Whenever at the Lobster Trap Tree to take a photo or passing by, there is a steady stream of people–families, couples, and groups of friends–stopping to pose and take snapshots. It’s a Gloucester thing for sure!
The tree will be up most likely though the end of January. David Brooks shares that the time of dismantling is weather dependent however, the BIG BUOY PARTY FAMILY FUN NIGHT is Friday January 25th, so don’t wait too long to take a photo at Gloucester’s beautiful (and the World’s Best) Lobster Trap Tree.
Check out the elegantly beautiful spread in the summer issue of “North of Boston Weddings,” created by Gail McCarthy and Amy Sweeney, featuring our daughter Liv and son-in-law Matt’s Lighthouse Beach wedding.
Our family’s deepest thanks and appreciation to Gail and Amy–truly a wonderful memento of their special day that we will treasure for always.
Story by Gail McCarthy and Liv, photos by Esther Mathieu.
With family visiting through the end of this week and Fiesta, I haven’t had a spare moment to look through the few photos I managed to take. I’ll post those soonish. And the fabulously talented Esther Mathieu was our wedding photographer–I cannot wait to see her photos!! When things settle down I plan to make a list of all the local businesses who helped make Matt and Liv’s wedding simply magical. If you are on Instagram type in the hashtag #lobstercovewedding to see lots more snapshots.
Although not native to the Americas, we came upon a banana tree, bearing both blooms and bananas, growing at an abandoned ruin in Solstice Canyon, which is located in the Santa Monica Mountains. The brilliant red high up in the treetops caught our attention and we were amazed to see the cluster of bananas along the stem of the inflorescence. The red bracts are not petals; new flowers emerging are the yellow curly blooms peaking between the opening bracts.
Did you know that bananas are technically speaking a berry? Botanists define a berry as a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary. The berry is the most common type of fleshy fruit, where the entire ovary wall ripens into an edible pericarp and the seeds become embedded in the flesh of the ovary. One banana inflorescence produces 50 to 150 bananas! Blueberries and cranberries are also examples of a true berry.
The tomato graphic above illustrates the pericarp, the fleshy edible part surrounding the seeds. You will most likely not see any seeds in a commercially grown banana because they are cloned from a single cultivar, the ‘Cavendish,’ which also makes them highly susceptible to disease and a potential mass die-off.
Wild banana seeds
Every morning while visiting Liv and Matt, Liv made deliciously healthy smoothies combining bananas, spinach, avocado, and whatever other fruit and veggie were on hand. That’s how we began our Solstice Canyon day hike and I was glad to have had the power-packed breakfast. As you can see, we encountered beautiful and enchanting wildlife along the trail.
California Sister Butterfly
Male Acorn Woodpecker Stashing His Acorns
If I were still designing clothes, the Acorn Woodpecker would definitely inspire an outfit, or two!
Solstice Canyon, Santa Monica
Wild banana image courtesy wiki; tomato graphic courtesy Wayne’s Word.
While visiting Liv and Matt in southern California we saw what seemed like zillions of hummingbirds. It’s early spring there with many flowering trees coming into bloom and the hummingbirds are on the move. They are drawn to the flower’s nectar and they also eat the small insects that are attracted to the blossoms. Unlike the Northeast, where typically only one species of hummingbird breeds in our region (the Ruby-throated Hummingbird), fourteen different species of hummingbirds have been reported in southern California. The five that are most common, of which we saw three, are Allen’s, Anna’s, Black-chinned, Rufous, and Costa’s Hummingbirds. Looking at the gorget is one way to tell the different species apart however, that can be a bit misleading because unless the light is hitting the brilliant iridescent feathers at just the right angle, the feathers will look dull and dark.
The gorget (pronounced ˈgȯr-jət) is the patch of feathers found on the throat or chin of an adult (not juvenile) male hummingbird. The word gorget comes from the swath of metal worn by knights-in-armor to protect their throat. The Eastern Ruby-throated Hummingbird takes its name from its gorget. Hummingbirds have possibly the most iridescent feathers known in birds. The beautiful iridescence is found not only on the gorget but the wings, head, neck, and back. Reasons many are speculated as to why hummingbirds have iridescent feathers; perhaps to confuse predators, to attract a female, or to guard its territory.
Male Allen’s Hummingbird
As the male Allen’s Hummingbird turns its head from side to side, the light catches the barbed cells of the glittering gorget. The photo above and the photo below perfectly illustrate how, with the tilt of its head, you first see the iridescence in the gorget, and then not at all.
