Friday, October 26, 2012

before the storm

As you might expect, the Boston media are on Plum Island covering preparation for Hurricane Sandy.  The beach scraping is underway. Also underway is the "we better go say goodbye to Plum Island" panic. Here's a sampling of the coverage as of tonight's news shows:

Victoria Block on WHDH -- I love that Alex Hasapis of Plum Island Airport is wearing his UFO cap as he talks about the tie-downs. For those unfamiliar with it, UFO stands for United Flying Octogenarians.

Eileen Curran on NECN -- This features Peter Judge from MEMA recommending basic precautions like bringing your lawn furniture inside. Note, this clip is from earlier this morning, when the beach scraping permit had not yet been issued.

Newburyport Daily News -- Fear of another "perfect storm". -- Mentions clearing Plum Island storm drains and removing dune walkovers.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

news roundup

 It's been awhile since I did a news roundup of the greater Parker River NWR/Merrimack River news-o-sphere, so here you go:
  • A sailboat ran aground last night on the refuge beach between Lot 1 and Lot 2 -- a way, wicked shallow spot that most locals familiar with the area know about and avoid. Fortunately, a fisherman with a drive-on night fishing permit spotted it and rescued the crew: Sailboat Crew Rescued off Plum Island.
  • Scientists from Marine Biological Labs have been studying the decay of the Great Marsh for close to 10 years now in the Plum Island Estuary. Apparently nitrogen and phosphorous from fertilizer are the culprits. Daily News of Newburyport has the story here: Scientists: Fertilizers killing salt marshes. NPR picked up the story too: Scientists Solve Mystery of  Disappearing Salt Marshes.
  • Parker River NWR summer intern De'Andre Brown blogged about his experience on the USFWS Open Spaces blog: Acting, Naturally.
  • National Parks Traveler had a feature on piping plovers: Creature Feature.
In news unrelated to piping plovers or the Parker River NWR but definitely shorebird-related, folks at the Nantucket Birding Festival spotted a Gray-tailed Tattler: Extremely rare bird spotted during birding festival.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Working Waterfront Festival -- Part 2

Mini Tugs
Sunday was still overcast with some rain, though the sun did come out eventually just as the festival was ending. None of that seemed to dampen enthusiasm. There were plenty of people making the rounds of the performance tents, the foodways tent (aka cooking demo tent),  the food tent (that's where you eat the food, not where they do the competitive cooking), and the booths.
Toot Toot
We took a closer look at the mini tugs that had caught our imagination yesterday. I kept trying to think of practical reasons why people would need to build such tiny tugboats: moving small barges in tight harbors, small lakes, canals ... Nope. When I talked with the builder of Atlantic Hunter, he told me it was "a guy thing" just for fun. It is amazing what you can do with plywood and epoxy. Several of the mini tug makers talked about the Waterford, NY Tugboat Roundup so we started planning a NY state vacation for next fall :)

One of the things I like about the festival is that the performers and authors mingle informally with the attendees and with each other. Over the years we've seen how they influence each other. The Johnson Girls sang a sea shanty they had learned from the Northern Neck Singers at a previous festival. The fisher poets all seem to ping off each other. As we walked from the mini tugs at State Pier over to Pier 3, I spotted a couple of the non-fiction authors chatting on board the Richard & Arnold.  That totally summarized the festival atmosphere for me.

Surf Clams
One of the boats open for visitors was a clammer with surf clams on display as well as closeup looks at their dredge. The Foodways area included several species of fish on ice in case you don't know what they look like before they hit your plate.

Yellowtail Flounder on Ice
While we were eating, I spotted Scott Brown making the rounds. His trademark barn coat fit right in with the general style of dress.

Thank goodness Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren came on different days.

We made the rounds of the craft and non-profit booths then over to the main tent in time to hear the Johnson Girls, who seem to get better every time they come to the festival.

Johnson Girls
Our main goal for Sunday was, of course, to hear Ana Vinagre, New Bedford's and hence America's most renowned fado singer. They always save the headliner for last in the main tent. Of course the seafood throwdown and the finale of the fisherpoetry contest were also scheduled for that last slot at their respective tents. Our choice was clear! Ana Vinagre!

