Author Archives: Kim Smith

Poor Little Lost Bat

Bat trapped ©Kim Smith 2014Around and around the room flew the bat, neatly missing walls and chandelier. My husband’s response was calm and collected–and to me–you’re my nature girl he said. Not when it comes to bats trapped in our dining room I wailed in dismay. After a few unsettled moments, I realized the bat wasn’t going to bite him or me and it truly was just a poor little lost bat struggling to find its way out. I ran and got my trusty butterfly net that, although it has never been used to catch a butterfly with any success, has rescued myriad songbirds and hummingbirds. Tom caught the little bat in a flash and out into the night it flew.

How did it get in we wondered, with all the doors closed and the windows screened?

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Butterfly net ©Kim Smith 2014When our children were very young, I made each a net using  a dowel, piece of wire bent into a hoop-shape, leftover fabric, and recycled leather shoelaces. The nets live in the mud room and they sure have come in handy over the years!

Peaches Ripening in the Warm Sun ~ Do I Hear Bellinis, Anyone?

Belle of Georgia peach ©Kim Smith 2014 copy

Bellinis would make a festive addition to your Labor Day/Schooner Festival weekend brunch or dinner, especially at this time of year when the farmer’s markets and grocer’s shelves are brimming with tree-ripened fresh fruit.

Our ‘Belle of Georgia’ white-flesh peach tree never disappoints. Each and every year since first planting, this semi-dwarf peach tree gives us mouth-watering sweet peaches. Not all of the peaches are perfect and the ones that are not eaten out of hand are whipped into smoothies, cooked in confections, or macerated with Prosecco.

~ Bellini Recipe ~

Marinate peeled, pitted, and sliced (halved or quartered) peaches in Prosecco for several hours. Just before serving, puree the peach-Prosecco mixture. Spoon the puree into champagne glasses, about 1/3 to 1/2 filled, and to taste. Gently add more Prosecco to the puree. Add a drop of raspberry liquor, Chambord, or a few fresh raspberries to the puree, to give the drink that beautiful pinky-peach glow.

Bellinis are traditionally made with white-flesh peaches such as ‘Belle of Georgia,’ but any variety of sweet peach will do.

Peach tree blossom Belle of Georgia ©Kim Smith 2011‘Belle of Georgia’ Peach Blossoms

In flower and in fruit, the peach is a pretty tree for your landscape ~

Belle of Georgia peach -2 ©Kim Smith 2014.j

Read an excerpt about the ‘Belle of Georgia’ from my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities ~ Notes from a Gloucester Garden here ~

Read more

USCGC Eagle in Gloucester Harbor

USCG Barque Eagle Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2014 -1

Photos of the USCGC Eagle arriving today in Gloucester Harbor ~ It was tremendously beautiful to see the Eagle moving through the Harbor. I am looking forward to seeing this majestic cutter under full sail!

The Eagle is open to the public for free tours today, Saturday, the 30th, from 10am to 7pm.

USCG Barque Eagle Gloucester MA -3 ©Kim Smith 2014

From the Coast Guard website: Built at the Blohm + Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany in 1936, and commissioned as Horst Wessel, Eagle is one of three sail-training ships operated by the pre-World War II German navy. At the close of the war, the ship was taken as a war reparation by the U.S., re-commissioned as the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle and sailed to New London, Connecticut, which has been its homeport ever since. Eagle has offered generations of Coast Guard Academy cadets, and more recently officer candidates, an unparalleled leadership experience at sea.

Read more about the USCGC Cutter here.

From wiki: A barque, barc, or bark is a type of sailing vessel with three or more masts having the foremasts rigged square and only the aftermast rigged fore-and-aft.

Thanks to Joey for the alert that the Eagle had arrived!

USCG Barque Eagle Gloucester MA -4 ©Kim Smith 2014USCG Barque Eagle Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2014 -2

Gloucester Welcomes Schooners with Loaves of Warm Virgilio’s Bread!

