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

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Climate Change will be impacted by Alberta Canada Keystone XL Pipeline

Want to learn what 350 means?

According to NASA’s James Hansen, “the earth’s premier climatologist, has laid out these stakes with some precision. His team found in 2008 that, if the atmospheric concentration of CO2 exceeds 350 parts per million, we won’t be able to have a planet “similar to the one on which civilization exists and to which life on earth is adapted.” We’re at 390 parts per million right now, and, what do you know, the Arctic is melting rapidly, the atmosphere is getting steadily wetter, and the oceans are turning sharply more acid. Follow Hansen’s math a little further: If we wean ourselves from fossil fuels by 2030, then the earth’s CO2 levels will begin to fall, and, by century’s end, we’ll be back near 350. Damage will be done in the meantime, but perhaps survivable damage. And, conveniently, the world’s supply of “conventional,” easy-to-get-at oil is starting to dwindle: The deposits in places like Saudi Arabia, which were built long before anyone had heard of climate change, are nearing the autumn of their lives. We could, in other words, use this moment of declining oil supply as a spur to make the leap toward renewable energy—a gut-wrenching leap, but one that, if we landed successfully, would put us in a new world.”

Recommended reading: Eaarth, Bill McKibben 2011. McKibben is the founder of 350 Organization.

Alberta Canada Indigenous Keystone XL Pipeline Tar Sands Struggle

I am posting this link because I believe that each person needs to learn what is at stake with the Alberta Keystone XL Pipeline Tar Sands struggle. The immediate consequences may not affect us yet but it will over time.

Let us learn from Indigenous communities that have already suffered from consequences of mining and contamination of water on tribal lands. If you want to know what is happening to your neighbors in North Dakota and Pennsylvania, listen to the people speak about ruination of mountains and how ground water is already impacted. I have heard them. It is hideous to think that multi-national corporations could even think of defacing the Earth in such a selfish way and for such a selfish end. MONEY, MONEY, MONEY.

The USA is not leading the world in alternative energy, rather it is still trying to extract dirty fuel. It must STOP. Many citizens in this country understand that we are at a pivital moment. We can walk into sustainability or we can watch the natural world being destroyed and what will protect us then?

If you want to know about fracking or privatization of bottled water watch Tapping, Blue Gold and Gasland.

The best site for watching videos on the protest in Washington, DC to stop the Alberta Canada XL Pipeline Tar Sands is at Indigenous Environmental Network at http://www.ienearth.org/index.html

We may not be given a second chance. It is now that the tipping point is being reached. We need to protect nature, which in turn gives us life. Nature is not dependent upon humans to survive. It is the other way around.

Visit http://www.ienearth.org/index.html to start learning about this threatening danger.

New Moon Water Ceremony in Northwest Wisconsin

Saturday, July 30- There were thunderstorms surrounding the valley in late afternoon. Water sisters arrived at the Hospitality House in Minong. We began by dressing up in skirts. Sandy Stein mentioned that when women wear a shawl and skirt it represents mountains and being close to Mother Earth. A skirt worn in ceremony is respectful and helps women remember that we are feminine energy and connected to Mother Earth. We put our sacred items together to carry them out to the sand dunes. I had on my glass water pendent that Worth Cooley-Prost had made for me. Sandy wore her medicine bag. It is good for women to have their very own medicine bag. We have several small beaded butterfly medicine bags made by an elder Marilyn Vig, Rice Lake, WI. I will exhibit and offer them for sale in September at our online store at http://stores.ebay.com/happytonics

Rainbow after storm

Rainbow after storm

While still at the house we witnessed a rainbow. This was a beautiful sign.

Then it started to lightly rain again as we walked to the sand dunes. Sandy Stein said, “Rain is good.” I responded, “After all we are praying for the water.” We felt blessed as we entered Sacred Space and the rain began to lighten up and then stop.

Sandy, Deborah and Godavari met the sweet fern for the first time that is now growing over the dune and into the site. I love this fern, years ago I put my intentions on the fern and wished that the fern would climb the dunes from the other side. Each of them smelled the plant and were joyous when they smelled the sweet fragrance having never smelled anything like it before.  I reminded water sisters that we needed to be silent as we entered Sacred Space.

Sweet fern.

