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Monday, June 15, 2015

Migrations, Identity and Labels

I have not caught sight of a single Monarch butterfly since that day one flew circles around me. Maybe all the Monarchs have already set off on their annual migration, and that was just the last goodbye. But the Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies are here to stay.

Yesterday, before the storm, the butterflies and the bees were congregating around the milkweed flowers. I could not help wanting to see them, and I crowded in as close as I could to get a better look. I got a touch of poison ivy for my trouble.

Even when the wind picked up, the Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies were hanging on for dear life.

The bumblebees and the honey bees were buzzing about. But the butterflies kept on with their task, undismayed by the weather.

I expect that the Great Spangled Fritillaries will still be here in late August or early September. Last year I spotted them on the thistle flowers, their wings frayed and torn with not much more wear left in them, but still visiting every flower they could until the very end.

A Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly with frayed wings seen in September of 2014

Some people migrate and some people stay put. Then when they meet again, sometimes they forget that they are all sprung from some common source,

This animated map shows how humans migrated across the globe.
Posted by Business Insider on Thursday, May 21, 2015
Bow was born in Missouri, but he has ancestors from Africa
Recently there was something in the news about someone pretending to be an African-American who was "not really." Actually, all Americans are African-American, in the sense that whatever convoluted path we may have taken, our original ancestors were from Africa. This is true even for those called "Native American." Maybe if we all filled those government forms that way -- every American an African-American -- then that would put an end to racial discrimination by the government once and for all.

I think the same kind of convoluted thinking about ethnicity that allows only some American-born humans to be called "African American" when everyone has ancestors from Africa is also at play in labeling chimpanzees as exotic animals. Bow is American-born, while I am an immigrant from another country. Bow's mother was also American-born. At what point does an animal stop being labeled exotic? Why should it  matter where our ancestors were born? Didn't all of us come from the same place anyway?

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