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

Good News to all our Happy Tonics fans

Today, 24 September 2013, I was reinstated as Executive Director of Happy Tonics, Inc. a nonprofit 501(c)(3) environmental education organization and public charity. We are growing in MA and I needed to receive grant monies I apply for under our own umbrella. I received two grants thus far and first one I had to put under another nonprofit’s umbrella.

Sandy Stein

Sandy Stein copyright Happy Tonics

The nonprofit is handling many programs already in WI, including managing a Monarch Butterfly Habitat and collaborating with City of Shell Lake on widening Route 63, which leads into Shell Lake, going past the Habitat. Sandy Stein, secretary, will attend a meeting in Shell Lake to address widening of road right-of-ways that will affect the Habitat.

She will send a report after the meeting to keep me up-to-date. I have already been engaged with Shell Lake in requesting that the disturbed road right-of-ways need to be planted with native seed. If any of the hard-scape and landscaping is moved, than it is up to the City of Shell Lake and WI DOT to remove/replace what ever is infringed upon.

Be happy Insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

The mighty oak and other tales

Today I ventured a little farther down the road that goes by my sister’s old farmstead. It is a steep hill; each day I venture a little more down the road. This way I am able to test my breathing and build endurance in hill climbing to return home. The forest was loudly making her presence known today. Acorns were dropping on the forest floor. How mighty the old oak trees are with maple tree companions.

I am always amazed to observe plants along the way. There is lots of poison ivy growing in the ditch area and I saw darling jewel weed growing near the ivy. The sweet flower is the antidote to poison ivy. You rub it on infected areas and it clears up itchy skin patches. How do remedy plants know where to grow where poisonous plants exist? Do plants communicate? I believe they do. Plants release chemicals and essential oils. Trees are known to communicate when they are about to be attacked by predator bugs. They release chemicals that warn a companion tree colony that danger is headed their way. I suspect that all plant colonies have this chemical defense mechanism. How good of the jewel weed to come and grow near the poison ivy.

A few days ago I received a call from Mike Carpenter, caretaker, Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, WI. We had planted a three sisters garden at the habitat. It was growing profusely when I left WI on July 11. Well, it was growing so well that deer thought we had planted it just for them. Mike mentioned that the deer were coming in a night, making beds and sleeping at the habitat. They didn’t have to go far to forage. Deer have helped themselves to all the squash and baby pumpkins. Hungry critters have also eaten all the beans except a handful.

I think Mike made the gardens extra inviting by feeding the plants with fish juice all summer. He’s a fisherman and doesn’t throw anything out. I never saw our vegetable garden looking so good. Mike said he wants to put up a night hunter’s motion camera so we can see who lives in the habitat at night.

Long view of secret gardens

Aldo Leopold bench

Aldo Leopold bench

Yesterday afternoon I took the mail out to the Aldo Leopold bench which is under a maple tree and near a trail in the woods. This is my own secret garden now. I was content to sit there and read the mail.

Joe Pye Weed

Looking up I could see Joe Pye weed, one of my favorites. I love the story that goes something like this. Long ago a group of people who came over the big water from Europe became ill. A Native American came to their rescue and gave them a tea to drink. The pilgrims got better. One of the sick asked him, what is the name of that plant? The Native American said, “Joe Pye Weed.” You see that was his name. I can just imagine Joe Pye walking away after saying this.

Butterfly Corner

Ryall, M.E. 20 June 2012. Washburn County Register, Butterfly Corner.

ImageJune 9: Amber Nagel, Muncy, PA, reports that her daughter Emilie came across a butterfly on her walk back to the family car after the Memorial Day parade. The butterfly took quite a liking to the youngster and spent about 10 minutes resting on her finger. Emilie was very excited and had a hard time leaving the butterfly behind, once she reached the car (as did he since he kept circling around her before flying off). Emilie has researched to find more information about the red-spotted purple butterfly (Limenitis a. astyanax) and hopes to see more of them over the summer, around her little butterfly-station she made. Her mother wrote that Emilie is a Girl Scout and has started a butterfly project with her young friends. Every time one of the girls discovers a butterfly, she excitedly calls and reports the findings to Emilie.

