Source: News from Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP) – University of Minneapolis.
Butterfly followers may find this article of interest considering that Karen Oberhauser, Director of Monarch in the Classroom, wrote. Karen is a leading scientist and teacher in the field of monarch biology and migration. She wrote, “Mary Ellen Ryall from Shell Lake, WI, has established and dedicated a native remnant tall grass prairie as monarch habitat on 1/2 acre of city land. After a tremendous storm, she has shared an amazing story of monarch survival.”
On July 1, 2011 a straight line wind at 100 mph struck Minong, WI. It blew down 11 red pine trees on my property in the village. In the process of storm cleanup, the trees were cut and taken to the local saw mill to be turned into board foot. There was an Aldo Leopold Bench that was crushed beneath one tree. The logger brought his big equipment in and lifted the tree so that his son could save the bench.
Lo and behold a monarch chrysalis was on the bench. I thought about how the butterfly was a form of transformation and knew it would adapt to the landscape changes. I marveled that I saw a few monarch butterflies flying about the day after the storm. How could winds of 100 mph wreck such havoc in the village and yet allow the butterflies to survive? How did the same wind that caused birds in maple trees to lose their lives allow a butterfly, the weight of a single maple leaf, to survive? It is a beautiful wonder.
“While monarchs have amazing tenacity, many individuals are not as lucky as those in Mary Ellen’s habitat. MLMP volunteer Diane Rock captured some incredible photos of monarch predation last summer…[monarch butterfly faces threats], especially as eggs and larvae, but also as adults. Several studies have shown that only 5-10% of monarchs survive to adulthood in the wild. In strong winds and other extreme climate conditions, individual monarchs stand a fighting chance, but they are often no match for the spiders, ants, stink bugs, wasps and other invertebrates that attack monarch larvae on milkweed plants. Black-beaked orioles and black-headed grosbeaks are common predators of adult monarchs in their overwintering sites, and in their breeding grounds, the adults may fall prey to spiders.
Monarch survival is an amazing feat, considering all the dangers that they face throughout the course of their lives. They appeal to all of us because of the astounding things they are able to accomplish. Research and monitoring through MLMP help us to understand the hardship that monarchs face, and areas where improvements can help support monarch populations.”
October 26, 2011 – 6 p.m. Hospitality House, 705 B Street, Minong, WI
Sponsored by Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites
Open to women who feel called to honor and respect water. Purpose: Support water issues that need our attention. To change negative impact on the world’s fresh drinking water supply for all living species all over the world. Turning our hearts and prayers toward positive energy and vibrations to heal water world wide.
Water Blessing Event
October 28 – 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Sponsored by the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites and Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer. May we all stand together with a single intention for water matter where we are on the Earth at this time.
Water Sister Worth Cooley-Prost sent the following Messsage:
Dear Ones! At long last, the convergence of time, energy and Heart allows for this long-overdue message.
[A new friend and I] talked about indigenous understandings of Now, and how I can’t imagine how I’d be able to look around in these times if I hadn’t heard Don Alejandro speak 11 years ago, how the Mayan calendar isn’t about the “end of the world,” rather about the accelerating unfolding of a whole new Time that’s very different from all that’s unraveling now. (I really like Tom Kenyon’s metaphor about 2012 or whenever — he says when his odometer turns over 100,000 miles, he doesn’t expect his car to disappear!) I think our unexpected hour together was a Gift to both of us, and recalled again the Hathors advice about the difficulties of chaotic nodes: “be curious and expect miracles.”
Turtle Women Rising 2011 was in Olympia WA this year, from sunrise on October 7 through the afternoon of October 10. I have the bowl that held the Water on the altar at TWR 2008 and 2010, both here in DC. It’s lovely bowl, about 16″
across and a graceful low, open shape in that hint-of-palest-green often seen in thick handmade glass, with a swirl of slightly darker pale green. It was in one of Coldwater Creek’s crazy online sales about 2002, marked down from probably $125 (never could’ve afforded that) to about $35. I loved it (and had a lot more money back then!), and ordered it thinking it would be beautiful on our diningroom table with fruit or flowers or just air. When it came, I realized that our diningroom table was
neither big enough nor clear enough for the bowl, so for about 6 years it sat up on top of a bookshelf in the diningroom. Then in one of the final planning conference calls for the first TWR, Eli said they needed a bowl to hold the Water in the
altar tipi, and I said, “Eli, I have the bowl.” Near the end of the final day of TWR that year, I’d left the circle to smoke a cigarette and just put my chair at the edge of things when I came back in. I remember sitting there watching
everybody singing and dancing, and thinking, “I can’t sing and I can’t dance, but I can bring the bowl that holds the Water.” We used it again in 2010.
