:49 AM
Subject: EMFs Are Safe?



Our Governments Say EMFs Are Safe – Should We Believe Them?

Posted by Lloyd on June 11, 2013

I’m no conspiracy theorist.

But if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that EMF exposures are highly detrimental to human health.

I can say this with absolute certainty.

My body taught me this.

It was from this standpoint of absolute certainty that I started looking at the research.

And from the research I stumbled on the controversy.

Because when there’s so much at stake (money & peoples lives) there is inevitably some controversy.

The biggest controversy surrounding this whole issue is the way the proof that cell phone radiation is harmful uncovered by the Telecoms industry’s own expert, Dr George Carlo, was swept under the carpet.

This was all more than 10 years ago. Ancient history you might say.

Fast forward to 2013: President Obama, nominates Tom Wheeler as the head of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). Interesting tidbit, Tom Wheeler was the guy who hired Dr. Carlo in 1993 to research the effects of cell phone radiation and then promptly discredited Dr. Carlo in 1999 when he didn’t like the result of that research.

Does all this sound like some sort of conspiracy?

Here is the full story sent to me by, Jenna, one of my readers – many thanks to Jenna for this excellent piece.

Read the story and then make your own mind up.

(To get your voice heard on the current FCC review click here.)

On January 21, 1993, David Reynard told CNN talk show host Larry King why he was suing the wireless industry.  Reynard was alleging that the fatal brain tumor suffered by his late-wife Susan had been caused by her cell phone.  The deceased woman’s doctor, who was also a guest on the show, had brought an x-ray of the tumor.  In a demonstration that would send a shockwave around the world, the doctor held is former patient’s cell phone next to her x-ray.  The location of the tumor corresponded exactly with the location of the cell phone’s antenna.

Nine years earlier, in 1984, the FDA had exempted cell phones from premarket testing before allowing them to be marketed to the public. Few people who bought the phones knew they emitted microwave radiation. And almost no one knew about a study published in 1975 by a Stanford University biophysicist/ neuroscientist named Allan Frey. The results of Dr. Frey’s research had shown that microwaves “with certain modulations” could cause leakage in the blood-brain barrier, with possibly lethal consequences.

Fifteen years later in 1998, research headed by another American scientist, George Carlo, would confirm Dr. Frey’s finding.  Dr. Carlo had been given $25 million dollars in 1993 by the Wireless Trade Association (CTIA) – three months after the “damaging” Larry King Live interview – to oversee research intended to reassure panicked cell phone users.

In his book published in 2001, Cell Phones: Invisible Hazard in a Wireless Age, Dr. Carlo tells the inside story of what happened when the results of this research were not reassuring.

The following pages summarize the events in Dr. Carlo’s book.

Government / Wireless Industry in the United States

1984 – 2013

In 2007, a down-to-earth, articulate senator from Illinois gave hope to millions of Americans with his heartfelt speeches about “lobbyists” and “special interests”— and how they had “turned our government into a game only they could afford to play.”
In announcing his campaign for the 2008 presidential election, the senator promised if elected “to close the revolving door that brings major industry players into positions in government that regulate those industries.” [italics added]

Despite evidence that the direct exposure to low-level microwave radiation might not be safe, the FDA exempted cell phones from premarket testing in 1984, allowing them to be released to the public without any FDA oversight.

Same Year

Ironically, that same year, the U.S. Air Force completed a 2-year study on the long-term effects of low-level, pulsed microwave radiation (or Wi-Fi).  The results of the study, published in 1992, would reveal that long-term exposure to the 2.4GHz radiation (the same frequency used by cell phones) resulted in a 260% increase in primary tumors and a 100% increase in metastatic tumors.

Jan 21, 1993

It wasn’t until nine years later, however – when David Reynard appeared on the Larry King Live show with his late-wife’s doctor – that the general public would learn about the potential danger they could be exposing themselves to, simply by putting their cell phone next to their head.

Following Days

To keep the public buying and the regulators at bay, Tom Wheeler – president and chief lobbyist for the wireless industry’s powerful trade association CTIA – made an offer to the FDA.  The industry would agree to fund and conduct a large, postmarket study on the safety of cell phones, if the FDA would agree not to regulate cell phones until this research was complete.

