Author Archives: Kim Smith


Shadblow Red-winged Blackbird Atlantic Coastal Plain copyright Kim Smith

Shadblow blooming with Red-winged Blackbird coming in for a landingYellow Warbler Shadblow Amelanchier copyright Kim Smith

Male Yellow Warbler hopping through the Shadblow branches eating small insects

Shadbow, Shadbush, Chuckleberry Tree, Serviceberry, and Juneberry are just a few of the descriptive names given the beautiful Shadblow tree lighting up our marsh and woodland edges. With lacey white flowers, Shadblow (Amelanchier canadensis) is one of the first of the natives to bloom in spring, growing all along the Atlantic coastal plains.

A fantastic tree for the wild garden, over 26 species of songbirds and mammals, large and small, are documented dining on the fruits of Shadblow (including bears). The small blue fruits are delicious, though rarely consumed by people because wildlife are usually first at the table. The foliage of Shadblow is a caterpillar food plant for the Red Admiral Butterfly. Look for her eggs on the upper surface at the tip of the leaf.

Dew drops and Shadblow -2 c Kim Smith

Shadblow in bud  at the water’s edge with dewdrop necklace

Fruiting in June at the same time of year as the annual spawning migration of shad, is how the names Shadblow and Juneberry came about. The common name Serviceberry is derived from the flower clusters gathered for use in church services.

Shadblow reeds Atlantic coastal plain copyright Kim SmithShadblow in bloom Loblolly Cove

The Shadblow and reeds create a beautiful symbiotic habitat for the blackbirds, Grackles and Red-wings, especially. Reeds of cattails and phragmites make ideal nesting material and sites, and come June, above the nesting area, a songbird feast of Shadblow berries ripens.

Common Grackle males copyright Kim SmithCommon Grackle nesting copyright Kim SmithMale Common Grackles nest building in reeds

Female Red-winged Blackbird copyright Kim SmitrhFemale Red-winged Blackbird perched on cattail while collecting fluff for her nest and calling to her mate.

Shadblow moonlight copyright Kim SmithAmelanchier in the moonlight


“What happens in this race anyhow?” Racing, of course, with some cheating too (as revealed in the video), along with photo competitions, songwriting contest, creative knot tying, and much more! Everyone is welcome to participate, but hurry and sign up today because tickets are going fast.

Check out this super fun video from Barry O’Brien, featuring our Gloucester Captains Tom and Heath Ellis of the Schooner Thomas E. Lannon, Captain Stefan Edick of the Schooner Adventure, and Captain Harold Burnham of the Schooner Ardelle.

JOIN THE 4th ANNUAL SCHOONER CHALLENGE! Monday, June 6th, 6 to 8 pm. The Schooners Adventure, Lannon, and Adelle join forces to help us to protect and preserve the Schooner Evelina M. Goulart here at the shipbuilding museum. Schooners sail from The Maritime Gloucester dock on Harbor Loop. More fun than you can imagine. Sign up at, or call Marcia at (978) 375-3337 today! Tickets will sell fast!

Video by Barry O’Brien, with footage lent by Marty Luster

Gloucester Schooner Challenge


Created by Martin Del Vecchio for Amanda Cook’s birthday and starring Jess Wall Gallagher, Michele Cremin Del Vecchio, Jane Cunningham, Tad Cunningham, Kelly West Figueroa-Ray, Tony Goddess, Samantha Porter Giddings, AnnMarie Shimanoski, , Amber Gaumnitz, Camilla MacFadyen, Lara Lepionka, Stevens Brosnihan, John Sarrouf, James Dowd, Sharon Bo Abrams, James Cook, Amanda Babson, Kimberly Buckley, Dennis Monagle, Joe Cardoza, KT Beans, and more!!


Please join us at the Shalin Liu Performance Center for the Red Shed Film Festival Monday evening at
7pm. I hope to see you there!13217105_10154628533013797_7852232875493798091_o


The 4th annual Red Shed Film Fest is a celebration of local and global filmmaking via a selected series of
short films. Mixing genres, this year’s entries span narrative, documentary, and short episodic pilots and
established series. As in years past, there is also a science-fiction entry and a music video. All in
attendance will have the opportunity to vote for the Audience Choice Award to be given to one of the
entries screened. The winner will be announced at the post-screening reception on the third floor of the
Shalin Liu Performance Center.

