Gone Forever a Place by the Side of the Road

by Mary Ellen Ryall

Valerie Downes Lusko next to Mr. Wolf's sign, which has been removed. It is going to our new habitat at LCO Agricultural and Research Station.

Valerie Downes next to Mr. Wolf’s sign, which has been removed. It is going to our new habitat at LCO Agricultural and Research Station.

Recently, Valerie Downes, long-time friend, visited the former Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, Wisconsin. What was once a remnant tall-grass prairie, dedicated as a Monarch Butterfly Habitat, is now a sandy dead-zone along side Highway 63 and the shores of Shell Lake. The habitat was dismantled in the summer of 2015. Pollinators and native plants were squeezed out and the habitat needed to be rescued. The paving of America and loss of habitat are two of the biggest threats to the precarious pollinator population. Once more, the paving of America is what ultimately destroyed the habitat.

Happy Tonics, Inc., a nonprofit Environmental Education Organization and Public Charity hired helpers. A trailer and truck were brought in to physically rescue physical structures and plant communities before the giant plant killing machines came in. Officers and Board Members helped with the rescue mission. Long time volunteer Jim VanMoorleham helped empty out the garden shed, which was donated to the Maintenance Department of Shell Lake. The shed was built by Shell Lake carpentry class. VanMoorhelam moved memorial metal art and a few donated granite benches to Shell Lake Friendship Center. The seniors had been good friends to Happy Tonics. Donors picked up a donated pergola, art signs and memory benches. Otherwise they were distributed around Shell Lake in public areas at the beach. Large glacier boulders were also placed in other gardens throughout the city.

Valerie Downes Lusko Highway 63 was widened and would now encroach within the once blooming prairie. Parts of the habitat was going to be converted to additional paved parking space. Some thing had to go and it was the living beings that found refuge in the sanctuary. Nature would once again be asked to step aside. The life that existed consisted of migrating butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, deer, birds and an occasional bear. Instead of the chipper greetings to one and all, now there would be a deadened silence. All life that existed there disappeared.

At least a year before the transformation took place, the nonprofit sent brochures from Pollinator Partnership and letters to the City of Shell Lake, in the hopes of educating the City Council and Parks and Recreation Department about the pollinator crisis. Perhaps there might be a way for Shell Lake to move forward and protect the roadside pollinator haven at the same time.

In June 2014, President Obama issued a memorandum titled, “Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.” It is understood that the pollinator crisis has a long-term effect on local food supply and food security issues. Loss of habitat also means a loss of biodiversity and the creative economy.

Since 2008 the Monarch Butterfly Habitat thrived with native grasses, wildflowers, a wild black cherry tree and shrubs. In the beginning, the soil was disturbed and sandy, once being a parcel of land along side a railroad track. Before that it was prairie. Invasive species moved in and overtook the land. Throughout the years, Happy Tonics volunteers pulled out invasive spotted knapweed that spread when the ATV trail and Highway 63 spit seed from tires and when birds excreted.

In summer 2015, big machines and pipes for road work were spread along the ATV trail and the habitat was dug up to install telephone poles and natural gas lines. It was definitely disturbed ground now. Undisturbed earth is necessary for ground nesting bees. I wish you could have seen them. Common eastern bumblebees, European honey bees, carpenter and perdita native bees made the habitat home. The habitat was also abundant in common milkweed for the Monarch Butterfly, another species in decline, with a survival rate of only 10 percent.

With all the native plant colonies established within the habitat, life abounded. Even dragonflies came to visit from nearby Shell Lake. They preferred to rest on tall native grasses and plunder passing insects, such as mosquitoes. It was a joy to watch and photograph dragonflies resting on grasses; their colors sparkling in the sun. The habitat also became a meditation garden when people walked the grassy path and connected with nature.

Roadsides are among the few remaining areas for some pollinating species to live. Now there is less than one-tenth of one percent of prairie that remains. Other states such as Iowa are more progressive. In 1988 Iowa legislators established an Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management (IRVM) program. The state has reclaimed roadside habitats and the life that habitats provide. At the same time, Iowa is more conscious of herbicide use, mowing and other management tools.

There are side benefits of educating the public to protect pollinator habitat. Altering mowing can save money, reduce pollution and benefit pollinators. The advantage of no mowing does deter erosion. In the past, roads were thought of as utility corridors, but now the observant scientist and citizen scientist are seeing a rebirth of purpose being natural resources. Change comes slowly, but it is hoped that others will learn that highways and nature can become mutual friends. All life is connected one way or another. It is not up to us to destroy the balance of living harmoniously with nature.

Source: Wings, The Xerces Society, spring 2015

Doctrine of Discovery

Conquest of Doctrine of Discovery. It’s an international law that was used for the colonization of America. I can hardly believe what I am hearing. In the early days of conquest, the Europeans were using the International Doctrine of Discovery and that meant they mapped bounderies and Indian territory by water. Using the Mississippi, they cornered the land by water bounderies. It is such a eye opener. The United States owned Texas in regards to Manifest Destiny. How can this be?

John J. Sullivan coined the words “Manifest Destiny.” What a term. As if we are God’s elete and had a right to the land. How could this be?

We are now in a time of Indians rights. I need to study Doctrine of Discovery. I will look to read the  book.

Author interview no.698 with Shirley You Jest Fiction Winner Amy Sprenger

Morgen Bailey does a great joy of introducing new authors. She gives no authors an opportunity for readers to learn about them.

MorgEn Bailey - Editor, Comp Columnist/Judge, Writing Guru

Welcome to the six hundred and ninety-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with writer and blogger Amy Sprenger. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.

Morgen: Hello, Amy. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.