Sweet fern.

We put our individual sacred items on the blanket alter in the sand. Before we began the Nibi Wabo (Water Song) each of us added our pure water to the water bowl to marry the waters. We tried to smudge but couldn’t get a match to light the sacred sage; it was too damp. We each took a pinch of tobacco in our left hand. In turn each spoke their intentions of remembrance before beginning ceremony and added a pinch of tobacco to the basswood Two Headed Bear Dream Bowl handmade by Frank Galli. The bowl was made especially for Water Ceremony offerings.  Then I gave a short talk on the observations of water to the sisters.

Message: Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer is one of the Ambassadors of the White Buffalo Family in Oregon. She is with them now and doing ceremony as we stand in circle. Worth Cooley-Prost is traveling from Arlington, VA to the Carolinas. Worth is standing with us in ceremony at the same hour where ever she is. I remembered Shelley Ruth Wyndham, Cape Town, South Africa, who asked that she be remembered each time we stand in Water Ceremony. She is with us in ceremony.   Mother Earth is going through a Great Cleansing and weather is and will become more violent.  We are to stand firmly grounded to the earth and hold any fear in our feet which is solidly planted in communication  with Mother Earth. We are not to let fear rise up through our bodies. We are not to be afraid when great and turbulent changes occur around us. We are to know that Mother Earth is protecting us. We are the Water Walkers, water sisters and water teachers.As women we are called to protect water. We are not alone. We are here to grow in healing energy work as we band together all over the world. Each of us in our own environment is here to teach others not to be afraid and to help people cross over the rainbow road after a storm. We are here at this moment to personally adapt to Climate Change and its consequences. We need to learn what our agricultural plant growing zone is and may be in the predicted future. We need to plant appropriately while we look towards the future. Current plant zoning is changing. In Northwest Wisconsin instead of planting the same species of downed trees ( Birch, Red Pine and Jack Pine) of the last storm in Minong on July 1, we need to look at a zone or two further south and plant accordingly. We need to personally adapt and teach others to adapt. There is no sense in old programming of being alarmed when our immediate world is changing and negatively lamenting the changes. If we survive I believe this is sufficient enough to be grateful. The solution: Think positive because we are still here doing our work. Adapt! This is the message.

Then we sang to the four direction, using our birch bark clapping sticks.  The clouds were getting black and thunder clouds came closer. After concluding the Water Song we ended ceremony sooner, packed up our ceremonial objects and headed back to the Hospitality House. Before we left the sand dunes, Sandy put down the sacred items she brought to the ceremony. These were a shell and rock. I left a tear drop shell in a special place also which was significant because we were blessed by rain during ceremony.

Parched sand dunes from drought.
Parched sand dunes from drought.

One of the observations I have noticed since I started working on water issues and Water Ceremony, with the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites, is that I am forever thirsty. Northwest Wisconsin experienced a seven-year drought .  I am conscious of having a dry mouth and wanting to drink water.

NOTE: Parts of this state’s North Woods and the adjacent Upper Peninsula of Michigan are the only areas in the continental USA experiencing “extreme” drought. It’s the region’s most severe drought since the 1930s and its longest dry period since the 1950s, says Roy Eckberg, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Green Bay, Wis. Learn more at http://www.usatoday.com/weather/drought/2010-06-24-drought_N.htm

Artesian well with spout and cup
Artesian well with spout and cup

I am grateful for all the rain in 2011 even though we have had to deal with strange, unpredictable and more frequent violent storms. Even the clouds have changed to forms I have never seen before. Now I keep a weather radio on.

I am secure in knowing  that there is pure water at the artesian well in the woods where sweet water flows to the surface from deep within Mother Earth. What a happy woodlands it is that surrounds the artesian well. Even though the trip is long and I need to drive 60 miles round trip from Minong to Shell Lake and back, I am happiest when I am drinking this precious pure water.

After the Water Ceremony Godavari wrote, “Thanks so much, so very much, for having us at your place, especially right after the trauma of the storms, when it must have been hard for you to get ready.  I like that it rained on our ceremony.  In Siddha Yoga rain is auspicious (highly beneficial, a good omen) because it is a blessing upon the  earth and its people.  As you said, it is life itself.  After our ceremony, I began drinking water with much gratitude, knowing we are blessed to have clean water on this part of the earth.  And inside, I feel a purification beginning, which the water ceremony seemed to launch.  Purifying me of anger and resentment, making space for greater love.  So in a personal way too, I am grateful to you for leading us in honoring water, in honoring Mother Earth.

