November 08, 2018

What Gives You 'Oxygen'?

buckeye
Common Buckeye

As airline passengers, we're instructed--should there ever be an emergency--to put on our own oxygen masks first before helping others. It's a physical reality that if we can't breathe, we can't help.

The same advice is used in the self-care field to illustrate how we must ensure our own emotional, spiritual, and physical health to be able to help others. All of us face difficult challenges and times in life--times when the burdens, stresses, and sadness are so great that we feel pushed to the limits.

This year has been one of those times for me--the personal and other challenges have been really tough...too complicated and difficult to share here. But we all face these times. Of course, I know I'm not alone--family, friends, and faith provide "oxygen" to help me through. I know others go through these times, too.

Another thing that provides oxygen for me, personally, is chasing butterflies. A few hours of hiking with a camera, snapping photos of butterflies, and later reporting them to citizen science sites can serve as balm to my challenged soul.

This post includes a few of the butterfly photos (and a couple of moths!) I collected during the past spring, summer, and fall. Reviewing them reminds me of the difficult thoughts on my mind as I was taking them. It also makes me happy...because I know how cathartic it was to see each butterfly, and to live in the moment of its unique beauty.

I don't include all the photos here--there were hundreds. Some were reported to citizen science organizations* even though the photo quality was poor. Others, particularly the Monarchs and the Viceroys, were so plentiful this season that I only included a few. Not all the butterflies, nor the photos, are perfect...but that's the point. They were real, they were flying free, and they provided great comfort. I include them here, generally, in order from spring through fall, but not necessarily in exact order. (Click on any image to enlarge it or to navigate through the Flickr album.)

monarch 9
Monarch

tiger swallowtail 2
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

monarch 2
Monarch

giant swallowtail
Giant Swallowtail

wood nymph 1
Common Wood-Nymph

red admiral 2
Red Admiral

tawny emperor
Tawny Emperor

viceroy
Viceroy

eastern tailed blue
Eastern Tailed-Blue

wood nymph 2
Common Wood-Nymph

monarchs on zinnias
Monarchs

chickweed geometer
Chickweed Geometer (moth)

monarch
Monarch that I raised and released

clouded sulphur 2
Clouded Sulphur

pecks 2
Peck's Skipper

red sp purple 2
Red-Spotted Purple

tiger swallowtail
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

eastern comma
Eastern Comma

buckeye 2
Common Buckeye

monarch 7
Monarch

red sp purple 1
Red-Spotted Purple

pearl crescent
Pearl Crescent

summer spring azure
'Summer' Spring Azure

monarch 5
Monarch

red admiral 3
Red Admiral

corn earworm moth
Corn Earworm (moth)

monarch 4
Monarch

viceroy 2
Viceroy

red admiral 4
Red Admiral

monarch 6
Monarch

summer spring azure 2
'Summer' Spring Azure

viceroys
Viceroys

red admiral
Red Admiral

monarch 8
Monarch

silver-spotted skipper
Silver-Spotted Skipper

viceroys 2
Viceroys

monarch 1
Monarch

clouded sulphur
Clouded Sulphur

monarch & sunflowers
Monarch

skipper flying
Silver-Spotted Skipper

How about you? What gives you "oxygen"?

*Here are just a few of the North American citizen science organizations that welcome reports of butterfly sightings: wisconsinbutterflies.org, journeynorth.org, e-butterfly.orgbutterfliesandmoths.org.

32 comments:

  1. Exceptional collection Beth . . .
    And wonderful photography . . .
    I find identifying the Monarch from the Viceroy and visa versa a challenge.
    This helped . . . (I think . . . said with a smile.)

    Identifying “our oxygen” is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves.
    I ache for you and your tough year . . .
    happy you grab on to your “oxygen” to help find your way.

