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Fish Or Cut Bait

Of Course, I'm An Environmentalist!
by Bob Ciminel




August 14, 2004

Those of you who have read my articles in Kanoe and Sitnews over the years have probably formed the opinion that I don't like "tree huggers" or "envirowhackos." Nothing could be farther from the truth. I view environmental activists as people who truly believe that man

August 16, 2004

Dear Readers,

Thanks to one of Fish or Cut Bait's eagle-eyed readers for pointing out that the butterfly shown in my article is not a Monarch butterfly, but rather a Swallowtail butterfly. I certainly feel a lot better knowing that our kitten, who by the way is called Sassy, did not attack a Monarch. I don't know if the Swallowtail feels better about it, but I do.

has been damaging the Earth ever since God granted Adam and Eve access to the Garden of Eden.

According to the Bible, God banished Adam and Eve because Eve ate the "forbidden fruit." Many of us grew up with the perception that the "forbidden fruit" was an apple. Personally, I have never believed that God threw A & E out of the Garden simply because Eve ate an apple. No, I believe that God was the first environmentalist and he permanently revoked Adam & Eve's pass to the Garden of Eden because Eve threw the apple core on the ground instead of placing it in a nearby trash container. But the real irony of the story is: the apple core was biodegradable.

About 10 years ago, we decided to turn our backyard into a wildlife refuge. I recognized immediately that we had a real challenge. We lived in one of the most heavily populated suburbs of Atlanta and we had a dog and three cats. The dog wouldn't hurt a flea, and the cats had no front claws. The ethics of removing a cat's front claws will be the subject of a future article. We felt that mix, although not perfect, was fairly benign and critter-friendly.

photo Monarch butterfly & cats...

My wife found a large, beautiful Monarch butterfly in the garden. She even took a picture of it, just before the kitten attacked.
The Monarch butterfly is pictured in the top left corner...

So, we began planting shrubs and trees. Why we chose only the hot, humid summer months to do our planting is beyond me, but it seemed that every time the wife brought home things to plant, it was 98 degrees and 98 percent humidity with the sun directly overhead and not a spot of shade to be found. We started out with a yard that had five pine trees, grass, and some foundation plantings, the absolute minimum amount of landscaping the builder installed.

So, by adding bird and squirrel feeders, plus a lot of cover, thanks to our neighbor planting a row of holly trees between our yards, we've been able to attract a growing population of squirrels, chipmunks, cardinals, nuthatches, woodpeckers, thrashers, towhees, and the usual assortment of "trashy critters," like sparrows, crows, cowbirds, blue jays, and dove. The squirrel feeder, which uses compresses corn, also attracts rats, but "Max the Cat" has turned that into a relatively minor problem. It's not unusual to go out in the morning and find an entire family of rats, mother, father, and three or four children, perfectly spaced in a row on the patio. Who said cats are a waste of fur?

This year, I embarked on a project to attract Monarch butterflies by planting things butterflies like to eat and lay eggs on. We put in butterfly weed, fennel, lantana, and parsley, and waited patiently for the butterflies to come. We waited throughout May, June, and July, but Nada, no butterflies. While I was up in Chattanooga last week, my wife found a large, beautiful Monarch butterfly in the garden. She even took a picture of it, just before the kitten attacked.

Maybe the Monarchs will come back. I hope they will. I promise we'll keep the kitten inside. We've even put up a sign in the butterfly garden: "Welcome. Please alight and enjoy a quick meal. No waiting. Enjoy casual, cat-free dining under the pine trees."


Bob Ciminel ©2004
All Rights Reserved

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