Note: Godavari  means goddess of a holy river, and there is a River Godavari, as they call it there, near the Siddha Yoga ashram in India.

Worth Cooley-Prost says, “My part of Water Ceremony was brief and on the move, but held my Heart and I hope added something Good to the whole. My old (85 now!) friend Dot, who co-founded the Light Group in Kinston NC in the early 1970s, brought me a little container of water from there. (It used to be artesian well water, now it’s a mix of that and water from the Neuse River… anyway, Water from close-to-me Ancestors’ home since 1841 or so.) And our car smelled so wonderful with sage lit!

Tonya Whitedeer Cargill is a Clan Mother of the Bear Clan of Medicine Creek Metis in Laytonville, CA.  She holds women’s circles and Grandmother Net of Light Ceremonies.  She is one of the Ambassadors’ for the Sacred White Buffalo Family in Northern Oregon.  She is currently working on a novel that is coming to her through Spirit.  Tonya works with endangered species Medicines of the Green Nation and maintains a Medicine Walk open to the public to educate all those that come to her land named through Spirit as Medicine Creek. Visit the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites at http://waterblessings.org/

Mary Ellen Ryall is a Council Guide of the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites and Executive Director of Happy Tonics, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) environmental education organization and public charity. Ryall is the author of My Name is Butterfly published in 2011 by Salt of the Earth Press. The book will be available on Amazon shortly.

The fully illustrated children’s book gives testimony of why native plants are important for pollinators. The charming book teaches about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly and its only host plant milkweed. Over the last eight years Ryall has planted milkweed at the sand dunes. Monarch butterflies flitted about the day of the Water Ceremony. This is another good sign that the monarch butterfly abounds in Minong in and near the sand dunes.

 

Probable Tornado High Winds and Rains Smash into Minong, Wisconsin, July 1, 2011

sky

Minong sky

Continuing story. Latest updates are below at bottem of this post.
Ju;y 2, 2011 Storm saga: The temperature was about 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the valley yesterday. Late afternoon I went outside and felt a few rain drops falling. I raised my eyes and arms up to the sky and silently said, “Thank you.” The vegetable gardens needed rain. It was too hot and I knew the rain barrel was near empty. I would be grateful for rain and lower temperature. Midwesterners in Northwest Wisconsin are not used to torturous heat. Besides, I have Lymn’s disease again and not supposed to be out in the sun for the next 21 days while on antibiotics. Instead of working I decided to walk down the street.

I can’t help it. I am an Earthy woman who loves and lives within the elements. My passion is gardening and butterflies. I am more at home outside than in and have always been this way since childhood. When it started to rain more consistently, I turned around and headed home.

I observed clouds coming from the south. They could be viewed at the top of the Minong hills and looked like an impenetrable wall. I puzzled why were the clouds so low to the ground? I didn’t feel alarmed in that moment simply curious. I did not know that something significant was about to happen. I walked inside the house and began to watch a Netflix movie in the living room. While spread out on a sleeping bag, all of a sudden the electricity went off. Loud groaning and tearing sounds mixed with high wind pitch. The sounds were beyond any beyond anything I had ever heard. I got up and walked to the only space on the main floor that doesn’t have windows.

There I waited in a darkened hallway. I felt and heard the bones of my aged redwood home creaking and moaning and knew that the structure was being tested. The high winds roared down the chimney. I could hear the wind in the attic above me. At the same time, some knowledge more ancient than I made me realize that I was protected by a healing blanket around me. I was not afraid. I felt secure in this thought. With my bare feet firmly placed on the floor I felt connected to earth. I reached for the water pendent necklace hanging from a nail in the hallway and felt the water totem would protect me now. I grabbed the necklace and put it on. I held onto it and knew matter how forceful the rain and wind were, I would be safe.

