Our Monarch Butterfly Habitat is now part of a larger Pollinator Habitat at Lac Courte Agriculture Research Station in Hayward, WI.
Photo copyright Mary Ellen Ryall
Our Monarch Butterfly Habitat is now part of a larger Pollinator Habitat at Lac Courte Agriculture Research Station in Hayward, WI.
Photo copyright Mary Ellen Ryall
This Christmas tide has been a time of watchful waiting. It’s been a time of intentional candles and tearful remembrances of two strong women who have been angels surrounding me. About a month ago, I had the undeniable calling to write about one of my elder friends. I felt driven to write as if it were urgent and I had to capture the essence. I had to pay attention.
This friend is a writer. I wanted to talk about our friendship and how her quiet love was like having an angel surrounding me. I had photos of Kay and her land that she shared with me when I visited her home. I knew what inspired her to write about a tree that she loved. Writing comes in the middle of the night now with this post.
by Kay Karras
By Way of the Wintergreen Tree
Your little bare feet brought you to me
A lad so young – so happy, so free
To hunt wintergreens by
the wintergreen tree.
You take me back to the days when I was
A bare foot girl ‘neath an azure sky
Came to hunt in the cooling breeze
The wintergreen berries
and wintergreen leaves
I see in your happy eyes the smile
Making me wonder all the while
As the years fly by and I cease to be
Will you look for me, here?
by the wintergreen tree?
Kay gave so much to so many women. She was a member of the St. Croix Writers Group in Solon Spring, WI. What tribute can I give her, but a response to her love. She was a mantle for many. We can feel the same love now even when she no longer lives here.
Her daughter Maryann sent me a poem that she wrote for her mother. I knew she had one daughter in California. She’s a dark haired beauty of native descent. Kay sent her bear paws years ago that never made it to their destination; she was heartsick about it. She was a woodlands woman familiar with hunting, fishing and gardening. Kay was of the earth and a survivalist. She taught her children well.
My other friend lived in a different world. Dorothy was from the city. Years ago, when I was a young woman, we worked in publishing in Washington, DC. Another strong woman Dorothy Hill befriended me. We worked for a Jewish family who treated their employees well, like family. Our work was investigative and we worked on the Hill. The publishing house dealt with chemicals in food and cosmetics, Food Chemical News and Pesticide and Chemical News.
It was an informative time. It was here I learned that all that came in packages was not well, including food and cosmetics. This was my first exposure to the world that was not as safe as I once believed. Madison Avenue is effective in what they do. Everything in society is about marketing and selling.
Dorothy came to my wedding at St. Dominic’s Church, in DC in 1985. She was suffering a terrible tooth ache from an abscess tooth and was immediately going to the dentist after the wedding. I knew then that she would do anything to show that she loved me. I trusted her. I didn’t trust my own mother and Dorothy taught me that she loved me unconditionally. What a beautiful friend. We both came from alcoholic families. She was married to a drinker and I was born into a family of alcoholism. I have trust issues when it comes to letting people get close to me. Dorothy broke that shell as did Kay.
We have been friends for what seems like forever. Now she is no longer here, but ascended to where love abides blissfully and showers us here the Earth. I am not alone even though I have said goodbye to many things. I am amused of course and dedicated to my work, but my own family of a husband, Tia the dog, and three cats don’t live here anymore. I don’t live on the land anymore that I loved in northwest Wisconsin. I had to leave my northern retreat for health reasons. Now I live on the east coast near family. This is a new chapter in my life. I have been gallivanting around the world for most of my adult life. Now I am spending these precious days with family as I age.
God Bless you all who have walked with me through these writings. May you know the value of family and friends surrounding you.
Be well Insectamonarca friends where ever you are.
I looked all over the Internet and at Moth organizations in USA . I want to identify the following moths. At least I think they are moths. They are unique. If you know species, please let me know. I will give you credit for identifying. The Field Guide I am writing will have butterflies and moths in the the book.
UPDATE: The two moths have been identified. Please visit www.butterfly-woman-publishing.com for the follow-up story of mystery moths and bog.
