In Phoenix, I met up with Kristina Lefeve of Pollinator Project Rogue Valley. She gave me a tour of their native plant garden, gifted me some narrow-leaf milkweed seeds, and connected me with several local environmentalists and organizations. So cool, I definitely want to come back here — maybe play a show and get to know this community more.
Next I went to the house of Vanessa Henson, one of the monarch advocates Kristina connected me with. This year, over 40 monarchs went from chrysalis to flight on her property. She helped them in the chrysalis phase by putting them in a protective netting (so her horses and chickens wouldn’t get at them). When I stopped in, there was a monarch sipping nectar by her front porch! After all these miles, it was the first monarch I’d seen. What a special sight. Thank you, Vanessa!
For the sound, I stuck a geophone by the root system of Vanessa’s milkweed patch. Vanessa was curious to listen in so I gave her the headphones. What we heard was a very subtle pulsing and whooshing — a lively sound world in the dirt. What were these sounds? Bioacoustic research has show that plants produce sound waves. More specifically, they emit sound waves at the lower end of the audio spectrum within 10–240 Hz as well as ultrasonic acoustic emissions ranging from 20 to 300kHz (Gagliano 2013). So those low-end pulses could be coming from the milkweed. We’ll have to send the recording to Gagliano to confer. In any case, I really enjoyed Vanessa’s curiosity about these vibrations. I like how the subtlety of the sounds made us lean in and be more attentive listeners.
Before leaving, Vanessa showed me her chrysalis sanctuary. Most had turned into butterflies — but there was one left! I got out my guitar and played the chrysalis a tune. Have a great flight to the Central Coast, monarca — see you there soon!