New Haven Documentary Film Festival presents a Q&A w/Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly director Kim Smith.
A Q&A, , moderated by NHdocs festival supervisor Karyl Evans, which accompanied the virtual screening of the feature documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly at the 7th annual edition of NHdocs: the New Haven Documentary Film Festival in August 2020.
For more information: www.NHdocs.com
With thanks and gratitude to New Haven Documentary Film Festival director Gorman Bechard and interviewer Karyl Evans for this interview. I am so appreciative of the support given to filmmakers by these two, filmmakers themselves. The festival was beautifully organized and I have received so much positive feedback. What an honor to be accepted!
A dream come true for our Piping Plover friend and PiPl hero Todd Pover.
Dear Friends of Beauty on the Wing,
With thanks to all of you who so very kindly have shown support towards Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly, I have wonderful news to share. The fundraiser allowed me to complete my documentary, including masters for television broadcasting, and we have a beautiful finished film, worthy of the story of the Monarchs. I worked with an outstanding, talented editor and film finisher, and all around terrific person, Eric Masungua, who owns Modul.US Studios, which is located in the Boston area. Getting a film off the ground during the pandemic has been a challenge and while submitting to film festivals, I jumped ahead a bit and have also been speaking with distributors. I am so happy to share that I signed a contract this week with American Public Television World Wide. APTWW is the largest distributor of educational content in the world and it is a dream come true for Beauty. One of the main objectives in creating the film was to distribute to schools, libraries, and other institutions, as well as translate the narration into Spanish for our south of the border neighbors.
American Public Television World Wide is different from American Public Television Domestic. APTWW distributes to schools, libraries, governments, online, foreign countries, the travel and leisure industry, etc. APT Domestic distributes content to public television stations. I have also been offered a contract with APT Domestic, although one is not contingent upon the other. I did not know that people pay to have their films and shows aired on public television. For example, when you see at the beginning of a broadcast “this show was made possible by the Anninger Foundation,” the Anninger Foundation sponsored the broadcast with many thousands of dollars, paid to PBS. So, the next step for Beauty on the Wing is to approach foundations for sponsorship.
I want to give a huge shout out to Filmmakers Collaborative. FC is a fiscal sponsor for filmmakers and I was made aware of this stellar organization by my friend Nubar Alexanian. FC’s director, Laura Azevedo, and her assistant Kathleen Shugrue, handled the financial aspects of fundraising impeccably. Not only that, but I learned so much about launching a film from the workshops and webinars that they sponsor throughout the year. Filmmakers Collaborative is a tremendous resource for filmmakers. You can visit their website here to learn more about all the programs that they offer, as well as the films they sponsor. I was recently interviewed for the FC website about the making of Beauty and you can read the interview here: Capturing Beauty on the Wing
We’re still planning a local premiere and showings. Signing the contract with APTWW did not preclude that and as soon as the pandemic allows for safe viewing, we’ll have an in person local premiere.
Again, I just want to thank all of you who have supported Beauty on the Wing. I think when you (finally!) see the film, you will be proud that you did.
Good News Cape Ann! – Episode #5
Sounds of Cape Ann, fog horn, songbirds, boats
Red-winged Blackbird singing across the marsh and calling to his mate in the reeds below.
Musing over name of show- Good News Cape Ann, Finding Hope, my friend Loren suggested Beauty of Cape Ann, and husband Tom suggests Coastal Currents – what do you think?
Cedar Waxwings, Hummingbird, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Baltimore Orioles, and Palm Warbler
Mini tutorial on how to plant a hummingbird garden
TWO MONARCH CONTORVERSIES! Is it okay to raise Monarchs at home? What is the problem with Butterfly Bushes?
Beautiful Piping Plover courtship footage – Piping Plovers in the field, what are they doing right now?
Charlotte stops by.
Take care and be well ❤
Alex’s Scallop Ceviche Recipe
1 lb. sea scallops completely submerged in fresh lime juice
Dice 1/2 large white onion. Soak in a bowl with ice water to the reduce bitterness.