So last Friday, Willy put two chairs and a little round table that came from the side of the road several years ago in a special, leafy grove part of the yard before he went to work, and later my friend Margaret came over with her drum. The several pieces of cloth covering the table were made by Mayan hands, African hands, and Indonesian hands, and though I’m sure the the bright red fleece with Native American designs was made in China, it came to me from Council on Indian Nations a couple of years ago. The bowl took up most of the table. The things around it included several stones, a tiny bottle of rose
quartz chips, a little basket with Haiti beads, some lavender, a Fourth Wise Man figure, and seems like a couple of other things I can’t remember at the moment. (I’d meant to take a picture but forgot; it must not have wanted me
to.) After smudging us and everything else, we filled the bowl with Water from the house and opened the space with prayers to connect with TWR and with all healing Waters around the world. I asked especially that the spirits of all the men, women,
children and horses of the civil war be honored for their courage and sacrifice, calling them back from their journeys and the traumas endured, so they can heal and return Home… and that Mother Earth be healed in all the places that have
held their pain and fear and anger for all these 150 years, and that all the Waters that touch that land — rivers, rain, dew, fog, snow, tears past and future — carry that great healing also.
Margaret brought a really beautiful drum, and I used my Ocean drum for the first time. I’ve always wanted to be where drumming is — Native American, Haitian, African, and those astonishing sideways Japanese drums — but somehow never really felt called to drum myself. Then last summer I ordered myself an Ocean drum for my birthday — synthetic covering on one side, clear mylar on the other, and filled with steel shot. I’d experimented with it a little a couple of times since… tilting it from side to side makes sounds of waves and surf… but this was the first time I really used it. Amazing! Each of the
times between opening the space Friday and closing it Monday afternoon — and the next night when Moon was full somewhere behind thick clouds — it’s given me something new. The first day, when I opened my eyes after a few minutes, the
sky and trees were in my lap! (The clear mylar side is like a mirror.) Also, the steel beads often make a yin-yang pattern. The next day I also used the beater that came with it, and after a little while realized there were subtle musical tones at the edges; they’ve been clearer each time. Another time when I looked down, I saw the ripple patterns around my thumbs holding the
edges. Looks like I have my drum — who knew?!!
When we came back to the house on Friday, the mail had come, bringing the sage you sent, Mary Ellen… so that’s been part of each visit since. When I went back to the space the second day, there was a line of sand or fine dirt around the whole front edge of the table. (Another time I’ll tell you the story of the six deer who came in January after I’d asked my grandmothers for guidance and protection and that I be able to see them and hear them clearly.) We took everything back in but the cloth and bowl when we closed the space on Monday. I’ve left the bowl there for the three days of rain we’ve had, and tomorrow will give the Water to the Earth there and it will go back on the high shelf until whenever its next time is.
Margaret is coming again for Water Prayers at 1:00 on October 28, so we will be among you all around the world. These are some fancy, fancy times, aren’t they? I’m so grateful to be here, so grateful to both of you that you’re in my life and in my heart. I do want to be a Water Sister, please!
October 11 – It was a warm October day in Northwest Wisconsin. I saw a monarch butterfly on cosmos. It was a male. I saw the trademark of two black phermones on hind wings. The butterfly was sipping nectar. I went up to it while the butterfly was engrossed in sipping sweet flower dew. Lightly grabbing its closed wings I was going to pick it up. I noticed how strong its little legs were clinging to the flower. Instead I bent down and kissed its wings and then let go. It immediately flew off. I wish the butterfly would have stayed with me a little longer. He probably thought I was a predator and he escaped.
October 12 – I saw a young monarch on the property in Minong. I was starting to worry because I didn’t see any other floral blooms except for a few African daisies. I knew if the temperature dropped, the butterflies would have a time leaving if the temperature dropped below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. It didn’t appear that the butterflies were part of the migration south simply because they looked so fresh and colorful. I suspected they were late emerged monarchs. We did have at least a glorious week of extended warm temperatures. It was a perfect Indian Summer week.
