For years, I have been seeking in vain for a clear view of the elusive Monarch butterfly. Only this year, with the milkweed on the the decline and the thistle on the ascendancy, did I get a good, close look at a Monarch.
Since the Monarch butterfly is closely associated with the milkweed plant, I had expected to see it feeding on milkweed nectar, but that was never the case.
I saw many a Great Spangled Fritillary on the milkweed plants, but never a Monarch.
By the same token, whenever I posted images of the austere thistle flower, I was told: “That’s an invasive. Get rid of it!”
I did not get rid of the thistle flowers, because that’s not the way I operate. I let nature decide what plants grow in my pasture. I did not plant the thistle flower there. Even if it came all the way from Scotland, who am I to say it cannot live here?
I am amazed when some environmentalists advocate open borders for people, but they want to stop plants and animals from crossing borders. Do you think that if you put up a wall it will keep the butterflies from migrating? Or the thistle seeds from spreading? What nonsense is this?
This year, the deer destroyed all the milkweed flowers, leaving them to propagate only through the roots. But this did not prevent the Monarch caterpillars from enjoying the leaves on the milkweed. And by the time the Monarch was ready to be a butterfly, there were no milkweed flowers for it to visit. But there were plenty of thistles.
Today we had the first frost of the year, but the Monarchs are probably all well on their way to Mexico. No wall is going to keep them from crossing the border. But as fellow migrants, they took what nectar they could get from the Scottish thistle flower, without ever asking to see its visa.
I, too, am seeking sustenance wherever it can be had. This is why I made this T-shirt.
There are those who read my novels, but not my nature posts. There are those who like nature, but not literature. There is something to be said for each. It’s all interconnected!