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The Butterfly [A]ffect(ed)

I was supposed to write about pollinator gardens, but Hurricane Isaias changed that.
. . . but did it really?  Bear with me as I meander and perhaps stretch a metaphor to its breaking point.

"You could not remove a single grain of sand from its place without thereby ... changing something throughout all parts of the immeasurable whole."
— Fichte, The Vocation of Man (1800)

According to Wikipedia, in Chaos Theory, the Butterfly Effect is "the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state".  Or, more simply put: small differences in initial conditions lead to huge changes over time".  Imagine a single butterfly flapping its wings and setting in motion the events that lead to a storm.

I'll get back to that in a bit.  It has nothing to do with Ashton Kutcher or science fiction, though.  Pinkie swear.

So the arboretum escaped relatively unscathed, but we did lose a couple of mature Black Oaks that clipped our Stackhouse Education Center.  We estimate that they were between 120 and 175 years old.  (Who's volunteering to count the tree rings?!).

These veteran trees are irreplaceable in our lifetime, which is why the saying goes "the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now". 

And this is where run into a snag:

Fear of large trees.


So, Doug Tallamy, you might have heard of him (someone once said to me "if I hear one more time about how many caterpillars an oak tree supports..."), wrote a great book called Bringing Nature Home.  Lemme recap: Oak trees, a native of North America, support a poop-ton of caterpillars.  Those caterpillars support a bazillion native and migratory birds.  Caterpillars are the young of butterflies and moths.  Those butterflies and moths are pollinators. You like pollinators, right?  They're trendy.


Oak trees were one of the arboreal victims of Hurricane Isaias.  We humans have a habit of becoming terrified of mature canopy trees after storms like this, start chopping them down whether we need to or not, and not replanting them.  Also, fun fact, trees recycle CO2 and convert to O2, and play an important in climate change minimization and, well, us being able to breathe.  They sequester those gases that are leading to all these weather changes.  Weather changes that make us afraid to plant large native trees.  I've spoken of interconnectedness before.  We are not separate from the ecosystem.  We are part of it, and we affect it just as it affects us.

The oaks are falling, the caterpillars are losing their homes, and we are the victims and the perpetrators.

We are the butterflies, desperately flapping our wings.

Let's stop beating the air, and start replanting.  If we give the caterpillars their homes back, they can help us keep ours.


There's your Butterfly Effect.