Category Archives: Cerro Pelon

Celebrating Day of the Dead

Inspired by my friend Nina’s beautiful altar that she and her family and friends create every year for the feast of St. Joseph, for the past seven years or so we have been celebrating Día de Muertos with an ofrenda that we set up on our front porch. Placing the ofrenda on the porch over Halloween makes for a wonderful hybrid bridge between American Halloween and the Mexican tradition of honoring the souls of lost loved ones. On Halloween night our porch has become a gathering place where we so very much look forward to seeing our neighborhood friends each year.

Cemetery Macheros, Mexico

The Mexican festivities of Día de Muertos typically begins the night of October 31st, with families sitting vigil at grave sites. Mexican tradition holds that on November 1st and 2nd, the dead awaken to reconnect and celebrate with their living family and friends; on the 1st to honor the souls of children and on the 2nd, to honor adults. The ofrenda, or “offering to the dead,” is a sacred Mexican tradition where those who have passed away are honored by the living.

In late October millions of Monarchs begin to arrive to the magnificent oyamel fir and pine tree forests of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, located in the heart of Mexico in the eastern regions of Michoacán and western edge of Estado de México. Their return coincides with the annual celebration of Día de Muertos. In Mexican folklore, butterflies represent the souls of departed loved ones, returning to Earth to be remembered by their ancestors. An even older tradition connects the Monarchs with the corn harvest, as their return signified that the corn was ripe. In the language of the native Purpécha Indians, the name for the Monarch is “harvester.”

Oyamel fir tree (Abies religiosa) with Monarchs Cerro Pelon, Mexico

The Day of the Dead finds its roots in the native people of central and southern Mexico. The Aztecs recognized many gods, including a goddess of death and the underworld named Mictecacihuatl.

Mictecacihuatl was linked to both death and resurrection. According to one myth, Mictecacihuatl and her husband collected bones so that they might be returned to the land of the living and restored by the gods. Just as did the ancient Egyptians, the Aztecs appeased the underworld gods by burying their dead with food and precious objects.

Día de Muertos is a celebration blending both indigenous people’s cultural beliefs and observances held by Spanish Catholics. The conquerors found it difficult to convince native peoples to give up their rituals honoring the goddess of death Mictecihuatl. The compromise was to move these indigenous festivities from late July to early November to correspond with the three-day Christian observance of All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

This year I have been thinking about Camille Saint-Saëns’s Danse macabre, Op. 40, which is based on the French legend that Death packs a fiddle and comes to play at midnight on Halloween, causing the skeletons in the cemetery to crawl out of the ground for their annual graveyard dance party.

Saint-Saëns’s Danse macabre comes from an even older concept, the medieval allegory of the all conquering and equalizing power of death, which was expressed in poetry, music, the visual arts, and drama in Western Europe in the late Middle Ages.

Marigolds (Tagetes tenuifolia) and Painted Lady butterfly

PLEASE JOIN ME FOR A SPECIAL LIVE SCREENING OF BEAUTY ON THE WING!

TO REGISTER, GO HERE

For more about the Essex National Heritage Pollinator Week programs, go here.

SAVE THE DATE FOR BEAUTY ON THE WING FREE SCREENING EVENT!

Hello Butterfly Friends,

Super fun news to share and please save the date – Essex National Heritage is hosting a week of events for National Pollinator Week, which takes place June 20th through June 26th. We have been invited to present a LIVE screening and Q and A of Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly on June 22, from 7pm to 9pm at the Salem Visitor Center.

This is a free event.

You can pre-register HERE, which is recommended as there is limited seating.

Essex National Heritage has planned many events for National Pollinator Week. As soon as I have more information from organizer Ryan Conary, I will post the complete schedule.

The Salem Armory Visitor Center is located at 2 New Liberty Street, Salem, MA.

HAPPY MAY!

xxKim

 

BEAUTY ON THE WING IS ROCKIN’ THE PUBLIC TELEVISION WORLD!