Dice 1 garden fresh tomato, 1 jalapeño, and cilantro to taste
Strain the onions.
Strain scallops but leave 1/4 of the lime juice.
Gently fold all ingredients. Add cubed avocado just prior to serving.
Beautiful foggy Friday afternoon into evening. I have a bunch to post from this foggy afternoon and will do so tomorrow when I have more time, but isn’t this one scene evocative? I filmed it as well, with the waves crashing into Mother Ann in the fog and will add it to my YouTube show, “Good News Cape Ann!’ airing Sunday night. See you then 🙂
Good Harbor Beach glorious sunrise
How disappointing to see the Monarch numbers plunge to less than half of last year’s population. Scientist Chip Taylor from Monarch Watch predicted lower numbers, but not to this degree. It’s hard to believe, especially after witnessing the tremendous numbers at Cerro Pelon in 2019, along with the beautiful migration through Cape Ann last summer.
The chief reasons for this year’s loss of Monarchs are decreasing amounts of wildflowers on their migratory route south, bad weather during the 2019 migration, and the continued spraying of deadly chemical herbicides and pesticides on genetically modified food crops.
As we are all aware, Monarch caterpillars only eat members of the milkweed (Asclepias) family, but the plant has been devastated by increased herbicide spraying in conjunction with corn and soybean crops that have been genetically engineered to tolerate direct spraying with herbicides. In addition to glyphosate (Monsanto’s Roundup, which is now owned by Bayer), Monarchs are threatened by other herbicides such as Dicamba and by neonicotinoid insecticides that are deadly poisonous to young caterpillars and decrease the health of adult butterflies.
In 2014, conservationists led by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Food Safety petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the butterfly under the Endangered Species Act.
The decision on Endangered Species Act protection will be issued in December of this year under a settlement with the conservation groups. The low count of 2019-2020 reinforces the need to protect what we already know to be an endangered species.
Hello Friends on this rainy, windy day. People’s holiday weekend ran the gamut from joyful to tragic and I so hope yours was not too difficult and you were able to find some light. It was such a beautiful day weather-wise yesterday and if there is one thing about the coronavirus is how wonderful it is to see so many families enjoying each other’s company while out in the fresh air.
Part four, Snowy Owl Takes a Bath, was filmed early one morning. I stopped by to check on Snowy Owl (her nickname at the time was Hedwig) and noticed her face was stained red from breakfast. I only planned to take a few snapshots when she hopped over to a rocky tide pool and began to wash her face. I ran back to the car to get my movie camera and am so glad I did! For the next 40 – 45 minutes she bathed, preened, and fluffed.
I am calling this rare footage because I can’t find anything else like it. Unlike most owls, which are nocturnal (active at night) Snowy Owls are active during the day (diurnal), providing a rare glimpse into the world of owls in the wild.
To see all four episodes together, please go to the Snowy Owl Film Project page on my website. These shorts were created for the kids in the Cape Ann community during this at-home schooling time. The last segment, part five, Snowy Owl Returns to the Arctic, is almost completed and will be posted later this week.
Thank you for watching!
Again, thank you to Scott Weidensaul from ProjectSNOWstorm for script advice.
A Snowy Owl Comes to Cape Ann
Part Four: Snowy Owl Takes a Bath
After a snow squall and as the sun was beginning to appear, a Snowy Owl came out to take a bath. She found a watery icy pool tucked out of sight from dive bombing crows and gulls.
Snowy Owls, like most non-aquatic birds, take baths to clean their feathers.
First washing her face, she tip-dipped and then dunked. After bathing, Snowy fluff dried her feathers, pooped, and preened. During preening, oil from the preen gland, which is located at the base of the tail, is distributed through the feathers to help maintain waterproofing.
Washing, fluffing, and preening took about forty-five minutes from head to talon.
Snapshots from beautiful Duxbury
Wonderful fun to drive across Powder Point Bridge, which was at one time the oldest and longest wooden bridge in the US. It lost that status when the bridge was damaged by fire and completely rebuilt in the late 1980s. The bridge is one of two ways for the public to access Duxbury Beach.
