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MONARCHS ON THE WING

Kim Smith is an award winning documentary filmmaker, environmental conservationist, photojournalist, author, illustrator, and an award winning landscape designer. For over twenty years, she has taught people how to turn their backyards and public spaces into pollinator habitat gardens, utilizing primarily North American native wildflowers, trees, shrubs, and vines. Kim’s programs and events are developed from her documentary nature films and landscape design work.

Her most recent feature length documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly,  currently airing on PBS, has won numerous awards and recognition, including Best Documentary at the Boston International Kids Festival, Best Documentary at the San Diego International Kid’s Film Festival, Best Feature Film at the Providence Children’s Film Festival, the environmental award at the Toronto International Women Film Festival, and Gold at the Spotlight Documentary Awards. One of the greatest hopes for the film is that it would be inspirational and educational to both adults and young people and we are overjoyed Beauty on the Wing is finding its audience.

HEAD ON OVER TO WOLF HILL FOR ONE STOP HOLIDAY MAGIC-MAKING!

Stepping into the decorating workshop at Wolf Hill is like entering a Christmas do-it-yourselfer’s dream. The shop and tree yard are overflowing with festive decor and Christmas delights to make your holiday-making extra especially merry!

Whether in need of a beautiful Fraser fir or pine Christmas tree, white pine roping, birch logs, wreaths of every dimension, lights, or holiday treasures for your tree, Wolf Hill has it all.

They have all the ingredients to do it yourself, but if pressed for time, proprietor Pam and her crew have filled the shop with ready made gorgeous wreaths, bows, and pots filled with greens and berries, pinecones, and bows.

Thank you to Makenzie, Jarred, and Piping Plover Friends Pat and Delores for allowing me to take your snapshot <3

I love shopping at Wold Hill, not only because of the stellar quality of holiday and landscaping plants and supplies they sell throughout the year but mostly because the staff, to a person, is always helpful, kind, and wonderfully friendly. Many, many thanks to Pam and Crew for always making it a joy to do business with Wolf Hill, throughout the year!
One more note- check out these fun stocking stuffers for little ones that Makenzie pointed out. You look at the tree lights through the glasses and see shapes dancing around the lights. I tried on a pair and it works!

#kittensoccer

This morning’s fast paced game of walnuts-in-the-bathtub soccer with these three nuts <3

Ivy scores a goal!

 

SECOND GOOD HARBOR BEACH WORKSHOP TONIGHT – Protecting and Preserving the Good Harbor Beach Ecosystem for Current and Future Generations

Jayne Knot from TownGreen conservation group writes,,

“Hello,

Town Green is hosting its second workshop/webinar in the series focusing on the Good Harbor Beach ecosystem: Protecting and Preserving the Good Harbor Beach Ecosystem for Current andFuture GenerationsThe Good Harbor Beach ecosystem includes Good Harbor Beach, Salt Island, the marsh, and the surrounding connected ecosystem.

The second workshop/webinar, to be held on Wednesday, November 30th from 6:30-8:30pm on Zoom (register here: https://towngreen2025.org/good-harbor-webinars/11-30-2022-webinar), will address climate adaptation approaches and solutions.  A Press Release for the event is attached.  For those of you who attended the first workshop/webinar, the format for this one will be a little different.  We will have presentations on adaptation during the first hour and then a panel discussion with questions and comments from the attendees during the second hour.  We hope you can make it.

Event: The second of a three-part workshop/webinar series focusing on the Good Harbor

Beach ecosystem: Protecting and Preserving the Good Harbor Beach Ecosystem for Current

and Future Generations; Adaptation: Is It Possible?

When: Wednesday, November 30th from 6:30-8:30pm on Zoom (register here)

What: A workshop/webinar focusing on adaptation solutions for the Good Harbor Beach

ecosystem with interactive audience participation.