Joe Virgilio ©Kim Smith 2014 -2.This past spring while working on Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph film project, I filmed Joe Virgilio making Virgilio’s Saint Joseph rolls and wrote a post for GMG about Virgilios. At that time, Al Bezanson, owner of the Green Dragon Schooner, shared that during Schooner Festival, Joe Virgilio welcomes the schooners with warm loaves of freshly baked bread as they sail into Gloucester Harbor.

Al provides more details:

“Hi Kim

Virgilio’s started donating bread to the visiting schooners two years ago, and it now threatens to become a popular new tradition.  The first year Brett and Max Ramsey, in Brett’s high speed inflatable, met up with schooners as they entered the harbor and presented them with a loaf or two along with a pineapple.  In some cases the bread was still warm from the oven.  When that happened with Adventurer, out came the butter, and the bread was enjoyed in a flash. Last year Max and Dom Nesta made the deliveries, and more of the Sea Scouts may be handling it this year.”

Schooner welcome

In the photos Al provided, Green Dragon had just received a delivery in the outer harbor as she entered from Manchester.

Schooner welcome 1

I was so struck by the Virgilio’s generous, welcoming gesture and thought what better time to pass along Al’s story than the night before the Schooners begin to arrive. As Al points out, “When you get around schooner people you may hear them talking about the need to have extra butter aboard in Gloucester. This is a very big deal in fending off other ports that are vying for schooners that same weekend. Thanks Joe and the high speed Ramsey/Nesta delivery guys!”

Joe Virgilio bread gloucester ma ©Kim Smith 2014

Virgilio's ©Kim Smith 2014

10606178_718995488173406_6058799094986917975_nDuring summer months Virgilios makes fabulously delicious and delightfully refreshing Italian ice, created only with pure fresh fruit juices and cane sugar (not corn syrup).

For store hours and menu visit their Facebook page here.

Read more about Virgilio’s Saint Joseph rolls here.

Joe Virgilio St. Joseph Bread ©Kim Smith 2014Joe Virgilio Making Saint Joseph Rolls

 

 

 

Crimson-eyed Rose Mallow

Niles Pond Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2014
Niles Pond ~ Rose Mallow Natural Habitat

GMG FOB Allen Sloane writes with the subject line White, Floppy, and Big:

It was a pleasure to meet and talk with you on Saturday.

Thanks for all the info on poke weeds. My dog doesn’t seem to have any interest in the berries so some day I’ll get around to removing it.

Last night I went to look at it and right next to it is this plant which has decided to blossom. I have seen a couple of other plants in the neighborhood so I don’t know if they are from seed or it is a cultural decision to grow them. Be my guest if you want to answer via your daily post.

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Above photo courtesy Allen Sloane

Hi Allen,

The gorgeous flower in the photo that you sent is the North American native Hibiscus moscheutos, also known by many common names, including rose mallow, swamp mallow, eastern rosemallow, and crimson-eyed rose mallow. Crimson-eyed rose mallow blooms in shades of pure white to cheery pink and deepest rose red.

To answer your question, the seeds are dispersed by birds, and they are also readily available in nurseries. Locally, Wolf Hill always has a lovely selection. I plant rose mallows widely in my client’s native plants gardens as well as in Arts and Crafts period gardens because they are beautiful, easily tended, and are a terrific source of nectar for ruby-throated hummingbirds. H. moscheutos grow beautifully along marsh edges as well as in gardens. There’s a sweet patch growing at Niles Pond, and I am sure we would see many more if phragmites weren’t supplanting all our marsh wildflowers.

We planted a patch at the HarborWalk, but sadly they were stolen. Next year I am hoping we can replace the lost plants!

Rose Mallow Marsh Mallow ©Kim Smith 2013Rose Mallow Growing at Niles Pond

The following is an excerpt from an article that I wrote awhile back, titled “Growing Native:”

“…Throughout the American Arts and Crafts movement, and well into the 1930’s, home and garden magazines, among the most influential sources of ideas for the homeowner, espoused the use of native plants in the landscape. Perhaps the most notable was Gustav Stickley’s The Craftsman, which was published for fifteen years, beginning in 1901. Stickley revered the North American white oak (Quercus alba), admiring it for its majestic role in the eastern forest and for its unique strength and figuring of the wood for furniture making. A sense of connectedness to nature is at the heart of the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement and the popular writing of the era reflects how to create this relationship.

