First Thursdays in Fitchburg MA

The city of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, comes alive the First Thursday of each month. Several events have been ongoing for months if not years.

Butterfly Woman Publishing

Butterfly Woman Publishing

For the first time, Butterfly Woman Publishing, Inc. www.butterfly-woman-publishing.com  participated as a Vendor at the First Thursday Fitchburg Farmers Market, at Fitchburg Art Museum. The museum welcomes the community to participate at the museum, FOR FREE, on the First Thursday of each month. Through a generous grant, Ward Four residents are granted an annual free membership. First Thursday at the museum is dedicated to the Fitchburg Farmers Market. Other events may occur on the same evening, which proves to enhance the event. More traffic is generated when different functions take place.

The Fiddler's Gardens

The Fiddler’s Gardens Steve and Sue

Last night was no exception. Sheila Lumi, Community Organizer, invited Steve and Sue of The Fiddler’s Gardens to play Celtic music. Sue plays fiddle and Steve plays guitar. I absolutely loved it. I am sold on the idea of partnering.

I am a member of Fitchburg Art Museum and Fitchburg Farmers Market Association. Can you imagine setting up a table next to the Hudson River School Painting Exhibit? Yes, there are several rooms devoted to American Scenery: Different Views in Hudson River School Painting, on exhibit through June 2.  There was also art on the walls where I was stationed. It is a tremendous privilege to be part of this program. I was raised in Saratoga Springs, New York, home to the oldest thoroughbred horse races in the world. Saratoga is near the Hudson River with its magnificent views. Fitchburg Art Museum has landscape paintings of Lake George and Seneca Lake, which are right in my childhood backyard.

VeeLashua Vee Lashua and her son Zack, student St. Andrews School, were selling fresh eggs, vegetables, and organic meat. I bought two pounds of grass fed ground beef and pork chops last month. This month I bought two dozen eggs (yes they are that good), cut kale, and beets. Vee’s crops are delicious and the pork chops are the best I have ever eaten. Zack was selling fresh made “Award Winning” chili that his mother had made. I had a bowl and suggested Vee make chili again for next month. It was delicious. They also served hot chocolate.

Nick Capasso and Terry Impostato

Nick Capasso and Terry Impostato

Nick Capasso, new 10th Director of the Fitchburg Art Museum, stopped by to introduce himself. Nick says, “I am proud to join a museum with deep ties to its community – in Fitchburg and in the surrounding towns and cities in Central New England.” Next month I learned that Nick is planning to host an informal meet and greet reception where he will greet museum visitors.  This is why I love the art scene here. Everyone is on the same playing field when it comes to promoting Fitchburg to the World.

Terry Impostato of Semi Precious Gem Treasures assisted me by restoring some old family jewelry necklaces that had broken. Both were from the 1940s or earlier. The seed pearl necklace is gorgeous now set with some red inland stones and the cinnabar necklace has been interlaced with black onyx. I am well pleased. Now I can start to plan to buy some jewelry each month.

Duffy Lanciani of I shoot Wildlife.

Duffy Lanciani of I shoot Wildlife.

Robert “Duffy” Lanciani was there last night representing his wife Mary, who was ill. Mary is a fabulous photographer. Matter of fact, I bought two of her photos made up as greeting cards. Naturally one was a wet monarch and the other was a standing bear in fall. They both shoot nature, wildlife, artistic impressions. Check them out at www.ishootwildlife.com

Janice Oikelmus recently relocated to Fitchburg from San Francisco.

Janice Oikelmus recently relocated to Fitchburg from San Francisco.

Afterwards, I walked over to First Parish Church to participate in the monthly First Thursday Drummers Group that starts at 7 p.m. The music led me to the meeting room. How warm it was to see a Music Alter set with instruments around the lit candles set for intention.

Music alter honoring intentions

Music alter honoring intentions

Some participants’ play drums; others played talking sticks, flutes and wind primitive handmade instruments, while melodic drumming kept the beat.

Sacred gourd

Sacred gourd

I immediately fell into a meditative mood and played my gourd rattle that I grew and dried. Nature provides musical instruments.  I would have liked to stay longer, but it had been a long day already.  I did a wrap within an hour and walked home with Glenda Littlehale. We both live at The Sundial.

One can only anticipate that things are getting better in downtown Fitchburg. The more we partner and enjoy the fruits of our labors, the better we become.

Butterfly Corner

Ryall, M.E., 06 June 2012. Washburn County Register, Butterfly Corner.

