The Sanctuary by Audrey Scharmen

Lobilia cardinalis

Lobelia cardinalis copyright Cindy Dyer

Potomac Review, Fall/Winter 2001-02.

Audrey Scharmen and Mary Ellen Ryall are butterfly and cardinal flower friends.

In the aftermath of lighting, thunder and a heavy downpour with the horizon streaking rose and mauve, tall silhouettes of trees encircle a dooryard garden where the cardinal flower stands amid a bed of her offspring. She is regal and rainsweet, unbowed by the storm, each scarlet spike of florets beaded with diamond droplets aglitter in the fading light.

Lobelia cardinals, older than time, symbol of hope and continuity in an era when both are precarious, has chosen this garden of an herbalist and healer as a sanctuary. Here are boneset, lion’s foot and agrimony. Argiope spins silver among catsclaw and zebra grasses where winged Luna and Promethea linger to meditate and metamorphose. Here is a strident chorus of tree frogs and birdsong, the fecund scent of a generous season, and the subtle fragrance of white sage burned in an ancient ritual of welcome.

The gardener, who presides with the blessings of the natural world, describes an entourage of daddy longlegs spiders that came to spread a net about the cardinal’s buds when predators threatened. The spiders quietly retreated when the first flowers opened and the plant remains flawless. She tells of hummingbirds who came to pollinate-among the few winged creatures able to penetrate the deep nectar of the florets-and of a fat bumblebee who sleeps nightly amid the blossoms.

     And she tells of the cardinal’s coming. To this thickly wooded acreage that she has long tended in the watershed of a great estuary, where precious fossils of an inland sea abound, and where relics of Piscataway Indians who once hunted here lie all about, have come uncommon botanicals, seeking refuge from the constant threat of progress. But her garden lacked a cardinal flower, an elusive plant she coveted.

     It is a stunning survivor of the warm period that preceded the glacial epoch-its flowers so intense a hue the leaves often are stained with it. It is said that no color due to sustained sunlight could have originated in our temperate zone. Thus its birth has been traced to the Age of Flowers, to a sudden violent explosion that changed the face of Earth. The cardinal indeed may have been present at the creation.

The gardener’s efforts to transplant such a flower had been futile and she had gone in search of it in a woodland beside the bed of a brook in a nearby glen protected by dense undergrowth and tall trees. Stalks of summer things spoke of a secret garden, and she thought it an ideal place for the cardinal, a wetland plant with an aura of the rain forest, which craves a secluded habitat where it may keep its feet wet and its head crowned with sunlight. Hidden beneath a residue of autumn past were infant seedlings resembling those of the cardinal-flat green rosettes of leaves with baby fuzz still intact. But she was uncertain so she would return later when jewelweed and goldenrod bloom, in the time of the cardinal.

Fate intervened. A few weeks later four young people died instantly in a head-on collision beside the road that borders the woodland, steps away from a trail that leads down to a haven of seedlings. An entire community mourned and the crash site became a shrine. Candlelight vigils were held there and paper roses bloomed beside a white cross with photos of four smiling faces forever sixteen. The gardener considered the glen a temporary haven for the transitory souls of the children and so she did not return.

Autumn faded; winter turned quickly cruel and the wilted roses shed red on newfallen snow. Spring came early with clouds of dogwood to grace the shrine. Chaste stars of Bethlehem shone on the hillside and burgeoning foliage hid the path beyond from the eyes of passerby. Summer followed long and sweltering. No rain fell and the wetlands withered.

With late summer came rain, the heat subsided, Virginia creeper and sumac bled scarlet beside the road and white blossoms of autumn clematis covered the carnage of drought. A semblance of peace came to the shrine and the gardener returned to the glen. But the cardinal hadn’t come. Black eyed Susans bloomed in its place.

In early September it appeared in her garden-rising from tall stalks of feverfew and ferns beside the porch, undetected until a bright beacon of buds reviewed the presence. A rare albino deer had come, as well, to linger briefly at the woods edge, pale and ghostly in the blue twilight. Hummingbirds returned-none had been seen all that summer.

There is no explanation. Perhaps a single seed, dormant for centuries nurtured by one of many springs known to lie deep beneath the unique woodland, suddenly had awakened. It was the cardinal’s time.

