July 31, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Nearly five years ago in late September 2007, I photographed a male Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly (Battus philenor) nectaring in my garden. I found mesmerizing its dark beauty, with black wings punctuated by brilliant orange spots and shimmering iridescence. The wings flashed electric blue in the fading late day sunlight and I became completely captivated!
Although the Pipevine Swallowtail is not rare in its southern range, this exotic looking butterfly is an unusual occurrence in the northeast, and even more rarely found on the eastern outer reaches of Cape Ann. Mine was a stray, carried in on a southerly breeze. I imagined that if a male can drift into our garden, so can a female. And if a visiting female found in my garden her caterpillar food plant, she would deposit her eggs. The following spring we planted the Dutchman’s Pipevine (Aristolochia macrophylla). Four years later, and our pipevine has grown well. With emerald green enormous heart-shaped leaves, she is quite a showstopper clambering over the back fence. The plant is named for its flower, which resembles a Dutchman’s pipe, although when ours flowers, the blooms are so small, so few, and so lost in the foliage, I barely know when it is in bloom. Our pipevine took several years to become established, but once firmly rooted, it grew vigorously, but not invasively. At the end of the growing season, or the beginning of the next, I cut the vine hard, down to the ground. Dutchman’s Pipevine grows in full sun and partial shade and is hardy in zones 4 to 8.
Aristolochia macrophylla had its glory days in gardens during the two previous centuries, prior to the invention of air conditioning. It was planted to cover porches and treillage; cooling and shading the rooms within. When looking through old photos you can easily spot the porches and arbors that are embowered with pipevine because of the distinctive heart-shaped foliage. I imagine Fred Bodin may even have a few pictures of pipevine shrouded porches in his treasure trove of vintage photographs.
While doing chores in our backyard, about a week ago Saturday, I noticed the rapid movements of a dark butterfly investigating the pipevine. I immediately paused because say, for example, if it was the more common Eastern Black Swallowtail, which deposits eggs only on members of the carrot family, it would not show the least bit of interest in the pipevine. Upon close investigation, it was a Pipevine Swallowtail and, without doubt, it was a she! After first zooming in and out of the house to grab my camera, I observed her as she fluttered from tendril to tendril. She deliberately chose the tenderest leaves, pausing briefly several times to curl her abdomen to the underside to deposit her eggs. After she departed I ran in the house to tell anyone who would listen of the Great News. In our household my butterfly news is pretty much the family joke, although my husband kindly offered to get the tallest ladder from the basement. He held tight while I climbed to the top rung in search of eggs. I struck gold! Unlike the female Monarch and Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies, which deposit eggs singularly, the Pipevine Swallowtail oviposits eggs in clusters. I counted somewhere between 25-30 eggs (very approximately) in the clutch we cut from the plant. I hope we have enough pipevine to feed this many hungry Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars!
~ Map courtesy NABA
July 26, 2012 § 2 Comments
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.
July 25, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Kim Smith: We’ve been friends now for at least ten years, when I helped you with the interior design of your home.
Lyda Kuth: I had heard about you—you had been in the film business early on as a set designer, and then you turned interior designer. As soon as we met, I felt we had a shared sensibility, which made working together such a pleasure. I remember you encouraging me to use a fabric for a couch that I was afraid would be too “busy” for my taste. But you encouraged me to be bold, and you were absolutely right.
KS: When I saw Love and Other Anxieties in Somerville, I thought it was so beautiful and heartfelt. You speak about your marriage with Kent in such an open way. Everybody who is married asks the kind of questions you ask. It’s a story that everyone can relate to, certainly anyone who is married or in a long-term relationship.
LK: The film is intended to be provocative, and perhaps allow people to voice some things that don’t often get voiced.
KS: I love that your film has examined marriage so intently, by examining yourself, but in such a way that feels universal. One of these themes is wondering what life will be like after the kids leave home. Is anticipating the empty nest part of why you made Love and Other Anxieties?
LK: Yes, but what’s funny about that, this was largely unconscious at the outset. Over the course of making the film, which took five years from start to finish, it became blatantly obvious. I realize that one of the things I hope audience members take home is that there is a “second life” that starts to happen after your kids leave home, and it can be equally as rich.
KS: Seeing your daughter Lily on screen, getting ready for prom, reminded me so much of what it felt like for me, when my daughter Olivia was a senior and I was telling her how wonderful college would be but thinking, “Oh my god, she’s leaving and what will our family unit feel like with one is person missing? We’ll never be a whole family again.”
LK: Did any of your anxieties about this turn out to be true?
