Butterfly Corner – March 23, 2012

March 23 – The 2nd Annual Northwest Wisconsin Regional Food Summit was held at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College. John Peck, Family Farm Defenders, was keynote speaker. The topic: Food Sovereignty. In the not so distant past, the family farm and home garden were responsible for supplying food on the table. This system radically changed during the “Green Revolution.” Currently in our everyday lives, we have found out that a globalized food chain has come at a very high cost. Fuel for transportation has risen; seed has gone to hybrid and patented GMO; animals are owned of big Ag-chemical companies. What is wrong with this picture? Food Sovereignty is imperative for food security.

Last year I raised my own vegetables. I learned to can, freeze, dehydrate and dry my foods and herbs. I bought Bashaw’s organic berries and grass fed frozen beef. The organic farm is located on Highway 63, between Spooner and Shell Lake, WI. I know this food is healthy. In 2011, Lac Courte Oreilles Public Library published Jiibaakweywang, We are Cooking together, Flavors of Lac Courte Oreillis. Sandy Stein’s award winning recipe 3 Step Manoomin (wild rice) is published in the book. Sandy is Happy Tonics Secretary. She started a Happy Tonics garden plot of native and medicinal herbs in 2011. This is a seed saving project.

My recipe for Organic Four Grain Health Bread was published in Jiibaakweywang. I used amaranth (red root, pig weed) from the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. Who knew that wild edibles would be part of the native plant community, in the Native Wildflower and Butterfly Garden? The collaborative book project was made possible by the Institute of Museum Library Services Enhancement Grant for Native American Library Sciences. The focus of the project is to target areas of health, the environment, and traditional culture.

April 14 – Last year over 100 people attended the Gadsden, Alabama, Public Library Local Author Day, which according to Julie Dobbins, is a fun and exciting event! The yearly event provides a great opportunity to discover new writers, buy some books, and get them signed by the author. My Name is Butterfly, written by Mary Ellen Ryall, will be on display at the event. Colorful postcards, with details on how to purchase the book on Amazon, will be available to fellow authors and the public.  It is near impossible to attend all the writer events, such as this; when we are so far off the beaten path. I consider it a great privilege to have my book at the Gadsden, Alabama, Public Library Local Author Day event.

The Aldo Leopold film, Green Fire, will be shown on TV in April. The film is about land ethics. Aldo Leopold Foundation says, “The first full-length documentary film ever made about legendary environmentalist Aldo Leopold, Green Fire, highlights Leopold’s extraordinary career, tracing how he shaped and influenced the modern environmental movement. Leopold remains relevant today, inspiring projects all over the country that connect people and land.” We should all be proud that the environmentalist lived in Wisconsin. Leopold wrote his famous book Sand Country Almanac in our own state.   See the following times and channels:

Friday, April 20 at 8pm on WPT; Sunday, April 22 at 2pm on The Wisconsin Channel; and
Tuesday, April 24 at 11pm on WPT.

March 22 – Monarch butterfly news. Due to the unusually warm temperatures and high winds blowing north from the Gulf of Mexico, over the last two weeks, the butterfly has traveled further north at record speed. According to Journey North, the monarch has already reached Kansas, a distance of 1,200 miles from Mexico. There is concern that the monarch is ahead of the normal migration cycle, usually the monarch is in Kansas on April 15. Scientists are diligently watching for an “ecological mismatch.”  The monarchs are at a critical time in life. It is this generation that reproduces the next generation of butterflies. Will milkweed be up and ready for the laying of eggs on milkweed this early in the season?

In December, Dr. Lincoln Brower and other scientists count the number of Oyemal fir trees that have overwintering monarchs. The Mexican count showed the monarch population down by 28 percent from last year. This is an ongoing trend. Part of the cause is the continued plundering by illegal loggers in and around the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Mexico.

Another concern is the loss of milkweed in breeding habitat. “Dr. Karen Oberhauser is co-author of newly published research. Her study found a 58% decline in milkweed and an 81% decline in monarch egg production in agricultural fields of the Midwest,” Source: Journey North.

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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

Marketing and Events specialist in So. MD promoting my book

Marketing and Events specialist in So. MD promoting my book.