I am reminded of a lovely and memorable cover of Country Living for the September 1905 issue featuring a drift of rose mallows (Hibiscus moscheutos), which resemble and are closely related to hollyhocks (Alcea rosea). Both are members of the Malvaceae or Mallow Family. Hibiscus moscheutos are commonly referred to as crimson-eyed rose mallow and also marsh mallow, because the roots were used to make marshmallows. Rose mallows are a practical and economical native perennial as they reliably return year after year, unlike hollyhocks, although charming and beautiful, are short-lived (with the exception of Alcea rugosa). Rose mallows bloom in shades of pale pink to deeper rosey pink, from July through the first frost. Although found growing in marshy areas along stream and river banks, rose mallows will flourish in the garden when provided with rich moist soil and planted in a sunny location. New growth is slow to emerge in the spring. When cutting back the expired stalks after the first hard frost of autumn, leave a bit of the woody stalk to mark its spot for the following year. The leavesof Hibiscus moscheutos are a host plant for the Gray Hairstreak butterfly and the flowers provide nectar for Ruby-throated hummingbirds.”

Crimson-eyed Rose mallow ©Kim Smith 2010Crimson-eyed Rose Mallow

WARM OCEAN WATER ALERT!

Good Harbor Beach Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2014Good Harbor Beach ~ Click to view width-wise

If you are anything like me, its difficult to enjoy swimming when the water is icy cold. For the past three days, its been delightfully warm, even late in the afternoon, which is the time of day when I usually take a break from work to go for a walk (or swim). I’m heading over to the beach again this afternoon and hoping for four swimming days in a row!

Maria Cracchiola’s Whimsical Cakes

Maria Cracchiola birthday cakemermaid ©Kim Smith 2014The kids (and adults) were wonderfully fascinated by Maria Cracchiolo’s mermaid birthday cake–the details were simply charming–with shade-dyed waves, sea creature candles, fondant mermaid, and chocolate covered rock. Believe me, it tasted as good as it looked!!

You may recall that we featured Maria making the special Saint Joseph altar bread  at Caffe Sicilia back in March. Maria makes beautiful, whimsical cakes such as this, by special order, and may be reached by calling Caffe Sicilia at 978-283-7345. To see more of Maria’s creations, visit her Facebook page here.

New Film: Making the Special Saint Joseph Altar Bread

(Hopefully) Dispelling Some Misconceptions About the HarborWalk

Gloucester Harbor Fishing Boat Jolly Roger ©Kim Smith 2014Window to the Working Waterfront ~ View from the HarborWalk

A little-remembered fact is that the HarborWalk artists were chosen from an applicant pool of local Cape Ann artists, as well as non-local residents. The public call to art was made over a period of several months, and it was widely publicized on this blog and in the Gloucester Daily Times. As a matter of record, myself, several fellow GMG contributors, and many artists in our community applied. The application process was made fair through the CAFE system. The semi-finalists exhibited their proposals at the Sawyer Free Library.

The following are just some of the posts that appeared on Good Morning Gloucester about the HarborWalk public call to art:

Announcing Opening Call for Gloucester MA HarborWalk Public Art Challenge

Joey’s step-by-step on how to apply: Public Art Call

E.J’s reminder: Artist Get Cracking – You Have Three Weeks

The GMG post about the semi-finalist group exhibit at the Sawyer Free Library.

It is my understanding that with a public call to art, where the funding is provided by a state grant, it is illegal to restrict the call to only local residents.

