Don’t you love a scene that tells a story? I imagine a whimsical spirit lives here, with rocks arranged in the tree’s craggy branches and the swing hung in such a creative fashion.
Tag Archives: Cape Ann
Featured: Brant Geese, Black-capped Chickadees, Black-crowned Night Heron, Blue Jays, Cardinals, American Robins, Mockingbirds, Savannah Sparrows, House Finches, Red-breasted Mergansers, and Common Grackle.
Beautiful iridescent feathers of the Common Grackle.
Spring is a fantastic time of year in Massachusetts to see wildlife, whether that be whale or winged creature. Marine species are migrating to the abundant feeding grounds of the North Atlantic as avian species are traveling along the Atlantic Flyway to summer breeding regions in the boreal forests and Arctic tundra. And, too, the bare limbs of tree branches and naked shrubs make for easy viewing of birds that breed and nest in our region. Verdant foliage that will soon spring open, although much longed for, also obscures nesting activity. Get out today and you’ll be richly rewarded by what you see along shoreline and pond bank.
Male Red-winged Blackbird singing to his lady love.
Once the trees leaf, we’ll still hear the songsters but see them less.
Five migrating Brant Geese were foraging on seaweed at Loblolly Cove this morning.
Read dishy brief updates from downtown, marketing opportunities from MOTT, and trending topics from across the state. The arts scene in Gloucester and Cape Ann has so much going on and sets such a high, high bar for the state. We needed a calendar and GMG did it! Reminder: If organizations want to be featured on the essential GMG calendar and weekly arts round-up, they should email their listings to James Eves! Triple check the calendar before planning any major scheduling dates.
What’s New March 2017 updates link (if embed doesn’t show)
*= Founding Partner Yellow = NEW partner March 2017 Bold blue= updates
Sneak peek inside the Braga’s new Italiano Restaurant and Bar opening soon in Gloucester’s Little Italy…and they’re hiring
In a city of incredibly good eats how do you make yours stand out?
BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND! Women’s Equality Cape Ann (WECANN) official t-shirt. Staying active and alert! #wecann #gloucesterma
Buy one or buy ten and help support desperately needed scholarships!
CLICK BELOW TO GET YOURS TODAY!!
Jessica Marie says “YES YOU CAN, YES WECANN!”
Slated to run in conjunction with National Women’s History Month, Women of Essex Stories to Share, will be on display most weekends from March 18-April 29. The show is hosted by Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum. Lee adds:
“The motivation for this exhibit was the recognition that, while our emphasis at the Essex Shipbuilding Museum has been on shipbuilding and the men involved with it, there were many significant roles of women in the community. Hence the exhibit Women of Essex – Stories to Share. This exhibit features about a dozen women that we are featuring individually in this first phase of the project. To help scope this effort, we are focusing this phase on women who are no longer with us. These include the women that were instrumental in building the first meeting house, one of the first woman auctioneers in the country, a female professional baseball player, a woman who was a motivator behind several town projects, several individuals active in the arts, and even an enslaved woman. There will be collections of several other groups of women, namely teachers and restaurateurs, an Essex mainstay.”
So many titles! This Old Church. When a house of worship is a house. I wonder about the people and the history behind their unique architecture, and smile thinking about dedication and reverence. What were the maddening, fascinating and funny stories of the houseproud chapters?
I know that those of you with young children are in the midst of trying to plan their summers. Be sure to explore all options! Harborlight has some pretty fantastic summer offerings for your child. Their Beverly campus is very conveniently located if you should find yourself commuting out of town over the summer weeks and just a short 15 minute drive from Gloucester.
If you are looking for exciting and varied summer options for Grades PK-7 please look through their catalogue of summer offerings.
Harborlight offers one-week sessions beginning July 3rd and ending August 25th for Grades 1-7 and two four-week session for PK-Kindergarten aged children.
Elementary aged children may Sign up for one week, or sign up for all eight!
