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.

Ground Cedar and just how special this plant is

Ground cedar

Ground cedar

I have always known that ground cedar (Lycopodium complanatum) club moss family,  was special, but I didn’t know why. Today, I read a post by Dr. Thomas Barnes, University of Kentucky at http://kentuckynativeplantandwildlife.blogspot.com/2012/01/plant-of-week-southern-club-moss.html.

You may enjoy reading the full article at noted link. I can’t get enough of this kind of learning. Every day is wondrous when we learn something new about Creation.

There is a small colony of ground cedar growing in the forest near spring fed snow runoff sites in the hills, at Winter Hill Farm, near Fitchburg, MA. There are large glacial bounders here. For one thing, I learned that it takes 10 – 15 years before the ground plant actually shows itself. First the plant must develop under the ground with a symbiotic relationship with fungi mycelium. The plant also requires a certain soil component, being a lack of nutrients in the soil, and the plant usually requires large boulders, in the near vicinity. Boulders are here because glaciers come through and large tumbling boulders were left behind in the hills. This is one of the beauties of the forest near Fitchburg. My sister lives here on 40 acres, in a protected watershed area, with her husband. The children are all grown now, but Winter Hill Farm is their retreat on weekends and holidays. I am here and will be living nearby come fall. I didn’t dream when I came here, July 11, for a family wedding, that I would be moving back to the East Coast. Pinch me!

I have been given the opportunity to come full circle. Now I can walk into my field work here and continue writing, publishing and observing nature in this environment. Yesterday, my sister gave me a rock that was engraved by an elder artist, who is now deceased. A butterfly was carved into the rock. Ronnie carried the rock up to the Wild Butterfly Habitat and placed the medium size rock on the stone fence at the entrance of the habitat.

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.

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