For the most part, I believe that things worth doing are worth doing for their own sake. Every once in a while, though, I do something that brings unanticipated and wonderful collateral benefits. Slightly more than a month ago, the Better Half and I, along with a number of others, were part of the St. Croix River Valley IMAGINING. One benefit of participating, that we didn't know about when we signed up, was that participants were offered some plants that monarch butterflies like. We brought a couple of those plants home, dug some holes, and inserted their root balls. The plants grew, blossomed and attracted monarchs. It worked!
meadow blazing star (Liatris ligulistylis), I think, with monarchs
Photo by J. Harrington
I've probably seen, without really seeing, monarch butterflies before, but I wasn't mindful of them, nor was I aware how much they are in trouble. Although we've got milkweed plants growing over much of the property, I haven't seen any caterpillars. Obviously, though, we do have tufts of flowers. Maybe, by myself, I can't stop excessive use of herbicides or eliminate GMOs, but, by myself, I can plant meadow blazing star and leave the milkweed alone. What could we accomplish together?
The Tuft of Flowers
I went to turn the grass once after oneWho mowed it in the dew before the sun.
The dew was gone that made his blade so keenBefore I came to view the levelled scene.
I looked for him behind an isle of trees;I listened for his whetstone on the breeze.
But he had gone his way, the grass all mown,And I must be, as he had been,—alone,
As all must be,' I said within my heart,Whether they work together or apart.'
But as I said it, swift there passed me byOn noiseless wing a 'wildered butterfly,
Seeking with memories grown dim o'er nightSome resting flower of yesterday's delight.
And once I marked his flight go round and round,As where some flower lay withering on the ground.
And then he flew as far as eye could see,And then on tremulous wing came back to me.
I thought of questions that have no reply,And would have turned to toss the grass to dry;
But he turned first, and led my eye to lookAt a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook,
A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had sparedBeside a reedy brook the scythe had bared.
I left my place to know them by their name,Finding them butterfly weed when I came.
The mower in the dew had loved them thus,By leaving them to flourish, not for us,
Nor yet to draw one thought of ours to him.But from sheer morning gladness at the brim.
The butterfly and I had lit upon,Nevertheless, a message from the dawn,
That made me hear the wakening birds around,And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground,
And feel a spirit kindred to my own;So that henceforth I worked no more alone;
But glad with him, I worked as with his aid,And weary, sought at noon with him the shade;
And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speechWith one whose thought I had not hoped to reach.
Men work together,' I told him from the heart,Whether they work together or apart.'
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