Here are some of the descriptions for Children ages 3-5 and Grades 1-7.
Celebrate the 4th: Visit Trustees of the Reservations and Audubon properties to see “America the Beautiful.” Come back to campus for old-school picnic lunches on the lawn, BBQ, and yard games. Make patriotic t-shirts, crafts and recipes. Spend the week designing and decorating a patriotic float and take it on parade on Friday!
Ready, Set, Chef!: Take a journey in the life of a restaurateur. We will explore what it takes to create the concept of a restaurant and what the space and menu will look like. We will travel to different restaurants on and around the North Shore learning to cook, create, serve, and run a restaurant. Students will launch their own pop-up restaurant on Friday and will be open for business.
Marine Heritage: Explore Cape Ann’s rich marine heritage. Join the marine science crew aboard the Sea Station’s vessel Endeavor. Set sail on a lobster boat, visit touch tanks and learn about ocean life in a fun, hands-on learning environment.
Rock On!: Join the band and hone your music performance and ensemble skills in a creative and fun environment. Experiment with and learn about instruments from around the world. Improvise during a percussion circle, create through sound-painting activities, and learn to express yourself through music.
History Alive: Walk the streets that hummed with the actions of the revolution, puritans, accused witches, artists and writers. Be a Colonial! Learn how to make traditional colonial foods, try colonial crafts, games and visit some of the places made famous during the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the American Revolution. Be a part of history.
A Day at the Museum: Learn about the history of art through trips to some of the North Shore’s most intriguing museums. We’ll provide a sketchbook. You bring a bag lunch, water bottle and your imagination!
Biking and Hiking: Explore nature as we hike and bike the great outdoors! We’ll study wildlife, compete in nature scavenger hunts and enjoy geocaching activities while gaining greater appreciation for the natural world.
Break a Leg!: Let’s put on a show! Enjoy the rehearsal process while learning more about stage directions, improvisation and character development. On Friday, family and friends are invited to the performance!
Small Swell: Entering grades 4-8 . Catch a wave this summer! Learn balance, coordination, timing the waves, falling and getting back on the board in this fun, educational program that is ideal for children of all surfing abilities.
Art Walk: Stand in the footprints of famous maritime artists and see the harbor through their eyes. Create your own art inspired by the seascapes and working waterfront before you. Walk Gloucester’s “Harbor Walk”, complete a scavenger hunt challenge, and stop along the way to sketch, paint, and draw. Visit the Cape Ann Museum, snack by the water, and return to campus excited to continue the creative process in both the indoor and outdoor art studios.
Coast and Compass: Entering grades 4-7 . Enjoy some great summer adventures as we kayak, hike and hit the beach. The highlight of the week will be our legendary two-night trip to the Isle of Shoal’s Star Island where you can hike, play tennis, jump off the dock, roast marshmallows over an open fire, and learn the local lore of the island!
Authors’ Corner: Become an author and illustrator! Share your love of books with friends as we read, write and illustrate our own work. Learn the craft from guests who are professional authors and artists. Children will come home with a finished product of a picture book, poetry collection, play, or graphic novel.
I Survived!: Entering grades 3-7 . Ever wondered how to start a fire, build shelter, search for food, and stay safe in the wilderness? Learn some of the basic skills taught in the Army Ranger School program and then apply your knowledge as we rough-it during a two-night camping trip in New Hampshire.
Animal League: Come spend a week with Iris the therapy dog and her friends! We will wash, groom, train, walk and play with dogs! Meet a real dog trainer and learn a few tricks yourself. Bake healthy dog treats and learn about various breeds. Have a community “dog wash” and we will give all money earned to our local dog shelter when we visit there. Bring your dog or borrow one of ours for “Bring our Dogs Day” on Friday.
Game On!: Let’s play some games! Tennis, soccer, bowling and mini-golf are among the fun activities planned for this session.
