A Butterfly Story

There was a time when I lived in a very magical place atop a hill in a rolling green  sea and there were orange daylilies growing wild and the wind was always fragrant. In the Spring, the smell of new wet earth and young plants emerging from the melted fields of snow, cascaded through the windows of my dreams. Pinto ponies trotted curiously up to greet us. Daughter and I saw a triple rainbow after a shower. Later, when the wind picked up, and lightning crashed, I could see for miles, as anyone who has ever lived on a hilltop or mountaintop knows.

I remember  Lilacs~ their purple whispered fragrance 
~Daughter who flowers in a sea of flowers
~Puppies and kittens and a wildflower garden
~Sunlight and dewdrops mirroring the universe

One experience is forever crystallized in my memory above all others, and the experience gave that place its name. I will tell you now.

It was in the autumn, and in the land of four seasons, that is a time of vivid color. The sugar maples were a brilliant gold. Scarlet leaves and deep rose, purple, all shades of brown and pale yellow,  all the warm colors you can imagine. One afternoon, as I was sewing, out the window, I noticed the leaves were shimmering magically in the wind, iridescent. Daughter and I ran outside to see what this spell was, and we saw something so beautiful, it will be forever in my memory~a painting of life~the tree was full of monarch butterflies. They were resting on their yearly migration to Mexico, which is thousands of miles south. How can such a delicate, tiny, light thing like a butterfly ever fly that far and why were they there ~~ that tree of all the trees in all the woods and meadows around~~I will never know the answer to this mystery. That place was a place we named Butterfly Hill.
Butterfly Story copyright Kathryn Barnes

Due to genetic engineering, the monarch butterfly may be lost forever. The pollen from corn that is carried in the wind to plants that the monarch uses as food, such as milkweed, has killed off 50% of the first generation of monarch butterflies. This is because pesticides have been genetically engineered into crops, and even the pollen is toxic. Although there have been a few measures taken in the US, such as restricting production of genetically engineered foods to 25% of a farmer's land, that amount of land and toxicity to the monarch is extremely significant.
I have lived in an area of monarch butterfly migration for over 25 years. I have not seen a monarch butterfly in years. I want to see one again. Don't you?
If you are concerned about this, please do all you can. There are many groups fighting against the genetic engineering of foods. The Rachel Carson Council is one of them. Crops produced with built in pesticides have also been shown to cause cancer and immune system dysfunction in humans. 


Asters: late summer to fall

Bee balm (bergamot): summer through fall

Butterfly weed: summer through fall

Clover (white or red): summer to fall

Coreopsis: summer to fall

Dianthus: spring to fall

Lavender: summer

Lupine: late spring to early summer

Mints: all summer

Passionflower: summer to fall

Phlox: summer to fall 

Purple coneflower: summer to fall 

Sage: summer to fall 

Salvia: summer to fall 

Scabiosa 'Butterfly blue': summer through fall 

Shasta daisy: summer 

Thistle: late spring through fall 

Violet: spring 

Yarrow: summer 

Butterfly Story  © Kathryn A. Barnes
Why is Milkweed Important?

Milkweed is a plant that Monarch butterflies need
to live. The young caterpillars require it as a food source. The plant has been considered a "weed" and poisoned into near-extinction in many areas. 
 Milkweed was once valued and used for many beneficial purposes. The silky light threads of the pods were used to stuff pillows with. The flowers in certain stages are edible. Also, the plant has medicinal value.
In 2009, November, the artist saw a stand of milkweed in an abandoned meadow.
Cheers! Perhaps the butterflies will return someday!


Despite awareness of the importance of milkweed for Monarch butterflies, there are signs that butterflies are becoming more rare. Because of the GMO addition of biocides like Bacillus Thuringisis which chemical corporations splice into the genetic matter of their GMO soybeans, corn and other commercial farm crops, the butterflies are becoming extinct. There are no guarantees that such genetics do not cross pollinate and kill 'off target'.
What is the answer to the preservation of butterflies and other endangered species? 
One answer is in truly organic sustainable agriculture practices, and in the preservation of native plant species and habitat.
        The Fine Art of Artist Kathryn A. Barnes
The Fine Art of Kathryn Barnes Gallery   1  2  3  4