Female Allen’s Hummingbird
Iridescent Wings, Cap, and Back Feathers
Fun hummingbird fact: A group of hummingbirds may be called a bouquet, glittering, a hover, shimmer, or a tune of hummingbirds.
We were happily surprised by the sight of the diminutive Black-chinned Hummingbird perched atop a thicket, spotted while hiking down the steep descent to the beach at Goleta, Santa Barbara. I loved the view of the region’s smallest bird juxtaposed against the world’s largest body of water, the Pacific Ocean. In the background you see Santa Cruz, one of the eight Channel Islands that comprise the archipelago off the southern coast of California, along the Santa Barbara Channel.
More photos from beautiful Santa Barbara to come.Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri)
I arrived Tuesday afternoon and was met at LAX by Liv, after which Matt, Liv’s fiancé, took us to a fun seal-frolicking lunch at a marina in Marina del Rey near Matt’s office. We then headed over to their home in Santa Monica. The spacious and light-filled modern apartment is only several blocks from the main boulevard, Ocean Ave, the luxury hotel-lined street that runs along the water.
Everyday we explored the local beaches and hiking trails. When Matt wasn’t working, he joined us, too. We had plans to visit several museums, but it was just too sunny and gorgeous outdoors and neither of us wanted to be cooped up inside. We discovered beautiful vistas and exquisite flora and fauna on every adventure and at every turn. Liv and Matt have done some extensive hiking and climbing in the few short months they have been living there and they were so sweet to show me some of their favorite spots, and we explored new places they had not yet been.
All along Ocean Ave it seemed as though everyone was outdoors walking, running, biking, and surfing in the warm late afternoon sun. I really wanted to see the Santa Monica Pier and where Matt had proposed to Liv.
The historic 100 year plus Santa Monica Pier is still used by anglers and is home to Pacific Park, with the world’s only solar-powered ferris wheel. The wheel is 85 feet in diameter, displaying a dynamic light show created by 160,000 energy efficient lights.
Tired and hungry, we left at sunset. I hope we can spend more time at the Pier on my next visit.
Early incarnation of the Santa Monica Pier 1877
After dining at the charming, charming family owned and operated French restaurant, Le Petit Cafe, located only yards away from their front door, we went home to have a look at the Excel spread sheet Liv had organized, prepared to cram as many wonderful adventures as possible during the upcoming week.
Image of the Santa Monica Pier courtesy wikimedia; image of Le Petit Cafe courtesy Le Petit Cafe website.
My daughter Liv’s new beau, Matt, took this very fun timelapse with the new phone app, HYPERLAPSE, while they were bike riding on Mount Pleasant Street.
Hyperlapse takes only moments to install and you are instantly brought to the record screen. The phone can be held vertically or horizontally. After recording, you are given multiple choices by which to speed up the footage, from 1x to 12x and each can be previewed. After you’ve decided on the speed check the green checkmark. Your video will be automatically saved to your camera roll and you’ll have the option to share it on Facebook or Instagram
A note of caution-be careful how you save the footage. I took a terrific Hyperlapse at Captain Joes and it was unfortunately saved in real time. I am not sure how that happened and hope it was my error and not a kink in the app.
Wednesday and Thursday were spent on a whirlwind trip to NYC for my husband Tom to meet with literary agents.
Upon arriving Wednesday night, our daughter Liv took us to a wonderful Italian restaurant at Chelsea Market, Giovanni Rana Pastificio and Cucina, which specializes in pasta dishes. Every bite of every dish was out-of-this-world delish however, she and I both agreed that the Squid Ink Linguine, Broccoli Rabe, and Lobster entrée was extra-extraordinary.
After dinner we explored the HighLine, which is only a short walk from the Market and is especially festive and fun at dusk.
View from the HighLine
The HighLine was bustling with young couples, old couples, families, friends meeting for dinner and drinks after work, and tourists, too. The gardens are exquisitely maintained and beautiful any time of year, day or night. How well the gardens are cared for is reflected in how very much they are enjoyed by visitors. The HighLine gardens are so appreciated that they even illuminate the flowers!
View of the Chrysler Building from the HighLine
The following morning, Thursday, I walked around Tudor City Parks in the UN headquarter’s neighborhood and then took Liv to a charming French restaurant near the theatre where she works.
Bold and beautiful heart-shaped foliage of our native Redbud tree (Cercis canadensis) at the Tudor City Greens
The trip was too brief but very successful though I have to warn our readers that if you are traveling by car to New York City, the construction traffic homeward in the northbound lanes was horrendous, on both Routes 15 and 95. It took us seven hours to get home!
