Looking for a home

I found that home in Minong, Wisconsin. It is a little village of 531 people at present count. I lived there for 12 years, the longest time I  have lived anywhere. Now I live in Fitchburg, MA. I’ve lasted two years, but it is not home.

Wind chimes at my private wild butterfly habitat.

Wind chimes at my private wild butterfly habitat.

In the fall 2014, I am moving back to my ancestral home of Saratoga Springs, NY. I’ll be able to post a lot more there.

Looking towards it.

 

I’ll be finished with community outreach in August after I complete the summer environmental education program.

 

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A Day in a Life Beyond Death

June 11, I was thinking today about my husband, (d 2010). I guess it is because our Wedding Anniversary is tomorrow, June 12. Today I was writing about the Sulphur butterfly in the Field Guide I am writing. While I was writing the description, I was having flashbacks to my own personal experience with one sulphur species.

Image

It was years ago, while walking down a hill in Minong, WI, I saw a pink-edged Sulpher (Colias interior) get hit by a car while it was flying across the road. I immediately knew the butterfly couldn’t get out of harms way. A second later, there it was left on the road without a thought of concern by the driver, who probably never even noticed. I walked over to the butterfly and saw it was still alive, but permanently damaged. It could not fly. I picked it up and carried it down the hill. All the while I sang an honor song to the butterfly while it lightly tapped my finger with its beautiful pink feet. I couldn’t help but see how beautiful the butterfly was and it made me cry and again today. This is called grieving.

When we got down to the bottom of the hill, I walked over to a grassy area and said goodbye to my insect friend. I put her down in the grass. To this day I will never forget my bond with that  butterfly. Later in the day, I walked back to the site and saw that she was gone.

I miss my husband too and the pink-edge sulphur comes to remind me that even in death we are still attached by an invisible thread connecting us to the cosmos.

Photo copyright Kathy Keatley Garurg, Butterflies and Moths Organization.

Butterfly heaven

monarch birth 26 August 2012

monarch birth 26 August 2012

Today my sister’s grandchildren came calling my name, “Aunt Mary Ellen come quick. The butterfly is born.” I could hardly believe it was the  same monarch that was in a chrysalis this past week because it was too early in its development at this stage. Rather it turned out to be another monarch birth.

It took a child with eyes close to the ground to spot the newly emerged butterfly, which was resting on a blade of grass, after it emerged from a clear, see through chrysalis. Welcome to the world dear monarca. The caterpillar created a chrysalis right on a container pot. No one even suspected that there was a chrysalis there.

The other chrysalis we are watching is about ready to emerge. The wings are becoming more visible through the chrysalis as the hours pass by. It should prove interesting tomorrow. Here’s a shot of today’s chrysalis.

monarch chrysalis 26 August 2012

Transformation and Healing

China

China

China, an 11 year old cat and I are healing together. She was injured on July 21. We think she was attacked by a feral cat. Her left shoulder was dislocated. For the past three weeks we have been recuperating together.Yesterday I felt like I was being called to come to the woods; I stated to walk out to the forest on a weathered trail. I didn’t walk very far before I heard a meow. I turned around and saw that China was following me. This is the first day that she has been outside and  already she was going way beyond a safe zone. China is still limping and wouldn’t be able to fend off another predator in this condition. Naturally I turned around and we walked home together.

It is interesting that we have been recuperating together. China on three legs and I slowly building endurance after a medical crisis with respirator exasperation and other issues that caused a perfect storm. I have learned patience from China and I am still learning. Both of us need to pay attention and not go beyond our limits.  She had no business being out in the woods. Perhaps I too am pushing it. My goal is to walk out to see the old Boy Scout camp. It is here where a wild butterfly habitat exists now. I want to see what shape it is in. In the meantime, there is a butterfly story that follows.

My brother-in-law Jack wanted to show me something in the garden. Growing among tomato plants there was a milkweed plant; a large monarch caterpillar was munching away on milkweed leaves several days ago. Yesterday Jack again wanted to show me something.