October 13 – The day is cold. Temperature today was 56 degrees Fahrenheit. Tonight it is dropping to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. I brought the film Blue Butterfly to the Spooner Health Center and shared the film in the nursing home activity room which is attached to the hospital. I have a lot of old friends there and I don’t speak about age as much as I speak about some of the residents because I knew them in their healthier years about in community. Many of them know me as butterfly woman. Some even know about the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake that our nonprofit environmental organization created in 2008.
I want to speak about the film and some of the reactions of the elders. One nurse’s aide came in to take one of the residents out of the room. She spoke up and questioned, “Why is it you always want to take me away when I am enjoying myself?” She did make her point known. She said, “I want to watch the movie.” The nurse’s aide let her be. I can’t tell you what a delight it was for me to realize the film was reaching her inner child. She wasn’t the only one.
Jackie would laugh at different situations in the film and ask, “Do you know what butterfly that was?” Of course she was referring to some exotic species that I had never seen even though I lived in the Amazon jungle for months on end when I lived in Peru and Ecuador.
The point of the movie is to show how positive thought can manifest into healing. It is more than this too. I don’t want to spoil the movie for you if you haven’t seen it yet. I recommend the film for those who listen and act from heart center. A review of the film follows: A dramatic adventure about courage, redemption and love being filmed in the rain forests of Costa Rica, and in Montreal. The movie was produced in 2004.
Next month I will bring in an antique platter that has the blue morph under glass. I didn’t bring it today because it was raining out. My sister Ronnie found it in an antique shop in Massachusetts and sent it to me after my husband died. Butterflies are magic and the symbol of transformation.
Be well insectamonarca friends where ever you are.
The Northwest Wisconsin Water Sisters hold Water Ceremony each month at the Hospitality House in Minong, WI. We welcome other woman who are the solution instead of being the problem. Come and connect with other woman who have walked with the Mother Earth Water Walkers and who were called as a Council Guide for the Sisterhood of the Planetary Water Rites.
The newsletter is collabororatively made possible to the Sisterhood under the direction of Grandmother Tonya Whitedeer in CA.
I am listening to Gong music on Heart of Space this morning. Bought hamburger
and steak to cook outside today. Last night I waited for the full moon. It was
a mosquito annoying time at first. But up she came. I lit the candles and
earlier had filled the kids pool. It was still pretty cold but refreshing
after being so sticky all afternoon. All by myself. How I revel in these
free times with the full moon.
I never made it to Shell Lake yesterday. It was simply too
hot and I am not pushing it. Rode my bike over to the motel. Gary and I sat on
his bench outside and enjoyed his dog Toby who is now my new friend. Gary and
I laugh because life here is even better than the TV show Northern Lights. Then
I rode to Stony’s. Neat I can put my bike on his deck so I don’t have to worry
about some kid taking it. Had an ice tea and then it was time to come home and
wait. The moon how glorious she was. Came up orange and like a
big oriental lantern light. Rising quickly in the night’s sky. Every moment
precious as I joined my heart to hers.
Two days ago a beautiful black bear walked through the
field next to back property and then casually walked over to Erv’s. Beautiful
creature. So rounded and black. The neighbor was just out taking a
Stay cool. Hope tomorrow cools down or I probably won’t
want to venture out. Talk later.The heat zaps
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.
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.
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
Today in Minong, Wisconsin, USA, the winds blew approximately 40 mph. It was enough to snatch a baby bird from its nest and hurl the small bird down in my back yard. From where the bird was carried is a mystery. I saw the baby bird on the lawn from my window and went out to investigate. The fledgling got scared and tried to fly. The bird could only make minute flights close to the ground. I kept my eye on the bird throughout the day.
Early this afternoon I went out and saw that the baby was not moving. The bird opened and blinked its eyes and I knew that it lived; however, I also knew that it could not fly now. Perhaps it suffered some internal injury. I sang the baby bird an honor song. Then I found a live worm and carried it to the bird on a straw strand. I thought the bird might be hungry and thirsty. At this point I also brought a small lid filled with water to tempt the bird.
By 4 p.m. the baby bird had died. I bent down and kissed its tiny head the color of fall leaves. It felt warm. The body was black with tinges of blue and green. The color could only be seen from a close position. The bird with closed eyes blew over and I noticed one foot curled and the other straight. I dug a hole and gently placed the small bird in along with sacred tobacco that was used in earlier morning ceremony prayers.
I thought about the mother. She would never know what happened to her baby bird and my heart wept.
