Tall dandelion plants are letting the small parachutes fly, carrying their seeds in the air, and you can actually see the process in motion.
As the seeds float through the air, it is almost possible to ascribe volition to them, because they are in motion. If it moves, it must be alive. That's how our brains have been programmed to think.
The thistle flowers are going to seed as well.
When you see a pile of seed parachutes on the ground somewhere, it is sometimes hard to tell which plant they came from.
"Going to seed" is a funny expression in English. It can simply describe the process of a plant getting ready to reproduce by letting its seeds loose on the world. But because people are so into man-made gardens, it can also mean "to produce seeds because it has not had proper care." And by extension, going to seed as an idiom means "to decline in looks, status or utility due to lack of care."
Let that sink in. We seem to think that getting to the point when you can actually reproduce makes you look as if you have not had proper care. We apply this to humans, too. No wonder so many women try to look like little girls.
Not all of the thistle flowers have gone to seed, though. Some are still flowering, and those are the ones that the Monarch butterflies are turning to now.
Can you see the Monarch hidden among the flowers?
I spotted the butterfly from far away, but this Monarch did not make it easy to take a picture.
Here are few stolen glimpses at the Monarch's glory:
Yet always it turned in time to avoid a collision.
In order to make these tight turns, the butterfly had to resort to stunning aerobatic maneuvers, flying straight down or straight up at times, then righting itself at the last moment.
As we watch our children going from cute, helpless babies to teenagers ready to reproduce, we need to remind ourselves they are not going to seed in the sense of losing their utility. They are going on to the next very useful phase of life.