Standing Room Only for the Seafood Throwdown
There was standing room only at the Foodways tent for the seafood throwdown and an occasional cheer for one of the chefs drifted over to the main stage. Ana Vinagre was phenomenal -- and she sang Barco Negro especially for us as her daughter had told her about our conversation yesterday. Wow, Ana sang a request AND the sun came out. What a finale!

Ana Vinagre

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New Bedford Working Waterfront Festival -- Part 1

Music, fisher poets, Coast Guard assets, boats, books ...
Working Waterfront Festival

That's almost a haiku.

This is the 9th year of New Bedford Working Waterfront Festival. I don't remember if we went to the first one, but we've certainly made a habit of attending over those years.  This year's seemed a little smaller to me than some of the previous ones, but the festival organizers say the attendance was about the same -- excellent despite the gray weather. 

Actually, I think you can travel globally without leaving New Bedford at this festival.
The rain held off on Saturday but the skies were quite gray and it was definitely cold. Fortunately we had our sweatshirts from previous years' festivals. We timed our arrival for the Something Fishy fisherpoetry session featuring Bob Quinn, Dawn Clifton-Tripp, Charlotte Enoksen, Dave Densmore, Jon Campbell, Mary Garvey, and Moe Bowstern on the Steamship Stage at noon. On the shuttle from the garage to the pier, we met a couple from Newport whose daughter does some of the graphic design for Moe Bowstern's zine. They'd never been to the festival before. They came specifically to hear Moe. We told them we're huge fans of Moe's work.

Moe Bowstern
We parked ourselves at the Steamship Stage as it turned out that all the performers we specifically wanted to see on Saturday were scheduled there.  Old favorites Moe Bowstern, Dave Densmore, and Bob Quinn lived up to expectations. 

Dave Densmore
Bob Quinn reading Fog

Novelist Dawn Clifton-Tripp was new to us. Don't know how we've missed her. The passages she read from her novels were so vivid and evocative of southeastern Massachusetts that I could picture her characters in the coastal landscape. 

Dawn Clifton-Tripp

Jon Campbell, who
led the Something Fishy session, was up next with a set of his songs. I had promised myself I wouldn't ask for the Ballad of the Beth Noel if he took requests, but I did, and he gamely tried it but forgot a lot of the words -- it does have a lot of words. It's not something he performs often.

Jon Campbell
One of our three favorite Providence bands, Sharks Come Cruisin' , did a wonderful show at 2:00PM. We first discovered them at the Working Waterfront Festival a few years ago. They rock traditional songs. "Sea shanty punk" is one phrase often used to describe them. Their rendition of Spanish Ladies, their signature tune, totally rocked the tent.

Sharks Come Cruisin'

Two more poetry/narrative/story panel sessions followed: 

  • Regulate My Life Away with Moe Bowstern, Jon Campbell, Dave Densmore, and Dave Dutra, which dealt with the impact of regulation on the lives of the fishermen 
  • Storms and Close Calls with Abigail Calkin, Dave Densmore, Cindy Follet-Gildemond and I forget who else, which was riveting with stories of near fatal injuries, collisions at sea, and a riveting survival story about a captain who gets caught in the lines when he tries to rescue a trapped deckhand.

Model Boats
When we were checking out the model boats, Nancy got talking with the translator for the Portuguese model maker. She turned out to be Ana and Jose Vinagre's daughter so they got talking about fado while I wandered among the tiny boats.
The farmer's market had lots of gorgeous produce and I could not resist buying us some juicy local peaches.

At one point I spotted Barney Frank waiting for Elizabeth Warren to arrive, so I wandered over to say hi (he and Mom go way back). I missed meeting Elizabeth Warren, but she was all over the festival for an hour or more. Cafe Arpeggio had good coffee and scones (pumpkin, blueberry, and cranberry -- all local fruit).

We saw the mini tugs and decided that Sunday's agenda had to include finding out what they're all about.

Mini Tugs Atlantic Hunter and Toot Toot
We talked with the Ernestina people, gawked at the Coast Guard vessels, and thoroughly browsed the book tent before we called it a day.