Children’s Book Clubs Are Reading My Name is Butterfly

My Name is Butterfly offers book clubs the opportunity to learn environmental education. The children’s book is set in a garden where a young girl discovers a monarch butterfly.

Children’s Book Clubs Are Reading My Name is Butterfly / January 21, 2013 — Book Club Reading List today announced that My Name is Butterfly has joined its growing list of titles from which book clubs can schedule the author to attend their meetings. Every quarter, Book Club Reading List disseminates a newsletter to book clubs around the country notifying them of authors that have joined their program. My Name is Butterfly offers book clubs the opportunity to learn environmental education. The children’s book is set in a garden where a young girl discovers a monarch butterfly.

Ms. Ryall has made herself available by phone and in-person (when available) to attend book club gatherings and discuss her novel, My Name is Butterfly. To view more information about her book or learn how to schedule a time with Ms. Ryall, please visit her book’s page on Book Club Reading List –

About My Name is Butterfly

Discover the wonders of a monarch butterfly through the eyes of a young girl. Sarah finds a monarch butterfly. She witnesses the butterfly laying eggs on milkweed, the host plant, and the adventure begins. The butterfly teaches the young girl about its life cycle.

via Children’s Book Clubs Are Reading My Name is Butterfly.

Massachusetts artists, writers, cultural partners join in
Mary Ellen —

Next week Governor Patrick will be sending his FY14 budget to the Massachusetts legislature for consideration.

Please sign MASSCreative’s petition to urge the Governor to restore state investment in the arts and cultural community by increasing the Massachusetts Cultural Council budget by $3 million to a total of $12.5 million.

Just ten years ago, the state invested more than $19 million in the creative community providing the creative community with the resources to run their programs to build connected and vibrant communities.

Signing the petition to increase in the MCC budget will help bring more resources to the hundreds of arts and cultural organizations that bring our communities together, spur economic activity and create places where we all want to live, work, play and visit.

With more investment, resources will increase to youth arts programs that help our young adults discover their voice through art, dance, performance and song. More investment will also increase the money flowing to Local Cultural Councils which provide grants to more than 1,500 grassroots community creative groups in each and every town across the Commonwealth.

In less than a week, more than 2,000 Massachusetts residents have added their names to the MASSCreative petition. Please add your name and pass this petition along to friends, family, and colleagues.

Advocate Creativity,

Matt Wilson, MASSCreative

P.S. This is MASSCreative’s first campaign to bring more resources and support to the creative community. Let’s kick it off with a bang.

Morgan Bailey is a fabulous Blogger from the UK. Her outstanding work is for writers. I can’t even keep up with her. She is so prolific. Get to know her. It will be worth it. Morgan is going somewhere and I’d hitch my pony to her Blog.

Morgen 'with an E' Bailey

The second of tonight’s guest blog posts is brought to you by multi-genre author and interviewee Terri Morgan.

My book on the library shelf

novelcover_1Playing the Genetic Lottery is my ninth book, but my first novel and my first self-published book. So for me, it’s very special, and I still get a thrill when I see the cover of my novel. I’m pleased to have it offered for sale in all four of the independent bookstores in Santa Cruz County, where I live. I’m so pleased, in fact, that when friends and family visit from out of town I usually take them to one or more of the bookstores so they can see my novel on the shelves.

I’m happy to say that so far my visitors have been excited to see my book for sale, or at least done a good job of pretending to. And now…

View original post 983 more words

Father Keith Mason wins Editor’s Choice Award

Father Keith Mason was awarded a prestigious Editor’s Choice Award for his poem, “The Cars Rush By.”  The International Library of Poetry reported that the poem displayed a unique perspective and original creativity – judged to be the qualities most found in exceptional poetry.

Father Keith Mason

Father Keith Mason

The Award was presented to Father Keith in October 2004.

Father Keith and I attend the  weekly Joy of Writing group,  in Fitchburg, MA, on Tuesday, at 12:30 p.m., at Fitchburg Senior Center. Father Keith gave me permission to publish his poem and share with Butterfly Woman Publishing followers and friends.

The Cars Rush By …

(A meditative poem-prayer)

Early morning, in a small suburban city,
off to work and play: the cars rush by on the street,
outside, as I kneel to pray and sit to meditate
in a building called, “the Church.”

