Thank goodness that although March may blow in like a lion, we can look forward to it going out more like a lamb. This winter’s extremes aren’t a real issue for me because I always try to see the bright side of things. I find solace in the quiet and peacefulness after a storm, allowing nature’s way of making us slow down and revisit the important things in life.
Making way for change now, one of the things I most look forward to with the coming of spring is the emergence of butterflies in the garden. I like to take “hitchhiker” caterpillars ensconced on plants at the local garden store home with me, protecting them from going home with other shoppers that may deem them a nuisance. I love to feed, nurture and wait for them to transform into butterflies, releasing them into the wild.
My kids and I have raised several dozen backyard caterpillars like this in recent years. Among our favorites are swallowtails and monarchs. We fear for the decline of all butterfly populations; and Mary Ellen Noonan, environmental educator at Bucks County Conservation District, specifically addresses the population drop in monarchs on page 28. While many view milkweed as a weed it is a vital host for insects, including these majestic butterflies.
If you have been following my journey via my publisher’s letters, you may already know that gardening hasn’t been easy for me and I can use all the help I can get. In this issue our experts make it easier and more fruitful with tips and practical Food & Garden tips. Last year saw me incorporating both vermicompost and aquaponics systems into my gardening habitat. So I am particularly thrilled with Avery Mack’s article, “Food Revolution in a Tank,” on page 26.
Another healthful and doable thing to include in our day is eating probiotics, which are easy to acquire as live cultures added to kefir products and high quality yogurts (check labels). Learn more about the benefits of fermented foods in our feature, “Fresh Food Trends” on page 16. As preliminary studies presented at the 2012 Digestive Disease Week Conference, in San Diego, point out, good gut bacteria can even change the way the brain reacts to the environment. I am glad I can obtain a regular supply of water kefir courtesy of H2moj0, in New Hope, and invite you to try it yourself.
In choosing to see the beauty in everything this spring we might turn for perspective to Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, “A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” I like his way of thinking.