June 13: Land and Water Conservation Department, Shell Lake, made a visit to Northwood School, Minong. An agency representative met district school administrator Dr. Jean A. Serum and a volunteer parent Shelby Renoos-Ausing. It turns out that the site chosen for a butterfly habitat does receive water that seeps naturally into the ground from the sloped driveway. The land is normally dry, sandy, and a good site for a prairie type setting. There are two ways to implement the habitat. One is to plant a seed base in the fall, before the first snow. Butterfly garden perennials can be added in early summer and purchased through Land and Water Conservation Department. We learned that seed companies may be receptive to donating seed for a school conservation and environmental project. NorthStar Community Charter School has the ability to do soil testing beforehand to provide gardeners with an idea of the soil makeup. There are two AmeriCorps personnel that will assist with the new environmental education project. Visit the website to learn more about going green at Northwood School District at http://www.northwood.k12.wi.us/se3bin/clientschool.cgi?schoolname=school571

ImageJune 16: The Flea Market at the habitat took place from 8 am – 10 am. It was a cloudy day and good for photography. There were many small European skipper butterflies sleeping in the tall grasses. It was a perfect day to do photography because it was overcast. This is one reason the butterflies were not out and fluttering about. There will be no Flea Market on June 23.

June 23: Join us for the National Bee Count at 10 am. Meet at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat at 9:30 am to learn about bumblebees and other native bees. Let’s see who’s buzzing at the habitat. Reports and photographs will be submitted to The Great Sunflower Project and Pollinator Organization at http://pollinator.org/npw_events.htm#wi  Bring along a camera if you have one. Do you have a magnifier? Sometimes it is easier to spot pollen on bee legs and body with a magnifier. Bring a lawn chair. Water will be provided. Register at 715 466-5349.

ImageJuly 4: Happy Tonics is celebrating the holiday. We plan to sell framed small fine art watercolor paintings on July 4, at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat, throughout the day, providing it is not raining. Happy Tonics received a large donation of fine art in 2012. This is an opportunity for the average citizen to take home a real painting. The nonprofit is also hosting its first artist sponsored exhibit on July 4. Joe and Jacki Valdez, Hayward, WI, will be displaying and selling their wooden and colorful butterflies. Butterflies are mounted on posts or can be nailed to a tree or building. The butterfly colors are vibrant and sure to please a crowd. Be sure to stop by. The National Butterfly Count will take place: 10 am to 11 am and 1 pm to 2 pm. Sign up beforehand at 715 466-5349. Happy Tonics will supply materials for recording. Meet us at the habitat at 9:30 am for a short talk and photos on butterfly species. Bring a lawn chair. Water will be provided.

Butterfly Corner

Ryall, M.E., 06 June 2012. Washburn County Register, Butterfly Corner.

False indigo is in in first book after planting three years ago

False indigo is in in first book after planting three years ago

Saturdays at the Habitat:  8 a.m. – 10 a.m. The first and second Saturday Habitat Yard Sale for the butterflies took place. Folks came by to tell us how lovely the Monarch Butterfly Habitat looks. Others came on bike or by car and bought a few things. Saturdays are fun at the habitat. We planted a few violets for the fritillary butterfly. A Three Sisters Garden was planted, just before it rained. Weeds were pulled, wet newspaper put down, and topsoil added that Steve Degner delivered. We added aged sheep manure and a package of potting soil. This planting style is known as the lasagna method. The idea is to not dig into the soil, but add to it. We planted birdhouse gourd seed and hope they will grow among squash, heirloom beans, and Pungo Creek butcher corn, a variety of rainbow red, brown, yellow, and sometimes purple ears.  For 165 years, the corn has been grown by farmers of Pungo Creek, Virginia.

May 25: The once rare brown Argus butterfly of southern England has found a new food source according to Butterfly Conservation, a science and advocacy group in the United Kingdom. The butterfly was located in southern England within a small area with a less common host rock-rose plant. Now the butterfly has migrated north due to climate change. A cooler environment was critical for its survival. To scientists’ surprise, the butterfly caterpillar is eating geraniums, which are abundant.  “The change in diet represents a change to the interactions between species – in this case between a butterfly and the plants that its caterpillars eat – caused by climate warming.”  This is the first case of a butterfly that can survive with a change in host plant, due to climate change. More science research and documentation will be ongoing to track butterfly species adaption to climate change. Terry Root, Stanford University, states that for every winner, there will be three loser species. Source: Butterfly Conservation Organization.

Wet bumblebee after a storm copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

Wet bumblebee after a storm copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

May 28 – June 1: It was a virtual butterfly and bumblebee feast at the property in Minong. I saw a fritillary, American copper, red Admiral and many monarch butterflies. The fritillary deposited eggs on tiny violet leaves. The monarch deposited eggs on milkweed.  Yesterday it was the bumblebees. I counted 18 large bumblebees on chive flowers. Some were sleeping while others drank nectar from flowers. Two species of bumblebees were noted: double banded rust and impatiens.

Red Admiral copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

Red Admiral copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

The Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake was alive with red Admiral butterflies.