Whether or not you care for the artist’s work, is a horse of a different color and subjective opinion. The three winning artists were chosen by a jury of their peers, comprised of a panel that included local residents.

gloucester-summer-cinema-2-c2a9kim-smith-2014Did you know that the new and fabulously well-attended Summer Cinema is part of the award winning HarborWalk? There were over one thousand attendees at Wednesday night’s Leggo Movie event. Movie night has been the talk of the town amongst kids throughout the city!

i4-c2-gloucester-harborwalk-garden-c2a9-kim-smith-2012

Before Photos ~ Same View as Above, Looking Towards the Gloucester House Restaurant and Taken in 2011

i4-c2-gloucester-harborwalk-garden-2-c2a9-kim-smith

Have you walked one of the new crosswalks? I did, and didn’t slip or fall, and I am quite possibly one of the most accident prone people you will every meet–just ask my husband. Rather than repeating hearsay, I suggest you walk one yourself.

Do you recall the trash talk about Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway when it was first built (inaugurated in 2008)? The idea of a carousel has been bandied about for the HarborWalk. Here’s Nicole Scrafft’s recent lovely post about how she and her boys spent a fabulous day at the park: Now That’s a Carousel.

Many in our community have freely donated their time and energy to creating the HarborWalk and several people, who would prefer to remain anonymous, have donated thousands upon thousands of hours of their time and considerable skills toward developing the HarborWalk.There are challenges to overcome in every design project. I speak as the landscape designer who provided the horticultural master plan for the HarborWalk. This is only the third year of the HarborWalk’s existence and it is already proving to have a tremendously positive impact on our local businesses and restaurants. Let’s give the HarborWalk a chance to become established, to grow, to thrive, and continue to provide entertainment, education, and fun for our community and visitors.

How will you help? Please contact me if you would like to become a Friend of the HarborWalk, at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com or in the comment section of this post.

Read what reporter Glenn Collins had to say about the HarborWalk in the August 13th New York Time’s article titled “Polishing Its Past and Preparing Its Future.”

“This year Massachusetts designated four new cultural districts on Cape Ann, based on their museums, galleries, restaurants, performance spaces and artistic communities. Visitors can now download a free Cape Ann Cultural Districts smartphone app, to access a bonanza of web information and self-guided tours. This summer, 20 new “story posts,” bringing the total to 42, afford a walking encyclopedia of information. They are affixed to granite bollards situated strategically on the route (GHWalk.org).

The posts are part of the Gloucester HarborWalk, a free, multimile, historic, civic and artistic public-access walkway that zigzags in and out of historic locales, piers, plazas, docks and parks. Call it stealth wayfinding, since it affords an intimate view of the harborfront, giving access to the town’s history — and the water itself — without disturbing the working port, or cutesifying it.”

If you have been enjoying the HarborWalk–the Summer Cinema, the story moments, window to the waterfront, and all that it has to offer, please let us know. We would love to hear from you. Thank you!

Don’t miss JAWS!, playing Wednesday, August 27th. I hope to see you there!

i4-c2-gloucester-harborwalk-garden-c2a9-kim-smith-c2a9-kim-smith-photo-2012-copy Gloucester’s I4-C2 in 2011, the year before the HarborWalk was built.

Ben Webster Piano Tuning Service

Ben Webster piano tuner ©Kim Smith 2014Looking for a fantastic piano tuner? Thanks to Tony Goddess’s, recommendation, we called Ben Webster. He was at our home the next morning! Not only did he do a beautiful job tuning our old desperately-out-of-tune Knabe, but he cleaned it as well.

Ben is returning to the North Bennet Street School in the fall for more advanced piano studies but he will still be available to tune your piano on Saturdays and weekends. Ben can be reached at webster.piano@yahoo.com.

Cleaning inside a piano ©Kim Smith 2014Some of the tools Ben uses for cleaning underneath the strings are mini-squeegees and toothbrushes.Piano cleaner squeegee ©Kim Smith 2014

Provocative Pokeweed

The charming note posted below was in my inbox today. I thought Fred would enjoy, as would our GMG readers find interesting.

Allen writes:

Dear Madame Butterfly,

(You may recognize my name as an infrequent commenter on

GMG. More importantly, I am an FOF, Friend of Fred Bodin, although he NEVER invited me to his gallery soires !!!!!)