And, as the standard Summer Session Day ends, children who wish to sign up for more hours will enjoy Get in the Game: 3:00 – 4:30 daily from 7/3-8/25
Get moving as we explore the wonderful nature of games and sportsmanship. Fine- tune the skills necessary to challenge yourself in a variety of mental games, beach and lawn games and physical challenges. In the circuit of games and strategies presented, many skills will be enhanced, strategies developed, and missions accomplished.
We’ve been a little bit lost for the last several months while the Aqua Room at Cape Ann’s Marina Resort has been undergoing some pretty sizable renovations. With the windows and doors covered, exactly what had been going on inside has been quite a mystery. Which, I’ll admit, has only added to the excitement for two little swimmers that I know well. Finn, in fact, may or may not be guilty of peeking through little gaps in the window coverings to try to get a sneak peak.
Well, the wait is over. The Aqua Room is now open. And…just in time for a long weekend! I had the opportunity to take a look around on Monday afternoon and was completely impressed with the changes and improvements that have happened!
Some of those improvements are noticeable the second you walk through the doors. Whiter, brighter walls and new windows help let natural light in. The bar has been built up has undergone quite a facelift making it an even more appealing place to sit with friends. The brand new jacuzzi is gorgeous and the new pool deck is spotless. The pool itself has been completely resurfaced and has new tile. Colored lights under the water’s surface change from blue, to green, to red, to white giving the pool a sleek and polished finish. The restrooms and locker rooms have undergone improvements including some geared to the youngest swimmers. All of this is easy to spy and looks beyond great.
What isn’t easy to see, but is equally…if not more…important, are the major steps that have been taken to ensure that the aqua room environment and pool water is the best it can possibly be year round. With a brand new, state of the art, pool filtration system, the perfect combination of saltwater and chlorine treatment for the water, new heating, and even a brand new sound system, they have thought of it all.
We have always loved stopping by the pool for a swim and lunch or dinner. The Aqua Room has been a staple on our list of easy get togethers with friends and hockey teams…and the absolutely perfect escape on rainy or stormy days. We clock some serious time there and always have a great day.
Day passes, punch card passes, and individual and/or family memberships are available to fit everyone’s needs and budgets. The pool is open daily from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm. The children’s pool hours have also been extended to Fridays and Saturdays 11am-10pm; Sundays-Thursdays 11am -8pm.
Mile Marker One continues to serve both lunch and dinner at the tables surrounding the pool and now includes new menu items as well. In addition, COMING SOON, will be the newly enclosed year-round River Deck dining area overlooking boat slips and the Annisquam River.
I am so excited to start spending some lazy afternoons in the company of good friends while watching the boys swim and play with their best buddies. I am thankful for the measures that the owners/management of Cape Ann’s Marina Resort have put into renovations that will help build community in such a clean and safe environment. We are fortunate to have the Aqua Room as an option for family entertainment….now more than ever.
The first one I saw in 2012 was amazing and it gets better every year! From the days of stacked traps and colored lights we now have a wider base with doorways opening the inside with cantilevered traps opening up the center of the tree for a great view from inside, a look at the dome and viewing a light show of Christmas Colors on the floor. (The lightshow with its colored moving dots of light brought back memories of college…but that’s another story!) The stack is tighter and now the traps are color coordinated Yellow and Green by level and the colored lights have given way to energy efficient white LEDs. The yearly engineering advances allow for more and more hand painted buoys from the kids at Art Haven. Hard to imagine anything more spirit lifting than just walking past the tree, not to mention spending some time in it and around! I met two photographers who were waiting for the light to go down and then were going from Gloucester to Rockport, ME and Portland to capture some other trap trees. Their take? Others might be a little taller but none are better than Gloucester’s tree!
During Sunday’s podcast we met Kristen and Dylan of Pigeon Cover Ferments. Their sauerkrauts are out of this world delish. Don’t be turned off when we write sauerkraut; theirs is certainly not your run of the mill grocery store sauerkraut. Pigeon Cove Ferments sauerkrauts are simply fermented cabbage made with a variety of seasonings, hand made and in small batches As theirs is not prepared with preservatives, Pigeon Cove Ferments sauerkraut is wonderfully flavorful and is also vitamin C and probiotic-rich.