My Facebook friend Worth Cooley Prost had given me a glass pennant neckland as a gift. She creates glass water jewelry. Worth is immersed in ceremony before and throughout the creative process. Her Earthly role is honoring and loving water especially oceans. I have not met Worth yet. I know her through mutual water work. I am a council guide for the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites headquartered in California. Women carry the responsibility of honoring the gift of water. It is a woman’s role to protect water. The Sisterhood was formed to embrace water and to teach others to be grateful for the gift. Water is not a commodity that can be bought, sold or traded. It is a gift. Women share the role so that we can protect fresh water for present and future generations.

Notes: Thoughts on losing pine trees and birch. Bonding with an adult monarch as I lightly held my hand out and she walked on my fingers to reach nectar. Precious moment. A few weeks ago, I saw a mother monarch lay eggs on milkweed in this colony. The property maintenance people mowed over it a few days later. I hadn’t protected it quite fast enough. I did see that some of the milkweed continued to grow and quickly, low fencing was bought. This time by golly, I was going to fence the colony off. Today I witnessed the first monarch caterpillar to survive in this very patch of milkweed. Last year, July 4, 2010, I lost my husband to cancer.

Uprooted 60 year old or older red pine trees.

Uprooted 60 year old or older red pine trees.This year July 1, 2011, all the old red pine trees were uprooted along the southern property line. These trees had beautiful straight trucks worthy of being milled for pine furniture or paneled walls. I counted trees rings the best I could. They were visible up to 54 circles which in turn indicate the age of a tree. I know a retired logger. He was here today with his wife. She was just checking on me when I started to explore this idea. I will get the age confirmed. I hope to save the wood for some worthy purpose. I do not want the trees dishonored and simply treated as non living. I would like to preserve them. Hopefully this is economically feasible. They could make beautiful knotty pine furniture, walls, and door and window frames for “Up north cabin furniture and room decor.” After the insurance people come, I hope I will be able to have a local mill help me. This is my highest intention. Now it will be a matter of financial possibilities. One step at a time. What I already knew about tree migration and I had noticed condition of the hardwood trees. I was already thinking the landscape would change once the trees started to die off because of climate change. Where will the robins sleep now? I hear one instead of a chorus that took refuge in the pine trees to sleep before the storm. What happened to the little wren family in the bird house? Did the mother make it out with the babies? Were they ready to fly? My neighbor told me birds know about incoming storms and they take refuge long before it hits. I did hear a chorus of wrens in the back property in the deep canapy of standing small trees and near the toppled trees near the bird house. Was this the wren family I was hearing? It is all quiet in the birdhouse now. I hope they made it to safety. I did see one young robin who was swept away by the wind. The little bird was laying in the motel’s driveway. Poor dear.July 4 - Late afternoon I could hear the winds blowing through the still standing red pine trees across the street. I started to cry - no more will I hear the sweet music of the pines on my own little 1/2 acre heaven. I will miss these trees and their music. These trees made a certain sound in winter when the winds would howl through the wind tunnel on the south side of my house. What will replace this familiar sound?Janice Organ helping with storm clean up.

July 5 – My friend Janice Organ contacted me via Facebook  asking if she could help. Janice came today from Shell Lake. Both of us worked all morning to rake the back property and to pick up limbs and twigs. I feel so much better knowing that at least the open lawn areas are cleared of debris.

Janice Organ helps with storm clean up.
Janice Organ helps with storm clean up.

We had some transforming conversation too. Janice was able to see a mother robin teaching her fledgling to fly and also to pick juneberries ripening on a tree. It was thrilling to internalize the message. We all must learn to trust ourselves and fly. The old world order is becoming obsolete with deteriorating natural resources, diminishing world fresh water supply and humans being disconnected to the very natural world that supports life. What is needed now is to learn about sustainability of the changing environment and to find ourselves within the natural world order.

“Evidence of significant patterns of change over the past 10,000 years confirms that substantial ecosystem changes can occur as a result of changes in climate. Presuming future changes occur to the same extent as past changes, tribes that trace their ancestry to the wooded regions will slowly become overtaken by grasslands. Such that the entire nature of place for many Native peoples is likely to change.” Source: Climate Change Impacts on the United States. Chapter 12 – Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change by Schuyler Houser, Verna Teller, Michael MacCracken, Robert Goughs, and Patrick Spears.