I always read your GMG posts and enjoy and learn from them.

I have a plant that comes up in my back yard and grows to a height of 5 or 6 feet. This week it fell down. Do you know what it is? Can I cut it up safely and dispose of it? Should I throw it over the fence in the back and let wildlife eat the berries?

Any help, thanks,

Allen

Phytolacca_americana_Sugarcreek_Ohio

Hi Allen,

Allen, as an FOF and FOB, of course you are invited to ALL GMG soirées. I hope you’ll come to the mug-up this Saturday morning at E.J.’s new summer gallery on Rocky Neck. I am planning to go, but will not get there until closer to 11:00. I look forward to meeting you!

American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) is what you have growing in your backyard. Pokeweed possesses nearly as many common names as the birds that find nourishment from its fruit, including pokeberry, Virginia poke, inkberry, ink weed, bear’s grape, American spinach, and American nightshade. The American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Mourning Dove, Gray Catbird, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Cardinal, Great-crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Phoebe, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, European Starling, Brown Thrasher, Cedar Waxwing, and Pileated Woodpeckers are some of the birds that dine on the fruits of pokeberry. Many mammals such as Red Fox, Virginia Opossum, Raccoon, White-footed Mouse, and Black Bear eat the berries, too.

Phytolacca_americana_Clinton_MI_2

Pokeweed can grow to ten feet, with an equally as long taproot as is it is tall in height. It typically grows in disturbed areas, pastures, roadsides, fencerows, open woods, and woodland borders. All parts of the plant are toxic to people and livestock, and especially to children. The root is the most toxic and the berries the least. It is not recommended to add to you compost. If you have children visiting your garden, I would suggest that you talk to them about the plant’s toxicity, and only throw it over you fence if beyond your fence is part of your property. To control a plant, cut below the root crown. An older plant may have a ten foot taproot, which would be very difficult to dig up.

 

 

Images courtesy wiki commons.

Please Don’t Weed the Milkweed

Common Milweed Asclepias syriaca ©Kim Smith 2014Once established, native Common Milkweed grows vigorously and rambunctiously, making itself known even in the thinnest of sidewalk cracks. Here’s a patch growing along East Main Street. I think it beautiful! What do you think?

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If you caught Tom Ashbrook’s On Point broadcast on NPR this morning you heard Doctor Lincoln Brower, Karen Oberhausser, and Rick Mikula, three of the world’s leading butterfly experts, speaking about the disappearance of the Monarch and the main reason why–most notably because of the sterilization of the American landscape through the use Monsanto’s Roundup and GMO corn and soybean crops. The episode is airing again tonight at 8pm.

The following is a list of a few suggestions on ways in which we can all help turn the tide:

Plant milkweed and wildflowers. Teach members of your family and friends what milkweed looks like and why we don’t want to weed it out of the garden. The above patch of milkweed is growing next to a shop on East Main Street. About a month ago, I went into the store and, very, very politely inquired as to whether or not they knew that the plant growing outside their doorway was a terrific patch of milkweed. They had no idea. I explained what the benefits were to the Monarchs and have since noticed that the milkweed patch is still growing beautifully!

Ban GMO crops. Genetically modified seeds have been altered to withstand megadoses of Roundup. Millions and millions of tons of herbicides are poured onto Roundup Ready fields of crops, preventing any other plant that has not been genetically altered from growing (in other words, wildflowers). The application of Monsanto’s deadly destructive herbicide Roundup is creating vast sterilized agricultural wastelands, which will, over time, only need heavier and heavier does of their lethal chemicals to continue to be viable.

Don’t apply herbicides and pesticides in your own gardens.

Create wildflower corridors in backyards and highways.

Reduce salt wherever possible (and where it wouldn’t cause harm to human life). Large amounts of road salt, as was needed during this past snowiest of winters, is detrimental to wildlife habitats.

