Biannual Roundup: Thanks for following posts to and fro

Haunting the Graveyard: Unearthing the Story of the Coker Settlement

Know it appears suspicious that a post about the author’s book that finally made it into print popped up as the most-read by you during the past year, but you actually were that kind.

Of course, the controversial redevelopment plans for Alamo Plaza still remain of grave concern for those who love San Antonio. Will the plaza be fenced in? Will the Texas General Land Office repurpose the buildings on the west side of the plaza as a new museum or bulldoze those important historic landmarks? So many design issues remain unresolved as we enter 2020.

The author always hope postcards sent back from other places help tease out the boulevardier in you, seducing you into traveling more and serving as helpful guides when you do.

The following list represents the posts you clicked most in 2019, with the number in parentheses representing rankings from six months ago.

  1. Postcard from the Coker Settlement: Following long gestation, book finally due to arrive, 2019
  2. Has Alamo Plaza fallen in the hands of ‘reverential’ caretakers? 2019 (2)
  3. How’s the GLO managing Alamo Plaza? Welcome to the faux Alamo. 2019 (3)

    Hey, GLO. No faux Alamo.

  4. Postcard from Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy: History with a horse hanging overhead, 2019, (5)
  5. The Madarasz murder mystery: Might Helen haunt Brackenridge Park? 2012 (7)
  6. The danger of playing hardball with our Library: Bookworms tend to vote, 2014
  7. Postcard from Oaxaca, Mexico: ‘I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.’ 2019
  8. Postcard from Mexico City: The Lord of Poison and potent relics, 2017
  9. Postcard from Sevilla, Spain: Foods steeped in tradition, 2019 (11)

    Boquerones, fried anchovies, at El Rinconcillo in Sevilla, Spain

  10. Postcard from Sevilla, Spain: The most celebrated mother in Spain, 2019
  11. Postcard from Malaga, Spain: Street Art, Part I, 2019
  12. Postcard from San Antonio Botanical Garden: Walking across Texas without leaving home, 2019

From the streets of Malaga, Spain, pulpo y vino

Thanks for dropping by. Would love to see comments anytime.

Postcard from the San Antonio Botanical Garden: Walking across Texas without leaving home

Yesterday, we strolled among agave, mesquite and prickly pear native to South Texas and encountered an 1880 adobe hut. Crushing pine needles underfoot, we wandered through the East Texas Pineywoods and peered into an 1850s’ log cabin fronting a lake. And then we found ourselves in the shade of live oaks and maple trees of the Texas Hill Country with an 1849 limestone and fachwerk house from Fredericksburg and an 1880 piñon log cabin from Real County.

All of this while winding along the Texas Native Trail, which occupies 11 acres of the 38-acre San Antonio Botanical Garden.

We kept on meandering because it is impossible to skip over the colorful flowers abloom in the old-fashioned garden and the brilliant orchids and bromeliads found sheltered within one of the glass pavilions of the Lucile Halsell Conservatory.

And then, because it was well past noon in the middle of the summer, we stepped into Rosella at the Garden in the Sullivan Carriage House for a refreshing round of cold beer.

 

Monarchs from Montréal headed for our milkweed

I am worried.

While we were visiting the Montréal Botanical Garden, we spent some time in the Insectarium. We found out staff only recently finished the tricky task of tagging and releasing monarch butterflies.

According to Global Montreal, the tags on the butterflies’ wings are 9 millimeters in diameter. That worried me at first, but only because I am mentally meter deficient. Nine is the equivalent of about 1/64 of an inch.

Even at that, the miniscule tag weighs almost 1/10 of a butterfly. Does that make it wobbly in flight? If someone removes 10 pounds from the stack of weights on the assisted pull-up machine at the gym (Without getting specific, let’s just say that is less than 10 percent of my body weight.), my arms notice. They cannot hoist my body skyward. Again, I guess I should not worry, because some of the monarchs monitored in past years have arrived safely at their Mexican destination.

On to my next worry. We, in San Antonio, are on the flight path. But, are we going to be ready?

I mean, I just made almost that same flight Saturday, and it made me really hungry. The mister and I bought a sandwich in the airport to split on the plane to Newark. But that first leg left us hungry still, so we bought two sandwiches to eat on the flight to Houston. Then we still had to refill a little in Houston. It took me a beet and feta salad and half a bottle of wine to be able to make it home.

So, we required considerable refueling to make that flight. And that was with complete pull-up assistance from the plane.

In case you are having difficulties following my illogic, after covering more than 1,700 miles, those fluttering monarchs are going to be plenty hungry on arrival.

This past spring, I watched the caterpillars along the Museum Reach of the River Walk, and they really pack it away. They decimated that milkweed patch. I walked upriver yesterday to inspect, and it has yet to fully recover.

So that’s why I’m worried. The monarchs are already on their way here, and the milkweed’s not ready. Hurry up and grow. You have a job to do.

Which all leads me back to the Insectarium. As with the rest of the garden, it took more time than we expected. We are even less “bug people” than “plant people.” But more than 160,000 specimens are housed there.

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That’s a lot of bugs, butterflies and moths. Obviously, we did not meet them all or we would be flying back way behind the monarchs.

The displays make bugs fascinating. Many insects are shockingly beautiful; many are shockingly horrifying, creatures created to star in nightmares. Why, get this, they have cucarachas even bigger than we grow them in San Antonio!

I’m just happy we were at the Insectarium on a September weekday and didn’t have to shove any kids aside to get our noses up near the glass.

Update Added on October 4: Not desiring additional recaps of last night’s presidential debate, I drowsily reached for the off button on the clock radio this morning when the story changed. NPR (TPR in my neck of the woods) ran a story on migrating monarchs captured in a new 3-D film for IMAX, Flight of the Butterflies, directed by Mike Slee.

The NPR story features some cuts, but the film is not migrating toward the Alamo IMAX very quickly. In the mean time, here is the trailer:

A San Antonio blogger obsessed with monarchs provides better informed posts on an ongoing basis at Texas Butterfly Ranch.

And, Monique Beaudin blogs about monarch adoption, birthing and releasing at home in Montreal.

Update Added on October 5: The San Antonio Botanical Garden has a seasonal list of bloomers you can plant to refuel migrating monarchs, and the San Antonio Zoo exhibition features 15 to 20 species of farm-raised butterflies fluttering freely in a walk-through enclosure from March through November each year.

Update Added on November 6: And then there was the monarch taking our migration shortcut by hopping aboard Southwest Airlines to the San Antonio Botanical Garden….

Update Added on January 18, 2013: The Native Plant Society of Texas is making it easier to plant more milkweed for monarchs to munch on during their long journey up and down North America:

Native Plant Society of Texas chapters, nature centers, schools, educational groups and others can receive small grants from the State Office to spend developing Monarch Waystations or Monarch demonstration gardens on public sites in their immediate areas.

The purpose of the program is to educate members and the public about Monarch conservation, to produce and distribute milkweeds that support reproduction by Monarch butterflies, and to restore Monarch habitats throughout the Texas migration flyway.

Grant sources are co-funded by Native Plant Society of Texas  and Monarch Watch. The total amount of monies to be budgeted for this program varies. Normally it is an amount that will provide for grants ranging from $50 to $400. Chapters and others are not required to spend their own funds to match the amount of the grant.