Read about the woman who lives alone in Northwest Wisconsin and whom is  responding to requests to come to the East Coast next summer. If you only knew how far apart the different worlds are, you would realize how I don’t even want to go back there to traffic, people, noise and overpopulation and congested urban settings.

Will I go full circle?

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.

 

PRESS RELEASE “My Name is Butterfly” is published by Salt of the Earth Press

PRESS RELEASE

The new Salt of the Earth Press children’s book, “My Name is Butterfly” educates about the life-cycle of Monarch butterflies with a sense of wonder and discovery.

Cassie Thompson and Mary Ellen Ryall on Earth Day 2011

Cassie Thompson and Mary Ellen Ryall on Earth Day 2011

Shell Lake, WI – Thursday, June 30, 2011 – While children may find butterflies and their early life as caterpillars exciting to stumble upon in the garden, “My Name is Butterfly” will leave them with a new sense of these fascinating creatures. Mary Ellen Ryall writes and Stevie Marie Aubochan-Mendoza illustrates this beautiful little book that educates as it immerses the reader in the life of the Monarch butterfly.

The book was inspired by a butterfly birth the author witnessed in her own gardens several years ago in Mining, WI. “My Name is Butterfly” tells the story of a young girl who stumbles upon a Monarch caterpillar in her garden one summer day. From
there, she and the reader learn about the life-cycle of the Monarch as well as how to maintain a garden habitat that will keep these amazing creatures coming back year after year.

The Monarch butterfly itself is perhaps the most well-known butterfly of North America, but is also threatened by habitat loss. Deforestation in their overwintering grounds in particular has led to drastic reductions in the population. The Happy Tonics Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, WI as spearheaded by the author to benefit the migrating Monarchs and educate the public.

“My Name is Butterfly” is available through Amazon for online purchase, Happy Tonics Visitors Center for the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, WI and the Visitors Center in Minong as well as at My Favorite Things in Shell Lake, WI.

The author Mary Ellen Ryall grew up n Saratoga Springs, NY. In pursuit of butterflies, she worked and traveled in South America in the 1970s. In the 1980s Ryall completed the Master Gardeners Program, University of the District of Columbia, and
became involved with community gardens. Living in southern Maryland in the 1900s, she wrote about the environment and founded Happy Tonics. Ryall moved to Wisconsin in 2000, graduating from the Woodlands Wisdom Nutrition Project at
Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College in 2003.

The illustrator Stevie Marie Aubochan=Mendoza lives with her family outside the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, NV. She is inspired by the dusty, desert landscape and the secrets that it holds. When she isn’t painting dinosaurs and dragons, she
loves having tea parties and playing in the dirt with her young daughter.

For more information about “My Name is Butterfly,” please visit http://saltpress.com or contact Happy Tonic at
(715) 468-2097 or visit them on the Internet at www.happytonics.org

NOTES: Cassandra Thompson was the girl model for the book. She has been a monarch butterfly advocate since her early years. Cassie grows milkweed for the monarch. I felt it was important that the story have a real butterfly girl in the story. She reminds me of Alice in Wonderland.

REVIEWS:

“What a wonderful, wonderful book!” Judy Ford, WI, USA and Mexico

“The little butterfly book is just darling. The text is smooth, informative and easy to comprehend. The illustrations are so sweet and the colors really pop.”
Ronnie Hohos, Fitchburg, MA , USA

“Thank you for the opportunity to own your sweet, informative butterfly book.” Gloria Thue, Spooner, WI

“Thank you for the lovely words! It means a lot to me that you like my artwork and I’m honored to be a part of your book. I started it while pregnant and finished it with my daughter sleeping in the next room so the butterfly will always have a special meaning for me now. I think what you’re doing is wonderful and I’m glad you can touch the world with your words and help people appreciate such beautiful creatures.” Stevie Marie Aubuchon-Mendoza, Las Vegas, NV, USA

“GOT YOUR BOOK TODAY AND I READ IT. I LOVE IT AND THE CHILDREN WILL LOVE IT. I HOPE EVERY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL GETS ONE.” Eunie Smith, Miami FL

“What a wonderful, wonderful book! Published!!! Hooray!!” by Judy Ford, Iron River, WI

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