Regarding Save Salt Island, please remember that the Salt Island RDA is on the schedule for the December 21, 2022 Gloucester Conservation Commission meeting.  Please mark your calendars.

Best,

Jayne”

ROCKPORT’S SEVEN SUNS GALLERY PRESENTS HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE!

Loren from beautiful Seven Suns Gallery writes,

Dear Friends,

Hope you are well & hope to see you all at the Gallery this Holiday Season. Here are 7 important things to note:

1) Holiday Open House- this Friday evening from 5-8pm! Gift Certificates Available for classes and art!

2) Rockport Shopping Night- next Friday eve from 5-9pm!

3) Open for daily for visits/shopping 10am-6 through Dec. 23rd

4) Open Christmas Eve from 9am-4pm

5) Closed from Dec. 25- Dec. 30th.

6) OPEN for Rockport New Year’s Eve Event!

7) The gallery will be only open by appointment from Jan. 2- May 1. Stay tuned for workshops, classes and events throughout the winter months.

Thank you for the most wonderful first season!

Warmly,
Loren, Andrew & Ann from Seven Suns Gallery

LOBSTER TRAP TREE LIGHTING AND BUOY PAINTING AT CAPE ANN ART HAVEN!!

Cape Ann’s beautiful Lobster Trap Tree is ready for lights! Super excited to write that this year, David Brooks and friends have created the magical walk-through style tree. The past few years, because of Covid, the tree was fantastic but we weren’t able to enter, look up, and experience the starry wonderment of being surrounded by the holiday lights..

Lobster Trap Tree lighting is scheduled for Saturday, December 10th, at 4:30. 

Buoy painting is full underway. As usual, the event is tremendously well organized. Charlotte had a grand time painting her buoy with Christmas trees and rainbows. So many thanks to Traci and the Cape Ann Art Haven staff for providing a meaningful and fun holiday event for all the local kids. There is no charge although, if able, parents are asked to make a donation when it’s time to pick up the buoys.

 

 

NIKI BOGIN’S EAST GLOUCESTER PROVISIONS AND DUCKWORTH’S EQUALS FUN, STYLISH ELEGANCE AND PURE DELICIOUSNESS!

Niki Bogin and Duckworth’s have teamed up  for the season to create a unique and elegant pop up shop. East Gloucester Provisions soft opening today gave us a peak at just some of the chic home goods Niki Bogin has curated for the holiday shop.

Open now through Christmas, East Gloucester Provisions will daily be adding new gifts, food items, home goods, and hand made treasures.

 

And the cases  are ready for a selection of famous Duckworth’s soups, baked goods, entrees, and light fare, to go. Niki shares that there may even be fresh brewed coffee and Nicole’s scones served at the counter!!!

East Gloucester Provisions is located at 197 East Main Street, Gloucester.

Open November 25th and 26th from 10am to 2pm.

Regular hours beginning December 1st. Check back for more specific hours of operation.

Holy and Ivy #kittens

The kitten’s names, befitting early Christmas gifts. Charlotte chose the names after one of her favorite books, The Story of Holly and Ivy (by author Rumor Godden). Her second choice was Sparkle Rainbow and Glitter Rainbow so we are delighted we landed where we did.

Any suggestions on how to keep kittens from climbing a Christmas tree would be much appreciated 🙂


Ivy, left and Holly, right

TWO SISTAHS <3 #torties #kittencam

With our sincerest thanks and deepest appreciation to Olga Hayes and Cynthia Smith for facilitating the adoption of these two most adorable of sisters.

Mid-way while opening the box with the kittens, Charlotte guessed a single kitten. She simply could not believe there were two. Charlotte is currently on cloud nine <3

Making holiday dreams come true

After the loss of our beloveds, Cosmos the cat, and Rosie the terrier, its been almost unimaginable to think about getting another pet. But this drawing of Charlotte’s really pulled at my heart strings. If she could have anything in the world, she wished for a cat.