    Yesterday while using the stepper at my rehab facility, I was looking out onto the vast open fiield, with bird feeders close by, watching the birds fly in and out. I have known for many a year that the “birds”are like oxygen for me . . . The other would be “connecting” . . . be it in person to person, printed word, quote, atmosphere, location, I find my oxygen . . .

    Inspiring post Beth . . .

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    1. Thank you, Lynne. The Viceroys and Monarchs are so hard to tell apart when they're flying--at a distance. Closer in, the Viceroys have more of a straight line on the hindwing, and they seem more "angular" to me. Birds and other parts of nature are great therapy, too. I really miss these guys during the winter, but watching the winter birds outside the window helps, too. Blessings to you as winter makes her first appearances.

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  2. How beautiful to see the butterflies a ray of sunshine on such a dull day here in the UK, it reminds me these days will not last forever. Connecting with nature from the smallest creature to the largest tree brings me joy.
    Hope your world is more settled, we are here if you need us.
    Sending much love Amanda xx

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    1. Thank you, Amanda. It's hard to explain it all in a blog post, but knowing the "tribe" is here is also very helpful. Yes to connecting with nature on every level! Blessings to you and yours. :)

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  3. Beth, your camera works wonders in your hands. No wonder it is your partner in peace or as you say "oxygen". Being outside is certainly my oxygen. Sometimes I have a shovel, hoe, my trusty Felcos in hand. During winter I paint or read. I love your pictures. Especially the artsy ones. Looking at the monarch through the grass like a cat, the Silver-spotted skipper flying around the thistle, the bee and bug with the clouded sulphur. Such a joyful post amongst such swirling emotions.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Lisa. I enjoy the heavy garden work, too. Sometimes that is even better therapy than chasing butterflies--not always; but sometimes. ;-) Reading, crocheting, movie-watching, and computer work get me through our long winters. And--always--visits with friends and family. :)

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  4. Thanks for sharing your oxygenating strategy and great images. Being in the moment in nature/my garden keeps me sane. (Well, as sane as I've been able to achieve.)

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    1. We all find ways to cope, don't we, Peter? It's interesting how various people and personalities tend to live in the past or the future or the present. I tend toward the latter, which works very well except for times when the present is undesirable. That's when chasing butterflies can be truly excellent therapy!

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  5. Gorgeous photos, Beth! And I can't think of many better ways of getting oxygen than that. I wish I had as many of those beautiful visitors here (our butterfly markedly count was down this year) but I also need greater skill in capturing them on camera. Planting and puttering in my garden keeps me sane, as do my friends, husband and even my cat. However, breathing oxygen isn't easy at the moment as SoCal is burning again :(

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    1. Thank you, Kris. The photography is part of the hunt, and imperfection is OK. ;-) I agree regarding the gardening, pets, and family. So sorry to hear about the wildfires! I've been thinking of all friends and family out in California as this new round of fires has developed. Stay safe!

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  6. Beautiful photos, Beth! I love that Wood-Nymph! Looks like he has a little punk hairdo! Sadly we didn't have many butterflies here my area this year. My most unusual sighting. was an Orange Sulphur. I know just what you mean about needing "Oxygen." When I am walking in the woods with camera in hand, I feel like I can breathe no matter what else is going on.

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    1. Thank you, Lynn. Yes, the Wood-Nymph is a cute little guy, isn't he? Though basic in color, his features give him interesting character and personality. ;-) Yes, walking in the woods (or on the prairie) is great therapy no matter what the season (well, windy winter days are more fun with hot chocolate by the fire, but...). Orange Sulphurs are beautiful! I've seen them here, too, but I don't think I have a good photo of one. Next season!

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  7. Linda from Each Little World: These are such amazing photos and introducing me to many butterflies and moths I've never seen. When I was in college I did some abstract painting based on butterfly wings. The garden and nature do seem to help when the world is too much with us. Hope you are doing better.