On the street, a few feet away, a car – – –
“My GOD, I feel your presence . . .  My GOD . . .
A car – – – SWOOSH!

The cars rush by. I think, I meditate,
“Yes Father, Holy Father GOD,
this building, ‘the Church,’ is truly your house,
a place to worship, prayer ad Christian love.”

The cars rush by. “My GOD, if for one moment
I thought . . . you are HERE only,
I could not live or even breathe!”

The cars rush by. “Yes, Father GOD, you are here
AND out there, on the street, in every car!
Your crowning glory is not the buildings, or the cars,
but the people in them!”

The cars rush by. I pray, I meditate.

Father Keith W. Mason

     Published previously in the International Devotional Booklet, FORWARD Day by Day, by the Forward Movement Publications, Cincinnati, Ohio, Lent-Easter, 1971 A.D.

Entertainment Scene in Fitchburg MA

Bounder Coffeehouse

Lower level, Dillon Room,

First Parish UU, 923 Main Street, Fitchburg, MA

2nd Saturday each month, 7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.

 I went to the Boulder Coffeehouse on January 13. Approximately 26 people attended the event. It was like taking a journey back in time. I was pleasantly surprised because I was able to relate to some of the music. I saw glimpses of myself when I was young girl in Greenwich Village, New York City, at 19 years of age. I lived in the city in the 1960s. On weekends I would take the subway to 4th Street and walk over to the Village.

There were several coffeehouses that I frequented. It was cheap to go out then.  I loved the cobblestone streets, 1800s buildings, merging crowded streets, and being entertained and educated by musicians. Often, I would go Gaslight Cafe and listen to many different types of music, mostly folk. One of my roommates worked the coffeehouse scene part time, and we met lots of people. I never paid cover charge at Gaslight Café, because we knew the chef.

Richard Prior performed there. I thought he was the funniest person I ever heard. I loved the music of  Babatundi Olatunji, West Africa percussion, and his dancers. This was World Music before the term even existed. He gave all his gifts that benefited younger impoverished musicians, while  he walked the Earth. I am saddened he walked on in 2003. I used to live in Big Sur and knew the former Hot Springs, now Esalen Institute, where Olatunji left this world. Here is a link for those interested in looking up his important international music history at

Buffy Saint Marie, as well as Bob Dylan performed at Gaslight Café.  Anyway, that was then…….

And this is now.

 THE PROGRAM – Boulder Coffeehouse:

 Nate Smith, host of Boulder Coffeehouse, opened up the first set. This is the time when open mike performers introduce themselves and their music, prior to the main performance. Nate has perfect pitch and a deep, rich voice. I look forward to hearing him again next month.  He performed This Demise I’m In, The Purgatory Express and   Somewhere Down the Road. You can learn more about Nate at You can also follow him on facebook at His Website is

Several musicians came to the stage that evening.  I was impressed by the talented voice of Jenny Backstrom. Jenny plays mandolin and is self taught. She is working on her 1st CD. Her voice was fluid and she has a thrill in her voice. Jenny has a way of putting emotion in her music that resonates with pure sound. Jenny performed 3 originals. You can contact her at

Ken Hasselbrack sang and played four Irish/traditional pieces. Check him out on I love Irish music and it was a pleasure to hear Ken’s music.

Vinny Jamison played and sang Wachusett Ale song (his own) and a few Beatles medley. He has been playing guitar and singing for years. It is wonderful to see people so comfortable with their music.

Paul Beck and Leslie Bryant played.

Paul Beck and Leslie Bryant

Paul Beck and Leslie Bryant

Leslie has a clear soft voice. She played flute and Paul played guitar. They performed 2 original and 2 cover songs. Visit them on facebook at You can learn more about Ergo Canto on their Website at

The main attraction was: Eric Blackmer.

Eric Blackmer

Eric Blackmer

All his work was original, except one song. Eric played one song with a bottleneck technique on his guitar. I haven’t heard this style since back in the 60s. I love it. You can learn more about him on the following Websites:

You can also follow him on

Mark your calendars. If you are in Fitchburg, Second Saturday, February 9, at 7:30 p.m., you owe it to yourself to come to Boulder Coffeehouse. A donation of $5.00 is suggested. Enjoy tea, coffee and refreshments, while you sit at a candle lit table, with new friends and old, and listen to the night’s offerings.