Not having done its job back in 1984 before allowing cell phones to be marketed, the FDA potentially had as big a problem as the industry.

Putting its own self interest before that of the public, the FDA accepted Wheeler’s offer.

Jan 28, 1993

On June 28, 1993 – exactly one week after the Larry King Live show, Wheeler held a press conference to announce that the wireless industry would sponsor a large research program to investigate the safety of cell phones.

April, 1993

Three months later, Wheeler hired an epidemiologist and public health scientist named George Carlo to head the industry’s $25 million dollar research program intended to reassure the public that cell phones are safe.

Spring–Fall, 1993

Carlo hired close to 200 leading scientists from around the world to perform the research that he would oversee.  In addition, he created a peer-review board chaired by Harvard University School of Public Health’s well-respected Dr. John Graham.


A conflict between Carlo and Wheeler developed when the scientist insisted on developing the “exposure tools” he felt were necessary to ensure the accuracy of the research results.  Wheeler – who had made it clear that the purpose of the research was to reassure the public – would grow increasingly uneasy with Carlo.


In 1995, Carlo discovered that his projected costs for the year were more than $6 million dollars over what the industry said was available.  Eventually Carlo would learn that the $6+ million dollars had been spent on public relations by Wheeler.


By 1996, Carlo’s research program was running a deficit.  The financial crisis triggered a dispute between Carlo and Wheeler that became known throughout the industry, government, and among trade press journalists.

Also in 1996

That same year, the FCC began auctioning off radiofrequency bands in the microwave portion of the RF spectrum. The FCC agreed to finance a major part of the costs in exchange for a portion of the revenues from cell phones – and later Wi-Fi, which in 2000, would begin to be rolled-out on a massive scale.
This extremely profitable arrangement, which cost the government nothing, secured the infrastructure for wireless technology, rather than fiber optic – which is almost 900,000X faster than wireless and has no health risks.


With the aid of their attorneys, Carlo and Wheeler were able to work out a compromise in 1997.  Although the scope of the research as originally planned would be drastically curtailed, the compromise allowed some vital research to go forward.

Dec 21, 1998

On December 21, 1998, Carlo had his first alarming finding:  2.4GHz microwave radiation (used with cell phones, Wi-Fi, and other devices) appeared to cause micronuclei in human blood samples.

This was particularly alarming in view of the strong correlation between micronuclei and cancer. After the Chernobyl accident in 1986, the presence of micronuclei in the blood was used to identify children at high risk for developing cancer.

Following days

Not long after the startling results came in, Dr. Carlo’s house burned down.  The authorities concluded that it was arson, but were never able to solve who did it.

Jan 1999

The following month, the micronuclei results were reproduced, providing conclusive evidence that radiation from a cell phone’s antenna causes cancer. The results also explained the studies in the scientific literature reporting leakage in the blood-brain barrier, discovered in 1975 by Dr. Allan Frey.

Febr 1999

At the February 9, 1999, wireless trade show, Carlo reported his findings, and urged the industry to take appropriate steps to protect the public.  Although a voice vote was taken pledging to do the right thing, the vote was never recorded.

Oct 1999

When it became apparent that neither the industry, nor the FDA, had any intention of informing the public about the research findings, Carlo agreed to be interviewed.  A journalist from the Boston Globe later reported:

Almost nobody expected George Carlo, of all people, to warn consumers about the possible dangers of cell phones.  Back in 1993, Carlo was dubbed “industry boy” by consumer advocates … But now that the project is winding down and its final report is due later this year, Carlo has created a stir by saying that consumers should take some precautions when using cellular phones, even while scientists at the US Food and Drug Administration and elsewhere say that cell phones do not pose any danger to users. [italics added]

Febr 2000

In February 2000, Carlo gave his final report to the industry; and in the summer of 2000, he published the results of this research in the peer-reviewed, online journal, Medscape.

Oct 2000

In late October, Carlo shared the results of his research with the American public on national TV.  He also informed viewers that, if they used a cell phone, they were twice as likely to suffer from brain cancer and rare tumors as non-users.