Monarch in classic J shape

Monarch in classic J shape

A monarch caterpillar was hanging upside down on a tomato stalk. The creature was in the classic J shape that indicates that it is going into the pupa stage. This is where it splits its skeletal skin for the last time and changes into the next stage of its life cycle. The day was cloudy and rainy. The caterpillar didn’t transform itself. When I was taking a photo I accidentally bumped into the plant and the caterpillar balled itself up in a protective mode. I questioned, does the caterpillar need sun to warm its body in order to allow the caterpillar to have the energy to change? Later in the day, the heavy rains came. I hope it didn’t get dislodged from its hiding place among the tomato plants. It does have some protection from surrounding tomato leaves. For now I will observe development. There is no such thing as coincidence. All thee of us are changing, China, the caterpillar and I. Each of us is coming into new life after being injured, ill or simply transforming.

Be happy insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book Published

I am updating this post because Cindy Dyer, Dyer Design, prepared the cover and text for a post card. Here it is…..

Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book

Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book

The Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book was published by Butterfly Woman Publishing. The coloring book sells on Amazon for $10.98 FREE SHIPPING with orders of over $25. To view the book on Amazon, click on the link at http://www.amazon.com/Monarch-Butterfly-Coloring-Book-Volume/dp/1477476466

I am excited because now one can look inside the book.

Mary Ellen Ryall wrote the environmental text and Mora McCusker illustrated the book. Valerie J. Downes edited the book. Cindy Dyer did the art layout for the book and photographed the cover.

Teach children about the importance of native plants for pollinators. The book teaches about the life cycle of the butterfly.

Talkupy – Jason Graham – Native Bee Nest Site Project 06/07 by Talkupy | Blog Talk Radio

Talkupy – Jason Graham – Native Bee Nest Site Project 06/07 by Talkupy | Blog Talk Radio.

I was listening to the interview, which I like very much. Tomorrow when I am fresh, I will relisten and contact Annie Lindstrom. She asked if I would be interested in coming on the Blog radio station. I think it would be a wonderful opportunity to talk about monarch butterfly as a pollinator. The life cycle of the monarch now has an Endangered Migration Phenomena.

I have authored two published books about the butterfly. The books are illustated children’s book, My Name is Butterfly can be used by teachers and parents to teach children. One is a charming story about a girl in her garden who discoveres the wonders of the monarch butterfly. The other book is a Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book. This too is a teaching book, ilustrated by Mora McCusker, artist in Gordon, WI.

 

Butterfly Corner

Butterfly Corner
by Mary Ellen Ryall

November 7, 2011Felipe Martinez Meza, Assistant at Biosphere Monarch Butterfly, Zitacuaro, Michoacan, Mexico, confirmed that monarch butterflies had arrived at their overwintering sites in Mexico. He performed field work at the sanctuary the first week of November.  His research was reported back to Learner Organization.

Monarch cluster copyright Learner Organization, Univ. of KS

Monarch cluster copyright Learner Organization, Univ. of KS

True to their encounter with nature and pre-Hispanic tradition, monarch arrival coincided with the Day of the Dead in Mexico on November 1. There were butterflies in their wintering sites in historic sites: The first colony in Ejido El Rosario had occupancy of approximately 50 trees while a second group on November 2nd was detected in 10 trees. It is too soon to say what this means as far as monarch concentrations are concerned. Are they doing better or worse this year? Has the migration numbers increased or decreased?

In December, scientists will travel to Mexico, from Learner Organization at the University of Kansas, to determine the health and vulnerability of the Mexican butterfly population and the overwintering sites. We can only hope that the butterflies were able increase in number especially since their numbers have been dwindling due to climate change, habitat loss and environmental fires, floods, oil contamination and other risks along their 2,000 mile migration.

Happy Tonics noticed record numbers of monarch butterflies in Shell Lake in 2011 at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat. The last butterflies were seen on October 12 which is very late. Many people called to let us know they too saw many monarchs this year. It could be that the abundant rains increased milkweed growth and enabled the monarchs to propagate beyond normal numbers.