Super great news update from my friend and American Public Television Vice President Judy. She shares that since our documentary premiered a month ago, Beauty on the Wing has been broadcast 276 times, reaching 48.95 percent of the UStv households. She thinks we will have even greater activity in April because of programming centered around Earth Day! We have received emails and messages from viewers around the country, many inspired to create a Monarch habitat.

With thanks and gratitude to our many generous contributors, without whose help this film would not have been possible.

To the lovely woman in Idaho whose name I think is Shelly – if you are reading this – I accidentally deleted your note but would be happy to advise you on how to establish a Monarch habitat at your field. Please feel free to email so we can connect. Thank you!

THE PBS PASSPORTS LINK TO WATCH BEAUTY ON THE WING!

Hello Friends,

We are are receiving many wonderful comments from viewers who have seen our documentary on their local public television channel, viewers from coast to coast! For we in Massachusetts (and everywhere), if you are a member of PBS Passports, here is the PBS.org Passports link to watch Beauty on the Wing: 

https://www.pbs.org/show/beauty-wing-life-story-monarch-butterfly/

Note about the photos – I took a bunch of these Monarch and Buoy photographs as there were several flying around the buoys one day (only on Cape Ann = Monarchs + buoys!). They were taken during this year’s autumn migration on a hazy October afternoon. I didn’t put two and two together until finally having a chance to look at the images several days ago, that one of the buoys was painted orange and black 🙂

Thank you Friends for your continued support and for your love of Monarchs!

Warmest wishes,

xoKim

BEAUTY ON THE WING PREMIERES ON PUBLIC TELEVISION TODAY!

Hello Friends!

Today Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly is scheduled to begin premiering on over 180 public television across the US. From cities coast to coast (including New York, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, Charlotte, Raleigh, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Columbus, Hartford, and many more), you can check your local listings to find out when Beauty on the Wing is scheduled to air.  Additionally, if you don’t see your city listed this week, more stations are planning to add the documentary to their schedule in the coming days.

If you happen to watch Beauty on the Wing on television, please write and let us know. We would love to hear from you!

The one major market that at this date is not planning to air Beauty on the Wing is Boston (??). However, if you are a member of your local PBS station and have contributed more than $60.00, shows are available to stream through PBS Passports. I believe the streaming option for Beauty on the Wing begins this week.

My deepest thanks and appreciation once again to all who so kindly donated to Beauty on the Wing. With your support we were able to complete our documentary, showcase at film festivals, and now bring to a nationwide television audience. Huge special shoutouts to my dear friend Lauren Mercadante who is not only extraordinarily generous, she also loves creating butterfly magic in her garden, and to Jesse Cook, who gave so generously of his music. Thank You Friends

Official 30-second promo for American Public Television

HOW TO WATCH BEAUTY ON THE WING THROUGH THE SWITZERLAND INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL PORTAL

Good morning Monarch Friends!

If you would like to watch Beauty on the Wing today for free, here is the link to the Switzerland International Film Festival. Go to the festival and click the green box with “Screenings.” Today is documentary film screening day so you will be directed to a selection of docs. Beauty on the Wing is about fifteen rows down. Click on Beauty. If it doesn’t play, copy the password (monarchbutterflyfilm22) and go to the Vimeo link provided.

I think the link will only be good through 5pm EST. The festival changes genres at midnight, Swiss time.

I hope so much you enjoy if you haven’t already seen.

Happy Thanksgiving!

xoKim

BEAUTY ON THE WING INVITED TO THE SWITZERLAND INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL!

I am delighted to write that Beauty on the Wing has been accepted to the Switzerland International Film Festival, which runs from November 22 through the 25th. The festival is entirely virtual and I believe ours is screening on the foreign films screening day, which is November 22nd. As soon as I know the exact time, I’ll add it to this post.

Thank you to everyone who has so generously contributed to Beauty on the Wing. All the laurels that you see in the poster are in large parts thanks to you!  Without your kind generosity, we would not have been able to submit to film festivals.