PRETTIEST ROBIN’S NEST (and crabapple, too)!

Robin's Nest copyright Kim SmithThis beautiful Robin’s nest is located at the lovely home of the Del Vecchio family. Daughter Clara noticed that a sprig of lavender was used in nest building so they left out some colorful bits of yarn. The Robins built the nest atop a rolled up rug that was left standing beside their well-trafficked front door. Mama Robin doesn’t seem to mind a bit the constant comings and goings of the household. I’ve seen robins build nests in some crazy places, but this has to take the cake!

Thank you to Michele for allowing me to come and film what has to be the world’s most charming Robin’s nest!

Update on the Robin’s nest: Sadly, Michele reports that the nest was knocked over and the eggs have been scavenged. In our region, Robins typically have several broods and often use the same nest, so perhaps the nest can become reestablished.

pink flowering crabapple tree copyright Kim SmithDel Vecchio’s crabapple in full glorious bloom! 

Crabapple blossoms


Driving home several nights ago, I passed Saint Peter’s Square at the moment the Ardelle was passing by and just had to turn around and take a snapshot of this beautiful pinky schooner in the golden late day light. For only one week more, you can purchase at Maritime Gloucester (or online at pre-season passes for the Ardelle. 


Ardelle Pre Season Passes

Where the heck is Matt Harding? Coming to Gloucester to film for his latest YouTube dance video!‏

Who is Matt Harding?  He’s the viral-video guy who travels around the world and dances his signature goofy dance with the locals.  His endearing and moving dance videos have garnered over 100,000 million views on YouTube.  Here are some of his most recent hits:

Now Matt is coming to Gloucester to dance with us!  On Friday, May 20th at 6:30p, he will be dancing with us at the Fisherman’s Statue on the Boulevard.  If we get a lot of enthusiastic dancers, we might make it into his next video, to be seen by millions!

Very Important:  Matt is looking for dancers who get it, and are eager to dance.  So please show up only if you can let yourself go and get into the spirit of goofiness.
If that sounds like you, please show up at 6:00p for dancing at 6:30p.  See you then!
You can find out more at
Thank you Martin Del Vecchio for sharing this!!!


Rick Roth writes ~

We got a check the other day for $2000 from New England BioLabs.  Tori Rosati got us a grant to help subsidize our presentations.  Thank you Tori.

I know you’re all saving the date for:
CAVPT Benefit Concert/Auction with Charlie Farren
Friday September 9, 2016  7-11pm at Mile Maker one in Gloucester.
We need sponsorships for this show… so, if you know somebody… or you are somebody who would like to sponsor us for this event, please get in touch.

It has come to my attention that some people have been responding to these listserv emails, and they are not getting to me. So… if you want to get in touch, please send an email to me at

Someone out there must know something about listservs.  Please get in touch.  People are telling me they are not getting these listserv emails.  We had this other listsev before and the same thing happened after a while so we got a new listserv (this one) and now its happening all over again.  Anybody out there know anything about listservs who might be able to help get this straightened out?  It is certainly our most important form of communication for notifying the team about events and stuff.

And, Matt Burne, Nick Taormina and I have done a dozen or so new vernal pool surveys this year.  We also set 6 turtle traps in a swamp in West Gloucester where we think there might be some Blanding’s turtles.  If we find any, we may be able to delineate a Rare Species Habitat.

Snakes of New England and thew World- one hour live animal presentation.
Crane Estate, Ipswich MA.  Please get in touch if you can help out with this show.

And… keep gathering those yard sale items for the Big Giant Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team/Kestrel Educatrional Adventures Yard Sale, Saturday  May 28, 2016  9am-1pm, St. Peter’s Square in Gloucester.  Rain date- Saturday June 4th.

Also,  I now have an operational cell phone again.  978 559 9684.

Later,  Rick


Thanks to the heroic efforts of the Tally’s crew, police, and especially Brendan Hendrickson who had the most undesirable job of being in the driver’s seat, the truck (with Maine plates) was pulled to shore without what appeared too much damage to the undercarriage.