KS: I haven’t told this to many people, but at the same time that Olivia left for college, there was a massive Monarch migration through Gloucester– something that only happens every ten to twelve years. I was amazingly transported out of myself and began writing about and photographing the butterflies, which then led to my learning how to film as well.
LK: Isn’t it interesting how the title of your book, “Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!” alludes to fresh beginnings and reflects what lay behind the creative work we each took on, in one way or another? I wasn’t consciously aware that the imminent departure of my only child was motivating me. And yet some part of myself was preparing me for this transition. It’s reassuring to know there is something at work, mapping the next step, at a deeper level than my “ruminations,” which are generally circular in nature!
KM: The other aspect of your life, which also finds its way into your film, is your long time role as director of the LEF Foundation, based in Cambridge. When we met, you had already been introduced to Gloucester and the Cape Ann community through having supported artists including Henry Ferrini and Dana Salvo.
LK: Yes, and what stands out for me is having the photographer Dana Salvo introduce me to the wonderful, rich tradition of the Feast of St. Jospeh, and being invited into people’s homes to see their alters and to be part of their tradition. I’ll never forget it.
KS: Yes, it is an extraordinary experience. And Henry Ferrini’s father was the poet laureate of Gloucester; and now Henry, in addition to making films–which is what LEF supported–has co-founded something right in my neighborhood, the Gloucester Writers Center.
KS: Do you foresee having chatting time after the screening at Cape Ann Community Cinema?
LK: Absolutely. The Cape Ann Cinema is just the right kind of place to screen my film– an intimate and somewhat informal setting that allows for conversation. I’m really looking forward to it!
Tickets include dinner and a screening of the movie with director Lyda Kuth. Love and Other Anxieties at the Cape Ann Community Cinema on Monday July 23, at 7:30 pm, 21 Main Street, Gloucester.
July 20, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Congratulations and thank you to Mayor Kirk, Sarah Garcia, Chris Muskopf, Jay Ramsey, and including everyone involved (there are many, many more than named here–these are the people I have had the pleasure to work with on the project) for having the vision, courage, tenacity, and talent to create Gloucester’s Harbor Walk.
The Harbor Walk is nearing completion. Despite the plethora of unforeseeable problems with the landfill at I4-C2, and current drought, the walk looks gorgeous. Come, take a stroll!
Gus Foote Park Last Year at this Time. What a difference–the build phase of the project was accomplished in only a few short months!
I will be bringing you more ‘before and after’ photos, as well as information about the native plants habitat gardens (and how you can translate that information to your own garden), in the coming months.
July 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
From the Editors at North Shore Magazine: Photos, food content, and area events are a few of the things you’ll find posted by Joey Ciaramitaro, the outspoken author of Good Morning Gloucester. The blog’s popularity is evidenced by its always-active (and entertaining) comment threads. Good Morning Gloucester, goodmorninggloucester.wordpress.com
Congratulations to my friends Joey Ciaramitaro and fellow contributors at Good Morning Gloucester-the winningest combination of positive energy and artistry!
July 16, 2012 § Leave a Comment
This striking Baltimore Checkerspot was photographed last week in a field of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). The field is located in Ipswich’s town center.
Notice the Baltimore Checkerspot’s vivid orange antennal clubs and white and orange dotted abdomen. The caterpillar’s food plant, or host plant, is mainly turtlehead (Chelone glabra) in low lands and gerardias upland, e.g., Smooth False Foxglove (Aureolaria flava).
I find absolutely the most interesting creatures in fields where grows Common Milkweed, which tells us that the plant provides a wealth of nourishment for a diverse range of organisms.
Note: The underside of butterfly wings are referred to as ventral; the upper surface as dorsal. An easy way to remember the difference between the terms dorsal and ventral is to think of the dorsal fin of a dolphin.
July 16, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Save The Date
Filmmaker Event: On Monday July 23, at 7:30 one of my dearest friends, Lyda Kuth, is showing her beautiful and touching film Love and Other Anxieties at the Cape Ann Community Cinema. Lyda will be there to talk with the audience and answer questions. Many artists in our community know Lyda from her other role as an arts funder. She is the founding board member and executive director of the LEF Foundation.
Come say hello to Lyda and see her moving film. I’ll be there introducing Lyda and look forward to seeing you ! Click here for Advance Ticket Sales
Faced with the reality that her only child will flee the nest for college, film-funder turned filmmaker Lyda Kuth gets anxious not only about how her daughter will fare in today’s world of love and romance, but also about her relationship with her husband of 20 years. What will life be like after her daughter leaves? What is the real meaning of love, marriage, and long-term commitment?
July 9, 2012 § 1 Comment