The photos were taken in northwest Wisconsin, south of the village of Minong, on a remote country road. I went out one day, with Anna Merritt Martineau, to do a butterfly shoot one day. I always see other species and try to record them also.
Tonya Treichel Albers identified first moth above as Friendly Probole Moth – Probole amicaria
Second moth: Xanthotype urticaria (Geometridae) identified by Tonya Treichel Albers.
Amelia, my niece was overhead saying to her brother and sister as they looked out the front door facing the expansive gardens and lawn, “It’s a dragonfly forest.” There were hundreds of dragonflies dive bombing mosquitoes and it did look like a dragonfly habitat. We often see them by the masses at sunset around the pool area when we have our dinner out at the picnic table. Honestly, there are no mosquitoes because of the dragonfly patrol. No need to spray here. I did get a photo of the red or rust yellow-legged meadowhawk (Sympetrum olcinum). We saw a twelve-spotted skimmer (Libfellua pulchella). The skimmer has a white abdomen and several spaces on the wings that are clear, with darker accented markings. It is rather large and noticeable.
Looking in a field guide for vernal ponds, I learned that the eastern box turtle is of special concern in Massachusetts. I feel fortunate to have a shell that my dog Tia and I discovered near the pond that was on the back side of our property in Lusby, MD. In December 2000, I carried the shell with me when I moved to Wisconsin. Once I was there, I learned that the turtle was a significant part of Ojibwa culture in the Great Lakes region. There is no such thing as coincidence, seeing as I had moved to Indian Country and would be studying with the Ojibwa at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College (LCOOCC). I graduated from LCOOCC in 2003. You can read about my journey to the Midwest online at http://www.tribalcollegejournal.org/archives/8298
I was granted a Creative Writing Award from Tribal College Journal where the article was published along with other tribal college authors. I am thrilled that the prestigious Journal published the issue online for prosperity.
Continuing our woodland walk, Amelia and I saw many frogs. I saw a wood frog that wears a black mask across its eyes and has a yellow line that distinguishes this particular frog species. Frogs were not all we saw. There was cucumber root . My sister Ronnie told me what it was. Here is a photo of the plant. The upper set of leaves were growing through the beautiful ferns that exist within the woodlands.
The plant is unique because it as two separate sets of leave with berries within the top array of leaves that form a circle around the plant stalk. Ronnie also pointed out running cedar that grows near the far boundary of the property near the frog pond. . I have to jog my memory re: medicinal plants and look up both running cedar and princess pine. Something is nagging me about one of them being a medicinal plant.
On the walk down Ashby West Road yesterday, I came across lady slipper leaves visibly growing near one of my favorite grandfather boulders. I was really taken aback. There are at least eight sets of visible plants growing along the side of the road. I drove down the hill yesterday and Ronnie was able to be my eyes as we passed the large glacier boulder. Ronnie, being a plant expert herself, was able to spot the lady slippers. I love them because they are part of the orchid family and hardy enough to grow in our northern climate.
Dear Insectamonarc Friends,
I am doing a Book Tour over the next week, starting tomorrow – in and around Washington, DC. My Book, My Name is Butterfly, was published by Salt of the Earth Press in 2011. It took me nearly a year before I had time to start marketing the book. You see, I have been busy as Executive Director of a nonprofit environmetal education organization and public charity. Happy Tonics, has had quite a busy year in 2011. By end of 2012, I retire as CEO of the nonprofit and anticipate that I will have more time for writing and publishing.
It is a honor to be asked to speak at several events and places in So. Maryland. I am in Milwaukee and in a few hours, I fly to DC. March 31, I will speak at Joy Lane Healing Center at 4 p.m. Dr. Carol Marcy, owns the Healing Center and expansive lands surrounding the center. It was here where the first indication of my butterfly future began to flutter again in 1999. Never did I dream that by following my dream to come to WI that I would become Butterfly Woman. This is my Ojibwa spirit name. I was given this name in a Naming Ceremony. The monarch is a butterfly of transformation. I not only witnessed this life change in the monarch but also within myself. Visit Joy Lane Healing Center at http://www.joylanehealingcenter.net/
April 2, I will be in Prince Frederick and speak to seniors at the Calvert Pines Senior Center at 12:30 p.m. I once lived in Calvert County and am delighted to connect to new and old friends here. Visit at http://somd.com/Detailed/1734.php
April 7, I will be a guest at a Meet the Author event at Leonardtown, MD. If any of you live near Leonardtown, I invite you to come to The Good Earth Natural Food Company. It is a great pleasure to reconnect with Valerie, store owner, and new and old friends. I will be doing a book signing from 9:30 a.m. – 12 noon. http://www.goodearthnaturals.com/
Dear insectamonarca friends,
I am delighted that Morgen Bailey, Northampton, UK, did an interview of me. The article went live on March 24.
