Posted on 06/17/2017 at 4:18pm

Milkweed Blooming

A single butterfly with faded, worn-looking wings fluttered in front of me as I took my morning nature walk on a cool, misty-morning early this spring. I watched as it landed on one of the newly emerging 4 inch tall, thick, young shoots of milkweed plants beginning to grow. Looking closely I was shocked to see it was a Monarch Butterfly, but there was no bright, orange-golden glow that glistens in the sun on the velvety surface that I had always noticed on their delicate wings. It had somehow faded to a dull, cloudy, almost colorless shade of grey.

I watched mesmerized for several minutes after I recognized what she was, another creature that is facing undeniable changes in their environment. Shocked at her sad-looking condition, I stood quietly as she ignored my presence and fluttered directly to one of the small newly emerging milkweed plants, lighted upon one of its perfectly formed, blueish-green, thick leaves for a few brief seconds, then continued to another freshly emerging plant just like it, ignoring all the other spring weeds and grasses growing everywhere alongside the path where I was walking. She was going from one to the next of the small, non-blooming young milkweed plants. I was mesmerized.

What was she doing? Why was this faded, old-looking Monarch Butterfly going to each one of these very young plants and just touching each of them? The next day I walked back to the wild garden I have created once again on an acre of land by mowing narrow paths through portions of it, and there she was again, the only butterfly anywhere around doing the exact same thing she was doing the day before. I could only guess what she was doing, but it seemed very necessary to her.

Will she be carrying location information to her species, that there are healthy, wild, milkweed plants growing here? The next day on my return to the garden, she was no longer there, and I have not seen another Monarch Butterfly in the past few months since that early spring day. Summer is already heating up in Tennessee. The milkweed plants growing in my yard that the old Monarch Butterfly carefully touched, are now several feet tall and starting to get their lush fragrant blooms. I wonder if those sturdy young shoots could feel her delicate legs touching each of them as they were beginning to grow. Now, I am here painting these wonderful plants and I can feel their power as they stand tall next to me.

I look forward to seeing all the beautiful, delicate young butterflies as they flutter past me going through my wild garden of native plants later this summer. I realize the wildlife in our world is so threatened by our ignorance. I have heard that milkweed is very important to the life-cycle of Monarch Butterflies. We mow thousands of acres into lawns, to create perfect carpets of green. We spray and pull the weeds that will continue to limit nature’s diversity, and these wonderful living creations have all but disappeared from much of the landscape. I did not plant these milkweed plants. They simply started growing when I stopped mowing part of the yard. I hope she went to tell other Monarch Butterflies that these healthy plants are growing here, and I wish I could tell her, “I will always let the milkweed plants grow for you and your species.”

“Milkweed” 10″x10″ Oil on linen Copyright 2017

 

2 Comments

  1. Gaelle1947 says:

    What a moving story that culminated in such a beautiful painting. This sent me looking for further information on the Monarch butterfly. I’ll definitely be careful what I pull out of my backyard from now on! Thanks for sharing.


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