Wheeler, who was given an opportunity to express his view, told 20/20:

Our industry has gone out and aggressively asked the question, ‘Can we find a problem?’  And the answer that has come back is that there is nothing that has come up in the research that suggests that there is a linkage between the use of a wireless phone and health effects.

Following weeks

The industry’s response to what it viewed as “Carlo’s betrayal” was to try to discredit the scientist – no small task, given that the actual research had been conducted by close to 200 leading scientists from around the world, and peer-reviewed by a board that was chaired by Harvard University’s Dr. John Graham.

Two things the industry still had in its favor, however, were (1) the support of the US federal government, and (2) a lot of money.


Despite accusations that the health effects of cellular phone radiation were being withheld from consumers by the wireless industry and the US government, the FDA proposed a collaborative project with the wireless industry to investigate the issue of whether cell phones presented a danger to the public.

The “Cooperative Research and Development Agreement” (or CRADA agreement) that was subsequently signed had been rejected by the FDA back in 1993 as a “conflict of interest.”

Summer 2001

During the summer of 2001, the Larry King Live show once again opened with a guest who was suing the wireless industry.  This time it was a Baltimore physician who had developed a brain tumor near where he’d always held his cell phone … and this time, the wireless industry was prepared.

After the responses of the defendants (Motorola and Verizon) were read,  two scientists, both of whom – apparently unknown to the show’s producers  – had previously worked for the industry,  gave their input.  And finally, the director of the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Heath gave his.  Everyone was in agreement that “low-power radio signals” from wireless phones posed no known health risks.  As evidence, they cited the conclusions of the FDA and “other authoritative bodies around the world.”

Fall 2001

Also in 2001, Dr. Carlo published his book, Cell Phones:  Invisible Hazards in the Wireless Age.  The book provides an insider’s account of the events that took place during the six years Carlo was Chief Scientist for the wireless industry.  It also summarizes Carlo’s findings about genetic damage and cancer.


May 1, 2013

On May 13, 2013, President Barack Obama – apparently having forgotten about his 2008 presidential campaign promise “to close the revolving door that brings major industry players into positions in government that regulate those industries” – nominated Tom Wheeler to head the FCC.

This is the same man who, in 1993, hired Dr. Carlo to conduct research to investigate the safety of cell phones— and then, in 1999, lied to the American people about the results of Dr. Carlo’s research.

Cell Phones: Invisible Hazards in a Wireless Age (Avalon, 2001) This book is available on Amazon.com.

News release by 20/20 on Carlo interview:  http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/newsletter/2000/july/articles.php?id=1

Presentations by (and interviews of) Dr. Carlo available on the Internet

Westminster Presentation 2007 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bhn9iKiwr08

Effect of Wireless Radiation at cellular level  – http://archive.org/details/safewireless.orgDangersofthewirelesscellphone_wi-fiandemfage

George Carlo on Wi-Fi in Schools – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgLO9yR1JlQ

EMF Cell Phone Dangers Interview – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9FHPi7DcyY

Talk Quickly: Your Health is on the Line – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6D9lsoSX5zg

Make EMF Protection a Priority

EMFs are dangerous. Fact.

You need to protect yourself. Don’t delay. Use the information on this site to get effective EMF protection.


Posted by Paul Doyon at Tuesday, June 11, 2013

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Turkey Tracks: First Strawberries

Turkey Tracks:  June 23, 2013

First Strawberries

Well, they’re the second picking actually.

Sister-in-law Maryann Enright got the first bowl as I assured her I would be picking more later in the afternoon as they ripened in the sun and that she MUST eat some before she had to leave for her drive back to Boston.

Strawberries, June 2013

This strawberry is “Sparkle,” and it is known for its delicious taste.  It does not always keep its rich color if you freeze berries–and I do–but it always keeps its delicious taste.  These are as sweet, sweet as can be–though they are a bit larger than normal.  That would be an effect of all the rain I suspect.



And no comparison to those sour store-bought babes.

Turkey Tracks: Morning in the Yard

Turkey Tracks:  June 16, 2013

Morning in the Yard

I spent the morning and part of the early afternoon, truth to tell, in the yard.