Charlotte knew Cosmos in the last few years of his life, and adored him, despite the sweetly 21 plus year decrepit grumpy old man cat that he had become. Cosmos and Rosie came to us when our Liv and Alex were very young. My kids were so sweet and loving to Rosie and Cosmos. Why else do we have pets but to nurture another being and to fill our homes with love and delight.

Hopefully, we will be surprising Charlotte tonight with not one, but two, new family members!

PRESENT! YOUR LAST STOP FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Amanda Cook and artisan friends have created another grand pop up shop, chock-a-block full of holiday delights. You’ll find lovely hand made gifts, art work, stocking stuffers, and lots of unique, yet practical, items for your home and family. Just some of the items featured in the photos include prints by Mary Rhinelander; Amanda’s Salty Yarn’s line of yarn, children’s gifts, and ornaments; and Hold Fast’s Dog Bar soap and wreaths made from recycled dock lines. There is a rich variety of gifts, far more than featured here –

You’ll find a super fun array of stocking stuffers at Present!

I stopped in Sunday on Present’s opening day and plan to go several times more during this upcoming stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas as they are constantly making new treasures and restocking the shelves.

Present  is located at 273 East Main Street, at the Last Stop cafe.

Hours:

Open everyday except Tuesdays, now through Christmas Eve.

Monday, Wednesday through Saturday 10am to 5 pm

Sunday 12pm to 5pm

Mary Rhinelander print for Present

WE DREAM IN COLOUR – EXUBERANT AND INSPIRED JEWELRY, GIFTS, AND HOME GOODS BRAND NEW SHOP IN ESSEX!

We Dream in Colour Shop is the newest venture by local designer Jade Gedeon. You may be familiar with Jade’s work through We Dream in Colour, the extraordinarily beautiful hand-made nature-inspired jewelry line that sells regionally and globally.  For the new shop that goes by the same name, Jade and her sister Mika have curated an exquisite collection of gifts for all ages, jewelry, books, and decor for your home.

Jade and Mika

Featuring We Dream in Colour’s complete line of jewelry, along with fanciful collections of home goods, and all exuberantly inspired by nature, the sun-drenched shop is overflowing with treasures.

We Dream in Colour is located at 166 Main Street Essex in the lovely white washed 1700s brick building at the intersection where RT. 133 meets Southern Avenue.

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10-5. Sunday 12-4

978.594.1425

Instagram: @wedreamincolourshop

Parking is located behind the shop. Please enter via the driveway between 164 & 166 Main. 

For more about We Dream in Colour, the complete jewelry line, and Essex shop visit Jade’s website here: We Dream in Colour

SUPER HOLIDAY GIFT IDEA FOR YOUR HONEY – TRICKS MOBILE DETAILING!

I know car detailing is not very romantic, but it was something I had been thinking about trying for some time. My wonderfully thoughtful husband, Tom, gave me the gift of a complete auto detailing. I was waiting until beach season was over and recently contacted Ryan Tricks. Our son had heard Tricks Mobile Detailing was top notch and he was 100 percent correct! My car looks amazing, inside and out, better than I could have dreamed.

My Prius is a 2008, with over 200,000 miles on it.  During that entire time, I have used the car for my design business and treated the interior more like a truck bed. When you lay the the rear seat flat, there is room enough for carting around large loads of plants and furniture. Cramming a car full of plants (the record was 220 boxwoods) is what really made a mess and try as we might, over the years, it just began to feel impossible to keep clean. Add one sandy grandchild and friends and it was getting worse by the day. Enter Ryan Tricks. Inside and out, from the front console to the rear lights, and every little nook and cranny in between, the car is fabulously spiffy clean. My Prius feels brand new and I am back to loving driving.

Thank you Tom and Ryan!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tricks Mobile Detailing is located at 3 Rocky Pasture Road, Gloucester.

