Pat Shingleton: Butterflies, Geese and Ice
Monarchs are one of the most common North American butterflies with black-edged wings and a bright reddish-brown body. They reproduce several times in areas from Texas to Minnesota. Their autumn migration begins as they fly from the Canadian border to mountain groves west of Mexico City. Here is where the Oyamel firs provide shelter from rain and below freezing temperatures. In the spring they fly north, visiting Baton Rouge and stopping at fields of milkweed to lay eggs. From butterflies to other egg-layers. Migrating geese that fly in a "V" formation provide the whole flock with 71% greater flying range. Flying out of formation causes a goose to experience resistance drag, one they return to the formation they take advantage of the lifting power from the bird in front of it. When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into formation and another goose takes over the point position. Geese in the rear of the formation honk to encourage those in the front to hold their speed. If a goose is sick or wounded, two other geese leave the formation to lend help and protection; staying with it until death or until it can fly. In coming months a blast of cold air may make you feel like you’re in an ice house. Years ago ice houses were built near freshwater lakes and streams where winter ice was available. During the winter months, ice and snow would be transported into the ice house and packed with sawdust or straw for insulation, lasting into the summer months. Archaeologists discovered ice pits from the seventh century and Alexander the Great stored snow in pits. In the third century, Rome imported mountain snow, stored it in straw-covered pits and later sold it in snow shops. The more expensive ice was at the bottom of pit compared to the snow at the top. In Texas, former ice houses have been converted to bars.
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