I climbed on a ladder 14 times to clear out the rejected bird nest sites I wrote about yesterday.  I could only get at one nest site at a time.  Then I had to get the blower and blow off all the debris, which was considerable.  And that led to blowing off the back deck too.  So, back to watering the front plant containers, and that led to getting out the clorox to get the green slime off the white posts, and that could have led to doing the whole of the porch, but I decided to put that off for another day.

Here’s the most well-formed nest of the lot:

Bird Nest, June 2013

It was beautiful.  I am always in awe that a bird can build such an intricate object.  Such patience.  Such work.

I suspect the porch wasn’t as dry as Mama Bird might have wanted.  It had to be as dry as a tree branch and leaves for a roof though.  But, who knows.

We have rain coming in, so I decided to cut some of the lilacs, iris, and peonies.  The rain will just shatter them.  So, here’s the first yard bouquet of the summer:

First Flowers, June 2013

The whole upstairs smells of sweet lilac now.  It’s really quite heady.

I stopped to take a picture of the window over the kitchen sink as it has caught my fancy.  Maryann brought me the fern for my birthday, and I found this pretty pot for it.  It’s so lacy and graceful, isn’t it?  Friend Cassie Snyder gave me the little glass vase.  I keep it filled with small things that delight my spirit–winter, spring, summer, and fall.  The rock is part of the old Bryan mill near Reynolds, Georgia, which predates my mother.  It’s a treasure I’ve kept with me for more than thirty years now.  My uncle Buddy gave it to me one day long, long ago.

Kitchen Window, June 2013

I hope you all had as nice a Sunday as I did.

Books: Barbara Kingsolver’s FLIGHT BEHAVIOR

Books:  June 16, 2013

Barbara Kingsolver’s FLIGHT BEHAVIOR

For a while I could not decide if I liked this new Kingsolver novel or not.


Kingsolver's Flight Behavior

Then whammo!   All the threads come together in ways that made me walk away with renewed respect for this author who is writing at the top of her game about a subject for which she cares passionately.

I care passionately about his subject, too, and I was afraid early on that Kingsolver was being too didactic, too pat–in ways that would turn off too many readers who really need to understand the basic science of how wrong things have gotten on this planet.

Kingsolver locates her main character in a small southern town where inhabitants just try to get on with living, just try to keep earning money, just try to face and survive really difficult economic issues.  Dellarobia is a high school graduate who had wanted to go on to college; who got pregnant; who married the earnest, sweet father; who struggles daily not only to try to keep her life together, but to find the meaning of it.  She’s at a point where she is going to cut and run when she goes up on the mountain behind her home and sees millions of monarchs who have unaccountably come to winter in southern mountains instead of in Mexico where they have wintered for thousands of years.  There are so many that the sides of the valley seem to be on fire.

The “why” of the monarch move forms the backbone of the book, but Kingsolver never for one  moment forgets to flesh out her characters and show them to be the complicated, struggling beings that they are.  The “flight behavior” is about far more than the monarchs’ flight patterns.

There are no comic book good guys and bad guys in this novel.  There are people who grow and change and acquire new understanding of the world and of each other.  These are, for the most part, people you would want to be among if trouble comes.  And, Kingsolver makes more than clear, trouble has come.  Yet, she leaves us with hope that things can be different, that we can make changes in our lives that will work better for each of us and for all of us.

Monarchs are very present in Maine in the summer.  They arrive, lay eggs on milkweed plants, which we have in abundance, and, I think, die.  Their babies hatch into gorgeously outrageous caterpillars, which eat milkweed, form a chrysalis, and turn into the monarchs which are the generation that make the long flight to Mexico.  (I think I have that right.)

Last summer, young neighbor Margaret Richmond of Golden Brook farm had a pail with about 10 or 12 monarch caterpillars which she offered to share.

Margaret with monarch caterpillars

We declined as the grandchildren were leaving for home shortly.  But Margaret put the caterpillars on milkweed and watched them until they became butterflies.

Here’s a caterpillar in my hand:

Monarch caterpiller, Aug. 2012

We came home and Kels found a chrysalis in our yard and, the next morning, watched it hatch into a butterfly.