Weather in the Foothills

There will be butterflies, there will be summer skies. And flowers up thrust, when all that Caesar bids, and all the pyramids are dust.
~ Haniel Long

From time to time, life goes beyond comprehension. Where is the nearest exit? I have yet to find one but in searching I found a source for solace … milkweed, monarchs and music.

In recent days, my time spent in the garden (not just the pool!) has expanded. The beautiful warm days encourage the plant and animal worlds to come forth. Last year we added a milkweed plant to our mostly drought tolerant yard. Unknowingly, as if a wand had passed over, we created a place of pure magic … the birthplace of monarch butterflies.

In the spring, adult butterflies begin their annual migration. Flying eastward from groves of trees along the coast from Mendocino to Mexico they feed on flower nectar, mate and lay eggs on a variety of milkweed plants – the sole source of food for monarch caterpillars. Along the way, they spot wild and human-planted milkweed. The typical butterfly life cycle takes about four weeks as they change from an egg to a caterpillar to a chrysalis and finally a butterfly. The butterflies usually live for two to six weeks. The cycle of generations repeats every two to six weeks through the summer. And come late fall, when the weather turns cold and the days get shorter, the insects return to California’s coast. Even though this year’s butterflies have never been there before, they somehow find their way to the same groves used by previous generations. Tell me this isn’t magical or a miracle of nature.

The western monarch butterfly, the ones we encounter, live west of the Rocky Mountains. The eastern monarch butterflies, which migrate between Canada and central Mexico, live east of the Rocky Mountains.

Today (Thursday) and tomorrow a cooling trend is expected to settle in as a deep marine layer moves into the valleys. This more typical June weather pattern includes night through morning low clouds and drizzle. Meteorologists have nudged up the extent of cloud cover and precipitation. Mountain rain showers are expected. With the input of a cold system coming from the north the rain may spread across the region and stay put until Saturday. Come Sunday, the heat returns.

Overcast days are ideal for planting … milkweed. Soon, on a warm summer day, butterflies will arrive. Add music and find solace.

Sue Kilpatrick is a Crescenta Valley
resident and Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service Reach her at