Courage at Twilight: Milkweed and Monarchs

Monarch butterfly on my daughter Hannah’s hand

Years ago Mom planted milkweed seeds in a patch of open dirt under the Austrian Pine.  The plants are difficult to establish, but once established proliferate and dominate their territory.  She likes the shapes of their leaves, the heads of pretty perfumed pink starlet flowers, and the conical green seed pods that brown and break open and spread thousands of fluff-laden seeds on the breeze.  But the real reason she grows the milkweed is to attract Monarch butterflies.  As a child in Brazil and New Jersey, I gathered Monarch caterpillars and fed them to maturity, watched them pupate and finally break free as butterflies with wet wrinkled wings that vibrate and spread into black-webbed fiery flapping sails.  As an adult in Utah, I have helped my children do the same.  The Monarch chrysalis is like no other, a soft powdery green with stripes of gold: a living jewel.  Although Mom she has not yet seen a Monarch floating above her milkweed plants, still she hopes one will flutter by someday and stop to lay its eggs.  I believe it will.  For Mom, her milkweed patch has become a symbol of hope: hope for beauty and hope for successful growing up and taking off, a hope and trust in life.

 

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