Duxbury Beach, like Crane Beach and Plum Island, is a barrier beach that is home to Piping Plovers in the summer and Snowy Owls during the winter months. Read more about Duxbury Beach here.
“Our mission is to restore and to preserve the beaches in so far as reasonably possible in their natural state as host to marine life, native and migratory birds and indigenous vegetation, as barrier beaches for the protection of Duxbury and Kingston and as a priceless environmental asset to the Commonwealth and the nation; and to operate for the benefit of the people of Duxbury and the general public a public recreational beach with all necessary and incidental facilities, while preserving the right to limit and regulate such use so as to be consistent with the corporation’s primary ecological objective.”
So much history in these beautiful old lighthouses. It’s a joy to see a Massachusetts lighthouse so well maintained. If you read more, you’ll also learn that CPA funds were used to restore this local, regional, and national treasure.
We took photos from the grounds of the lighthouse, and from all around Scituate Harbor.
In May, 1810, the US government appropriated $4,000 for a lighthouse to be built at the entrance of Scituate Harbor. The lighthouse was completed two months ahead of schedule, on September 19, 1811, making it the 11th lighthouse in the United States. In September, 1814, during the War of 1812, Rebecca and Abagail Bates warded off an attack by British soldiers by playing their fife and drum loudly. The British retreated since they thought the sound came from the Scituate town militia.
In 1850, the lighthouse was removed from service due to the construction of the Minot’s Ledge Light. It was put back into service in 1852, after a storm destroyed the first Minot’s Ledge Light, and it received a new Fresnel lens in 1855. In 1860, the light was once again removed from service after the second tower at Minot’s Ledge was built. Over the next 60 years, the lighthouse fell into disrepair.
In 1916, the lighthouse was put up for sale, and in 1917, it was purchased by the town of Scituate for $4,000.
In 1930, a new replica lantern was added. In 1962, the lighthouse was in a state of disrepair. The Scituate Historical Society appropriated $6,500 for repairs. The lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. In 1991, the lighthouse was relit with the light visible only from land; the light was made visible from sea as a private aid to navigation in 1994.
Occasional tours are available from the Scituate Historical Society. The keeper’s house is a private residence.
Although it is the fifth oldest lighthouse in New England and the eleventh oldest in the United States, Scituate Lighthouse, on the South Shore of Boston, Massachusetts, is far more famous for the actions of two quick-thinking girls — The Army of Two. These heroines of the War of 1812 lived at Scituate Lighthouse and have been immortalized in a number of books and publications.
While Scituate’s small, protected harbor encouraged the growth of a notable fishing community, mudflats and shallow water made entering the harbor tricky. In 1807, the town’s selectmen were petitioned by Jesse Dunbar, a shipmaster, and other residents to construct a lighthouse, and in 1810, Congress appropriated $4,000 for the task.
Unlike sites where the land was purchased, the plot on Cedar Point was seized under eminent domain. Its disgruntled owner Benjamin Baker later denied access through his land and feuded with the first keeper.
Three men from nearby Hingman—Nathaniel Gill, Charles Gill, and Joseph Hammond Jr.—built the one-and-a-half-story house, the twenty-five-foot-tall, octagonal, split-granite-block tower, a twelve-by-eighteen-foot oil vault, and a well for $3,200. The trio managed to finish the work in September 1811, two months ahead of schedule, and Captain Simeon Bates was appointed first keeper that December. Captain Bates, his wife Rachel, and their nine children lived at the lighthouse, where Bates remained in charge until his death in 1834 at seventy years of age.
The Boston Mariner’s Society proposed that Scituate Light be eclipsed and some of its range obscured to differentiate it from the fixed Boston Light. Some sources say the light was first lit in September 1811, but a Notice to Mariners published in January 1812, gives the date as April 1, 1812. When Boston Light was eclipsed and Scituate was established as a fixed light, many mariners were dismayed.