It is so exciting to see the growing food industry emerging in Gloucester. When purchasing Pigeon Cove Ferments products you are also supporting other local businesses because Dylan and Kristen source all their vegetables from local farms, including Aprilla Farm, Seaview Farm, and Cedar Rock Gardens–hundreds and hundreds of pounds of cabbage for example. Their salt comes from Atlantic Saltworks, which is based out of Gloucester and produces salt from the Atlantic Ocean.
I have to take a second round of doxycycline for tick bite related illnesses; adding probiotics to my diet couldn’t have come at a more timely moment. Immediately after sampling at the podcast, I purchased several jars at Common Crow. The sales person could not have been more complimentary of Pigeon Cove Ferments products. Today I made a grilled cheese with the caraway and pepper flavored sauerkraut. The crunchy kraut contrasted beautifully with the creamy warm cheese. I think I feel better already!
Meg Montagnino Jarrett introduced the movie, Manchester by the Sea, from the Cabot stage in Beverly, MA, this past Thursday evening, the first public screening in Massachusetts. Members of the audience worked on the film, and dignitaries such as Senator Bruce Tarr and Mayor Romeo Theken were invited. Montagnino Jarrett is a local film producer who worked on behalf of the MA Film office to bring these kinds of projects to the area and is the official liaison for Rockport and Gloucester. Manchester by the Sea is directed by Kenneth Lonergan who appears in a biting scene.
Should you see it because of the setting? Yes.
I didn’t recognize this as being such a typical Massachusetts or even an American story. I registered quality and pathos– a modern day Greek tragedy so thoughtfully sculpted it will be understood across the globe, whether you’ve set one foot in this state or not.
You can however walk right home: the sense of place is rendered as carefully as an artist can, as much– or more –than the characters and script. Impressions of the gray and brown landscape long shots were so right. I thought about winter scenes by local artists, like Stoddard’s murals at Sawyer Free Public Library. Residents can tally scenes, wardrobe, and dialogue filled with local references to Cape Ann communities: the harbor, Ten Pound Island, Rose Marine, Seatronics, local New England homes, the ‘Edward Hopper’ Herrick Court staircase, Richdale mart, property alongside East Gloucester elementary, signs along Highway 128, Manchester Essex school, Willow Rest, hockey scenes and Viking posters. Don’t worry, unless you are the talented location scouts celebrating at this premiere– which they were, Cabot has a bar and snacks–audiences won’t find each and every recognition flicker with just one screening. There were far too many, and oft times veiled. Besides, if you possess a beating heart you will be squeezing your friend, looking away, or grabbing Kleenex at least a couple of times.
Does it deserve Oscar buzz? Yes.
Manchester by the Sea is a beautiful and searing movie.
The film is a meditation on grief, love, and life. You’ll find flaws. That’s subjective and feels real, too. It’s meticulously crafted and directed. Casey Affleck, Kyle Chandler and Michelle Williams are vivid; all of the cast and crew will be impacted by having been a part of the movie. The movie will fuel your eyes and perspective while you watch, and hover around your thoughts and conversations days later. Walking away from the theater, I said American cinema verite. My mind wandered to more mood and art: crisp short stories; poetry; two films, House of Sand and Fog and In the Bedroom, not direct comparisons but as other powerful clutch ups. On the drive home we shared family stories and discussed edges of tragedy. Life and art can be devastating.
I made a mental list of movies that made me crumple beyond the pale. This one wasn’t exactly that for me, thankfully, as the lights came up quickly! But it was memorable as all get out, and as art. Are there movies that have made you cry, yet you’d watch them again; or sad movies you haven’t forgotten? I think this might be one for many viewers.