Email: tricksdetaiing@gmail.com

Phone: 617-947-2126

https://www.facebook.com/tricksdetailing

Ryan Tricks photos

PRESENT POP UP SHOP AT THE LAST STOP!

Looking forward to Present’s opening Sunday, from 12 to 5! This year, Present pop up shop is located at the Last Stop, 273 East Main Street, next to the Gloucester Stage Company.

NEW SHORT FILM – THE HAIRY WOODPECKER

The wonderful Hairy Woodpecker featured in this short film was seen on a sunny afternoon along the banks of Niles Pond. He spent a great amount of time alternating between excavating a fallen log, foraging for wood boring beetles, and climbing up and down trunks of trees. I’ve been back several times and can usually find him by his funny high pitched squeak that sounds much like a pup’s squeaky chew toy.

Snagging a grub

On that very same day the Hairy Woodpecker was pummeling away at the log, a sweet little Downy Woodpecker and beautiful Red-bellied Woodpecker were also in the neighborhood. And too, there is an elusive golden-winged Northern Flicker flitting about, but he has been a challenge to capture. Hopefully, at some point in the future, we can add him to the short film.

Related Post –

Update from Beaver Pond: A Wonderful World of Woodpeckers!

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

 

CEDAR ROCK GARDENS IS ROCKIN’ THE THANKSGIVING PRODUCE – GET YOUR ORDERS IN!!

Gorgeous, organic, homegrown produce is available from Cedar Rock Gardens for your beautiful Thanksgiving feast. Colorful beets, crème brûlée shallots, leeks, Brussel sprouts on the stalk, luscious potatoes, greens of every sort, parsley, and much, much more. Plus, you can order a bunch of lavender and strawflowers which will make a lovely and lasting holiday arrangement. I am getting hungry just thinking about all this gorgeousness!

Produce Ordering!

Starting Today, November 14th, our website will be open for ordering farm fresh produce. Orders must be in by Friday at noon.

We’ll be assembling everyone’s order during the day Friday, then opening pick-ups on Saturday 11/19, between 9 AM and 12 PM

Order Here

We will be adding more produce and variety as it becomes available each week.

Cedar Rock Gardens if located at 299 Concord Street, West Gloucester

PLANNING FOR REALITY: SYMPOSIUM ON DOWNTOWN GLOUCESTER AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Planning for Reality: Climate Change and Downtown Gloucester

Saturday, November 19th, 2022, 1:00pm

Our annual symposium on a topic of community concern is coming up soon on Saturday, November 19, in the Meetinghouse from 1-4pm in collaboration with TownGreen, a non-profit that has promoted climate mitigation and adaptation strategies on Cape Ann since 2015

Have you wondered about the various proposals for the development of harbor front properties, heard about the City’s efforts towards comprehensive urban planning as well as the work of the Harbor Planning Committee, or asked how you might have a voice about what downtown Gloucester is like in the future? Have you been concerned about what experts on the science about climate change might foresee and advise to inform these decisions? Would you like to pose a specific question to an expert and receive a thoughtful, well-informed answer?

Presenters will include: Greg Verga, Mayor of Gloucester; Professor Charles Waldheim from the Harvard Graduate School of Design; Professor Antonio Raciti from the University of Massachusetts, Boston; and Kevin Hively, CEO and Founder of Ninigret Partners, a management consulting firm that focuses on economic development and community planning.

The Symposium is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be available. This is a rare opportunity to explore one of the most important civic topics of our time and to meet fellow citizens who care deeply about the future of Gloucester. I hope you can join us in the Meetinghouse for this special event.

PRESS RELEASE:

ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE AND URBAN PLANNING

GLOUCESTER, MA: The Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation (GMF) and TownGreen present Planning for Reality: Climate Change and Downtown Gloucester, on Saturday, November 19, at 1:00 p.m. The event will be held at the Gloucester Meetinghouse, home of the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church, at the corner of Middle and Church Streets, Gloucester, MA.