With gratitude and deep appreciation to the following for their generous contributions to Beauty on the Wing during both the first fundraiser and current fundraiser –

Lauren Mercadante, New England Biolabs, Jonathan and Sally Golding, James Masciarelli, Pete and Bobbi Kovner, Joeann Hart and Gordon Baird, Karrie Klaus (Boston), Sally Jackson, Marion Frost (Ipswich), Heidi and John Shiver (Pennsylvania), Marty and Russ Coleman, Joy Van Buskirk (Florida), Lillian and Craig Olmstead, Suki and Fil Agusti (Rockport), Janis Bell, Nina Groppo, Nubar Alexanian, Marguerite Matera, Claudia Bermudez, Thomas Hauck, Judith Foley (Woburn), Jane Paznik-Bondarin (New York), Paul Vassallo (Beverly), Stella Martin, Liv Hauck (California), Julia Williams Robinson (Minnesota), Cynthia Dunn, Diane Gustin, John Ronan, Karen Maslow, Fernando Arriaga (Mexico City), Holly Nipperus (Arizona), Kristina Gale (California), Maggie Debbie, Kate and Peter Van Demark (Rockport), Mia Nehme (Beverly), Chicki Hollet, Alice Gardner (Beverly), Therese Desmarais (Rockport), Jennie Meyer, Kathy Gerdon Archer (Beverly), Melissa Weigand (Salem), Duncan Todd (Lexington), Catherine Ryan, Linda Bouchard (Danvers), Elaine Mosesian, Paul Wegzyn (Ipswich), Catherine Bayliss, Alessandra Borges (Rhode Island), Jan Waldman (Swampscott), Carolyn Constable (Pennsylvania), Nancy Mattern (New Mexico), Ian Gardiner, Judy Arisman, Tom Schaefer, Margaret Thompson, Edward DeJesus (Maryland), Kim Tieger (Manchester), Mary Weissblum, Nancy Leavitt, Susan Pollack, Alice and David Gardner (Beverly), Kristina and Gene Martin, Gail and Thomas Pease (Beverly), Carol and Duncan Ballantyne (Beverly), Sharon Byrne Kashida, John Hauck Foundation, New Breeze Foundation, Jan and Bob Crandall, Nina Goodick, Sherman Morss, Jay Featherstone, Juni VanDyke, Karen Maslow, Kimberly McGovern, Megan Houser (Pride’s Crossing), Jim VanBuskirk (Pittsburgh), Donna Stroman, Joey Ciaramitaro, Robert Redis (New York), Hilda Santos (Saugus), Patricia VanDerpool, Fred Fredericks (Chelmsford), Leslie Heffron, Dave Moore (Korea), John Steiger, Pat Dalpiaz, Amy Kerr, Barbara T. (Jewett, NY), Roberta C. (NY), Marianne G. (Windham, NY), Paula Ryan O’Brien (Walton, NY), Martha Swanson, Patti Sullivan, Ronn Farren, Susan Nadworny (Merose), Diane Lindquist (Manchester), Jennifer Cullen, Eric Hutchins and Julia McMahon, C. Lovgren, Joan Keefe, Linda Kaplan, Mary Rhinelander, Ann Cortissoz, Mark Nelson (Essex), Christine and Paul Callahan and Wasserman, Todd Pover (Springfield), Martin Del Vecchio, Ellen Higgins, Maggie Debbie, Mary John Boylan, Michelle Barton and Christopher Anderson, Lyda Kuth and Maria Letunic (Belmont), Forsythe-Fandetti Family (Cambridge)

 

MONARCH MIGRATION UPDATE AND WE HAVE ACHIEVED OUR FUNDRAISING GOAL!!

Dear Monarch Friends,

We have wonderful, fantastic news to share. With thanks and gratitude to all of you, we have surpassed our fundraising goal. I don’t yet have the total as we are waiting for two last minute contributions, but will let you know after they arrive. Because of your kind generosity we were able to complete Beauty on the Wing with our very professional film finisher, Eric, participate in film festivals, and now bring our documentary to public television. As mentioned in a previous email, 88.5 percent of public television stations across the US will be airing Beauty on the Wing, beginning in February of 2022. These stations also cover 23 of the top 25 markets.