Part II: more on the making of the film, locally
Thank you to Tony and Abbie for allowing me to come by and get some footage of the spunky little seahorse. This is the fourth seahorse Tony has found, the second this week. He finds them feeding on tiny crustaceans in his lobster bait traps. I think this is a female. If you look closely in the above Instagram and compare with the diagram below, she does not have the male’s brood pouch.
Lined Seahorses are not strong swimmers; they ambush their prey by camouflaging themselves, changing color to blend with their environment. They are found in shades ranging from deep brownish black to gray to green, red, and oranges. Lined Seahorses feed on small crustaceans, fish larvae, and plankton. Their mouths are without teeth and instead of biting, use a sucking action to draw in food. Because a seahorse has no stomach, it must eat constantly.
Seahorses live in habitats where there is an abundance of vegetation to hold onto, for example, eel grass and seaweed in southern New England. On temperate shorelines they may curl their tail around mangrove roots and corals. It seems logical that Tony’s bait traps make a convenient feeding station, providing both food and a place on which to latch. Although rare, sightings as far north as Nova Scotia have been reported. Cape Cod is the tippy end of the Lined Seahorse’s northern breeding range.
Fun fact about Lined Seahorses: Scientists report that the males dance for their mate every morning as a way to bond.
The Lined Seahorse population is in decline; their species status is listed as “vulnerable.” The reason for the decline is not only habitat destruction, but sadly and preventably, because they are a popular commodity in the trinket trade.
A reporter from NECN and NBC contacted Tony and the story may be airing on NECN. Let us know if you see the episode. Here’s a video Tony’s wife Abbie made, posted on GMG in 2010. The seahorse in this video was caught in December, in Ipswich Bay, in 40 degree waters.
In the news: Boston Globe 10 places to paint the town (or the beach, or the mountains) plein air recommendations
Happy to see Cape Ann included–thanks Cape Ann Chamber for putting up the flag.
Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester, and Essex are listed together under Cape Ann as a destination for plein air painting. I enjoyed reading and comparing. The first town listed, Jeffersonville, VT, has vivid detail. Cape Ann has history and scenery coming together at every turn.
I might have added that Cape Ann has been the home of the world class Cape Ann Museum, two renowned associations devoted to the advancement of art – the North Shore Art Association and the Rockport Art Association-, one of the country’s oldest continuously active and iconic art colonies on Rocky Neck, and scores of artists and galleries, because it is the number 1 place to paint.
Black rocks are slippery and demand respect. Dreaded barnacles may be near. For the uninitiated, advice helps: Tread slowly. Crouch low. No flip flops. Maintain 3 or 4 points of contact. Walk like a crab. The rocks feel sticky, maybe dry. Caution: things change quickly if you’re wet.
Still, people fall. Hard. I have witnessed spectacular slides down cliffs, torn and stained swimwear, bruised backs, skin scraped raw and red, stubbed and bloody toes, one gashed head, and a fractured wrist.
I have a copy of The Sea is All About Us in a guest room for family and friends. I can’t say that it will ward off all evil falls, but it’s helped. The granite galvanizing, seaweed section quoted below is one of the oft read passages I share. What a teacher! She lived in Gloucester and wrote about it.
If you read it once, I guarantee that it will change how you see the colors of our rocky coast, and sea all about us.
From 1973 The Sea is All about Us by Sarah Fraser Robbins and Clarice Yentsch. Back cover: Yentsch and Robbins (first author-holding horseshoe crab)
The Rocky Shore
The Black Zone
Plant and animal life on the rocky shore can be separated into six general zones, beginning with the Black Zone, which marks the average high point that the sea reaches upon the land. The Black Zone is covered by microscopic blue-green algae, which are so dense that they make a black line of varying widths along the rocks. These blue green algae exist at high-tide level all around the world wherever the sea meets the land on the rocks.