Amy SprengerAmy: Hi, Morgen, thanks for having me! I’m Amy Sprenger, mother of three, wife of one (so far, although we could always up and go polygamist some day), house frau, and when I actually stop procrastinating, author. I live in Chicago, where I used to be a sports writer and editor, then horrified Sheryl Sandberg by leaning waaaaaay out to stay home with my kids. While full-time mothering was rewarding (and also unpaid) and we…

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International Book Reviewer gives Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book 5 Stars

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Educational Coloring Book about the Monarch Butterly,December 29, 2012
Butterfly Woman Postcard Front

The Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book

This review is from: The Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book (Volume 1) (Paperback)

Mary Ellen Ryall’s delightful coloring book contains easy to read educational information, a glossary at the back, simple illustrations all about the majestic Monarch Butterfly. It is important to note this is not just a colouring book because it has been written with a great deal of love and passion for the continued survival of this species. If you know of any child who has an interest in nature or butterflies then make sure you give this inexpensive but value gift to them to treasure. It surely will give a new appreciation of this unique insect such as the Monarch Butterfly as it goes through its amazing transformation from a pupa to a beautiful winged butterfly.

Fitchburg’s Winter Farmers Market is a new spin for a Museum

Once a month, the Fitchburg Art Museum is a host site for the Fitchburg Farmers Market, which takes place every first Thursday, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., January – June. Local growers and artisans, come to sell local grown or frozen grass fed beef, pork and poultry, eggs and handcrafted products. 

ImageIt was a joy to meet local farmers. I met Vee Lashua, owner of Brookside Family Farm, Westminister MA. Fresh farm eggs, winter crops such as Brussels sprouts, turnips, carrots and frozen grass feed beef and pork chops were purchased. When I returned home I cooked up the Brussels sprouts and devoured them in one sitting.

ImageSilver Oak Farm in Ashby is home to alpacas. Pam Welty, owner, sold me two pairs of Alpaca Survival Socks with a blend of spun alpaca wool. These will be Christmas presents.

ImageI bought hearty fresh baked bread by Hearth Fire Traveling Wood Fired Cuisine. Scott and Kerry Metcalf are the owners. I purchased a loaf of spiced apple cider and raisin bread. On Sunday after church, my sister made us a breakfast at Winter Hill Farm. We enjoyed the bread at that time. 

 Growing Places Garden Project was also there. I had an opportunity to speak with Anna Finstein, an AmeriCorps volunteer. I plan to collaborate with the project to educate children about growing food at school and in city backyard gardens. I will be representing Happy Tonics, headquartered in northwest WI. As a board member of the nonprofit environmental education organization, I look forward sharing garden information with gardeners in my new city.  As a published author, I write about pollinator corridors and monarch butterflies, I look forward to teaching children about monarch butterfly habitat and native plants that are necessary to the butterfly’s survival. It is thrilling to know that I can have my very own garden plot, in the park, in front of The Sundial, the building where I live, thanks to Growing Places Garden Project.

ImageTerry Impostato, owner of Semi Precious Gem Treasures, had an inviting display of fine art jewelry. I asked Terry to repair two necklaces that I had saved for years. One is a pearl necklace from Japan, probably from the 1940s; the other is a cinnabar necklace. She told me that cinnabar was a byproduct and at one time was a toxic waste product. Now it is beautiful carved beads that have separated from the string.

 According to http://www.chinafinds.com/cinnabar-guide.html  Cinnabar, also known as Chinese Lacquer, is a famous Chinese handicraft. Traditionally, cinnabar items were created by painting multiple layers of lacquer onto an item, letting the item dry between each coat, and then carving the resulting layers of lacquer into beautiful patterns. Cinnabar gets its name from the toxic red mineral cinnabar (mercury sulfide) that was once used to give the distinctive red color to the lacquer used in the process. Lynda Ireland, a friend, had given me the broken necklace years ago. It is only now that I am having the necklace repaired, at least 12 years later.

 In the future, I plan to interview other vendors in order for readers to learn about Fitchburg Art Museum and the wonderful programs that are happening there.

Till then, be happy butterfly friends wherever you are.

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?

Monarch Butterfly Chatbook – Introduction

INTRODUCTION

I will be publishing the Chatbook over the next few weeks. Photos will be added later when I return to Shell Lake. I had first thought to publish this as a book but after talking with two readers, I have decided to publish the Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book separately. The text with photos will be published on Insectamonarca’s Blog.

INTRODUCTION

A few years ago, the author Mary Ellen Ryall witnessed and photographed the birth of a monarch butterfly in her gardens in Minong, Wisconsin. The photographs are  a witness to this mysterious event and depict the monarch butterfly life cycle and the relationship of pollinators to native plants.

 The Xerces Society has determined that the Monarch’s migration as “an endangered biological phenomenon.”  In NOVA’s film, “The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies,” Lincoln Brower, Distinguished Service Professor of Zoology Emeritus, University of Florida, states that no one knows what that threshold is. He has observed the Mexican Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary over many years.

Brower has seen a shrinking habitat because of illegal logging. Monarch butterflies in Mexico have notably declined compared to when the wintering monarchs were first discovered in the Michoacan Mountains in 1974. The beloved international butterfly faces many threats throughout its migration and it is imperative to save the migration.    

Within the pages, butterfly terms are highlighted and Spanish words for the monarch’s life cycle are included in titled pages. Do you have a butterfly garden? Would you like to grow milkweed for the monarch butterfly?

At the end of the Monarch Butterfly Chat Book, you will find a glossary of butterfly terms; works consulted; where to buy milkweed seed; explore other butterfly organizations; and books and Web site links for further butterfly studies.

I won’t post the end of the book or photos until I have the whole project published on the Blog first.

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