Common buckeye copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

Common buckeye copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

There were several of them nectaring on native ninebark shrub. Common buckeye and

American Lady copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

American Lady copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

American Lady were also seen. American lady differs from painted lady in that the butterfly has two giant eyespots on hind wings.

June 2: Family Festival was held in Spooner at the Fairgrounds. Hundreds a parents, grandparents, friends, and children were in attendance. Fresh Start and Happy Tonics partnered together to provide fun activities for children. My newest book, Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book,  just came out on Amazon. Copies were made of the butterfly coloring pages.

Gideon Fegman coloring monarch from Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book

Gideon Fegman coloring monarch from Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book

Gideon Fegman enjoyed coloring a monarch and said, “I am a naturologist.” John Jess, of Minong, provided several clay birdhouses and paint. Dan Gunderson, Fresh Start, gave the bird houses a first coat of paint. Children painted decorative designs on the birdhouses. We plan to make a stand and exhibit the birdhouses at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake.

Remember to stop by the Habitat on Saturday mornings and join the flea market fun from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. Visitors can volunteer to do a few morning chores also.

Butterfly Corner

Monarch cluster at Mexico habitat, Estela Romero, reporter, Journey North

Monarch cluster at Mexico habitat, Estela Romero, reporter, Journey North

Ryall, M. E. (14 March 2012). Butterfly Corner. Washburn County Register, p. 16

March 8, 2012 – Estela Romero, local reporter, Angangueo, Michoacan, Mexico, went to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary with monarch expert, Doctor Lincoln Brower, Sweet Briar College, Virginia.  Estela has been watching the monarchs for weeks and thinks they are more active. She saw many butterflies flitting about, instead of hibernating on trees. The scientist and his guide went to Chincua sanctuary. Further up the mountain, last year’s flood and mud slide damage could be seen.

Dr. Brower expressed his concern about how dry the Mexican forest is this year. In winter 2010, Monarch butterfly populations endured a terrible flood in the mountains, where the sanctuary is located. This year, the soil is baked dry and unstable because there are fewer trees to stabilize the mountains. It is so dry, that Dr. Brower is concerned, that the butterflies may not have sufficient moisture, which they use for respiration. Last fall 2011, Texas suffered a terrible drought. The state suffered massive fires. Texas is the gateway to and from Mexico for the butterfly. Lack of liquid and plant nectar in Texas may play a major role on the monarch butterfly migration 2012 .

Dr. Brower is concerned that now the monarchs may not have enough lipids to make the journey north this spring. Yes, many will make it, but what about the majority of the migration? Deforestation continues in Mexico. There are fewer Oyamel fir trees in the Mexican forest. Fewer trees mean fewer winter habitat for the monarch butterfly. Since the time of the dinosaurs, the butterfly has been around. How could a butterfly, which has survived throughout history, be so impacted by our material world and climate change in such a short time? We will follow the migration north to keep you posted.

The Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake has some good news. Volunteer staff discovered that black swallowtail caterpillars and adult butterflies were seen in Shall Lake, in the summer of 2011.  With this news, Happy Tonics plans to include host plants for the butterfly. We want to welcome this species to the habitat.

Book cover copyright Lindy Casey, Salt of the Earth Press

Book cover copyright Lindy Casey, Salt of the Earth Press

March 24 –I did an author interview with Morgen Bailey, Northhampton, United Kingdom. Morgen interviews published authors and publishers. My book, My Name is Butterfly, was published by Salt of the Earth Press in 2011. The in-depth interview is posted at http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/blog-interview-no-318-with-writer-mary-ellen-ryall/

I am thrilled to have my book talked about in England and beyond the big waters. Happy Tonics has published butterfly articles in the UK before with Butterfly Observer, Cornwall Butterfly Conservation.

March 29 – The first week of April, I will be in Washington, DC. While there, I will attend Cindy Dyers one woman photography exhibit at Green Springs Garden, in Alexandria, VA. Cindy is Happy Tonics VP of Marketing. Check out her exquisite photography at http://www.gardenmuseshow.com/. I am doing a book tour in DC; Southern Maryland in Calvert and St. Mary’s County; and in Northern Virginia. I have been invited to speak at Meet the Author events. It will be good to see my old stomping grounds again.

Updates:

Morgen Bailey has a few interesting links for aspiring and published authors. Check out http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/morgenbailey

You may want to connect with Morgen at New forum at http://morgenbailey.freeforums.org

Don’t forget to check out Morgen’s Blog at http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com

Mary Ellen’s Meet the Author event is scheduled at Calvert Pines Senior Center, Prince Frederick, So. MD, 12:30 p.m.

