Find beauty close to home at Rosetta McClain Gardens

A monarch on a Mexican Sunflower. PHOTOS: Ann Brokelman

People sometimes ask me how I decide what to write my articles about. I think most of my stories are inspired while I’m looking through the thousands of photos I’ve taken and one of them sparks a memory of who I was with, where the picture was taken, and of something special that happened that day. I hope that as you’ve been reading my articles over the years (or if this is the first one you’ve picked up) that they have given you an opportunity to share these experiences with me. Here is one of those simple but beautiful experiences.

The other day, I took my best friend Carol Lapointe out to see the butterflies on the flowers at Rosetta McClain Gardens. We started our day by picking up our coffees, Timmy’s double double for me, because, while I love nature, I love it a lot more after a hot cup of caffeine.  Once at the park we found a peaceful shady spot with a view of the butterfly bushes and waterfall. We sat, opened our drinks, and just watched these tiny, beautiful, and fragile creatures as they fluttered from flower to flower. At this time of year, lots of monarch butterflies (large orange wings are veined and outlined in black, with white dots decorating the black outer edges of each wing), and special common buckeyes (medium-sized butterfly with several large, conspicuous round eyespots) are making their rounds in the park.

A common buckeye butterfly.

Here’s a question for you: What makes us appreciate butterflies more than other insects? Now consider what you would do if you found a butterfly in your house? Would you carefully catch it and gently let it back outside? I think that’s what I would do… but why? Is it their colour, the gracefulness of their flight, or do we instinctively know they are helping to keep our food supply alive? (While bees get the most attention for their pollination efforts, we can’t forget that butterflies do their fair share, too: As they flit and flutter from plant to plant they are helping to ensure the survival of the next generation of flowers and other plants.) Whatever the answer, it was keeping Carol and me enthralled that quiet summer morning.

As is also the case with most of my experiences with nature, though I went to see one animal, I was also able to enjoy the appearance of several others. Keeping the butterflies company on the flowers are innumerable bees and moths. Nearby in the berry bushes are dozens of cedar waxwings and robins. While the trees hold thousands of berries each, the birds will have picked them all clean by end of September.

A cedar waxwing.

As we get up to walk and stretch our weary bones, we walked passed several Mexican Sunflowers. I had never noticed these beautiful flowers before, though the monarchs and bees were all over them.  As we stood there admiring both the insect and the flower, a quick glance to the right revealed a hummingbird preening on a branch.

We continued our walk and ended up talking to some of the other park goers who all seem to appreciate that Rosetta is a no dogs/picnics/bike park, which makes it a true nature watcher’s paradise. If you need to get out and take a walk, the East End is full of great parks. Rosetta has free parking and is 10 minutes from the Beach. Take an hour and go and discover what beauty is in your area.

Ann Brokelman is an avid birder and nature photographer.



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