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If you go to Giovanni Rana Pastificio and Cucina, you have to try their Lambrusco “Pruno Nero” Cleto Chiarli, a wonderful sparkling red wine that is round and flavorful of fruit and berries, but not at all sweet. The color is an inky purple red and the wine is equally as rich tasting as its hue. Lambrusco “Pruno Nero” Cleto Chiarli is not your grandfather’s Lambrusco.
Lambrusco Pruno Nero is definitely worth seeking out and makes a refreshing summer beverage. I’ll mention it to Kathleen at Savour Wine and Cheese and perhaps she’ll give it a try at the shop. We’ll let you know if she does.
Liv and Alex from the rooftop at the Wythe Hotel, Brooklyn
Our daughter Liv planned a fabulously fun and wonderful weekend in New York City and Brooklyn to celebrate her brother Alex’s 21st birthday. The weekend ended with an afternoon matinee of “Chicago.” I only took a few iPhone snapshots as it rained nearly constantly, but here’s a little Vine from the gorgeous Ambassador Theatre on Broadway.
Snapshots from a recent trip to Brooklyn and NYC to visit my darling daughter Liv.
We had a wonderful time walking everywhere and dining out. Liv always takes me to the most fun restaurants with fabulously yummy food, and they are never too pricey; the prices are comparable to our favorite Gloucester restaurants.
Native Honeysuckle for the Hummingbirds at the HighLine
For our HarborWalk Gardens, I had wanted to to see what’s in bloom at the HighLine gardens during the late summer and early fall, as well as what was blooming at Piet Oudolf’s designs for the Battery Gardens of Remembrance and The Bosque.
At the HighLine, we paused for some length at the stunning grove of Japanese Clerodendrum (Clerodendrum trichotomum); whose one of several common names befits it’s great beauty–Harlequin Glorybower Tree. The stop-dead-in-your-tracks-deliciously-fragrant blossoms float atop a canopy of fluttering leaves. The blooms are similar looking to jasmine flowers, but are even more sweetly scented. A magnet for butterflies and hummingbirds, the tree blooms at a time of year when much of the rest of the garden is winding down. The glorious glorybower is on my wish list for next year and, as it is just barely hardy through zone 6, I’ll find a sheltered and protected spot in which to experiment.
The Spiral Fountain at The Bosque (Spanish for a “grove of trees”), with the Statue of Liberty in the background, Battery Park Park, New York City.
Liv and I had lots of fun shopping the flea market and shops at Chelsea Market the afternoon that I left.
Adjacent to the market is an entrance to the High Line. Don’t you love the chaise idea? They are really comfy and relaxing.
The architects of the High Line intentionally left little patches somewhat wild to show what the elevated rail looked like after years of disuse. The rail had reverted to a a native wildflower garden, which then became the inspiration for much of the park’s plantings!
We met leopard-wearing fashionista Kira at the Blue Bottle Coffee shop on her way upstairs to a photo shoot at MILK Studios. She was showing us her ballet moves, which she does with her eyes closed. When we asked why, she said it is because she has not yet studied ballet, but dreams about someday becoming a ballerina, and that is why she has to dance with her eyes closed as she is only “dreaming.”
Here’s My Dreamer
There is nothing like spending time with your daughter and I am so looking forward to our next visit. I hope it’s not too long a wait!
Liv’s record producer friend always recommends the best restuarants. Next door to the utterly charming Juliette Restaurant is the hipster restaurant “egg,” and with an hour long wait for brunch, we decided to take Dave’s advice and go with Juliette. We were more than delighted–French cooking at its most delicious, from Brittany owner Thierry Rochard. I’d love to go there on a warm spring night and enjoy starlight dining on their roof garden.
Dutch Pancake with lemon zest, blueberries, and creme fraiche
For Christmas Liv gave me an early edition of Emily Dickinson’s poems. I cried. The poems of Emily Dickinson play a beautiful role in my book, Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities, but the sweetest poem of all found within the books’ pagesis the poem written by Liv, when she was only twelve.
Emily Dickinson, published 1892
When Liv was twelve I hired her to transcribe the first draft of the manuscript for Oh Garden, which I had written in longhand, to our then new computer. I had not yet learned how to use the computer and she was quite proficient. The original manuscript included recipes and illustrations, but no poetry. She took her job transcribing very seriously and one day, about halfway through the project, announced that I needed a poem for the book. She dashed upstairs to her bedroom, returning only half an hour later with her contribution, “My Mother’s Garden.” Her tender poem suggested to me that I include more poetry and it was a joyous experience searching for just the right poem to illuminate each chapter. The book grew to comprise many poems by Emily Dickinson, along with works by Federico García Lorca, John Keats, Amy Lowell, Chinese painter- poets, and even a funny and sweetly sarcastic poem by Dorothy Parker titled “One Perfect Rose.” When the time came, I showed my publisher, Mr. Godine, Liv’s poem. He was delighted to include “My Mother’s Garden” and it can be found on page 206.