Mary Ellen’s Meet the Author event is scheduled at The Good Earth Natural Food Company, Leonardtown, So. MD, 9:30 a.m. – 12 Noon.

Monsanto’s Roundup Ravaging Butterfly Populations, Study Shows | Truthout

Monsanto’s Roundup Ravaging Butterfly Populations, Study Shows | Truthout.

Roundup kills milkweed, the only host plant of the monarch butterfly. Citizen scientists have known for a few years now that the decline of milkweed is due to pesticide use which has depleted monarch populations in the Midwest where most of GMO corn and soy crop is planted now. What was once a diverse pollinator corridor has been reduced to remnant tallgrass prairie. Prairie has gone down by 90 percent in the USA.

Happy Tonics created a restored native tallgrass prairie, as a Monarch Butterfly Habitat, in Shell Lake, Wisconsin. We must do more. Gardeners need to plant milkweed to enable the monarch butterfly to rebound.

Butterfly Corner

Published in Washburn County Register, February 8, 2012

News from Xerces Society, “In 2010, with support from the Monarch Joint Venture and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant, Xerces Society initiated a multi-state project to increase the availability of milkweed seed for large-scale restoration efforts in California, Nevada, Arizona, New México, Texas and Florida. Xerces is working with native seed producers and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Plant Material Program to increase the production of local ecotype native milkweed seed.” The reason for the collaborative milkweed seed project is because pollinators, including the monarch butterfly, are besieged with a threatened migration phenomenon.

Prior to Xerces Society milkweed initiative, Happy Tonics has been selling common milkweed seed since 1999. Milkweed is the only host plant of the monarch butterfly. The seed is offered in the Visitors Center/Store in downtown Shell Lake. The store reopens on Memorial Day Weekend. Out of season, milkweed seed is sold online through eBay. Several seed buyers from around the country are now donors of Happy Tonics nonprofit public charity. Some buyers have gone on to build butterfly gardens at schools and monarch butterfly habitats on their own property. It is good to know that monarch butterfly conservation is an ongoing environmental education act that brings positive results to help the monarch butterfly.

Cindy Dyer, VP Marketing, Happy Tonics, will have a one woman art show at the Horticulture Center, Green Spring Gardens, in Alexandria, Virginia. The exhibit, “Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio,” will run February 28 – April 29, 2012. If you wish to take a sneak preview of Cindy’s extraordinary floral and insect photography visit http://www.gardenmuseshow.com  Her garden photography was also honored by Nikon camera in 2011. Here is a link to their Web page featuring Cindy’s garden photography tips at http://www.nikonusa.com/Learn-And-Explore/Photography-Techniques/gr35ffdt/all/How-To-Grow-Your-Garden-Photography-Skills.html

In summer 2011, Cindy photographed butterflies and native plants while visiting the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. We are working on a Field Guide – Monarch Butterfly Habitat. The publication will highlight the symbiotic relationship between native plants and pollinators including the monarch butterfly, birds and small animals.

 

 

 

 

Volunteerism and donations support a nonprofit

Volunteer Wisconsin is a new state initiative to promote and support volunteerism. As collaboration between the Volunteer Center Association of Wisconsin, the Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee, Volunteer Center of Washington County, Serve Wisconsin and funded by a Volunteer  Generation Fund grant through the Corporation for National and Community Service, Volunteer Wisconsin is the central point for volunteerism and service in the state.

Happy Tonics, Inc. is the first nonprofit in Northwest Wisconsin, Washburn County, to join the organization on January 10, 2012. Volunteer Wisconsin encourages other nonprofit organizations to join. To find out more visit http://www.volunteerwisconsin.org The nonprofit needs a stronger voice to recruit volunteers to the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in season. It is hoped that Volunteer Wisconsin will bring in some new environmental and gardening volunteers.

Lorrie Blockus is planning a Yoga class by donation in January for the Monarch Butterfly Habitat. It is scheduled for Saturday, January 28 at 9:30 a.m. This will be a Yin Yoga class, entitled “The Butterfly Effect” that will be very gentle and incorporate long holds to work joints and energy lines instead of muscles. Great for sore joints and sluggish bodies in the winter (which is a complete Yin season). Yin Yoga takes us deep inside ourselves to be with our thoughts and emotions and physical discomforts as a means of freeing blocked energies, lubricating the joints, and creating positive change within ourselves as a catalyst for positive change for the world. This will take place at the Om Sweet Om Yoga studio at 32 – 5th Avenue, downtown, Shell Lake (LifeCircle Building). Everyone is welcome to learn with Lorrie and to help a nonprofit at the same time.