The program features four presentations that include opening remarks from Greg Verga, Mayor of Gloucester; Professor Charles Waldheim, Director of the Office for Urbanization at Harvard Graduate School of Design; Dr. Antonio Raciti, Associate Professor of Community Planning and Ecological Design, University of Massachusetts, Boston; and Kevin Hively, CEO and Founder of Ninigret Partners, a management consulting firm that focuses on economic development and community planning.

The Symposium addresses urban planning in the downtown Gloucester area in light of expected and projected climate impacts with a focus on building awareness of climate threats and considering them in the urban planning process. It will conclude with a panel of the speakers to address reflections and key insights from the event. All segments will have Q&A for audience participation.

EVENT DESCRIPTION
The November 19th Symposium, Planning for Reality: Climate Change and Downtown Gloucester, brings together experts in climate change scenario planning, community planning in environmental justice communities, and economic development in urban coastal areas to discuss how addressing climate change impacts today will allow for more effective and protective urban planning in the future.

Hosted by the Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation in partnership with TownGreen, the Symposium will provide the public with an opportunity to learn more about how climate change will impact downtown Gloucester. The event is free and will be live streamed on GMF’s YouTube Channel where it will be available after the program.

Speakers will address these topics:

  • Professor Charles Waldheim, Director of the Office for Urbanization at Harvard Graduate School of Design: What does research say about the impacts of sea level rise and a Category 3 hurricane on downtown Gloucester?
  • Antonio Raciti, Associate Professor of Community Planning and Ecological Design, University of Massachusetts, Boston: What is the framework for future downtown development given the interests of environmental justice communities?
  • Kevin Hively, CEO and Founder of Ninigret Partners: What are the implications of urban planning from the perspective of the Blue Economy?

“TownGreen is focused on Cape Ann-specific climate impact research and public education based on this research. We’ve been lucky enough to partner with Professor Waldhiem and his team at the Harvard Graduate School of Design to bring our communities realistic, visual research so we can begin to see what might happen in a great storm,” says Dick Prouty, TownGreen Board Chair. “It is very important that we understand what the climate threats are, what they look like, where they will happen, and begin to take the necessary steps to address it through adaptation solutions.”

The program will take place in the heart of downtown Gloucester at the Gloucester Meetinghouse on Church Street. “It is fitting that a symposium addressing climate change be held in the historic Meetinghouse, the site of important annual community programs on topics of current concern,” says GMF President, Charles Nazarian. “Climate change will impact us all. Meeting together to talk about these issues is exactly what we need.”

ABOUT THE GLOUCESTER MEETINGHOUSE FOUNDATION 

The mission of the Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation is to preserve one of Gloucester’s most admired historic buildings, built in 1806 for the first Universalist Society in America and home of the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church. The GMF is an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) modeled on a similar nonprofit that supports Boston’s famed Old North Church.

ABOUT TOWNGREEN

TownGreen, Inc’s mission is to act as a catalyst in assisting the greater Cape Ann region in becoming a vibrant and inclusive model of sustainability that is fossil fuel free and prepared for the impacts of climate change. TownGreen, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. It has promoted climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, including clean energy, since 2015. For more information, visit the TownGreen website: towngreen2025.org.
-end-

For additional information, contact: Kathleen Williams, Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation, k.williams@gloucestermeetinghouse.orgCell: 978-821-5291; Maureen Aylward, Director, TownGreen, maureen@towngreen2025.org, Cell: 978 290 1507.

WHITE-TAILED DOES OF THE WOODLAND EDGE

Sweet encounter with the local deer –

We see this pair of does frequently. Much of the time they dash away into the woody thicket at the hint of human activity. Not this time. I was quietly filming the larger of the two while speaking ever so gently, in what I hoped would sound to a deer like a soothing voice. I crept to a distance of about twelve feet away, right out in the open, and murmuring all the while. It worked! She gently folded her front leg knees and lay down. I stayed and filmed for some time more and then left her still laying down as it was too dark to capture any more footage.