Just below the Black Zone lie
The Periwinkle Zone and The Barnacle Zone.
named after the dominant animals. There is no definite territorial line for these animals, and indeed the zones often intermingle with each other. Barnacles and periwinkles can be found penetrating the Rockweed Zone (the next zone seaward) and sometimes into the edge of the Irish Moss Zone. Both periwinkles and barnacles are equipped to withstand desiccation (drying out), and can live very successfully in an area that is dry up to 70 percent of the time.
The Rockweed Zone
lies in the middle intertidal area, and is characterized by the brown seaweeds that live there, such as the sea wrack, Fucus, and the knotted wrack, Ascophyllum, which are long, brown seaweeds with conspicuous float bladders that are firmly attached to most of the rocks. They hang limply when the tide is out and float upwards as the tide rises until they are completely erect at high tide. They sway back and forth, dampening the effect of wave action, and providing a sheltered environment for many intertidal plants and animals.
The Irish Moss Zone
is down lower from the high tide line and is exposed only during the very low tides which occur twice a month. The short, dark red tufts of Irish moss, Chondrus Crispus, cover the lower rocks like a carpet, in sharp contrast with the brown Rockweed Zone, the white Barnacle Zone, the Periwinkle Zone and the Black Zone above.
The Laminarian or Kelp Zone
is exposed only at the very lowest tides, which occurs four times a year. This zone extends down as far as light usable for photosynthesis can penetrate–about 30 meters in Folly Cove, and 200 meters in very clear tropical water. The Kelp Zone is the dwelling place of many animals that can survive only continually submerged in water; sponges, hydroids, anemones, certain mollusks, echinoderms, arthropods, tunicates, and fish. Many of these animals may be found higher in intertidal zones, but only in pools that never dry up.
On tide pools- “AT TIMES IN AUGUST THEY ARE REDUCED TO A CRUST OF SALT CRYSTALS”
Tide pools occur in all zones. The upper pools in the splash area or Periwinkle Zone are sporadically replenished with sea water, and consequently are subject to variations caused by land temperatures. They may freeze long before the ocean does. They evaporate in hot sun and strong winds, and thereby concentrate their salinity, that is, become saltier than the sea. At times during August, they are reduced to a crust of salt crystals. After heavy rains and floods they become much less salty. Some tide pools in the middle zones will contain animals and plants characteristic of a deeper zone because the conditions present are similar to those in the zone below. Tide pools in the Irish Moss Zone often contain kelp and associated animals. Tide pools are always a good place to explore.
The edge of the tide is a fragile environment which in its delicate natural balance can easily be destroyed by interference. The building of piers, jetties, and sewage outfalls, and the dumping of trash or industrial wastes into the ocean can be devastating. Overcollecting can be destructive. In the intertidal areas, look and touch only. Examine plants and animals carefully. Overturn stones to see what is clinging to them or living underneath, but always turn that stone back. To leave it overturned alters the environment completely and needlessly kills many organisms. Take photographs or make careful drawings for your notebook, but collect only dead material. Use unbreakable plastic containers from which to observe the organism and then return them to the tidal pool.
Rio waters can get better! Thanks to dogged naturalists, we can put our heads under water in Gloucester. Register now for the August 13 Clean Harbor Swim
While Rio welcomes the 2016 XXXI Olympics, Gloucester will host the “38th Annual Celebrate the Clean Harbor Swim” on August 13, 2016 at 9AM on Niles Beach. A 500 meter course for children ages 8-12 was added last year; any parent and child registering at the same time will receive a promotional discount. I find that incentive extra symbolic because a mother and daughter, Sarah Fraser Robbins and Sarah Robbins Evans, together with Philip Weld, Jr., got this all going! MassAudubon facilitated the annual swim the following year and many years after. More recently it’s been produced by the New England Ocean Water Swimming Association (NEOWSA). Many partners with the City of Gloucester continue to work hard for clean water. I’ll write more about the history of the swim in another post, but in this post I want to delve a bit into the biography of Sarah Fraser Robbins.
They swam for clean water because the Clean Water Act was not being enforced in the Harbor. Today participants swim to celebrate clean water.
