Award_lrg_shadow_121015Baskets for Butterflies

by Donna Hamill

New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards
FINALIST in three categories:
– Biography (Arizona)
– Gardening
– Young Adult

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(Adult / Young Adult readers)

“Can a garden gnome really come to life to help me?”

My family and I enjoy a back-to-basics lifestyle on a small Arizona homestead—but we’re not alone. We share our low-desert home with dairy goats, heritage turkeys, wildlife, and native plants.

Whispered songs float down the Gila River—do the voices belong to the ancestors of my Native American neighbors?

We have such hopes for our organic heirloom garden. Many of the seeds are locally adapted and endangered. The summer air temperatures, though, often exceed 110 degrees. I struggle as plants shrivel and die!

Then one day, under the magical mesquite tree, grown from seed by the hand of the wisher . . .

“Who are you, and why are you here?” I ask.

“Heard wish. Saw light. Want help . . . Darkness comes.”

Can a garden gnome really come to life to help me save heirloom seeds?



What does the phrase, ‘baskets for butterflies’ mean?”

The words refer to getting endangered seeds into the hands of as many people as possible.

When my garden gnome comes to life, he teaches me that I can’t save rare seeds by myself. Other people must grow them, too. Otherwise the treasures will fall into the darkness of extinction. The little guy intends to tell me, “Don’t put all of your ‘eggs’ (or seeds) in one basket (or one gardener).” But, confused, he says, “Don’t put all of your ‘butterflies’ in one basket.”

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