Truck Stuck over seawall copyright Kim Smith

Stuck Truck over seawall copyright Kim Smith  copy

Truck Stuck over seawall -2 copyright Kim Smith copy

Stuck Truck over seawall -3 copyright Kim Smith

Niles Beach truck stuck on the seawall

A video posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on


A video posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on


Gloucester Stage party Benny Ambush, Bob Walsh c Kim Smith

Benny Sato Ambush and Robert Walsh

Gloucester Stage kicks off new season with a party

By Eric Carlson

Gloucester Stage Company held its 37th Season Spring Celebration over the weekend, launching the new season in style with a silent auction, drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and music by Boston cabaret artist Brian Patton. Attendees at the event, hosted at the home of Tom Burger and Andree Robert, included Gloucester Stage managing director Jeff Zinn, artistic director Robert Walsh, and Elizabeth Neumeier, president of the theater company’s board of directors.

Read more here.

Cape Ann Preschool (Formerly Laneville Preschool) Establishes New Location and New Name

Cape Ann Preschool TeachersLocal Preschool Relocates and Rebrands to Accommodate Greater Enrollment and Reflect Its Commitment to Cape Ann

Gloucester, Mass. – May 9th, 2016Cape Ann Preschool, the most personal and positive first school experience for children of Cape Ann, has relocated in order to accommodate greater enrollment and has rebranded to reflect its commitment to families in Gloucester, Manchester, Essex, and Rockport.

“Location is an important consideration for our families,” said Meghan MacLaughlin, Director of Cape Ann Preschool, formerly Lanesville Preschool Center. “From bigger classrooms to the wider outdoor play area, this new space resonates with a sense of openness similar to our active community of teachers and families. Education is a team effort; we look for opportunities like this to simplify logistics for parents and to expand what we can do for our students.”

Beginning September 2016, Cape Ann Preschool will be conveniently located right off Route 128 via exit 14 at the West Gloucester Trinitarian Congregational Church (488 Essex Avenue). Lanesville Preschool opened in 1980 and then moved to its current location downtown on Gloucester Avenue in 2006. Ten years later, this newest expansion serves to extend the school’s rich history and unique focus on school readiness to all of Cape Ann.

Cape Ann Preschool is now open for fall enrollment with spaces in the Green Room (ages 2.9-4 years) and in the Blue Room (ages 4-6 / pre-kindergarten). The 2016-2017 academic year will be its 35th consecutive enrollment season with hundreds of former students and families comprising its current community network. For more information, visit or call 978-270-1896 to schedule an in-person school tour.

Meghan Wall MacLaughlin, M.Ed., Director, Teacher has a B.A. from the University of Richmond and a Master’s degree in Education from Lesley College, and is licensed as an Early Childhood Director. She has more than two decades of experience in education having taught preschool in California for 2 years, and having worked as a teacher, coach, advisor, and admissions counselor with middle and high school students and their parents.

Shelley Halligan, Lead Teacher, is licensed as an Early Childhood Lead Teacher, and holds a degree in Early Child Education from Lasell Junior College. Upon graduation, Shelley began her career teaching preschool in Hopkinton, MA before bringing her talents to Cape Ann Preschool in 1990. Throughout the years, Shelley’s passion for teaching has been evident to the hundreds of students who have passed through her classrooms, and is now focused on incoming students ages 3-4 years in the Green Room.

Mara Destino, Lead Teacher, holds a degree in Elementary Education and a Masters Degree in Early Childhood (with a concentration in Special Needs) from Wheelock College, making her uniquely qualified to usher Cape Ann Preschool’s pre-K students into their first year of kindergarten. Beginning her working at the school as a substitute in 2000, and as a teacher in 2012, Mara has taught preschool, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten for over 25 years.

About Cape Ann Preschool

Providing the most personal and positive first school experience for children of Cape Ann, Cape Ann Preschool fosters curiosity and creativity in a supportive environment that engages young minds through play, group experiences, and individual accomplishment. The dedicated educators at Cape Ann Preschool integrate academic school readiness, social skills, and developmentally appropriate learning for children ages 2.9 through 6. For more information, visit or for the Cape Ann Preschool Community, go to: Facebook, Pinterest, and Flickr.