The city crews came today to cut and remove some of the street laden fallen trees. I am grateful to them and the new Board members who are making sure that village residents are helped with the cleanup. It is massive. Did I tell you about Hoppy (sp) who works for electric company? He made sure after being three days without electricity that my neighbors across the street were given higher priority because my friend Henrietta needed oxygen. My roof and electric pipe on the roof are damaged so Hoppy made sure I had a temporary wire hookup so I too would have electricity now. What wonderful people who you can count on where there is a natural disaster.

July 6, 2011 – Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer recently published portions of this article in the July issue of the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites Newsletter. She said, “Mary Ellen called me the morning after this act devastation…at first I was amazed at her bravery and calmness…but then I realized that she understands the prophecies and knows that we are in the midst of them now…these are the changes that are preparing for a New Earth to be reborn. If we stand in our Trust as Mary Ellen did and stand also upon and within her sacred space of Truth…we can all be survivors and teachers for our Mother Earth…AHO…. Grandmother Whitedeer

NATIONAL BUTTERFLY COUNT – JULY 4, 2011

Bonding with monarchs day after storm.

Bonding with monarchs day after storm.

Today Happy Tonics is coordinating a National  butterfly count on Facebook which has been upgraded to an International Butterfly Count. We have confirmed butterfly friends as far away as Nottingham, England. Butterfly enthusiasts in several states in North America are participating also.

I had planned to orchastrate the count from our two habitats in Shell Lake, Wisconsin (WI), USA. However a powerful tornado (documented in Solan Springs – 20 miles from Minong on Hwy. 53) literally came crashing through the village of Minong, WI on July 1. It took down all the old red pine and hardwood trees on the property.  I am in the middle of a natural disaster on my 1/2 acre that once stood proud with aged trees of red pine and Chinese elms.

The good news is the butterflies were not harmed. They have been fluttering around the property for days now. Today I will honor the butterfly count from the property where I live. This is a healing therapy for me to think about what survives in Climate Change. I speak about violent storms because I believe they are a proven perdiction of scientists. One has to adapt. I feel as en envirmental educator I am walking the talk. I am drafting the start of this blog later and you will be able to read it as I process my own personal experience.

Monarch caterpillar on milkweed the day after severe storm slammed into Minong, WI.

Monarch caterpillar on milkweed the day after severe storm slammed into Minong, WI, July 2, 2011.

On July 2, one day after the storm I started looking on the milkweed to see if there was monarch life. Take a look at this! I felt so elated to know the the next generation of monarchs were alive and well and eating milkweed leaves. I should name this caterpillar “Survivor.” How did they withstand 90 mph winds? It boggles the mind.

For now, take the day off if you are celebrating America’s Independance Day. The butterfly count will confirm how pollinators do in severe weather conditions at least from this part of the country. I heard on the radio this morning that el nino or la nina seasons can bring severe weather also.

Mary Ellen Ryall reporting from Minong, WI, USA – National Butterfly Count.

July 4, 2011 – 10:30 a.m. Copper butterfly seen on valerian flowers. It was sunny and breezye today. Butterfly was on north side of property and in vegetable garden. 11:30 am. Europen skipper was on the the south side enjoying the native grass as a …resting place. I noted some extra delights also. A mother robin was teaching her fledging to dig for worms. She was seen feeding the baby. Fledgling was following her around on the front property. Back property saw a mother robin teaching her baby about the bird bath. Quickly I went to fill it up.
I ate Juneberry, fresh swiss chard, strawberry tomatoes growing organically in my gardens.   1 p.m. Monarch butterfly seen flying around on front propertty. Winds picking up. Then a saw a wren picking up twigs and the bird has started building a next in one of the wren houses.   3:30 p.m. Monarch was flying by front property.
Weather: 84.7 degrees F, winds 5.8 mph. Day is sunny and clear.
Lisa M. Johnson reports from Milwaukee, WI, “I did the butterfly count anyway.  My count was zero.  I picked the sleepy intersection in front of my house, which has a lot of prarie flowers and a little stream nearby.  I would be willing to do it another time.  It may have been too hot for a sensible butterfly to be out and about.”
Ethel Peoples of Shell Lake, WI states, “I saw one monarch butterfly by my carport.”
OK butterfly friends. Hope to see your reports here shortly. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of the butterflies. They do need our love and help.

