On Tuesday, Fern and I did something on my bucket list.
We went to Ardenwood Historic Farm…
Which also happens to be an over-wintering spot for the Monarch Butterfly.
You know about Monarchs, yes? That they migrate south AND north, from Canada to Mexico? That they…
Wait. Let’s stop right there. That’s enough wonderment to ponder. Take that in. These little beings, with the fragile-ist of wings, fly 1381.29 miles…TWICE A YEAR. I mean, I shoveled and wheelbarrowed compost for two hours yesterday, and my legs were noodles by the end of it. Can you imagine flying all that way? It’s already remarkable that birds do it (that link is one of my favorites, by the way), but it blows my mind that a butterfly…that poster child for whimsy, can do it.
I was hoping for this:
but instead it was more like this:
The same male. (Here’s how I can tell the sexes).
Which was still enough for an ecstatic experience. While Fern collected sticks, I stood with my neck craned back, watching the monarchs swirl above me. It seemed their dance mimicked that of the heavens, and just like after a good night of star gazing, I remembered my own dance, my place in the cosmos.
And then Fern really had to pee, so we set off in search of a bathroom.
(For more enlightening Monarch facts and to find out how they communicate, breathe and why they fly like a drunk pilot, go here.)
Ardenwood Farms, located smack between two major freeways and in the midst of Fremont, is still operated as the 1850s version of itself. The grounds are blissfully quiet and I would move here in a heartbeat.
George Patterson originally came to California to strike it rich in the gold rush, but instead hit literal pay dirt with his farm. Like all true Miner 49ers, he still managed to screw over the indigenous inhabitants.
Funny enough, the farm now stands as the only reminder of this fertile valley. And I’m so thankful to East Bay Parks, because our experience at Ardenwood was, hands down, the best preservation park experience that we’ve had.
First off, it’s obvious that the animals are happy and treated very well. We especially fell in love with the chickens (surprise, surprise) and Fern kept wanting to go back to the hen house. We spent an easy hour just hanging out with the birds.
Awesome shirt = gift from Nicole.
We arrived at the hen house just as one bird was sounding off about laying an egg. We hung out long enough to watch this one take her seat and then do the same. Fern held the warm egg with gentle wonderment.
Since they were so friendly, it was obvious the hens had been hand raised. This little biddy befriended us and followed us about. I was able to reach down and pick her up, a warm feathery snuggle that I am still reminiscing on.
We actually did spend some time on the rest of the grounds.
Sara, I followed the turkeys around just for you. The sweet little noises they make under their breath just slay me.
Someone else followed us about too…
There were pregnant ewes…
And bunnies too…
Fern and I were enraptured with the water tower…
And even more so with THE HOUSE…
And its gardens and gazebos…
And hidden peacocks…
I need animals, y’all. We are re-rooting ourselves in San Francisco because moving, in this price market, has become an impossibility. I could almost do it with nary a regret, except I am a much fuller version, a better version, of myself when I have contact with animals, both domestic and wild. My soul is nourished by crickets and spring peepers, and my heart is softened and satisfied by the grasp of chicken feet around my fingers. I find more delight in my own animal body when it is in the company of earth brethren.
In the meantime, we will be going back to Ardenwood as often as possible. Every Tuesday they have “toddler time” for 1-4 year olds from 11:00-11:30. This week it was “Goats”. Next week it’s…
“Chickens”! Ba bok!
Love to all.