Transformation and Healing

China

China

China, an 11 year old cat and I are healing together. She was injured on July 21. We think she was attacked by a feral cat. Her left shoulder was dislocated. For the past three weeks we have been recuperating together.Yesterday I felt like I was being called to come to the woods; I stated to walk out to the forest on a weathered trail. I didn’t walk very far before I heard a meow. I turned around and saw that China was following me. This is the first day that she has been outside and  already she was going way beyond a safe zone. China is still limping and wouldn’t be able to fend off another predator in this condition. Naturally I turned around and we walked home together.

It is interesting that we have been recuperating together. China on three legs and I slowly building endurance after a medical crisis with respirator exasperation and other issues that caused a perfect storm. I have learned patience from China and I am still learning. Both of us need to pay attention and not go beyond our limits.  She had no business being out in the woods. Perhaps I too am pushing it. My goal is to walk out to see the old Boy Scout camp. It is here where a wild butterfly habitat exists now. I want to see what shape it is in. In the meantime, there is a butterfly story that follows.

My brother-in-law Jack wanted to show me something in the garden. Growing among tomato plants there was a milkweed plant; a large monarch caterpillar was munching away on milkweed leaves several days ago. Yesterday Jack again wanted to show me something.

Monarch in classic J shape

Monarch in classic J shape

A monarch caterpillar was hanging upside down on a tomato stalk. The creature was in the classic J shape that indicates that it is going into the pupa stage. This is where it splits its skeletal skin for the last time and changes into the next stage of its life cycle. The day was cloudy and rainy. The caterpillar didn’t transform itself. When I was taking a photo I accidentally bumped into the plant and the caterpillar balled itself up in a protective mode. I questioned, does the caterpillar need sun to warm its body in order to allow the caterpillar to have the energy to change? Later in the day, the heavy rains came. I hope it didn’t get dislodged from its hiding place among the tomato plants. It does have some protection from surrounding tomato leaves. For now I will observe development. There is no such thing as coincidence. All thee of us are changing, China, the caterpillar and I. Each of us is coming into new life after being injured, ill or simply transforming.

Be happy insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

After the thunder

Over  the last few days I have witnessed the moon go from full moon glow to cloud cover to thunder storms with crashing thunder overhead. One night in particular I saw my father’s hydrangea lit up where Ronnie has a grotto to our Blessed Mother. It was pure white blossoms that pulsated in light.  Jack Hohos, brother-in-law, loves hummingbirds. I heard him ask Ronnie, my sister, if she had seen any hummers? It was then I started to pay attention and witnessing when I did see hummers. Then I told Jack where I saw the bird and what plant, shrub, or tree it was around.

I have been hearing little tree frogs. There was even a frog species that I didn’t recognize by voice. I have entered a more Zen way of Being. I love starting the morning off with ceremony. I find this slower pace restorative and contemplative. Recently while walking down a trail by the barn, I spotted a flat boulder on top of a stone wall fence. I was reminded that a similar setting could be found that I could claim as an outside alter for my rocks that I will now move from WI. Before this discovery, I wondered what I would do with beloved rocks from Great Lakes glacial bedrock, near Duluth, MN; sacred small rocks from Bear Butte near Lakota tribe; Pipestone from a sacred Ojibwa site on Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation, Great Lakes tribe in Hayward, WI. Jerry Smith, traditional medicine man, graciously permitted me to go along on a day bus trip with tribal youth group. Jerry teaches many about sacred Ojibwa culture. Again while on the trail coming back up the hill, I noticed what I believe to be Turkey tail mushrooms growing on a tree on front property. They did have a white bottom. I will need to look more closely to properly ID this mushroom species. Reason I am looking for it is that it is a cancer treatment. Learn about Paul Stamets, mycologist, Fungi Perfecta at http://www.fungi.com/ We were both speakers at Tesuque Pueblo in few years ago. You can learn more about the pueblo people at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesuque,_New_Mexico

I am amazed by the delicious taste of garden fresh fruits and vegetables, in forested central MA, near Fitchburg. As close as I can presently research, a theory is starting to evolve. I am not a scientist; rather I am a citizen scientist and researcher in my own chosen field, which is monarch butterfly and food safety issues. Central MA has a heavy canopy of luscious extended forest, with  giant glacial boulders that have lots of lichen on them. The lichen helps  desolve minerals in boulders, which then slowly leach into the earth; add compost of decaying tree leaves, and you have very rich nutritional soil. I am almost finished reading Patrick Moore’s forestry book Green Spirit Trees are the Answer. Moore’s book is outstanding. I am understanding forestry better because of his expertise and ability to write to the average citizen. Sandy soil in northwest WI, Washburn County, does not have the ability to offer much flavor simply because sandy soil does not hold water or nutrients. Of course, I compost and have added aged manure through the years, but still there is a definite difference between the taste of garden fresh vegetables and fruits. Massachusetts wins hand over in flavor.

Another passion I have is to publish monarch butterfly books. Visit http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Mary+Ellen+Ryall to see published books. Sure wish I knew how to make the link active. If someone out there knows how, please send comment. Thanks!