On June 11, 1814, during the War of 1812, British forces burned and plundered a number of ships at Scituate. A few months later, Keeper Bates and most of his family were temporarily away from the light, leaving his twenty-one-year-old daughter Rebecca and her younger sister Abigail in charge, along with a younger brother. The girls were horrified to spy the British warship La Hogue anchored in the harbor along with redcoat-filled barges rowing toward shore. Hurriedly, they sent the boy running to warn Scituate Village.
Rebecca knew she could kill one or two of the British with a musket, but realized the others would retaliate on the village. And during the embargo, the town could scarcely stand to lose the two vessels at the wharf loaded with flour.
Rebecca told her sister to take up the drum and she’d grab her fife. “I was fond of military music and could play four tunes on the fife —Yankee Doodle was my masterpiece,” Rebecca said. The girls hastily took cover behind a dense stand of cedar trees, playing louder and louder hoping to deceive the British into believing an American militia was massing to meet them. The British withdrew, and thus the famous story of Scituate’s Army of Two was born. The fife played by Rebecca is still on display in the keeper’s house.
Records show the British ship La Hogue was at another location at the time, but research indicates the story is likely true; the sisters were simply confused about the name of the vessel. There are those who claim that even today the sound of the drum and fife can be heard in the wind and waves at Scituate.
In 1827, complaints from mariners led to the construction of a fifteen-foot-tall brick extension to the original granite tower and the installation of a new lantern room to increase visibility. Red bricks were mortared atop the existing granite blocks to add the needed height. After the addition, seven lamps and reflectors produced the fixed white light that shone from the lantern, while eight lights and reflectors produced a red light from windows fifteen feet lower in the tower. Red glass laid in front of the windows imparted the red characteristic.
You are receiving this note because you donated generously or because you have been a friend and supporter in one manner or another to my documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly.
I am beyond excited to share that we will be picking up the masters this week from the color and sound editing studio, Modulus, which I have been working with these many months. The film has come together beautifully. I think you will love the soundtrack by Jesse Cook and the new mix and voiceover recording. Because of several delays over the course of editing, I was able to include footage from the butterfly’s spectacular late winter exodus at Cerro Pelon, Mexico, and from the exquisite Monarch migration that took place along the shores of Cape Ann this past fall.
Currently I am submitting Beauty on the Wing to film festivals. Over the weekend I sent in no less than 18 submissions. Some festivals we’ll hear back from within a few weeks, others it may take several months. In the meantime, I am learning about film distribution and am working on scheduling a sneak peek preview screening for all my donors and will keep you posted about that.
Here is the new short trailer. I hope you will have two minutes to view and also, if you could please share. The old trailer has thousands of views and believe it or not, number of views is important to festival organizers and film distributors So please share. Also, I am creating a longer, more detailed trailer and will send that along later this week.
A most heartfelt thank you for your generosity and your kind support. I am so grateful.
P.S. See below a very rough draft of a poster because I needed one quickly for the festival applications- I am looking for a graphic designer who can help with some ideas I have for posters, postcards, and other promotional materials. Please let me know if you have someone you love to work with. Thank you!
Friday afternoon, after the nor’easter, the sun came out just barely before the skies again darkened with a brief snow squall. I was driving along Atlantic Road during those fleeting in between moments when way off in the distance I spied a flock of birds, with the distinct shape of swans in flight. Swans fly with their long necks extended, unlike herons and egrets, which fly with their necks curved in. What on Earth is Mr. Swan doing out in this wildly windy weather I thought. But it wasn’t Mr. Swan, it was an entire family of Swans! There were two adults and four cygnets. Stunning to see and very uplifting. They flew over the Twin Lights and then further and further until I could not see them any longer.
The first and third swans are the adults, the second, fourth, fifth and sixth are the cygnets, or first-hatch year juveniles.The young swans will retain their grayish brown feathers until their second summer.
Please write and let me know if you saw the Mute Swan family on Friday afternoon. They were flying along the backshore at about 2:15. Or, if you live on the Northshore and know of any swan family with two adults and four youngsters, I would love to learn more about them. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you so much for any leads!
A few more of the Mute Swan family flying toward and over Thacher Island