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    1. Hi Linda: Thank you. I'd love to see your paintings sometime! I'm doing OK, but these things are just a part of life that we all face at some point. Personally, my health is good, so I'm thankful for that. Identifying my sources of "oxygen" help me to cope. I hope this early snow we got will melt fast!

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  8. This is wonderful! So many beautiful images. I find just walking in my own garden is one of the ways to let challenges drop away for a while. Sorry to hear this has been such a challenging year. I did so enjoy meeting you in May.

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    1. Thanks, Shirley. I enjoyed meeting you, too! We all find ways to cope with life challenges, and I agree--gardening and walking are amazing therapy, too! I need to find more winter coping strategies...I guess I'll clean the house! ;-)

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  9. It has been a challenging year around here as well. Your post is uplifting (oxygenating) and I am so glad that you found such a beautiful way to maintain your equilibrium. Be well.
    rickii

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    1. Thanks, Rickii. Just thinking about a warm summer day and chasing butterflies makes me happy. I hope things will get better for you.

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  10. Those butterfly photos make my heart sing.
    Lost in a good book, tired enough to sleep from extreme gardening or (not extreme) hiking, and some good conversation for me.

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    1. Oh yes, books, gardening, hiking, and conversations are all wonderful! Thanks, Diana.

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  11. Beautiful photos, Beth! I agree that chasing butterflies is so good for the soul. Watching the hummingbirds is another thing that always lifts my spirits. In the winter I like to watch the birds at the feeders near our picture window. Even my husband, the non-gardener, gets excited about all of these and urges me to get out my camera:)

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    1. Thanks, Rose! Hummingbirds are so entertaining, too, as are the birds at the feeders. Sounds like we have similar hobbies and coping strategies. What a surprise! ;-)

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  12. Amazing photos! Wow, I just loved each photo. Chickweed Geometer, I love the name. And color.

    Working in my garden, picking flowers and arranging a bouquet.
    During the Winter a lovely cross country ski, slow and steady watching the woodpeckers, deer and other animals as I silently ski by.

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    1. Thanks, Carla. I had to do quite a bit of research to identify the moths. The wisconsinbutterflies.org site is my go-to for researching and IDing butterflies. I'm with you on gardening and arranging flowers. I used to cross-country ski, but it's been years...

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  13. Nice! When I read that you find oxygen in "chasing butterflies" I smiled--which is also a source of oxygen, thanks :)

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    1. You are welcome! Yes, outdoor activities literally and figuratively fill my lungs with life-affirming breathing assistance. ;-) Glad you had a little chuckle.

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    1. Thank you, Endah! I envy your ability to see butterflies year-round!

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  15. Sorry to hear that you have had a tough year. Your butterfly photos are stunning, what an incredible range you have, they are all so beautiful. My solace is always the garden, when the going gets tough I dig or just potter and the garden wraps itself round me like a caress.

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    1. Thanks, Chloris. We are fortunate to have a wealth of butterfly species here. The various habitats and ecosystems (prairies, woodlands, savannas, marshes, wetlands) overlap here, which results in welcome diversity. :)

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  16. Hi Beth, i really love your butterflies, and the pics are awesome. Of course you already know i am a butterfly chaser. Some of those above are almost similar to ours like that wood nymph, the skippers and the spring azure. However, we have different names. I wish i have a bigger lens to have mine bigger too. I only have 35mm macro lens so it is difficult to come closer when it is already flying. If only we are nearer, we can have butterly spotting together. Oh that would be lovely.

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  17. Hi Beth, it was a joy to scroll through your photos of butterflies! Butterflies always give me a lift, as do so many other creatures in my garden. I recently got some "oxygen" when I saw a gray squirrel (Notorious for causing mischief!) sitting in a dogwood tree eating a giant leaf about twice as big as he was. I recognized the leaf as coming from my Dinosaur Kale plant, but I could only watch with a smile as the squirrel sat in the tree and ate every bit of that giant leaf. I could see him smacking his lips!

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