Be well insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

Mother Earth Water Walkers reach LCO in Hayward, WI

Saturday morning, June 4, I drove up to Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Reservation in Hayward, WI and parked at the tribal college to wait for Sandy Stein, Secretary of Happy Tonics. Our plan was to meet up with up Mother Earth Water Walkers and join them.

First I must tell you that the old ravens that guard over the college let it be known I was there. They landed in trees near me and I bid them good morning as they cawed. These ravens have been in the forest near and around the tribal college for years, perhaps even generations. I know because they or their descendents were there when I graduated from the tribal college in 2003.

Sandy arrived and we put on our skirts over pants to show a sign of respect and then we headed to Hwy. E going in the direction of Reserve. We said our intentions silently and put down some sacred tobacco as we drove. I called WOJB the tribal radio station while we were on the road and a nice young man told me that the walkers were about at the hill headed for Reserve. What hill I thought? Northwest Wisconsin is all hills since the four glaciers passed through this country long ago. Sandy understood that the walkers stayed on the reservation last night in Old Post so she turned down a road that might be where they were.
And they were. The walkers of the southern direction have been walking since April 20th, carrying the salt water of the  Gulf of Mexico to Bad River, WI where it will meet with the other waters from the Atlantic, Hudson Bay and Pacific on June 12th.  The southern direction included Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin – The walk is ongoing until the water from the south reaches Bad River, WI

Brody helped walkers between runs. Mary Ellen waiting to walk.

Brody helped walkers between runs. Mary Ellen waiting to walk.

Not knowing how to join them in the well orchestrated walking event, she asked a driver with the back window displaying WATER WALKERS. His name is Brody and he said, “Jump in” and I did.

Mary Ellen Ryall carrying water and Conner Beauleu carrying Eagle feather staff.

Mary Ellen Ryall carrying water and Conner Beauleu carrying Eagle feather staff.

He and his wife Barb Baker-Larush have been on the road for a
long time and they were orchestrating the walk through the reservation. Sharon Day has been on the walk since April 20. It is so important that the water never stops. It has to keep moving until it reaches its destination being Bad River on June 12 where all water walkers from the Four Directions will converge; Pacific and Atlantic Ocean; Hudson Bay and the Great Lakes.

Conner Beauleu carries Eagle feather staff.

Conner Beauleu carries Eagle feather staff.

The same respect is held for the Eagle feather staff that men usually carry to protect the water and the woman carrying the water. If a man or young male is not available than the water carrier herself has to carry the staff also. The staff is sacred.

Water runner Barbara Baker-LaRush. Eagle Feather Staff runner Conner Beauleu. Isaiah Martinson, Conner's cousin slightly cut from photo copyright Mary Ellen Ryall.

Water runner Barbara Baker-LaRush. Eagle Feather Staff runner Conner Beauleu. Isaiah Martinson, Conner's cousin slightly cut from photo copyright Mary Ellen Ryall.

Sharon Day copyright Mother Earth Water Walkers.

Sharon Day copyright Mother Earth Water Walkers.

To start my walk, Sharon Day, one of the main event organizers and grandmothers smudged me so I would be pure before I carried the copper pail with water gathered from many clean and fresh sources. Brody told me Sharon was in a hurry to get back home for a few days and had started to step up the pace so that walkers knew that it was important to help her in their own pace in order to help Sharon achieve her goal. She has been walking through many states and was near closing of her part
of the walk. I think that was probably spurring her on. I was impressed that a Grandmother could walk at a clip like this. It was almost like she was dancing the steps as she fast walked to the beat of drum music.

I had to hold on to the pail handle and walk at the same time as the walker started to pass it to me. I matched my steps with hers until she was sure I was walking on my own. I felt honored to finally be walking on this important journey. I have wanted
to be part of this walk since Grandmother Josephine Mandamin started walking with a vision of protecting and respecting water back in 2003 when she walked around Lake Superior.  Brody told me the walkers stayed at his house last night June 2, in New Post. In the evening they sat around a bonfire to relax after a long day. I must say I never saw such fit Native American women as I did today. These are warrior women who have the heart beat to walk from their hearts. They are dedicated to bring this
important issue of fresh and pure drinking water forward for all species and for seven generations out. The vision is global.