Cape Ann Preschool Students At Play


Blue body 2 [2]Our friends at Ocean Alliance have just returned from the Sea of Cortez.  They took their drone SnotBot down there and successfully collected Snot from Blue, Grey and Humpback whales.  Here is an except form Iain Kerr’s most recent blog along with some photos of the largest animal that has even live on this planet… a blue whale.
After 10 minutes of high speed running the boat slowed down and we immediately launched a SnotBot. Within seconds we saw a blow, still a long way off.  Luckily the DJI Inspire 1’s top speed is close to 50 mph so I raced towards the whale and was soon close enough to see it though my FPV camera system…. and OMG – it was a blue whale!  I cannot describe my feelings as I approached this remarkable animal gliding through the water. After almost 30 years in this business and a British understated reputation to maintain, I have to admit that my hands started shaking and yes I made a mess of my first approach and did not get a blow sample.  I did not care though, the experience of flying SnotBot over the largest animal that has ever lived on the planet was an experience of a lifetime. To put this animal’s size into context: an adult blue whale’s tongue can weigh 6.5 tons; the heart is so big that a human adult could climb into one chamber.  Our blue whale was stunning in the crystal clear water, seeming to swim effortlessly.  After it dove I just left the drone hovering above its footprint and looked around at the rest of the team who were all ecstatic – last day on the water, beautiful weather and we were with a blue whale. I have only ever seen a blue whale once and when you look at the attached photo you realize that a drone’s eye view is incomparable; it’s the ultimate viewing experience. Look at its features, how the eyes protrude so that the animal can see forward; look at all of the different musculature and markings on the animal; just look at its amazing color.  So often with SnotBot we focus on the physical data we are collecting from the blow: DNA, micro biomes  pregnancy and stress hormones, but here we can see that even the photos and video that we take have enormous scientific, educational and emotional value.
You can read more about their work on their website:
IMG_6268 Iain Kerr and John Graham representing in the Sea of Cortez (Iain reports that Gloucester resident John is their resident McGyver, who can fix anything that goes wrong on a voyage)

Blue body & boat[2]Blue body short[2]Blue Snotted[2]


After nearly two solid weeks of planting client gardens in dismal drismal, what a welcome treat to see Mr. Sunny make an appearance. Snapshots from yesterday’s beautiful late day light.
tulip mix c Kim Smith

Tulips in our garden

Magnolia Elizabeth c Kim SmithMagnolia ‘Elizabeth’

Magnolia Elizabeth -2 c Kim Smith

Gloucester UU Church Schooner Adventure sunset c Kim Smith.Schooner Adventure masts and Gloucester’s UU Church steeple

Gloucester skyline UU Church Schooner Adventure sunset c Kim Smith.Gloucester City skyline, click image to embiggen

Snapshots from the Gloucester Stage Company’s Spring Party

Gloucester Stage party Tom Burger, Andree, Bea Waring c Kim Smith

Tom Burger, Bea Waring, and Andree Robert

A splendid time was had by all at the Gloucester Stage Company spring celebration, held at the lovely, brand newly built home of hosts Andree and Tom Burger.

Gloucester Stage party Jeff Zinn, Tom Burger, Andree, Bob Walsh c Kim Smith

GSC Managing Director Jeff Zinn, Tom, Andree, and GSC Artistic Director Robert Walsh

Gloucester Stage party Benny Ambush, Bob Walsh c Kim SmithBenny Sato Ambush, Director of Lettice and Lovage, premiering May 19th and Bob

Gloucester Stage party -2 c Kim SmithL to R: Current Gloucester Stage Board President Elizabeth Neumeier; Member of Spring Celebration Committee and Gloucester resident Shelley Morgan; Former Gloucester Stage Board member and Magnolia resident Shelia Lummis and Former Gloucester Stage Board President Bea Waring

Gloucester Stage party Heidi Dallin Bob Walsh c Kim SmithHeidi and Bob

Gloucester Stage party Chef Matt Beach c Kim SmithChef Matt Beach created a fabulous medley of h’ordeuvres, including over-the-top delish cheese puffs stuffed with crab.Gloucester Stage party Chef Matt Beach cheese puffs c Kim Smith

Gloucester Stage party Tom Shelia Lummis c Kim SmithCabaret artists Brian Patton and Leslie Anderson led a lively sing along of show tunes. The evening was topped by a silent auction of exciting travel and treasure donations. To learn more about how you can support the Gloucester Stage Company and to see the stellar line up of this season’s shows, visit the GSC website here.

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