This county story starts under a plant

  • test4Writer and butterfly fan

Frank Zufall

Writer and butterfly fan

Mary Ellen Ryall is surrounded by photos and her journal used to document the emergence of a monarch butterfly in her garden in 2003, which eventually became the story for My Name is Butterfly.

Posted: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 8:31 am | Updated: 11:51 am, Thu Dec 22, 2011.

BY FRANK ZUFALL | 0 comments

For those looking for a Christmas gift inspired by a Washburn County story, one idea is My Name is Butterfly, a book written by Mary Ellen Ryall, director of Happy Tonics, the organization behind the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake.

Ryall wrote the story based on personal observations in her Minong garden in 2003.

“I saw this chrysalis under a bean plant, attached to the bottom of the bean leaf,” she said. “I thought, ‘What in heaven’s name is this?'”

She took a photo of the chrysalis and sent it to a friend in Ohio. “She said, ‘Mary-Ellen, do you realize you have a monarch butterfly chrysalis there?'”

From ground level, Ryall studied and observed the chrysalis change to adult butterfly.

“While I was there I had my bottle of water and this notepad,” she said. “I kept wondering, ‘What is she trying to teach me?’ I had no idea why I was having this experience, and I wrote down even about that.”

Ryall said a rabbit had eaten part of the leaf where the chrysalis was anchored, so she constructed a little fence around the bean plant.

“If that rabbit had come back one more day, I wouldn’t even have a chrysalis left.”

When the chrysalis turned dark, Ryall knew the butterfly was about to emerge.

“This is the very first time the butterfly comes out. Her wings were completely wet,” she said, “and I was with her for three hours. That’s how long it takes for a butterfly’s wings to dry out. They try to climb higher and higher to reach the sun, to get their wings dried. They pump fluids from abdomen to wings to do that.”

Ryall recalls the butterfly’s journey toward the sun: “And then the butterfly tried to climb up the bean pole, but the top of the plant had been eaten by the rabbit. She climbed to another plant and she went to a sunflower. She almost fell down. She had to right herself.”

During the climb, Ryall saw the male butterfly fold its wings back to let the underside dry.

“I’ve never seen a shot like that before,” Ryall said about the photograph she took of the butterfly.

“Then he gets up tall on this sunflower, and that’s when he flew away.”

From her Minong garden, Ryall shared her journal observations and photos with Patrick Shields, an English professor at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College.

“He said, ‘Knowing you, that butterfly will be immortal,'” she said.

The journal notes were transformed in what Ryall calls a “creative, non-fiction” story – her experience but with other characters: a young girl and her mother.

Publishing

After the story was written, Ryall looked for a publisher. In a twist of fate, a publisher’s granddaughter volunteered at the Happy Tonics office

“Her grandmother came in one day and said, ‘I heard you wrote a story about a butterfly, about a monarch.’ I said, ‘I did,’ and she said, ‘Can I see it?'”

The publisher was Lindy Casey of Salt of the Earth Press, a small publisher from Northern Wisconsin focusing on books for children, the environment, organic gardening, recipes.

Ryall left Casey alone in the Happy Tonics office with the manuscript while Ryall visited the Shell Lake library.

“When I came back, she said, ‘This is important work. I’m going to publish it.'”

After a deal was struck, Stevie Marie Aubuchon-Mendoza of Las Vegas, Nev., was chosen to illustrate the book.

To help the illustrator, Ryall asked Minong’s Cassie Thompson and her mother, Tanya, to recreate scenes from the story which Ryall photographed.

“I told her [Cassie] to wear a baseball cap and she said, ‘I don’t wear a baseball cap.’ I said, ‘In this story she does wear a baseball cap.'”

Cassie takes on the character Sara Reynolds who goes out to the garden and finds a butterfly egg and then a caterpillar.

In the story, Mom cautions Sara to leave the new life alone and also teaches Sara new terms, like pupae.

“Her mother teaches her [Sara] while the butterfly teaches her the actual life cycle, so it’s the butterfly telling the story, basically, and getting more information from her mother.”

Coloring book

Following My Name is Butterfly, Ryall and a graphic designer from Alexandria, Va. created a publishing house called Butterfly Women Publishing.

The first publishing project, due out this spring for Earth Day, is a coloring book of Monarch butterflies illustrated by Gordon artist Mora McCusker.

“There are so many people I can reach locally. If I want the greater message to get out there, I have to get it published,” said Ryall. “That’s why we created the publishing house, so we could get some of my essays and manuscripts out there. If my life is short and sweet, this will be something of me to leave on this planet.”

Book

My Name is Butterfly is available at Amazon.com or by visiting www.happytonics.org.

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