Please visit the following link to read the author’s interview at http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/blog-interview-no-318-with-writer-mary-ellen-ryall/
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 Rya…
This is a story about Wisconsin native cranberries. My sister, Ronnie Hohos, and I were traveling towards Hayward, on Route 77, in October 2011. A cranberry bog was on the left. You couldn’t miss it. The water was red with floating cranberries. We both wanted to see the operation. I turned the minivan around and headed back to the bog. The cranberry business is owned and operated by the Zawistowski family. Wisconsin has the largest cranberry harvests in the country, an average of 60 percent comes from Wisconsin.
During the growing season, the berries grow on vines close to the ground. At harvest time, the bogs are flooded. Men on harvesting machines rake the vines to loosen the cranberries. It was exciting to see the work. Many people stopped their cars and with camera in hand, watched as men worked in a coordinated rhythm. I think the men must be proud to be harvesting a wild edible fruit that feeds so many people during the holidays. Nets were cast out upon the water. Men in the water, dressed in hip boots, raked cranberries towards a waiting truck. The cranberries were herded toward a long moving conveyer belt. The berries went up the belt into a truck bed. When a truck was full, the driver drove the truck to the next processing stage.
Trucks waited in turn to unload berries. A woman kept the conveyer belt free of weeds, while clean berries were downloaded from the marsh truck. Then the cranberries were conveyed up to a delivery truck. The cranberries were now ready to be transported to a warehouse. At the warehouse, cranberries would be cleaned, dried, cooled, and frozen for processing. Fresh fruit was also transported to warehouses where it is cleaned, dried, cooled and delivered for sale.
What would Thanksgiving be without cranberries? I bought five pounds of fresh cranberries and bagged them, by cupful, into zip lock bags. The berries are in my freezer. I can cook and bake with cranberries, all winter long. Cranberries are good for health. The dark hard fruit contains large amounts of vitamin C. Cranberries are used for urinary tract infection. The berry acidifies the urine and prevents bacteria from adhering to the bladder (Balch, 1997).
According to the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association, cranberries contain hippuric acid, which has antibacterial effects on the body, as well as natural antibiotic ingredients. Cranberries may help with atherosclerosis, which is a primary cause of cardiovascular disease. Cranberries minimize the formation of dental plaque. The use of cranberries may be beneficial in the prevention of ulcers, which are linked to stomach cancer and acid reflux disease. To maintain good kidney health, the National Kidney Foundation recommends one large glass of cranberry juice a day.
When I bake berry pies, which is quite frequently in winter, I always add a cup of cranberries. Strawberries are sweet and when added to cranberries, blueberries, and apples, I don’t need to add much sugar. That’s the point. I want to eat berries for health, but not have to pay the price of sugar in my diet. When I use sweeter berries with cranberries it helps sweeten the pie. The juices are rich and colorful. I always add a little organic tapioca to help thicken the pie. It works.
One of my favorite foods is craisins. I buy mine from the cranberry marsh because it takes an average of 6 – 8 hours to bake the berry dry. One can make lots of recipes with cranberries. My sister bought a copy of the Zawistowski Family Cookbook, which she gave to me. One of the recipes, in the book, I learned from, Sheila, the cook at the Minong Senior Center. She adds craisins to meatloaf and it is good. I started making meatloaf using organic grass fed beef, with craisis, and I love it. To learn more about health benefits of cranberries visit at www.cranberryinstitute.org.
It wouldn’t be Wisconsin if we didn’t have an outhouse. Yes, it is probably a relic but then again, maybe not.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”