Cumberland Times-News

Columns

April 6, 2013

So many things she doesn’t understand

At my age, I hate to admit it — but there is so much in this world that I — still — don’t understand.

People who don’t care about Monarch butterflies, for instance.

How could anyone NOT care about Monarch butterflies? Theirs is one of the most fascinating stories that exists in our natural world: the ages-old history of these fragile little creatures’ yearly migration to Mexico, where they blanket the trees in a certain area for several months away from the northern winter. When it gets warm enough up here for them (or their offspring) they fly back and continue their lives in the north, producing enough new butterflies to carry on the story for yet another year. And another. And another.

Although, one of these times, there may not be another. This makes me sick at heart. I remember when I first learned about this astonishing migration. Once about 30 years ago, I was out in Bel Air — visiting some relatives who lived there. They weren’t home yet — the door was locked. So I slumped in the car to take a nap.( my response to emergencies is instant) and suddenly realized that the chimney of their house was within view — and there was a lot of activity going on up there. Every few seconds or so, a butterfly flew past it, heading south. And another, and another., and yet more. I had never even heard of Monarch butterfly migration, and here I was witnessing it in full flight. I had no idea what I was looking at — but it was fascinating all the same. (I looked it up, and wrote a column about it later.)

My relatives have moved and I am afraid if I camped out and watched somebody’s chimney for several hours in the fall, the neighbors might get concerned. But I have this sinking feeling that butterflies are no longer flitting past there every few seconds, at any time of the year — because, I am told the butterfly migration has shrunk by half, The number of butterfly trees in Mexico has dropped off visibly, and the migrations are way down.

Obviously, monarch butterflies are losing habitat and may soon be in danger of extinction.

And I don’t understand why people are not upset about this.

Also, I don’t understand why robins are always bigger in real life than I think they are.

I don’t understand the humor nowadays. Back in the comedy of early television, the laughs came from slyly bringing out the human comedy in everyday situations — now the situations are everyday, all right, but the humor is ill-natured, mocking, or trashy — as if it is funny to put into words the worst parts of human nature. I’ll put up Johnny Carson, Bill Cosby, Dick Van Dyke, the Carol Burnett shows (except for those awful family fight episodes, which perfectly illustrate my point against How I Met Your Mother, or any other modern sitcoms).

I don’t understand designer handbags. Three hundred, six hundred, a thousand dollars for a pocketbook that looks like an army issue backpack. Or even if they were ever attractive (I haven’t seen one yet ), why would you consider paying the money? I’ve seen bags in Walmart that made a better impression — and leave your bank account looking better too. Also, I don’t approve of letting people think they can get away with murder, just because they make a lot of money.

I don’t understand or approve of what weddings are turning into these days — huge money pits and show pieces. (Obviously, I have been watching “Four Weddings lately — but not much longer, honest!) Gowns that cost thousands of dollars, cocktail hours that by themselves are grander than whole wedding receptions back in the day, and which themselves are then followed by — Guess what? — wedding receptions for hundreds, with the bride in her second (or third) gown of the day. Oh, yes, followed a year later by a quickie divorce. “Themes” for the wedding, like hockey, or Christmas, or vampires. (Well, I haven’t seen a vampire wedding yet, but any day now). Oh, yes, and a new wrinkle, buying more than one wedding dress so that you can change after the ceremony (to show how irrelevant all those things you promised each other are to real life, perhaps?) and wear another (or two) strikingly priced gown for the rest of the day.

I don’t understand guydom. By which I think I mean, testosterone. Not that I oppose it — certainly I approved of it in my husband! But guys who bump fists, and heads, and chests and guys who have to have a “man cave” to keep the women out of their lives, and men who would rather fight than shake hands, that’s what I mean. We would miss testosterone if it didn’t exist, I am sure — but as things are, testosterone has taken over. Until even the women want to be like the men, and go into combat, or play football or swear like a trooper. (A male trooper.) . But you rarely hear of a man who likes to knit, or cook (except as head chef, which is different) or conciliate.

Unless he is past 60. It’s amazing how wise men become after a certain age — more like women all the time.

And I mean that as a compliment!

Love ya, guys!

Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears in the Times-News on alternate Sundays.

1
Text Only
Columns
  • Big loophole Big loophole

    How ironic — and how sad — that the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority plans a closed executive session to discuss the open meetings law.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don’t do it. Don’t do it

    Temperatures have been moderate recently but are projected to rise to the upper 80s and low 90s later this week, so we want to remind you: Never leave children unattended in a vehicle.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • He means well, and this time they spared his life

    Our pal Phil is the only re-enactor certified in writing by both the Lee and Custis families to portray Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee (whose wife was Mary Anna Custis Lee). When he’s in uniform, he generally stops at the bottom of the path that leads to the summit of Little Round Top, salutes Capt. Gary and First Sgt. Goldy and asks permission to join us. (Get it? Generally ... General Lee?) We always return his salute and grant him permission, in part because he’s our friend and also because the real Lee never got to see what it really looks like from up there. (Get it? Grant ... Grant? U.S. Grant? Real Lee ... really? OK. I hear you. That’s enough. Seriouslee.) Phil gets a kick out of being able to sneak up on us while we’re distracted by tourists.

    July 20, 2014

  • It’s hotter here than in D.C. or Baltimore

    At this time of the year, the weather is a frequent subject of conversation, particularly the temperatures. We are now in the “Dog Days,” usually the hottest days of the year. The term comes from our sun appearing to be near the “Dog Star” (Sirius) and the “Little Dog Star” (Procyon). In reality, the sun is now about 94.5 million miles away while Sirius is 8.6 light years away with Procyon at 11 light years distance. Sunlight takes only 507 seconds to reach us, while the two dog stars’ light takes about a decade to travel to our eyes. So our sun is in the same direction (but not distance) as these two bright winter evening stars.

    July 20, 2014

  • Mike Sawyers and his father, Frank Sale of quart-sized Mason jars lagging, merchants claim

    The opening day of Maryland’s squirrel hunting season is Sept. 6 and I am guessing you will be able to drive a lot of miles on the Green Ridge State Forest and see very few vehicles belonging to hunters of the bushytail. It wasn’t always that way. In the early 1960s, when I was a high school student in Cumberland, there was no Interstate 68. What existed was U.S. Route 40 and in the last couple of hours before daylight on the opening day of squirrel season there was an almost unbroken line of tail lights and brake lights between Cumberland and Polish Mountain.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hugo Perez Columnist, son are range finders, but where are .22 shells?

    We feel pretty lucky on this side of the Potomac to have a nice shooting range to utilize for free and within decent driving distance.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Opposition and inclusion understood

    Those of you who have been here before know how I feel about the late great Len Bias, who I will remember foremost as Leonard Bias, the polite, spindly Bambi-eyed kid from Hyattsville’s Northwestern High School, who could throw a dunk through the floor, yet had the most beautiful jump shot I have ever seen.

    July 17, 2014

  • Stopgap

    Kicking the can down the road was one of the things American kids did to pass the time in the old days, particularly if they lived in rural areas where there was little traffic to contend with.

    July 16, 2014

  • Further proof you should never bet on baseball

    Had you known in March that ...

    July 16, 2014

  • Build it now Build it now

    Anticipated savings from demolition work that will provide ground for a new Allegany High School on Haystack Mountain may allow the addition of an auditorium at the school.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo