The glorious butterfly weed is popping out all over!  Something about its arrival just makes me smile, as if it is the undeniable sign that summer is here.  This so-called weed comes in various hues of orange, even dramatic persimmon.  We began with a plant or two near the house but within a couple of years the seeds along the driveway came to life.  Now the low bushes dot the prairie, even in areas recently burned.  I like the way they push a rounded end up first—a sure sign that there is more to come. I love seeing shades of orange joining the golden coreopsis, now that the purple lupine have mostly gone to seed and I’m pulling the purple hairy vetch every day.  Butterfly weed is in the milkweed family along with the swamp milkweed.  Their small flowers have the identical shape.

The fact that color thrills me comes as a surprise, because I have the genetic flaw of color blindness. I did not know until I flunked the dot discrimination test in college physical and later in a teaching of science class.  It can be embarrassing being such an outlier, joining only .5% of women with the condition.  At first I found it hard to believe—after all, I named colors correctly, could match thread to fabric and enjoyed bright colors.  Recently my nephew unearthed an old picture of me wearing an outrageously bold green and red plaid coat I made in 4-H, in high school.  For my condition, contrast is good—like the black and white clothing that now beckons me because I can hardly make a mistake.  But it is those shades of green and blue that always mess me up.  And my husband’s brown, black and navy blue socks—forget matching them by color—I go by texture.

I have no idea of what color others see when they say, “look at that orange flower,” but what I see is wonderful. And maybe that is the reason I fell in love with the prairie in June with all manner of brilliant wildflowers nestled against a backdrop of green.