My heart is full of gratitude and thanks to each and everyone for all you have contributed. I would like to give a special thanks to my friend Lauren, who has been extraordinarily generous and who loves Monarchs. Wherever she calls home, she creates beautiful, productive habitats for birds and butterflies, and also loves raising Monarchs (and Cecropia Moths!).

MONARCHS ON THE HOME FRONT

More great news to share – Six in total of the crazily late caterpillars that we had in our garden have flown the coop. Two prior to the storm and four on Halloween at mid-day. One butterfly eclosed Halloween morning but three had eclosed around the time of the storm. It was way too cold and windy for the three to fly. They stayed very quiet, barely moving for almost a week while we waited for the weather to shift again. Halloween morning, I put them out on a sunny patch of zinnias as temperatures were expected to reach the low sixties. Sure enough, around noon time they all began emerging from their deep, deep sleep, quivering and shivering to warm their flight muscles. All four (two males and two females) took off in a southwesterly direction after about fifteen minutes of wing warming.

My friend Caroline Haines shares she saw another migrating Monarch last week near GHS, Sherman Morss shares he saw several Monarchs last week on Eastern Point, as have I seen a number of Monarchs (and Sulphurs and American Ladies) at EP, mostly drinking nectar from the yellow flowers of Black Mustard.

MONARCH MIGRATION EAST OF THE ROCKIES

The first Monarchs have been sighted by our friends Ellen and Joel at their JM Butterfly B&B, which is located at Cerro Pelon, one of the most pristinely beautiful Monarch sanctuaries. The Monarchs arrived just in time for the family’s Dia de Muertos celebration! Roosts are beginning to form around the mountainside.

I love this graphic posted by Monarch Friends at Point Pelee, Monarch to Monarca.

MONARCH MIGRATION WEST OF THE ROCKIES

Two years ago, in 2019, 29,436 Monarch Butterflies were counted at the California overwintering sites. In 2020, only 1,899 were counted. So far this year, the unofficial counts put the population at about 14,000 at Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove and as of October 29, almost 10,000 were counted at Pacific Grove. Roosts with smaller numbers have been counted at Santa Cruz, Ventura, and elsewhere, all locations at well above the 2019 and 2018 levels. These are unofficial numbers because Monarchs are still arriving!

ANTENNAE FOR MONARCH NEWS!

A group of biologists and engineers from the University of Michigan is developing a new system for determining the daily flight paths of migrating Monarchs. The group has designed a teeny solar-powered sensor equal to the weight of an uncooked flake of oatmeal. The sensor will be attached to the thorax (mid part of the Monarch’s body from where the wings extend). Wherever the butterfly is located, the sensor will record time, temperature, and light. When a sensor-bearing Monarch is in the range of a detector, the data from the Monarch’s migratory path can be downloaded and its location determined for each day. For more information, go here https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/3447993.3483263.

Dia de Muertos on Plum Street

Happy Autumn Days! and for a collection of photos of songbirds feasting on autumn fruits and berries go here – A very berry good morning to you!

xoKim

With gratitude and deep appreciation to the following for their generous contributions to Beauty on the Wing during both the first fundraiser and the current fundraiser –