False indigo is in in first book after planting three years ago

False indigo is in in first book after planting three years ago

Saturdays at the Habitat:  8 a.m. – 10 a.m. The first and second Saturday Habitat Yard Sale for the butterflies took place. Folks came by to tell us how lovely the Monarch Butterfly Habitat looks. Others came on bike or by car and bought a few things. Saturdays are fun at the habitat. We planted a few violets for the fritillary butterfly. A Three Sisters Garden was planted, just before it rained. Weeds were pulled, wet newspaper put down, and topsoil added that Steve Degner delivered. We added aged sheep manure and a package of potting soil. This planting style is known as the lasagna method. The idea is to not dig into the soil, but add to it. We planted birdhouse gourd seed and hope they will grow among squash, heirloom beans, and Pungo Creek butcher corn, a variety of rainbow red, brown, yellow, and sometimes purple ears.  For 165 years, the corn has been grown by farmers of Pungo Creek, Virginia.

May 25: The once rare brown Argus butterfly of southern England has found a new food source according to Butterfly Conservation, a science and advocacy group in the United Kingdom. The butterfly was located in southern England within a small area with a less common host rock-rose plant. Now the butterfly has migrated north due to climate change. A cooler environment was critical for its survival. To scientists’ surprise, the butterfly caterpillar is eating geraniums, which are abundant.  “The change in diet represents a change to the interactions between species – in this case between a butterfly and the plants that its caterpillars eat – caused by climate warming.”  This is the first case of a butterfly that can survive with a change in host plant, due to climate change. More science research and documentation will be ongoing to track butterfly species adaption to climate change. Terry Root, Stanford University, states that for every winner, there will be three loser species. Source: Butterfly Conservation Organization.

Wet bumblebee after a storm copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

Wet bumblebee after a storm copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

May 28 – June 1: It was a virtual butterfly and bumblebee feast at the property in Minong. I saw a fritillary, American copper, red Admiral and many monarch butterflies. The fritillary deposited eggs on tiny violet leaves. The monarch deposited eggs on milkweed.  Yesterday it was the bumblebees. I counted 18 large bumblebees on chive flowers. Some were sleeping while others drank nectar from flowers. Two species of bumblebees were noted: double banded rust and impatiens.

Red Admiral copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

Red Admiral copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

The Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake was alive with red Admiral butterflies.

Common buckeye copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

Common buckeye copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

There were several of them nectaring on native ninebark shrub. Common buckeye and

American Lady copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

American Lady copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

American Lady were also seen. American lady differs from painted lady in that the butterfly has two giant eyespots on hind wings.

June 2: Family Festival was held in Spooner at the Fairgrounds. Hundreds a parents, grandparents, friends, and children were in attendance. Fresh Start and Happy Tonics partnered together to provide fun activities for children. My newest book, Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book,  just came out on Amazon. Copies were made of the butterfly coloring pages.

Gideon Fegman coloring monarch from Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book

Gideon Fegman coloring monarch from Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book

Gideon Fegman enjoyed coloring a monarch and said, “I am a naturologist.” John Jess, of Minong, provided several clay birdhouses and paint. Dan Gunderson, Fresh Start, gave the bird houses a first coat of paint. Children painted decorative designs on the birdhouses. We plan to make a stand and exhibit the birdhouses at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake.

Remember to stop by the Habitat on Saturday mornings and join the flea market fun from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. Visitors can volunteer to do a few morning chores also.

Stacie Theis, Beach Bound Books reviews My Name is Butterfly

On exhibit at New Ventures Garden Seminar, Northwood School, Minong, WI

On exhibit at New Ventures Garden Seminar, Northwood School, Minong, WI

It is a thrill to have one’s book reviewed. Thank you Stacie Theis, Beach Bound Books, San Diego, CA, USA, for giving my book, My Name is Butterfly, a good review for parents and teachers.

My Name is Butterfly by Mary Ellen Ryall is a wonderfully written educational story about the birth and life of a Monarch butterfly. The story is told through the eyes of the Monarch caterpillar who eventually transforms into a Monarch butterfly.A young girl named Sarah discovers a mother Monarch laying eggs in their garden. Sarah enthusiastically experiences first hand the birth and transformation of the Monarch caterpillar. The butterfly becomes her teacher as she learns how the caterpillar is born, what it eats and how it becomes a butterfly.

The illustrations by Stevie Marie Aubuchon-Mendoza vividly depict the Monarch caterpillar’s and Monarch butterfly’s characteristics.

A great book for parents and teacher alike to educate children about the life of Monarch butterflies.

Available at www.amazon.com It has been a joy working with you Stacie.

Tomorrow I will be speaking to Mrs. Jean LaVave’s kindergarten class in Shell Lake. Mrs. LaVave teaches the children about monarch biology. I have been invited to her class for many years now. It makes me proud to see happy children who are monarch butterfly advocates.

I’ll wear my butterfly shirt, hand appliqued by Myna Atkinson. She is an elder master needlewoman. God bless all our butterfly friends. I couldn’t flutter without them.