There are 2.5 centuries of conservation efforts and notable naturalists in Gloucester. Sarah Fraser Robbins was one.
Sarah Fraser Robbins was 68 at the time of the first swim, a long time Gloucester resident, environmentalist, author, scholar and museum educator. She worked at the Peabody Essex Museum for 25 years. In 1961, she and others helped persuade the Raymond family to donate land to Mass Audubon, now Eastern Point Wildlife Sanctuary. Robbins was friends with Ivy LeMon who was active in banding monarchs to trace their migration wintering in Mexico–had to be with that wonderful name. I have heard that together they helped to secure habitat and urged people to garden using the plants butterflies liked. Kim Smith continues on that Gloucester path.
Robbins published articles in regional journals, the journal of the New England aquarium, and for close to 30 years a regular column- “The Curious Naturalist” -for Mass Audubon publications. The Sea Is All About Us: A Guide to Marine Environments of Cape Ann and Other Northern New England Waters, the 1973 book Robbins wrote with Clarice Yentsch, was an influential touchstone about wildlife at our shores. The lengthy title opens with a nod to the T.S. Eliot poem Four Quartets: The Dry Salvages. What other could it be? That glorious
landmark seamark poem is all Water, art, legacy and nature. And the paradise that’s Cape Ann.
Read an excerpt with Robbin’s curator, scholar and naturalist’s eye in mind. (Her father was an amateur geologist.)
The river is within us, the sea is all about us;
The sea is the land’s edge also, the granite
Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses
Its hints of earlier and other creation:
The starfish, the horseshoe crab, the whale’s backbone;
The pools where it offers to our curiosity
The more delicate algae and the sea anemone.
It tosses up our losses, the torn seine,
The shattered lobsterpot, the broken oar
And the gear of foreign dead men. The sea has many voices,
The ‘savage rocks’ are two groups of rocky ledge off our shores nearby Straightsmouth and Thacher Island. The bigger ‘Dry Salvages’ are a mile and a half out and the little salvages are a mile out. Growing up, including when he came home from Harvard, Eliot sailed from his family’s summer home on Eastern Point. He could clear the Dry Salvages or thread past Avery Ledge and Flat Ground and back home to Gloucester.
… the ragged rock in the restless waters,
Waves wash over it, fogs conceal it;
On a halcyon day it is merely a monument,
In navigable weather it is always a seamark
To lay a course by: but in the sombre season
Or the sudden fury, is what it always was.
Check out who wrote the forward for the new edition of The Sea is All About Us:
None other than Deborah Cramer, author of The Narrow Edge, another Gloucester conservationist ( and still looking for horseshoe crab sightings)
The Peabody Essex Museum and Maritime Gloucester memorialized Sarah Fraser Robbins. Be inspired!
- In 2003, Peabody Essex Museum established the Sarah Fraser Robbins Directorship for the Art & Nature Center, currently held by Jane Winchell.
- In 2014 the Center was dedicated in memory of PEM honorary trustee, Dorothy “Dotty” Addams Brown, Sarah’s good friend and Eastern Point resident.
- Maritime Gloucester’s education center was dedicated in 2008 as the Sarah Fraser Robbins Marine Science Center.
- In 2014, Maritime Gloucester also established the Sarah Fraser Robbins Environmental Award.
Philip Weld’s father, Philip S. Weld Sr., was a newspaper publisher, editor, writer, environmentalist, veteran, and record breaking sailor. The year after the first harbor swim Phil Sr won a transatlantic race sailing “Moxie” and wrote about that crossing. He grew up in Manchester and raised his family in Gloucester.
You can see Sarah’s daughter, Sarah Robbins Evans, interviewed in a great 2010 GMG video by Manny Simoes. Make sure to watch his terrific mini doc overview of that 32nd Clean Harbor Swim run by Richie Martin. There are brief and peppy participant interviews. Swimmers came near and far- Tewksbury, Beverly, Boxford, Boston, Bedford NH, Essex, Portland ME, Falmouth ME, Swampscott…watch to find out more!