Another difference between MA and my beloved independent WI life is Massachusetts has banned smoking. I wish I could say the same for WI. There,  I am exposed to second hand smoke. A bar is next to the Visitors Center on Main Street in Shell Lake. Bars have built three walled shelters to their buildings. Smokers can bring their drinks out there and smoke their brains out. Unfortunately I have COPD and I smoked once. I know it is hard to give up, this addiction is harder to break than heroin. At Winter Hill Farm, where my sister created a botanical paradise, the air is fragrant from herbs, woods and flowers. I haven’t smelled such sweet air since the 1980s, when I lived on East Coast and could travel to MA or Upper New York State.

The continuing saga of journeying in the natural world.

Be happy insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

Butterfly Corner “Washburn County Register” 06/13/12

Ryall, M.E. 13 June 2012. Washburn County Register, Butterfly Corner.

Fresh start lending a hand to spruce up the habitat

Fresh start lending a hand to spruce up the habitat

June 7: Fresh Start came to the Monarch Butterfly Habitat to help Happy Tonics with  habitat maintenance. Eleven youth and five supervisors signed up to perform Community Service. Youth worked in teams and pounded in plant ID stakes, eradicated invasive species, dug up and transplanted native plants from the path at the Shoreline Restoration Project, near the Shell Lake Beach. Groups planted and watered transplants of elderberry, black eyed Susan, goldenrod and prairie rose at the Native Wildflower and Butterfly Garden. If you think that is a mouth full, the green team accomplished all of this in 2 ½ hours.

Even if we worked all summer, Happy Tonics with limited volunteers and staff, could have not managed transforming area three in such an efficient way. Youth were attentive, happy, willing to learn about the habitat, and enjoyed learning why we are providing habitat for pollinators.

Chad Olson, staff at Wisconsin Fresh Start Rusk Co., Weyerhaeuser, WI  54865

Chad Olson, staff at Wisconsin Fresh Start Rusk Co., Weyerhaeuser, WI

Chad Olson mentioned that teens usually grumble when asked to do manual labor. Not these youngsters. I think they enjoyed working outside with butterflies, native bees, and learning about native plants that allow pollinators to survive and insure a secure local food supply.

Happy Tonics wishes to thank supervisors Chad Olson and Carly Moline, Weyerhaeuser; Dan Gunderson and Sherri Anderson, Shell Lake; and Mary Schmocker, Hayward, for offering a day of service to the nonprofit. Special thanks go out to Jim VanMoorleham, Happy Tonics volunteer and Joan Quenan, Board Member and Volunteer. I appreciated their efforts in supervising different groups of youngsters and teaching them how to eradicate invasive species and identify native plants.

At noon, we all went to the Lion’s Shelter for a cookout. A few youth from Shell Lake stayed at the shelter while we worked at the habitat. They prepared a delicious cook out for us. Youth did mention that the assignment was fun and offered to come again, perhaps next season. Bravo green team! We love youth to participate. After all, it is their world which they will inherit some day.

June 8: Monarch survival statistics are in from Monarch Larva Monitoring Project, University of MN. Since the butterfly was first recorded in 1993- 1994, monarchs have been in decline in Mexico (overwintering site). 2011-2012 was the lowest on record. The average habitat over the past 19 years has been 7 hectares (1 hectare equals 2.5 acres). Last winter the monarchs occupied only 2.9 hectares.  There is great concern about the Endangered Migration Phenomena.

Fortunately, a few interacting weather patterns this year have been in favor of the monarchs rebounding in a single generation. The Texas drought is finally over. This means there was lots of healthy milkweed to lay eggs on. Just when the new generation was born, along came a string of warm days with southerly winds. The winds pushed the monarchs northward in record numbers and much earlier than we have seen in many years.

Notes from a Plant Discoverer

I know it sounds a little silly but I absolutely get intensely focused when I see new plant species living on the property that were not there before. I may have wished for a certain plant or tree such as an oak tree or solomon’s seal to suddenly surprise me in my own little woods. What a thrill it is to discover they found their way to my heart’s sanctuary.

Rainbow over Minong

Rainbow over Minong

Today I was doing morning ceremony to honor the Four Directions and entities I speak to in remembrance. While I was facing west and finished remembering my family including my deceased husband, my precious dog Tia and cats Dulce, Sombra and Baby; suddenly I saw Black Cohosh and wild Leeks in the forest patch behind their memory garden. Do the plants enjoy seeing my heart spill over in joy? I can’t help by think they do and I believe they love me too. All of creation loves us and wants us to remember that we are all related and connected to each other.

We have fast lost the ability to understand the language of the wind and winged friends. I listen to the robins when they bid goodnight to the day and wish I understood their language. I hear mankind once did understand their brothers and sisters who live in the animal kingdom. How did we become so disconnected? Even though I can’t understand the chirps I at least can say I feel an understanding that they are saying goodnight and giving their thanksgiving for a beautiful day and sunset.

Nighty night Insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

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