How I wish I had an apple in my pocket! Next time 🙂

LINK TO WCVB CHRONICLE PIPING PLOVER AND MONARCH EPISODE! #ploverjoyed #sharetheshore #plantandtheywillcome

New England residents and nonprofits work to save threatened species

https://www.wcvb.com/article/new-england-residents-and-nonprofits-work-to-save-threatened-species/41915984

Climate concerns growing for the future of many migratory species.

We travel all over coastal Massachusetts to learn about a few local “indicator species,” which can help explain the impact of climate change. Award-winning documentarian Kim Smith tells us the story of piping plovers breeding in Massachusetts.

The City of Cambridge raises monarch butterflies for release.

Every year, hundreds of sea turtles are stranded on the Cape. The New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital comes to the rescue.

Meanwhile, terrapin turtles on the Cape are struggling to survive.

In Plymouth at Manomet, researchers monitor coastal health, tag songbirds, and study the presence of a mighty migratory shorebird – the whimbrel.

And scientists at Nature and students at Bristol Aggie examine the health of river herring in the Taunton River watershed.

KIM SMITH FILMS ON CHRONICLE, WCVB CHANNEL 5, “WILDLIFE WORRIES” NOVEMBER 9TH, TONIGHT!

Hello Friends,

Our beloved Piping Plovers and Monarchs are going to be featured on an episode of Chronicle this evening. “Wildlife Worries” is devoted entirely to indicator species including not only Monarchs and PiPls, but also Whimbrels, tiny terrapins, and more. The show airs tonight at 7:30pm on Chronicle, WCVB, channel 5.

Several months ago, I met with the outstanding Chronicle producer, Sangita Chandra, and the show’s stellar videographer, Jennifer Platt-Ure. Originally Sangita was looking for footage of Monarchs and PiPls, but then decided to include an interview from a filmmaker’s perspective. The interview was filmed at Winthrop Shores Reservation as it was a convenient location, and also the charming cafe, Piccolo Piatti. It was a joy working with Sangita as she has a keen interest in wildlife conservation. The show promises to be wonderfully educational. I can’t wait to watch the part about the whimsical Whimbrels and turtles, in addition to the PiPls and butterflies!

Chronicle writes, “New England wouldn’t be New England without the shore birds, butterflies, and turtles that spend part of the year here. These and other local creatures are considered ‘indicator species’ that also help us understand the impact of habitat loss and climate change. Tonight we get up close to giant sea turtles and tiny terrapins, whimbrels and piping plovers, and meet the people committed to protecting them.” 
.
Included in that group – a park ranger who raises butterflies, a documentary filmmaker, and high schoolers studying river herring. Many thanks to our videography team – Bob Oliver, Jennifer Platt-Ure, and Rich Ward and to editor Ellen Boyce. Hope you enjoy the program! 

Thank you so much for watching!

Warmest wishes, xxKim

 

MOON VIEWING PARTY AT GOOD HARBOR BEACH TONIGHT!

What fun to see so many folks out tonight enjoying the Full Beaver Moon rise between the Twin Lights. Happy Moon Viewing!

 

Earlier today – this morning’s Beaver Blood Luna Eclipse

WHERE EVER TRAVELS A FLOCK OF SONGBIRDS, SO FOLLOWS THE COOPER’S HAWK

Throughout the summer and autumn, juvenile Cooper’s Hawk(s) have been observed hunting on Eastern Point. We see them zooming low and stealthily down roadways and soaring high amongst the treetops. There is no way of knowing if they are one and the same although one bird in particular appears to have developed a keen interest in the flock of Dark-eyed Juncos currently foraging in the neighborhood. Nearly every evening at dusk he hungrily swoops in, but never seems to capture one.

