It was a humid, rain-soaked summer morning. My dog Tia and I went for a walk on a dirt road near our home in the village of Minong, Wisconsin. No one used the road, and we had the woodlands and prairie all to ourselves, just the way we liked it. Problems disappeared when we were out in nature. The sun glistened, and occasionally small agate stones smiled back from the steamy earth. I stooped to pick one up and pocketed the tiny red gem.
Tia decided to go adventuring. Looking into a prairie, I saw my dog’s white-tipped tail waving in tall native grasses kissed by dewdrops. She looked up as if checking on me. After seeing me, Tia went back to frolicking. After awhile, she returned to my side. We heard the sweet song of chick-a-dees in Jack pine trees. The birds were enjoying tree nuts and insects. We heard their Thanksgiving song. I knew that milkweed grew in a nearby field, and we went over to investigate and to see if any life was astir after the rain.
Bending down, I look on the underside of the milkweed leaves and saw a monarch caterpillar sleeping under the protection of the soft green roof. Rainbow-colored water drops dripped from its back, and still, the caterpillar slumbered. Did it dream that soon this part of its life would end? Soon the caterpillar would change into a pupa, and then a beautiful monarch butterfly. Did the butterfly come to tell us that we too would be transformed and emerge into a new form?
Sadly, Tia passed away in the fall, and my life changed dramatically and forever. I became an executive director of a nonprofit public charity, Happy Tonics, that implemented sanctuary for the monarch butterfly. My name was given to me by Dr. John “Little Bird” Anderson. In Ojibwe, I am called Memengwaaikwe, which means Butterfly Woman. Looking back on this rain-drenched morning, I know my life was transformed forever, just as the tiny messenger foretold.
Look no further. I found this home 12 years ago in Minong, WI. Minong (means it’s a good place in Ojibwe) is also called Pleasant Valley by locals. The house was built in 1956, when materials were real. The house is redwood. The garage is cedar. I absolutely loved it. Home to prairie, red and white pine, aspen, maple and birch. Native trees, shrubs and vines grow here. Native wildflowers grow here too. Wildlife is everywhere. From the house I have seen fox, deer, bear, coyote and wolf stroll through the back yard and field next to house. The birds are too numerous to count. Folks here like to feed them too.
The bathroom has been remodeled to incorporate a handicap shower and gentle rain door, new hi rise toilet and sink. This room boasts a window that no one can see in. A warm color was chosen to accent the bathroom and hallway.
All the woodwork inside was done by Bob Kuehn. He is a master woodworker, artist, craftsman, and handy man. Rodney Wilcox, prepared the wood into board feet at his sawmill in Minong. It was a pleasure to work with both of them. One bedroom has been redone with all wood floors and walls. Minong experienced a blow down with winds over 100 mpg in 2011. The very trees that fell are now inside the house. I was in the house when the flash storm hit. I can tell you, this older home stood up well in the storm. I felt completely safe within.
Check out the porch on the front of the house. Someone could enjoy sitting on the front porch with its knotty pine ceiling. The view overlooks the whole south side to the hills in the distance that surround the valley.
The kitchen is a good size with lots of cabinets. Both the kitchen and pantry have new floors. The pantry is a bedroom if new owner chooses.
There are lots of gardens here with native shrubs, fruit trees and grape arbor.
Rest awhile in the wood gazebo, hand-built in 2012. I had planned to grow wild grapes up the sides. There are vegetable gardens front and south side of house. Two outdoor water outlets on house. I used rain barrels to water the gardens.
The Minong Senior Center is next door. Tai chi class on Monday. Sheila is the cook and she is a great cook. No need to cook main meal if you don’t want to.
ATV and snowmobile trail within two blocks. Folks live casually out here. They love to garden, gather wild edibles and mushrooms, hunt and fish. You can ride an ATV or snowmobile from house to trail. Minong Trails Club within a few blocks.
If you like dogs, you can let your dog off the leash 1/2 block from the house. This used to be the old industrial park nearby. It is pretty quiet there these days. There is a dirt road that your animal can go venturing on. No need to worry, there is a fence to keep your buddy close enough.
From the front of house you can see the predawn rise up over the hills.
Sunsets are too beautiful to describe in words. There is a magnificent rose light that touches the back yard trees and this unique light hits the pine trees across the street when the sun sets. It is absolutely the most radiant light I have ever seen. After it rains, often when the sun comes out there is a rainbow to the south-east of front of house. Who ever said there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow must have meant this home and property. It was my husband’s and my retirement home. I was left alone after my husband’s death in 2010. It really is time for me to move back to East Coast, closer to family and life long friends.
If you know of someone who is looking for that great escape, please tell them about this dreamscape. The house and 1/2 acre property deserves someone special. After all, she is filled with love and more.
Sunday, September 26, I stopped at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat to pick tall bluestem seed for a seed saving project. We want to offer online prairie friends the opportunity to buy a little of our native grass seed. We don’t sell seed by the pound or even by the ounce for that matter. When we ship common milkweed seed, the package contains 20-30 seeds. Tomorrow I will mail milkweed seed to Florida and Virginia. People are not greedy. They just want to help the butterfly by planting the host plant for the monarch.
As I strolled leisurely through the habitat, I saw at least a dozen yellow sulphur butterflies flitting about gathering nectar from periwinkle showy asters and yellow blooming birds foot trefoil. Among the stiff and showy goldenrod, I saw many species of native bees sipping nectar.
Summer may be over but the habitat is still alive with the activity of smaller species such as the insects which I saw in the warm sun enjoying the last days of blooming wildflowers. Soon a colder freeze will come and all life will go dormant to wait out the long cold winter.
I am enjoying these last few days of documenting and photographing the littlest of species that make our natural world complete.
Join us for the March Environemental Film Fest
LCOOCC, 13466 Trepania, Hayward, Wisconsin
LCOOCC James “Pipe” Mustache Auditorium Thursday, March 11th, 2010 Lunch Available on Site @ 11:30am for $5 – Provided by LCO Elders Association 12:00pm Speaker: Dr. Damian Vraniak 12:30pm Film:“America’s Lost Landscape: The Tall Grass” 1:30pm Community Discussion – Advocacy to Action
Prior to Euro American settlement in the 1820s, one of the major landscape features of North America was 240 million acres of tall grass prairie, but between 1830 and 1900 the prairie was steadily transformed to farmland. This change brought about an enormous social change for Native Americans. The film creates a powerful and moving viewing experience about the natural and cultural history of America. Loss of prairie and fragmentation is a loss of many species, plant, animal, and human. (57 minutes)
Save the Dates for Upcoming Environmental Films and Sustainable Living Education!Thursdays –April 22nd and May 6th
For More Information Contact: Amber Marlow – GIS Lab/ Rm 508 or @ 634-4790 ext 156