Lauren Mercadante, New England Biolabs, Jonathan and Sally Golding, James Masciarelli, Pete and Bobbi Kovner, Joeann Hart and Gordon Baird, Karrie Klaus (Boston), Sally Jackson, Marion Frost (Ipswich), Heidi and John Shiver (Pennsylvania), Marty and Russ Coleman, Joy Van Buskirk (Florida), Lillian and Craig Olmstead, Suki and Fil Agusti (Rockport), Janis Bell, Nina Groppo, Nubar Alexanian, Marguerite Matera, Claudia Bermudez, Thomas Hauck, Judith Foley (Woburn), Jane Paznik-Bondarin (New York), Paul Vassallo (Beverly), Stella Martin, Liv Hauck (California), Julia Williams Robinson (Minnesota), Cynthia Dunn, Diane Gustin, John Ronan, Karen Maslow, Fernando Arriaga (Mexico City), Holly Nipperus (Arizona), Kristina Gale (California), Maggie Debbie, Kate and Peter Van Demark (Rockport), Mia Nehme (Beverly), Chicki Hollet, Alice Gardner (Beverly), Therese Desmarais (Rockport), Jennie Meyer, Kathy Gerdon Archer (Beverly), Melissa Weigand (Salem), Duncan Todd (Lexington), Catherine Ryan, Linda Bouchard (Danvers), Elaine Mosesian, Paul Wegzyn (Ipswich), Catherine Bayliss, Alessandra Borges (Rhode Island), Jan Waldman (Swampscott), Carolyn Constable (Pennsylvania), Nancy Mattern (New Mexico), Ian Gardiner, Judy Arisman, Tom Schaefer, Margaret Thompson, Edward DeJesus (Maryland), Kim Tieger (Manchester), Mary Weissblum, Nancy Leavitt, Susan Pollack, Alice and David Gardner (Beverly), Kristina and Gene Martin, Gail and Thomas Pease (Beverly), Carol and Duncan Ballantyne (Beverly), Sharon Byrne Kashida, John Hauck Foundation, New Breeze Foundation, Jan and Bob Crandall, Nina Goodick, Sherman Morss, Jay Featherstone, Juni VanDyke, Karen Maslow, Kimberly McGovern, Megan Houser (Pride’s Crossing), Jim VanBuskirk (Pittsburgh), Donna Stroman, Joey Ciaramitaro, Robert Redis (New York), Hilda Santos (Saugus), Patricia VanDerpool, Fred Fredericks (Chelmsford), Leslie Heffron, Dave Moore (Korea), John Steiger, Pat Dalpiaz, Amy Kerr, Barbara T. (Jewett, NY), Roberta C. (NY), Marianne G. (Windham, NY), Paula Ryan O’Brien (Walton, NY), Martha Swanson, Patti Sullivan, Ronn Farren, Susan Nadworny (Merose), Diane Lindquist (Manchester), Jennifer Cullen, Eric Hutchins and Julia McMahon, C. Lovgren, Joan Keefe, Linda Kaplan, Mary Rhinelander, Ann Cortissoz, Mark Nelson (Essex), Christine and Paul Callahan and Wasserman, Todd Pover (Springfield), Martin Del Vecchio, Ellen Higgins, Maggie Debbie, Mary John Boylan, Forsythe-Fandetti Family, Michelle Barton and Christopher Anderson, Lyda Kuth and Maria Letunic (Belmont), Forsythe-Fandetti Family (Cambridge)

BEAUTY ON THE WING TONIGHT AT THE SHALIN LIU!

Please consider making a tax deductible donation, or becoming an underwriter, to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to American Public Television. To Learn More go here and to DONATE go hereThank you!

If mailing a contribution, please include your email address and please address to:

Beauty on the Wing c/o Kim Smith

22 Plum Street

Gloucester, MA 01930

 

Good Morning Monarch Friends!

Tonight’s the Night! Thank you in advance to all who are planning to come tonight, and thank you to all our butterfly friends who would like to come but can’t attend. I am so appreciative and grateful of your kind support and good wishes!

We are Over the Moon about being part of the Boston Film Festival. The BFFestival is running now through September 27th. For more information about the Festival please go here. Our deepest thanks goes to Robin Dawson, Executive Director of the BFF, for creating tonight’s wonderful screening event, and to Rockport Music’s Michelle Alekson for all her behind the scenes organizing at the Shalin Liu.

A reminder to get outdoors to a meadow or marsh if you can – there are so many beautiful species of butterflies on the wing during the Monarch’s migration throughout the months of September and early October. See my blog for recent photos of the especially vibrant Orange Sulphur Butterfly.

Happy September Butterfly Days!
xxKim

Please join us tonight for a free live premiere of Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly at the Shalin Liu at 7pm. Doors open at 6:30. Masks are required to be worn at all times while in the hall. For more information go here. Presented by the Boston Film Festival and Rockport Music.