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THE

S A LT C R E E K

NATURE SANCTUARY’S

celebration of life


The S a lt Cr e e k Nat u r e San c tu ary

Y

ou’re invited to the Salt Creek Nature Sanctuary—a place to relax, reflect, and reconnect. The sanctuary’s 280 acres are home to a tapestry of diverse habitats, including deciduous forests, old fields, and vernal pools. These habitats protect a rich array of native plants and wildlife, including migratory species such as monarch butterflies and ruby-throated hummingbirds. Enjoy your visit—sit by the pond, walk the trails, or linger at one of our many contemplation sites. The Memorial Garden is among the sanctuary’s most welcoming sites. Featuring religious and earthbased artifacts, it evokes the spirituality of the human connection with nature. As a place for reflection, it’s the ideal spot for our Celebration of Life, patterned after Mexico’s Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. The start of Día de los Muertos coincides with the lateOctober arrival of the monarchs in Mexico. Tradition holds that the butterflies are the spirits of ancestors returning to their loved ones. Similarly, our late-summer celebration is timed with the monarchs’ southward passage through the sanctuary. Join us to celebrate the cycle of life and to remember and honor loved ones who have gone before us. Regardless of your age or religious affiliation, you’re invited to the sanctuary’s Celebration of Life. Or contact us to schedule a visit for another time. Perhaps you’d like to learn more about the sanctuary as a final resting place for your ashes or those of a loved one. In any case, we encourage you to visit and enjoy. Relax, knowing that the Oxford Society will manage and protect this land forever.


SANCTUARY


The R U BY-T hr oat e d H u m m i n g b i r d

T

he ruby-throated hummingbird is unique, both in its natural history and in its cultural significance. The only hummingbird native to eastern North America, it summers in the open woodlands of the U.S. and Canada. Hummingbirds often feed in flight; the continual beating of their wings allows them to hover as they nectar at flowering plants. Ruby-throats weigh only as much as three small paperclips, and each egg is the size of a single pea. Their color, too, is a distinguishing characteristic, for the brilliant throat of the male flashes brightly in the sunlight. To avoid the cold northern winters, ruby-throated hummingbirds migrate to warmer areas, such as northern Central America. Twice a year, they travel at least 2,000 miles—including an astonishing 500 to 600 miles across the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico! To cross the Gulf safely, hummingbirds must first feast on nectar, so that they more than double their normal weight. By the time they reach the Gulf’s southern shore, the extra weight—and perhaps more—will be lost. The sweet tasting nectars of tubular and traditional flowers—including morning glory, beebalm, goldenrod,


Like the monarch butterfly, rubythroated hummingbirds play an important role in Day of the Dead celebrations.

The Aztecs believed that hummingbirds represented the souls of ancestors who had passed away. Today, the birds symbolize the spirits of all deceased loved ones, and their arrival is welcomed with great joy throughout Mexico and Central America as people prepare for the Day of the Dead. As it is at Salt Creek Nature Sanctuary, the presence of the ruby-throated hummingbird is a red spark of remembrance that fuels a celebration of hope and love.

HUMMINGBIRDS

and jewelweed—are favorites of the ruby-throated hummingbird. Many of these flowers are found throughout Salt Creek Nature Sanctuary, providing sustenance for visiting hummingbirds.


T he M ona r ch B u t ter f ly

A

familiar sight in midwest gardens, the monarch butterfly holds dual citizenship: Each year, millions of monarchs—perhaps tens of millions— migrate from their wintering grounds in Mexico to summer in the U.S. and Canada. Their story begins in the forests of Mexico, where the monarchs overwinter, roosting in oyamel firs. In February or March, monarchs begin the long migration northward. As they fly, the monarchs mate and lay tiny eggs—the size of a period on this page— on milkweed plants. Soon after, the adults die, but the story continues. In four or five days, the monarch eggs hatch, releasing tiny caterpillars. A young caterpillar has one job: eat milkweed and grow. Fully grown at two weeks, the caterpillar attaches itself to a leaf or stem with a silken thread and hangs upside-down. A soft chrysalis forms, then hardens, protecting the vulnerable animal. Within the chrysalis, the caterpillar undergoes metamorphosis, emerging ten days later as a beautiful orange-and-black butterfly. It is one of the year’s firstgeneration monarchs. Second-generation monarchs are born farther north in May and June; those of the thirdgeneration are born still farther north in July and August. It takes three generations of butterflies to make the full journey north from Mexico. Incredibly, it takes just one