Well-camouflaged Dark-eyed Juncos, also known as Snowbirds

The Snowbirds have a neat set of tricks. They all scatter to the surrounding trees and shrubs. The slate gray and brown Dark-eyed Juncos are well camouflaged but that is not their only secret to survival.  Rather than singing their typical lovely bird song, from their hiding places, they all begin making an odd chirping-clicking sound. From every bush and shrub within the nearby vicinity, you can hear the clicks. I think the clicking is meant to confuse the Cooper’s Hawk!

He’ll first dive into a bush hunting a Junco, come up unsuccessfully, then swoop over to a nearby tree, perched and well hidden in the branches while on the lookout for dinner. The Snowbirds click non-stop until the Cooper’s departs. After the hunter flies away, they all come out of their hiding places, some from branches mere feet from where the Cooper’s was perched. After a short time, they resume their lovely varied birdsong.  I recorded audio of the Junco’s clicking and hope to find out more about this fascinating behavior.

Although we hope the young Cooper’s is finding food, I am rather glad he’s not that good at catching Snowbirds.

Cooper’s Hawks are a conservation success story. You can read more about the reason why in a post form several years ago: SPLENDID COOPER’S HAWK – A CONSERVATION SUCCESS STORY GIVES HOPE. Note the difference in the plumage in the two stories. The Cooper’s Hawk in that post is an adult. The Cooper’s chasing the Snowbirds is a juvenile. Both are about crow-sized, with the typical flat topped head.

Adult Cooper’s Hawk

Juvenile Cooper’s Hawk

BEAUTY ON THE WING WINS BEST DOCUMENTARY!

Dear Monarch Friends,

I am delighted (and very surprised) to share that Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly has won Best Documentary at the San Diego International Children’s Film Festival. I write surprised as there were many beautiful films from around the world participating in the festival, and also because I wasn’t even aware we had been nominated for the award. My sincerest thanks and gratitude to SDIKFF!

Yesterday there were a number of Monarchs out on Eastern Point nectaring at wildflowers and in my garden. It was magical that we learned of the award on the same day as seeing these stragglers. We were celebrating Dia de Muertos here on Plum Street, and on this very same day, November 2nd, Monarchs were spotted arriving at Cerro Pelon and El Rosario Monarch Butterfly sanctuaries. Joel Moreno and his family at Cerro Pelon JM Butterfly BandB spotted the Monarchs traveling high in the sky in the upper thermals while my friend David Hernandez reports that at El Rosario, they are flying low on the mountain.

The wings of the butterfly in the upper photo appear as though they have been snipped by birds while the butterfly’s wings in the second photo are pristine.

Will the stragglers that we see at this time of year be able to travel the roughly 3,000 mile journey all the way to Mexico? I don’t know the answer to that question but we can make a guess that if a butterfly looks weather worn, with torn and tattered wings, it is unlikely that it will be able to complete the journey. On the other hand, some of these late Monarchs that we are seeing look as though they just eclosed (hatched) hours earlier. Their wings are a vibrant orange and black and are completely unscathed. Some butterflies will be funneled between the Appalachian and Great Rockies while others are destined to follow the Atlantic coastline, traveling towards Florida and the Gulf of Mexico states.Safe travels Monarca, wherever you land!

I hope you are able to get out and enjoy this extraordinarily lovely stretch of balmy weather we are having.

Warmest wishes,

xxKim

 

 

 

CELEBRATING DAY OF THE DEAD

Inspired by my friend Nina’s beautiful altar that she and her family and friends create every year for the feast of St. Joseph, for the past seven years or so we have been celebrating Día de Muertos with an ofrenda that we set up on our front porch. Placing the ofrenda on the porch over Halloween makes for a wonderful hybrid bridge between American Halloween and the Mexican tradition of honoring the souls of lost loved ones. On Halloween night our porch has become a gathering place where we so very much look forward to seeing our neighborhood friends each year.