Now I keep this cherished gift of Emily Dickinson poems by my bedside table and each time I reach to read it or simply when the cover catches my eye, I am reminded of Liv’s gentle, thoughtful love and of the most cherished gift of all, my daughter.
My Mother’s Garden
An exotic sunset-tinted rose
Intoxicating breath of a magnolia
The small windy brick path
Leading to a hidden paradise
Butterflies flutter their own petal-wings
Over the smiling face of a daisy
A hushed lullaby to the garden sings the stream
Honeysuckle vines twist their elegant tendril,
Grasping the delicate lattice
Gorgeous, vibrant hollyhocks stretch their faces
Towards the radiant sun
Drinking in the soft light
Soon the sweet mellow silence is broken
By a joyful cry of children,
Two, three, now four
Suddenly the garden is a place of singing and frolicking and dancing,
Youthful and inviting.
This blessed garden’s soul shines forth in each and every existence
From the flitting butterflies
To the smallest thriving plant
To the noisiest child that finds peaceful comfort,
I loved this Macy Gray song from the moment I first heard it. The lyrics are full of hope. I found the song to be perfect for creating a montage of my favorite clips, filmed in and around Gloucester over the course of the past month. The footage is from works-in-progress butterfly films, 2012 Greasy Pole shorts, and random footage from a family picnic. The film showcases just some of the natural beauty found in Gloucester, from sunrise til sunset. Is it too crazy–butterflies and Greasy Pole Walkers–you tell me because I see beauty in everyone and everything.
Filmed at Niles Beach, Pavilion Beach, Good Harbor Beach, Eastern Point, Brace Cove, Gloucester Harbor Walk, and Plum Street. Created for Good Morning Gloucester. Dedicated to Joe Ciaramitaro and his beautiful family and to our beloved Gloucester community.
Thank you Ciaramitaros for your help with my Monarch film!
Thank you to my darling daughter Liv; as Craig said, “a trifecta–beautiful, smart, and funny!”
Beauty in the World Sung by Macy Gray
2012 Sunday Greasy Pole Walkers
“Beauty in the World” is by American singer Macy Gray from her album The Sellout, which is Gray’s fifth album and first since her under-performing 2007 album, Big. The Selllout is her return to musical form after almost conforming when her last album didn’t take off. “I thought after Big flopped maybe I should do what everyone else was doing,” she said. “Go out and hire the hottest producers, the best writers, get real skinny. But none of those people called me back.”
The song was inspired by hearing her daughter’s laughter on a down day. “I didn’t even know what she was laughing at. I thought ‘at least she’s happy.’ And I felt at least I hadn’t failed there, because my daughter’s happy.” -wiki
The Greasy Pole Walk is a competition that takes place over a three day period and is an integral part of the Saint Peter’s Fiesta. The Greasy Pole Walk and Greasy Pole Walkers are unique to Gloucester, Massachusetts.
We had a very successful move and my daughter Liv is loving her new apartment. See her blog Boston to Brooklyn for several photos. For a lovely belated Mother’s Day treat, she took me to one of her favorite restaurants in Brooklyn, a sweet and authentic French cafe, Le Gamin. The charming patio was open, despite the soft evening mist, and we dined in the garden under the arbor. On Monday nights they serve the most exquisitely fresh and sweet, all-you-can-eat mussels, poached in Chardonnay and fresh herbs, along with a glass of wine, along with absolutely the most perfect fries; crisp outer skin, tender and hot inside–and all for only 20.00!! Liv and I shared the mussels and salade Niçoise and it was ablsoltuely perfect. She had her favorite mousse au chocolat and I had the most divine crème brûlée ever tasted. I am so taken with Robert Ardor’s recipes, I’ve just this moment ordered his cookbook, in its third printing, Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living.
Brooklyn balcony above Le Gamin garden, with fresh herbs. Cleverly, the dweller of this flat has draped a bag of soil over the balcony’s edge, reinforced the slashes with industrial tape, and planted four different herbs; with what looks like oregano, thyme, parsley and dill. I am reminded of the beautiful story A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
We assembled four pieces of Ikea (table, bureau, desk, clothes rack) and although it took approximately 8 hours, we are so proud of ourselves!