Today it warmed; I headed out on my snowshoes this afternoon. Sunshine on my face was so warm and inviting. Recently a General Dollar store opened in Minong. I was looking for the wild asparagus stand but I didn’t find it. Surely I thought the dead heads would be sticking up through the snow. It looks like the builders may have plowed them under while bulldozing the site. I will go back there in early spring to see if perhaps the deep roots survived and new shoots hopefully will brighten my day with nature’s wild edibles.
I did see some trees that look like they may be cherry. I hadn’t discovered them before when I trekked through this land. I will explore more closely this spring. I love where I live. I saw lots of deer tracks and at least one fox trail on the back property. There were some pretty big foot prints on the front property and I think it may have been a wolf. The field that I normally walk out to had no deer tracks. This is unusual because there are usually deer tracks out there. It was a blessing to be out and about on snowshoes all by myself. I absolutely love to be alone in nature. It is a walking meditation to me and I am revived when I am outside with wind, sun and snow.
Approximately 200 avid gardeners attended the event. They came from Duluth, MN, Rice Lake, Trego, and Hayward, WI to name a few. One speaker especially caught my attention. Francois Medion, is a French gardener who worked for many years with Paris and United States chefs. He grew vegetables and greens for restaurants. He is a gardener who believes in planting edibles into the landscape. For example, you can pair container cabbage plants near cedar and pine. Nasturtiums can be grown in containers to brighten dark corners which are mostly planted in evergreens. Medion suggested the following and I have personally eaten all of these species:
Edible flowers for garnish and salads: Sweet violets, Anise hyssop, Borage and Nasturtiums.
Edible wild plants: Oyster-leaf, Purslane, French and blood sorrel, leeks and fiddlehead ferns. NOTE: 2/1/2012. I don’t remember eating oyster-leaf but feel certain the speaker spoke of plant.
For the third year, Happy Tonics exhibit drew many visitors who were interested in the monarch life cycle. For the first time this year, gardeners told us that they are now growing common milkweed. Some attendees stated they also grew other species of milkweed. It was heartening to learn that in 2011 more gardeners are incorporating butterfly gardens to welcome the monarch butterfly and other pollinating species. A few visitors spoke of their experiences with the swallowtail butterfly, yellow and black species. Others told of sightings of Luna and sphinx moth.
Cassie Thompson, eighth grade student at Northwood School, Minong, assisted us at the Gardening Seminar. She is a long time advocate for the monarch butterfly. For years, Cassie has been raising milkweed on her property. She has established a colony of common milkweed to welcome the monarch butterfly.
As an exhibitor, Happy Tonics sold common milkweed and native crop seed. I spoke to visitors about crops including beans and corn that also has wild relatives. The purpose of wild species is to keep domesticated native species hardy. Wild relatives insure biodiversity of species. Happy Tonics buys seed from Native Seeds/SEARCH, a native seed company, from Tucson, Arizona. Seed is gathered from the Tarahumara, Hopi and Navajo tribes. Native heirloom seed is drought hardy and is better able to survive Climate Change. We have had great success with native seed. In 2010, we grew a Three Sisters Garden at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. The garden was captured on Discover Wisconsin TV. Diane Dryden, Board Member of Happy Tonics, taught the film crew about the concept of growing a native garden.
After exhibiting at the New Ventures Garden Seminar for the third year, we are learning that gardeners are actively doing their part to help pollinators by planting butterfly gardens into their own landscapes. This is good news because we need to create a floral corridor across America in order to protect pollinators. We need to plant biodiversity of nectar and host plants. Loss of habitat is so severe that the USDA and Xerces Society have determined that farming practices of using pesticides and planting only monoculture crops have harmed pollinators. We need to reestablish native prairie and pollinator gardens across the country.
In April, our online stores reopen. Visit Happy Tonics web site at www.happytonics.org to order native seed for crops and monarch butterfly.
Northwest Wisconsin is in the middle of a winter snow storm much like a blizzard. Even the streets are not plowed. My sidewalks and driveway are piled high with new snow. It looks so pure and beautiful. I really like it. I wasn’t quite ready to start a busy season again, at least not yet! So I welcome the snow. Later this morning, I will put on the boots and hike next door to the Minong Senior Center.
Last night we had a Water Ceremony at the Hospitality House in Minong. Only one woman could make it simply because she lives nearby. The others had to travel here. Weather makes all the difference. Dabora and I dressed the makeshift alter with sacred objects. We did the seven directional Water Song. Candles were lit and the snow just kepm on falling.
We prayed for the water. The late snow will melt and add presious water drops to the water table. This is good and something that should be remembered and respected.