North York Post - - Currents -

ob­ser­vant neigh­bour­hood wan­der com­monly in­cludes a few patches of milkweed.The trans­for­ma­tion of milkweed from nox­ious weed to Eastern Canada’s most in-de­mand na­tive plant in a few short years is noth­ing short of in­spi­ra­tional.

But we still won­dered if the mon­archs would come back.

One of the big­gest driv­ers of monarch de­cline is use of the her­bi­cide glyphosate (a.k.a. Roundup) that has erad­i­cated milkweed on mil­lions of hectares of crop­land along monarch mi­gra­tion routes. Ex­treme weather is monarch en­emy num­ber two. Se­vere droughts can cause havoc, and win­ter storms can wipe out tens of mil­lions of mon­archs. So, even if we plant a ton of milkweed, mon­archs won’t be out of the woods.

This sum­mer, though, has been epic. The mi­gra­tion north­ward was strong, and our sum­mer weather was ideal from a monarch’s per­spec­tive. Renowned monarch re­searcher Chip Tay­lor at the Uni­ver­sity of Kansas has sug­gested this win­ter’s pop­u­la­tion may be the strong­est in a decade.

Al­though the fu­ture of mon­archs re­mains in peril, we should savour the won­der of these but­ter­flies and cel­e­brate the col­lec­tive im­pact that thou­sands of gar­den­ers, rangers, cit­i­zens, busi­nesses, bu­reau­crats and politi­cians can have when we dig in.

These ef­forts of­fer a glimpse of how the un­ex­pected can hap­pen. De­spite weigh­ing less than a pa­per clip, mon­archs fly 4,000 kilo­me­tres to forests they’ve never been to. De­spite decades of be­ing unloved and erad­i­cated, a plant like milkweed can be pop­u­lar­ized. De­spite be­ing on the brink of ex­tinc­tion, mon­archs can be plen­ti­ful. And de­spite our messy po­lit­i­cal land­scape, we can al­ter the land­scape of our neigh­bour­hoods, mak­ing an ef­fort to bring a bit more na­ture home to our gar­dens, yards, school­yards and parks.

So, be­fore the next po­lit­i­cal bomb­shell plunges you into de­spair, I urge you to take a deep breath. Smell the flow­ers. Re­con­nect with the won­ders of na­ture. And re­mem­ber that we can all bring hope and joy, one small step at a time.

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