Royalty in the Garden

At the edge of the pond where the grasses run high and the red hot pokers light the path like summer torches, there is a patch of butterfly milkweed. A smaller cousin of the larger type but no less captivating. Each tall fuzzy stalk hosts a cluster of tiny scarlet and yellow flowers, the perfect landing pad for pollinators to perch and feed on abundant sweet nectar. And further down the stalks, you may see slender pods that have dried and split open, exposing a nest of feathery parachutes, each clinging to an oval brown seed awaiting lift-off.  While you investigate the seeds, from the corner of your eye you may see something flutter by.  Looking up you will recognize this royal winged messenger— her tawny orange pattern against black veins and margins dotted with white. You will watch her dance along the milkweed, entranced by her graceful radiance, wishing for her to rest so you can capture a closer look. You will stand still waiting to see if she lands. You will wonder how long to wait. Just as you decide to move on, she will arrive and perch atop one of the clusters of vibrant blossoms. First, a couple of feet away. Then, she will drift a foot closer. You might slowly inch towards her, not wanting to scare her off but determined to study the details of her wings. She may stay and expand her wings fully, allowing you to capture her magnificence. You will snap several photos with your mind and through your lens. Not wanting to pressure her to leave, you will thank her for sharing her gorgeous display and comment on how intelligent she is at finding her just-right food, how her presence fills you with delight, how you feel blessed by her magical beauty. Walking away, she may follow you and lightly dance around your head— as if to thank you for witnessing her so profoundly. As if to say she witnessed you as well.