Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Tribute to the Butterfly Lady

Marsha Stanley first came across my artwork at an exhibition being held at View Arts, Old Forge, NY in the summer of 2013. She purchased a large triptych that was the signature piece of the show before the show opened, before I met her. This is the way Marsha is. She is a woman of Action. She acts on her instincts and I am grateful to have encountered her as she has taught me much. Please read more about our encounter in a great article written by Marsha herself in the Adirondack Almanack entitled "Invite an Artist to Take Up Residence."

After spending some time with Marsha I discovered how appropriate it was for her to be a founding member of AdkAction.Org a non-profit organization that promotes and supports both the Adirondack Wilderness and the Arts. Two causes near and dear to my heart. This year another successful pop-up gallery was organized and I was honored to contribute 20% of the proceeds to this dynamic organization.

One of Marsha's favorite projects is educating the public about the monarch butterfly and its recent decline in population. Amongst other things Marsha was instrumental in raising the funds necessary to bring the movie Flight of the Butterfly to the panoramic Flammer Theater in the Wild Center. This educational and visually stunning film ran for a full season and educated many of its viewers about the phenomenal annual monarch migration. Marsha also arranged for Dr. Lincoln Brower, a world renowned monarch expert, to come and speak at the Wild Center. You can listen to his fascinating talk HERE. Ms Stanley's tireless commitment and devotion to the monarchs has earned her the affectionate term of "The Butterfly Lady" within her extensive circle of friends and family.

Recently Marsha was to undergo a serious medical procedure. I was staying at her camp on Upper Saranac Lake and preparing to give an artist talk about the use of social media (another project organized by Marsha) when she called me from her hospital bed. She was busy writing yet another article and wanted me to go and check her milkweed for caterpillars and her flower garden for migrating monarchs. Not a single monarch was spotted in the area last year, a reason for serious concern.  I went out to the milkweed patch that Marsha had planted herself and saw nothing. I then went and stood in her prolific garden of flowers and prayed for a monarch to appear. Nothing.

I was feeling very sad when lo and behold a bright orange patch fluttered into my vision and I could feel my heart explode with joy! I couldn't believe it! I ran for my camera! I started to film this beautiful creature and soon another one appeared and then another and another! It was such a delight to see these beauties fluttering throughout Marsha's radiant flower garden. Eventually I saw one with a Monarch Watch tag and was able to get a close enough photo of the number on the tag. I have been reporting any monarch sightings regularly to Journey North a website used by "citizen scientists" to track the monarch migration every Spring and Fall.

I sent these photos and the video to Marsha who immediately send out an email to many friends and family with the images attached. People came to her camp all day long to see and/or photograph the monarchs!

The Wild Center checked to see if the number TGM 482 was one of their tagged butterflies and when they discovered it was not they contacted the Paul Smith VIC Butterfly House and discovered that the butterfly had been released from there on Sept 1. The butterfly had not flown far but was preparing for his long flight south by feeding on Marsha's coneflowers.

The appearance of those monarchs buoyed all our spirits as we took these butterflies to be symbols of hope and rebirth both for our planet and for our dear friend and devoted "Butterfly Lady" Ms Marsha Stanley. 

Small miracles are all around us if we just open our eyes and look.

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