MANY WATERS

Many Waters is a collection of stories from writers of the Greater North Woods of Wisconsin. It is a wild place where bears, wolves, coyotes, foxes, and where many more species live. Thousands of lakes draw the seeker to its quiet shores. Traditional Indigenous wild rice grows in the water. The area is known as Indian Country. 

I write about the book as a former member of the St. Croix Writers Group. Once a week, the writers meet at the Community Center in Solon Springs. Because it is isolated, many members traveled to get there. I traveled 35 miles each way to attend the group. The writers are a kindred lot. 

Reading the book, I remember writers who have walked on. Kay Karras was an elder, a Poet Laureate, and had a sense of uncanny humor. Weekly she drove to Spooner to visit her sister in the nursing home. That is a 55-mile trip each way. Minong, a village of 516 people, was about halfway. Kay would occasionally stop for short visit and to get her second wind. I loved the impromptu visits. 

Kay invited me to her historical homestead on Karras Road. We visited her beloved roses. She showed me her favorite pine tree, along a walking path, that inspired her to write many stories. Kay showed me the native Lupine and host plant for the Karner Blue butterfly that grew near a pine row. She also taught me where Valerian grew near clear running water. Kay, I remember you in your stories especially Ghost Writers in the Sky.

When I read There is No Cat Like Your First Cat, I can hear Jo Stewart’s voice. Her laughter was contagious. That is how happy her spirit was. Every Christmas season, the St. Croix Writers went to Jo’s home for a Christmas party. Writers shared short works. We gathered in gladness, and oh, I do remember shy outdoor cats at the entranceway where Jo fed the babes she so loved. We miss you, Kay.

Agnes Kennard sent me a note to ask me to submit writing for the project. I am thrilled she thought to do so. The St. Croix writers would occasionally visit Agnes’s home. An artist lives here. Agnes gave me a cement block with glass pieces of a turtle that she made set in the cement. I loved it. It once proudly stood at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, Wisconsin. 

Agnes has been writing most of her life as a way of communication. Her stories have traveled near and far. She is a creative writer, as can be read in Coffee and Common Ground. As a thoughtful writer, Ages wrote, I am Buffalo. It reminds me of humanity now and Climate Change. As the Buffalo went, so shall the family of man. My heart feels that pain. 

I wish I could write about every writer I knew. Each was unique, caring, and a giver of gifts. The gift was them. I still communicate with some of the writers on Facebook. Do read the stories. I am still reading the book. I enjoy waking up and reading segments from the past. Some writers are new to me, and I welcome them to St. Croix Writers. May we all walk with them as we read Many Waters

Many Waters is sold on Amazon at Many Waters: St. Croix Writers Stories and Poems: St. Croix Writers, Haislet, Barbara, Nelson, Sandy, Musch, Naomi, Kay, Janet: 9798689126746: Amazon.com: Books

Amazon notes, Many Waters brings voices from Wisconsin’s Northwoods together in this cross-genre collection of stories, poems, essays, and long-form excerpts. Personality and style converge in a shared love of the region and through works that range from the humorous to the historical, from the everyday to the fantastic. Readers are sure to find pieces that resonate in this excellent compilation.

I was a former student and graduate of Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College. Patrick Shilds, former professor of Creative Writing, invited the St. Croix Writers to the college to present a program for the writing students. The Writers who attended: Pat Shields, Jo Stewart, Agnest Kennard, Mary Ellen Ryall, Kay Karras, and two others I can’t identify.

Agnes Kennard and Jo Stewart

Butterfly Corner

May 9, 2012 published in Washburn County Register, Shell Lake, WI, USA

According to Scott Black, Xerces Society, Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Civil Rights Memorial, is asking people the world over to share a memory about environmental loss – and, at the same time, learn about what’s being done to stop it. Ms. Lin’s appeal is being made in collaboration with The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and World Wildlife Fund to draw attention to Conservation in Action, the newest installment of What is Missing?, a global, multimedia artwork that serves as a memorial to our living planet. Part one can be viewed at http://vimeo.com/10990773What is Missing? This is a whole new way to experience the demise and plea to save threatened species due to habitat loss. Source: New York, NY (PRWEB)

May 2 – Xerces Society has included Happy Tonics on a new mailing list for the “International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Species Survival Commission (SSC), and Butterfly Specialist Group Survey, to assess global research and conservation needs of butterflies.” Xerces Society has published the analysis of survey results in a report, Assessment of Global Research and Conservation Needs for Butterflies: Analysis of Survey Results. Happy Tonics records butterfly species at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. The nonprofit documents butterfly findings to Xerces Society and Wisconsin Butterfly Organization.

May 3 – We have been noticing a surge of butterflies in Minong. The temperature reached an average of 76 degrees Fahrenheit. There is a meadow full of pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta) growing next to my property. The little plant is host plant to painted lady butterfly. I haven’t seen the species yet. I bent down to take a closer look. There were lots of Milbert’s tortoiseshell butterflies enjoying nectar from the plant and dandelion. Some butterflies looked like they had recently emerged. They were bright in color. Others showed signs of age with faded and battered wings. Fast flying meadow fritillary butterflies were also seen. Common violet is their host plant. There are plenty of violets in my gardens in Minong. Violets are a sign of healthy soil. I have noticed a small colony of violets in the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake.

May 3 – Received a butterfly news update from Stephanie Ryall, Saratoga Springs, NY. “We had a big influx of Scarlett [red] Admirals yesterday. Have you heard of this phenomenon up your way? They fly very quickly and look like they are playing in pairs. Watching the sky in Saratoga.” Many of you know that my hometown is Saratoga Springs, NY. I will be there in August for racing season and book tour. Saratoga County protects the endangered Karner blue butterfly. Large tracks of land have been set aside for butterfly conservation. No development can occur near the butterfly reserves because Karner blue is protected. The DNR in Polk-Burnett County is marking habitat under power lines that has Karner blue host plant, native blue lupine. Unlike the monarch butterfly, which has endangered migration phenomena. Shell Lake is the seasonal home to the monarch and the butterfly does not threaten development.

Jo Stewart, St. Croix Writers; Boyd Sutton, Retired former Wisconsin Writers Association Officer

May 4 – 5 – Wisconsin Writers Association’s (WWA) spring conference was held at The Lodge, in Siren.

Mary Ellen Ryall copyright Anna Martineau Merritt
Mary Ellen Ryall copyright Anna Martineau Merritt

I had the opportunity to sell my book, My Name is Butterfly, and meet many butterfly friends. One individual stands out in my mind, Boyd Sutton. He devoted many years to reshaping WWA and was one of the organization’s driving force. Boyd retired this year. He was honored with an award and stand up resounding applause.

I was heartened to see more youth at the event this year, including talented Mikhaila Lampert. She is a high school age young lady who easily makes her way to outside the classroom learning experiences. Mikhaila earned a scholarship to WWA. It was a privilege to drive her to the conference and have the opportunity to get to know her a little. She lives on a farm near Spooner and loves butterflies. I expect we will see a lot more of her this summer at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat, as a volunteer. Anthony Bukoski was one of the speakers. He is the author of many short story collections. Born in Superior, he writes about the surrounding area. I learned a long time ago that a person should write about what they know. Bukoski reiterated the importance of these words to many aspiring authors.