My Name is Butterfly

My Name is Butterfly

Get ready for Holiday Saturday on December 3. Happy Tonics is having an open house at the Visitors Center/Store at 25 Fifth Avenue, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Refreshments will be served.  We invite parents and grandparents to come in and view the book My Name is Butterfly. The illustrated children’s book features the artwork of Stevie Marie Aubuchon-Medoza and is written by Mary Ellen Ryall, CEO, of Happy Tonics and the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the holidays and honor youth in their home town. Books are available on Amazon. A limited number of copies will be available on December 3 for those who wish to see the book and obtain autographed copies for their families. Amazon price $12.98. FREE SHIPPING on orders over $25.00

Water Ceremony at Hospitality House Minong Wisconsin

Milbert tortoiseshell butterfly

Milbert tortoiseshell butterfly

It was a cold and rainy day here in Northwest Wisconsin and yet a blessing considering that we are doing Water Ceremony and rain is always something to be grateful for. Animals totems today were a Milbert Tortoiseshell butterfly basking on Chrysanthemum in a southerly direction which looked like a fall aster to me and Canada geese flying east at sunset.

Worth asked that I recall anything that may speak to the stained glass she is currently working on. I was thinking colors like the brown, orange and yellow of the tortoiseshell. The Canada geese that flew over honking were grey, black and white. Somehow I was seeing colors when I closed my eyes.

Animal Speak says that the butterfly is a creature of change, color and joy. The butterfly is also the symbol of transformation because it goes through metamorphosis and becomes something brand new in the process. Canada geese when they show up “can show us where excesses are dissipating our life force and facilitating a congestion to growth and movement. They can teach how to get back to creative and beneficial experiences and expressions of emotion,” according to Ted Andrews.

Later in the afternoon I received emails that attendees were unable to make it to the Water Ceremony tonight except for one. Lindy was at a distance and I suggested that she not come all this way tonight and wait till next month. Two people were ill, one was at work and the other was traveling and in Minneapolis. Deborah called from MN. Being the Council Guide for the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites I knew that it was important to perform a Water Ceremony with or without attendees.

I received a water pendant from Worth Cooley-Prost from Arlington, VA that is to be given to a woman in emotional need. In exchange I am sending her White Sage from the Midwest which is known as western mugwort. I was expecting a healing shawl in the email from Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer. Update: It was at the Post Office and I picked it up this morning. I will bless the box with water from the Water Ceremony last night. The shawl is going to a Water Sister who is suffering a lot of stress right now due to work and family illness. I will be sending white sage out to Grandmother Whitedeer for her other half Threecrows.  Women who asked to be remembered in Ceremony were: Jennifer Lynn Engstrom-Bressette, Diane M. Stephenson, Grandmother Akasa WolfSong who was doing a Water Ceremony in Beloit, WI and Cassandra Winger. We join their hearts along with the Water Sisters here and afar and offer them up to the Water for purification, cleansing and blessings.

Water Ceremony September 27, 2011

Water Ceremony September 27, 2011

I was able to use the gourd that came from the woods. Two years ago I found a mound of earth with gourds growing on it. I never was so surprised in all my life to see the gourds growing in the woods. I picked many of them and one dried out nicely and became my ceremonial gourd. I danced with this gourd tonight in the Four Directions. I placed a bowl of my garden tomatoes, a Navajo robin egg corn cob, a glass bowl of fresh rain water and the gifts on the altar. I smudged the alter, myself and room. Then I used my birch bark clapping sticks to sing the Nibi Wabo Water Ceremony song and walked in the Four Directions. Somehow I always feel happier when I sing the chant. It is if the water is happy and I can sense this.

Perhaps a lesson for me tonight is to realize that I keep my promise to myself to do Water Ceremony on the New Moon dates at 6 p.m.

The next Water Ceremony will be October 26 at 6 p.m. Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer wrote that there will be a World Water Blessing event on Oct 28 from 12 Noon to 3 p.m. Pacific time. Visit the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites to learn more at www.waterblessings.org

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