Unfortunately, humans are threatening the monarch’s long-term survival. Pesticides and herbicides kill the caterpillar’s sole food source, the milkweed plant. Habitat loss is even more problematic. In Mexico, oyamel forests are cut to meet the demand for lumber; only 2% of the original forests remain. In the U.S. and Canada, tens of thousands of acres of prime habitat— along roadsides, in vacant lots, and adjacent to agricultural land—are mowed, paved over, or converted to farmland. Salt Creek Nature Sanctuary is a haven for migrating monarchs. Passing through Ohio and Indiana in mid- to late-September, hundreds, sometimes thousands, of butterflies rest and re-fuel in the sanctuary, feasting on the nectar of flowering plants, especially goldenrod, which gilds the rolling fields.

MONARCHS

generation—the fourth—to make the entire trip south. While most adult monarchs live two to six weeks, fourth-generation monarchs—those born in September and October— live six to eight months. These individuals make the long, difficult journey south to Mexico. There, they overwinter, resting and waiting until they begin the journey north in spring.


A Ce le b r at i o n o f l i f e

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round the end of October, migrating monarch butterflies and ruby-throated hummingbirds arrive in Mexico, just in time for Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead. This celebration is based on the belief that these animals represent the spirits of deceased loved ones returning to those they cherished—and who cherished them in return. According to tradition, the migration of the monarchs and ruby-throats symbolizes the journey of human souls from los cielos —“the heavens”—back to earth. The Day of the Dead typically falls between October 31st and November 2nd. Celebrants prepare beautiful altars, called ofrendas, adorned with marigolds, candles and copal, incense made from tree resin. Ofrendas feature loved ones’ favorite foods and belongings to welcome the spirits of the deceased with familiar and beloved smells, tastes, and sights—and they symbolize earth (food), air, fire (candles), and water. In fact, Day of the Dead celebrations involve many symbolic traditions, including the exchange of colorful skulls between family members to show that love transcends life. Once all preparations are made, families gather to dance, to sing, and to remember their loved ones who have returned with the butterflies and hummingbirds. In the past few decades, Day of the Dead traditions have begun migrating to the United States. People here tend to fear death rather than embrace it. However, as


We invite you to a Celebration of Life at Salt Creek Nature Sanctuary. A new event, it’s an adaptation of Mexico’s Day of the Dead. With activities centered in the Memorial Garden, the Celebration of Life is a festive occasion designed to honor loved ones who have passed on, but who never truly leave us. It will be held annually on the third weekend of September, to coincide with the passage of the monarch butterflies and ruby-throated hummingbirds as they journey southward.

CELEBRATION

increasing numbers of people from Latin cultures come to this country, they bring with them a more positive attitude towards death, one that is hopeful and joyful. They consider death a complement to life—a reason to celebrate and remember.


A Nat u r a l R esti n g P l ac e

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ndividuals may request that their loved one’s ashes be placed in the Memorial Garden at the sanctuary— or elsewhere on the private grounds. Loved ones whose ashes are spread at the sanctuary may have a plaque placed on the Memorial Garden wall. For more information, contact Don Kaufman, Executive Director, The Oxford Society, at kaufmadg@miamioh.edu or (513) 523-3356.

The Oxford Society would like to thank Dr. Jean Lutz and her Professional Writing capstone students, who designed this brochure from start to finish: Dani Barto, Nicholas Bartunek, Joseph Battista, Ryan Bundy, Nicholas Daniel, Allison Gnaegy, Laura Hower, Kaitlin Ketring, Brianne Kistler, Kristina Labun, Maeve Metheny, Matthew Niles, Jenna Presar, Britt Prescott, James Robertson, Joseph Shapiro, and Andrew Yde.


MEMORIAL GARDEN


The Salt Creek Nature Sanctuary's Celebration of Life  
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