MASSCreative needs art and cultural advocates

MASSCreative Advocate Creativity

Advocate Creativity

I have been asked by MASSCreative to let our readers know about this important advocacy work.

As many of you know, I am the author of children’s books on how we can protect the Earth, pollinators, the environment, native plants and  the Monarch Butterfly.

Subject Line – Governor Patrick and the MCC Budget – Time for Action

Dear Butterfly Woman Friends,

At times, I do advocacy work on behalf of creative art, music, and downtown urbanization. I am interested in promoting a vibrant art and cultural district in the historical town of Fitchburg, MA.

If you read this Blog, you might very well be an artist, writer, publisher or a master crafts person with an eye on the arts, culture, books and multi-lingual projects, which make up my immediate world.  What we need to protect and preserve here you may need to do in your very own town. I have found that working together in a common cause has a much larger impact than working alone.

I want to invite you join together with arts and cultural supporters from all across the Commonwealth to send a clear message to Governor Patrick to increase state investment in the creative community.

Please sign the Petition at and urge Governor Patrick to restore funding for the Commonwealth’s creative community.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC), which distributes state money to arts and cultural organizations across the state, has been a long-time supporter of ORGANIZATIONS. Yet MCC’s budget over the past decade has been cut in half, leaving many organizations scrambling to keep their programs running and accessible.

Governor Patrick is preparing his FY2014 budget for release at the end of the month of January. From then until July, the Governor, the Senate, and the House of Representatives will be debating how to allocate the estimated $32 billion in state revenue.

Please join with our statewide partner MASSCreative  and sign the petition petition urging Governor Patrick to restore the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) budget by $3 million to $12.5+ million.

Click on and sign the petition to restore funding to the creative community.

Your personal support of ORGANIZATIONS has given us the resources to provide our community with top-notch creative work. I am asking you today to add your voice to others across the state to urge the Governor to increase the state’s investment in the creative community to build vibrant and connected communities.

Thank you for your support,

Mary Ellen Ryall
Butterfly Woman Publishing, Inc. and member of MASSCreative

Book Marketing: Develop A Book Marketing Plan | Book Club Reading List

Book Marketing: Develop A Book Marketing Plan | Book Club Reading List.

All book authors need to learn book marketing. I found this out the hard way. I had no previous experience with book marketing and couldn’t rely solely on a publisher. Learning book marketing skills is imperative to get books to the market. I am delighted that LinkedIn has Writers Groups that focus on these important issues.

I signed up for a email marketing class with The Company Corp. and a 12 week Webinar course with Rivka Kawano, a book marketer and partner in a media company. I have met Rivka. She did an wonderful book review of my first book “My Name is Butterfly.” Rivka even came to WI to meet me. She is good if any of you other writers are looking at learning how to sell your book.

Happy book marketing Butterfly Woman Publishing friends.


First Thursday January 3 Fitchburg Massachusetts

Welcome aboard.

Google image

Fitchburg Art Museum Google image

January 3 – Fitchburg Farmers Market at Fitchburg Art Museum will take place from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. I feel fortunate to be invited as a member to join the association this evening.  I will be selling my books tonight at the once a month function. I will bring camera to take some photos and share folk stories afterwards of the very people who are making wonderful changes right here in Fitchburg, MA.

At 7 p.m. the First Thursday Fitchburg Drum Circle will meet at First Parish Church.

Hope Butterfly Woman friends are kicking up their heels in the  New Year.

International Book Review gives Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book Five Stars

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Educational Coloring Book about the Monarch Butterly,December 29, 2012

Cover design by Cindy Dyer

The Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book

This review is from: The Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book (Volume 1) (Paperback)

Mary Ellen Ryall’s delightful coloring book contains easy to read educational information, a glossary at the back, simple illustrations all about the majestic Monarch Butterfly. It is important to note this is not just a colouring book because it has been written with a great deal of love and passion for the continued survival of this species. If you know of any child who has an interest in nature or butterflies then make sure you give this inexpensive but value gift to them to treasure. It surely will give a new appreciation of this unique insect such as the Monarch Butterfly as it goes through its amazing transformation from a pupa to a beautiful winged butterfly.