Why You Should Worry About The Butterflies

On the second hour of WBUR’s On Point this morning at 11:00am, the show features several outstanding Monarch experts. Here’s the link: http://onpoint.wbur.org/2014/08/20/monarch-butterflies-migration-climate-change

So many thanks to Michele and Jane for letting me know!

“We love butterflies, and monarch butterflies are called “monarch” for a reason.  They are grand.  All that fluttering orange and black display on a winged scale built to impress.  To charm.  But monarch butterflies are in trouble.  This year saw the smallest migration ever recorded to their winter retreat in the mountains of Mexico.  And if you are looking this summer for monarchs, they’ve been hard to find.  There’s a reason, and it goes back to genetically-modified crops, say my guests today.  This hour On Point:  monarch butterflies, beautiful and in trouble.”

– Tom Ashbrook

Anita Diamant Moderator at Duckworth’s and the Writer’s Book Club Event!

Anita Diamant Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2014The Eastern Point Lit House Writer’s Book Club, held at Duckworth’s on Sunday evening, was an absolutely fantastic and super fun event. Anitia Diamant, author of The Red Tent and Good Harbor, was the guest writer and she led a discussion about Billy Collins, her favorite poet. Anita has attended several Billy Collins readings and describes herself as his fangirl. Collins is the former Poet Laureate of the United States and one of the most widely read and popular of poets in American history.

Duckworths ©Kim Smith 2014The evening began with a beautiful array of delicious dishes, including shrimp with guacamole, Ken’s always fabulous polenta, and a medley of lightly cooked and dressed seasonal vegetables.

Dawn Sarrouf ©Kim Smith 2014JPGDawn Sarrouf  Reading from Ballistics

Guests took turns reading aloud poems from the collection titled Ballistics. Poignant, humorous, accessible, and with a brilliant compactness of writing, Collins reportedly sites cartoons as one of his greatest influences. Although I did not have time to read ahead of time, after listening to the selcetion of poems read aloud, I definitely look forward to reading Ballistics. This brings me to the point that Ken Duckworth made, which is that at the Writer’s Book Club, no one need feel as though they must read the book prior to the event and that it can be just as interesting to hear about the book selection for the first time from the perspective of other guests, which (as it has for me on several occasions) may in turn lead to reading the book.

Colleen ©Kim Smith 2014

Colleen

Michelle atticus ©Kim Smith 2014Michelle and Atticus

Kne Duckworth Chris AndersonChef Ken Duckworth and Chris Anderson

Anita Diamant ©Kim Smith 2014Anita Diamant and Her Husband Jim Reading a Favorite Poem

Dan's Dahlia's ©Kim Smith 2014Master Horticulturist Dan’s Dinner Plate-sized Dahlia!

Duckworth's Distrot ©kim Smith 2014

September’s Writer’s Book Club selection is The Secret Life of Bees, and will be led by moderator S Stephanie. Purchase your tickets sooner rather than later as these fun and lively Writer’s Book Club events sell out quickly!

september_book_club_web

Dedication of the Pathways Butterfly Garden

This morning the dedication of the new butterfly garden at Pathway’s for Children was celebrated with speeches of thanks, and a song and poem performed by the Pathways children. The sun was shining, the bees and butterflies were on the wing, and there were lots of smiles of joy on the faces of the children and attendees. My most heartfelt thanks and deepest appreciation to all who have given so much to make the garden a success!

Pathways for Children butterfly garden -3 ©Kim Smith 2014

Pathways for Children butterfly garden -4 ©Kim Smith 2014

Just some of the wonderful people who made the garden possible: Andrew, Bernie Romanowski, Beth Graham, and Peter Van Demark

Pathways for Children butterfly garden sunflower ©Kim Smith 2014

Pathways for Children butterfly garden before ©Kim Smith 2014

Before Photo Pathways for Children

Pathways for Children butterfly garden -8 ©Kim Smith 2014

Pathways for Children butterfly garden -7 ©Kim Smith 2014

See previous GMG post on the new butterfly garden at Pathways here: HOORAY FOR PATHWAYS FOR CHILDREN’S BRAND SPANKING NEW BUTTERFLY GARDEN

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