Multinational companies don’t want us to know that they are buying up rights from countries to “OWN” the water. Colonization is still ongoing. Then the multinationals turn around and bottle the water and sell it back to the very poorest of the poor in
developing countries such as in Africa. It is unethical to dishonor water in this way. Water is a gift from the Creator not a commodity to be bought and sold.

While on the walk, I was happy to see Paul DeMain was there doing a live stream from News from Indian Country. We have worked together on several occasions over the past few years. His wife Karen was there too but we were concentrating on our roles
and didn’t have time to meet and greet. When I walked I felt empowered and in the silence all I could feel was my own breath and heartbeat. I remember there was drum music, sounds of singing birds, sights of cotton fluff blowing on the wind from cottonwood trees and fragrant green forests on both sides of the street. It was an honor to finally be part of this sacred walk. A young man, Conner Beauleu, held the staff and ran beside me was focused as we both were. He did two runs, one after the other, and was my silent strength. I am a 66 year old woman with mild emphysema and it felt so comforting to have a young warrior  beside me. Such a noble young man true to his Ojibwe culture.

This was a once in a lifetime experience for me. I wouldn’t have the physical endurance to do the action miles that are required to fulfill the total trip through many states. I am a Council Guide for the Sisterhood of the Planetary Rites, founded in  California by Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer. I carried a butterfly beaded medicine bag handmade by Marilyn Vig, an artist in Rice Lake, WI. Inside were the names women who sent emails saying they wanted to be with the water walkers  in spirit. Their names are: Worth Cooley-Prost, DC, Anna Dunn, MN; Cassie McCrow, WI; Anna Merritt, WI; Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer, CA and founder of the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites (SPWR) in CA; Kunda Wicce, Island  near France; Sandy Stein and Mary Ellen Ryall, Happy Tonics, WI and SPWR, WI chapter participated in the walk; Ginger Wilcox, WI; Chris Doolan Ottose, WI and Akasa WolfSong were women who were spirit walkers.  Inside the medicine bag was a prayer bundle of red cloth. Inside the small bundle was a pinch of sacred tobacco, made by Ginger Wilcox.

Sandy took lots of photographs which we will publish later because a CD needs to be made first and uploaded to my hard drive. I am so proud of her and her insight in knowing how important it was for me as an elder to walk in this unfolding vision. Women
are the protectors of water. I would like to mention that Worth Cooley-Prost is an artist in Washington, DC. We are water sisters through Facebook and have never met. Worth recently sent a beautiful water necklace that she was inspired to create through ceremony, moon and water. She doesn’t make her glass jewelry until she has been inspired by her rituals and ceremony first. Now I wear this water necklace to all water ceremonies. I was wearing the necklace today and as I walked with thoughts of all the women who have touched my life, I touched the medicine bag with sacred intentions within.

I gave the little medicine bag to Brody’s wife Barbara Baker LaRush. She will know who should hear the story when they sit around another bonfire.

Be happy insectamonarca friends wherever you are.

CLIMATE CHANGE IS A REALITY AND WE NEED YOUR VOTE

Brighter Planet is once again sponsoring our grant proposal on their social network.  Happy Tonics gained 384 VOTES in earlier rounds and we hope to boost VOTES this round from May 1 – 15.  Please log in or sign up to VOTE for Adapt to Climate Change Native Wildflower and Butterfly Habitats in Shell Lake, Wisconsin at http://brighterplanet.com/project_fund_projects/100 

Woodland trail to habitat

Woodland trail to habitat

Yesterday I went for a walk in the woods.  I wanted to check on the Wild Monarch Butterfly Habitat.  The DNR did a nice job in the fall of 2009 cutting down forbs and  cutting popple trees that were becoming invasive. I noticed two azure butterflies (Celastrina argiolus) flitting about with their lavender colored top wings.  This is the second butterfly species I have seen this year.  The first was a fritillary spotted earlier in April, well before it should have been in Wisconsin. We will monitor butterfly species on July 4 as part of the national butterfly count sponsored by North American Butterfly Association.  The public is invited to help us for a small fee of $5.00 to cover materials.  Come for an hour or more, from  10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Fiddlehead fern

Fiddlehead fern

  Seeing that the fiddlehead ferns were ready for picking, I gathered some and brought them home to cook.  They are delicious sautéed in butter with garlic.  While exploring I noticed that common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) is taking over a once native birch tree forest.  This is an invasive species.