This county story starts under a plant

  • test4Writer and butterfly fan

Frank Zufall

Writer and butterfly fan

Mary Ellen Ryall is surrounded by photos and her journal used to document the emergence of a monarch butterfly in her garden in 2003, which eventually became the story for My Name is Butterfly.

Posted: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 8:31 am | Updated: 11:51 am, Thu Dec 22, 2011.

BY FRANK ZUFALL | 0 comments

For those looking for a Christmas gift inspired by a Washburn County story, one idea is My Name is Butterfly, a book written by Mary Ellen Ryall, director of Happy Tonics, the organization behind the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake.

Ryall wrote the story based on personal observations in her Minong garden in 2003.

“I saw this chrysalis under a bean plant, attached to the bottom of the bean leaf,” she said. “I thought, ‘What in heaven’s name is this?'”

She took a photo of the chrysalis and sent it to a friend in Ohio. “She said, ‘Mary-Ellen, do you realize you have a monarch butterfly chrysalis there?'”

From ground level, Ryall studied and observed the chrysalis change to adult butterfly.

“While I was there I had my bottle of water and this notepad,” she said. “I kept wondering, ‘What is she trying to teach me?’ I had no idea why I was having this experience, and I wrote down even about that.”

Ryall said a rabbit had eaten part of the leaf where the chrysalis was anchored, so she constructed a little fence around the bean plant.

“If that rabbit had come back one more day, I wouldn’t even have a chrysalis left.”

When the chrysalis turned dark, Ryall knew the butterfly was about to emerge.

“This is the very first time the butterfly comes out. Her wings were completely wet,” she said, “and I was with her for three hours. That’s how long it takes for a butterfly’s wings to dry out. They try to climb higher and higher to reach the sun, to get their wings dried. They pump fluids from abdomen to wings to do that.”

Ryall recalls the butterfly’s journey toward the sun: “And then the butterfly tried to climb up the bean pole, but the top of the plant had been eaten by the rabbit. She climbed to another plant and she went to a sunflower. She almost fell down. She had to right herself.”

During the climb, Ryall saw the male butterfly fold its wings back to let the underside dry.

“I’ve never seen a shot like that before,” Ryall said about the photograph she took of the butterfly.

“Then he gets up tall on this sunflower, and that’s when he flew away.”

From her Minong garden, Ryall shared her journal observations and photos with Patrick Shields, an English professor at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College.

“He said, ‘Knowing you, that butterfly will be immortal,'” she said.

The journal notes were transformed in what Ryall calls a “creative, non-fiction” story – her experience but with other characters: a young girl and her mother.

Publishing

After the story was written, Ryall looked for a publisher. In a twist of fate, a publisher’s granddaughter volunteered at the Happy Tonics office

“Her grandmother came in one day and said, ‘I heard you wrote a story about a butterfly, about a monarch.’ I said, ‘I did,’ and she said, ‘Can I see it?'”

The publisher was Lindy Casey of Salt of the Earth Press, a small publisher from Northern Wisconsin focusing on books for children, the environment, organic gardening, recipes.

Ryall left Casey alone in the Happy Tonics office with the manuscript while Ryall visited the Shell Lake library.

“When I came back, she said, ‘This is important work. I’m going to publish it.'”

After a deal was struck, Stevie Marie Aubuchon-Mendoza of Las Vegas, Nev., was chosen to illustrate the book.

To help the illustrator, Ryall asked Minong’s Cassie Thompson and her mother, Tanya, to recreate scenes from the story which Ryall photographed.

“I told her [Cassie] to wear a baseball cap and she said, ‘I don’t wear a baseball cap.’ I said, ‘In this story she does wear a baseball cap.'”

Cassie takes on the character Sara Reynolds who goes out to the garden and finds a butterfly egg and then a caterpillar.

In the story, Mom cautions Sara to leave the new life alone and also teaches Sara new terms, like pupae.

“Her mother teaches her [Sara] while the butterfly teaches her the actual life cycle, so it’s the butterfly telling the story, basically, and getting more information from her mother.”

Coloring book

Following My Name is Butterfly, Ryall and a graphic designer from Alexandria, Va. created a publishing house called Butterfly Women Publishing.

The first publishing project, due out this spring for Earth Day, is a coloring book of Monarch butterflies illustrated by Gordon artist Mora McCusker.

“There are so many people I can reach locally. If I want the greater message to get out there, I have to get it published,” said Ryall. “That’s why we created the publishing house, so we could get some of my essays and manuscripts out there. If my life is short and sweet, this will be something of me to leave on this planet.”

Book

My Name is Butterfly is available at Amazon.com or by visiting www.happytonics.org.

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