Cemetery Macheros, Mexico

The Mexican festivities of Día de Muertos typically begins the night of October 31st, with families sitting vigil at grave sites. Mexican tradition holds that on November 1st and 2nd, the dead awaken to reconnect and celebrate with their living family and friends; on the 1st to honor the souls of children and on the 2nd, to honor adults. The ofrenda, or “offering to the dead,” is a sacred Mexican tradition where those who have passed away are honored by the living.

In late October millions of Monarchs begin to arrive to the magnificent oyamel fir and pine tree forests of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, located in the heart of Mexico in the eastern regions of Michoacán and western edge of Estado de México. Their return coincides with the annual celebration of Día de Muertos. In Mexican folklore, butterflies represent the souls of departed loved ones, returning to Earth to be remembered by their ancestors. An even older tradition connects the Monarchs with the corn harvest, as their return signified that the corn was ripe. In the language of the native Purpécha Indians, the name for the Monarch is “harvester.”

Oyamel fir tree (Abies religiosa) with Monarchs Cerro Pelon, Mexico

The Day of the Dead finds its roots in the native people of central and southern Mexico. The Aztecs recognized many gods, including a goddess of death and the underworld named Mictecacihuatl.

Mictecacihuatl was linked to both death and resurrection. According to one myth, Mictecacihuatl and her husband collected bones so that they might be returned to the land of the living and restored by the gods. Just as did the ancient Egyptians, the Aztecs appeased the underworld gods by burying their dead with food and precious objects.

Día de Muertos is a celebration blending both indigenous people’s cultural beliefs and observances held by Spanish Catholics. The conquerors found it difficult to convince native peoples to give up their rituals honoring the goddess of death Mictecihuatl. The compromise was to move these indigenous festivities from late July to early November to correspond with the three-day Christian observance of All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

This year I have been thinking about Camille Saint-Saëns’s Danse macabre, Op. 40, which is based on the French legend that Death packs a fiddle and comes to play at midnight on Halloween, causing the skeletons in the cemetery to crawl out of the ground for their annual graveyard dance party.

Saint-Saëns’s Danse macabre comes from an even older concept, the medieval allegory of the all conquering and equalizing power of death, which was expressed in poetry, music, the visual arts, and drama in Western Europe in the late Middle Ages.

Marigold flowers (Tagetes erecta), known as cempazúchitl or flor de muerto are placed on graves and ofrendas. The cempazúchitl are believed to lure souls back from the dead with their vibrant colors and lovely citrus, musky fragrance

Marigolds (Tagetes tenuifolia) and Painted Lady butterfly

 

INVASION OF THE GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS AND SNOWBIRDS!

Dark-eyed Junco (Snowbird)

A beautiful multitudinous flock of choristers has been chattering from every vantage point. The mixed flock of Dark-eyed Juncos and Golden-crowned Kinglets arrived to Cape Ann’s eastern edge on the same day. I don’t know if they are traveling together but they can be seen foraging in close proximity, from leaf litter to treetops.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglets are one of the teeny-tiniest of songbirds;  a bit larger than the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, but not quite as large as the Black-capped Chickadee. They zoom in and out of the trees (mostly evergreens), hovering and hanging every which way when probing for insect prey.

The Dark-eyed Juncos (also know as Snowbirds) are mostly foraging close to the ground in grass and fallen leaves. They hop from place to place and flip up leaves looking for seeds. The Snowbirds fly up to the trees and shrubs when disturbed.

Note the array of shading in the individual Snowbird’s feathers, from slate gray to milk chocolate

Learn the birdsongs of these two beautiful species and you will easily be able to locate them. The Golden-crowned Kinglet sings a lovely ascending high pitched series of notes that end in a lower pitched warble. The Snowbird sings a series of kew, trills, whistles, and warbles that is also lovely and when the two are foraging in close proximity, it’s a joy to hear their mini symphony.

Golden-crowned Kinglet range map

Dark-eyed Junco range map