Birch polypore mushrooms

Birch polypore mushrooms

The dead birch are now a haven to a birch fungus (Piptoporus betulinus) that breaks down the wood.  This particular polypore is unique in that it lives throughout the year on dead birch trees.  It only lives for up to a year but will continue to stay on the tree in its hardened wooden form.  It is known as the artist conk and the bottom is felt like and can be carved into art.

One of the side effects of climate change is that invasive species move into an area that once was native habitat.  They are hardy and once an invasive species gets a foothold, it is hard to eradicate.

Handmade sign DNR Donation

Handmade sign DNR Donation

  The DNR has been helping us to manage invasive species in the open field butterfly habitat surrounded by woods.

Your VOTE really matters.  It may in fact help fund a book to be published on monitoring species in 2010.

Thank you!

PLEASE VOTE FOR OUR GRANT PROPOSAL on Brighter Planet

Happy Tonics has been selected again as a candidate for the April 1 – 15 VOTING PERIOD with Brighter Planet.  Our Grant Proposal Native Habitats and Community Gardens in Shell Lake, Wisconsin, needs your VOTE at
http://brighterplanet.com/project_fund_projects/100
We are a nonprofit 501(c)(3) Environmental Education Organization and Public Charity.  Officers and board work for free.
 
 
Please take a minute to REGISTER on BRIGHTER PLANET and VOTE for our Grant Proposal.  Thank you for helping us create a world of beauty for today and the future.  
 
Bees on Coneflower

Native Bumblebees on coneflower

  Our work is dedicated to helping the littlest of species the pollinating butterflies and native bees that need our help.  We grow native habitat and crops to promote biodiversity which pollinators depend upon.

Thank you for VOTING for our Cause at http://brighterplanet.com/project_fund_projects/100
 

Today We Sing Your Praises

Hand Drum Contest – Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Convention Center, Hayward, WI.  Happy Tonics will be at LCO Ojiwe Community College on Thursday to present a program on Oneida Culture and Corn.  It is all about saving tribal indigenous crop species from extinction. 

Brighter Planet VOTING PERIOD has ended.  Happy Tonics, Inc. received 234 VOTES for their initiative to adapt to Climate Change.  Happy Tonics, Inc. Officers and Board Members wish to thank each and every one of you for your votes.  Today we heard from Michelle L. Voight, Executive Director, of Tourism Washburn County Tourism Association at www.washburncounty.org  Michelle let us know she VOTED for  adapt to Climate Change Native Habitat and Community Garden in Shell Lake, Wisconsin.

 We are both members of Destination Marketing Organization at http://wisconsinvisitor.com/?113140   Nancy Herman, Yellow River Advertising and Marketing and Greg Vreeland, Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad, are dedicated to letting the public know that we have some great green initiatives to promote Eco tourism and Volunteer Eco vacations in the Great North Woods of Wisconsin.  Check out the train schedule in Spooner at http://www.spoonertrainride.com/  to find some interesting short excursions that include meals and other eco friendly activities like the pumpkin train that goes out to a pumpkin patch in the fall.

Monarch Butterfly Habitat

Monarch Butterfly Habitat, Shell Lake, WI, USA copyright Cindy Dyer

 In the summer, right down the road from Spooner is the Monarch Butterfly Habitat that Happy Tonics implements.  The city owned land is now a Restored Remnant Tallgrass Prairie for many species of butterflies, native bees and dragonflies.  Visitors have even seen ducks, deer and a bear come wandering through the habitat. 

One doesn’t need a lot of land to restore nature back to native habitat.  Native plants are host plants to butterflies and do not require intensive watering.  The plants have very deep roots.  The prairie rose has been known to grow 20 feet down into the soil to tap water.  Can you image lawns doing this?  Why deplete water to maintain a lawn?  Native grasses and wildflowers can do all this with so little in return.   With climate change we need to adapt.  Bless you all for voting and helping to protect Mother Earth. 

Be happy insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

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