To register for the Clean Harbor Swim
A tradition of the Motif No.1 Day arts festival is to feature poets from Cape Ann and their work in a poetry reading, which takes place each year at 4pm.
This year the event is hosted by Christopher Anderson of the Eastern Point Lit House, and will take place in an open mic format. Poets and readers of all ages welcome. Come early for the other literary events at the festival (the Magnetic Poetry Slam, Book Spine Poetry, selections from Shakespeare presented by Cape Ann Shakespeare Troupe, and more) and stay for the Words Before Dinner Poetry Reading.
Click HERE for a general festival Schedule of Events.
A true story, the following is a modern day fanciful beast encounter. I have been reluctant to write about this adventure for fear it would draw sight-seers to regions of Cape Ann off the beaten path, as happened with the white pelican sighting. Now that the mystery of its identity may perhaps be solved, I think it safe.
One morning at daybreak as I was unloading my gear at Brace Cove, I paused to scan the edges and then the whole of Niles Pond. I do this often when out filming and photographing at our local ponds and marshes, looking for swans and other wild birds that may be seeking shelter along these idyllic shores. In the middle of the pond was a float of ice with a great many seagulls just beginning to awaken with the rising sun. Nothing unusual about that. What caught my attention was a very large brown shape there on the ice amongst the gulls. Harumph! I said to no one but myself, what a view spoiler and how utterly trashy that a large brown paper lawn and leaf bag should blow out to the middle of the pond and become stuck there. And then the brown shape slithered into the pond. I not only saw it, but heard the very distinct sound of a creature sliding expertly into water. I tried in vain to catch another glimpse and spent the remainder of the morning half spooked and half kicking myself for not more hurriedly making the effort to film and photograph the “garbage bag.” If only I’d known it was alive!
Shortly after the creature encounter, I read about the Ten Pound Island sea monster sightings and concluded, that yes, a mysterious sea creature could easily swim around Eastern Point Lighthouse, haul up at Brace Cove, cross the causeway, and have himself a swim at Niles Pond, if he were so inclined.
I thought about this beast encounter for weeks and at one point, somewhat embarrassedly, asked my husband to come with me to photograph a moonlit evening at Niles Pond as I wasn’t sure I wanted to come face to face with such a great creature at night. By myself. Being the good sport that he is, he came, if just to prove that it was perfectly safe to photograph in the moonlight.
As mentioned, I’ve been hesitant to write this until very recently when at Henry’s Pond, on a rainy and chilly early spring morning I spied for only a few moments what appeared to be a very mini version of the Niles Pond creature. It was swimming at top speed with a long sinuous streamlined shape beneath the surface of the water and only a bit of its head visible above the water. I took a blurry snapshot and raced home to search books and internet for any clues. The creature was too big to be a muskrat and its tail too slender to be a beaver. I am almost certain that what I saw at Henry’s was a North American River Otter. Two weeks passed when while filming Mr. Swan, again on an overcast morning at Henry’s, the little creature energetically appeared near the marshy shore on the opposite side of the pond, looked all around, dove, re-emerged, again looked all about, and then disappeared. This time I was able to capture a few seconds of video of this inquisitive little otter.
What I have learned about North American River Otters is that they can grow very large, up to five and half feet and weigh thirty pounds. There is the Great River Otter of South America, which can grow over six feet, but the creature I saw at Niles was about four and half to five feet long.
Well there you go, a modern day fanciful beast encounter. After seeing my beast, I think it quite easy to understand how sea monster stories from days gone by could so easily capture people’s imaginations.
Please write if you think you have seen a River Otter in your neighborhood. Thank you!
Look toward the marsh in the first clip, with Mr. Swan in the foreground. You can see the bobbing head of the otter in the background. I was hoping to see the otter again and try to capture better footage but it has been several weeks and no further sightings.