Despite the case that posted signs were in place for Saturday’s off leash day, it was a complete disaster for the Piping Plovers.

When I was there early in the morning there was a large group of dog owners by the Good Harbor Beach Inn area and the dogs were playing by the water’s edge, away from the nesting sites, and it was wonderful to see!

Piping Plover nesting signs on the beach.

At noon I stopped by for a quick check on the PiPl, in between a meeting and babysitting, and it was a complete and utter disaster. There were dozens of dogs and people frolicking WITHIN the nesting areas, as if the signs were completely invisible. The nesting areas were so full of people and dogs, one of the pairs of PiPl had been driven off the beach and into the parking lot. They were trying to make nest scrapes in the gravel. Heartbreaking to see.

My husband and I put up roping as soon as I was finished babysitting. We ran out of rope for both areas and came back today to finish cordoning off the nesting sites. Hopefully the rope will help.


Perhaps because of climate change, and for reasons not fully understood, for the third year in a row, we now have a beautiful species of shorebird nesting at Good Harbor Beach. This year they arrived on April 3rd. Piping Plovers are a federally threatened species and it is our responsibility to do all that is humanly possible to insure their safety.

We live in coastal Massachusetts, which means we also have a responsibility in the chain of migration along the Atlantic Flyway to do our part to help all wildlife, particularly endangered wildlife.

Wouldn’t it be tremendous if the dog friendly people and all citizens of Gloucester would work together to change the leash laws to restrict dogs from our barrier beaches, Good Harbor Beach (and Wingaersheek, too, if birds begin nesting there as well), beginning April 1st?

Much, much better signage is needed as well as a wholehearted information campaign. And better enforcement of the current laws would be of great help as well however, if the laws are written such that dogs are allowed on the beaches during the month of April, which is the beginning of nesting season, then we are not being good stewards of species at risk.

We need help enforcing rules about keeping people and pets out of the dunes. The dunes are our best protection against rising sea level and are weakened terribly by trampling through the beachgrass and wildflowers.

It may be helpful for people to understand that the earlier the PiPl are allowed to nest, the earlier the chicks will be born, and the greater their chance of survival. Yesterday morning one pair mated and the female helped the male dig a nest, which means we could very well see eggs very soon (if they return to the nesting sites after yesterday’s debacle).

Papa Plover bowing in the courtship dance.

And here he is puffed out and high-stepping in the mating dance.

If the PiPl begin laying eggs now, and it takes about another month for hatching from the time the first egg is laid, the chicks would be a month old by the time July 4th arrives, when GHB becomes packed with visitors.

If the eggs and nest are destroyed, the nesting cycle will begin all over again and we will have chicks born over Fiesta weekend, with days-old chicks running around the beach on July 4th, as happened last year.

One-day-old Piping Plover chick – a marshmallow-sized chick with toothpicks for legs is super challenging to watch over on a typical Good Harbor Beach summer day!

I believe that as a community we can work together to help the Piping Plovers, as was done last year. It took a tremendous effort by a fabulous group of volunteers. The hardest thing that the volunteers had to deal with were the seemingly endless encounters with scofflaw dog owners. Especially difficult were the sunrise and sunset shifts because folks think they can get away with ignoring the laws at those times of day. I cannot tell you how many times I have had terrible things said to me when I tried to speak to people about keeping their dogs away from the PiPl nesting sites. Some folks do not want to be told that their dog cannot play there.

Rather than expecting volunteers and citizens to call the dog officer, when it is usually too late by the time they arrive, the dog officers should be stationed at the beach at key times, on weekends, and after five pm, for example.

Now that we know the Piping Plovers are here this early in the season, better rules, signage, and more information need to be in place. Gloucester is not the only north shore coastal Massachusetts area this year experiencing Piping Plovers arriving earlier than usual. We can learn much historically from how other communities manage these tiniest and most vulnerable of shorebirds. For example, after April 1st, no dogs are allowed at Crane Beach. Throughout the year, no dogs are allowed at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, and at Revere Beach (also home to nesting Piping Plovers), which was the first public beach established in the United States, no dogs are allowed from April 1st to mid-September.

The female Piping Plover lays one egg approximately every day to every few days, usually until a total of three to four eggs are laid. The male and female begin sitting on the eggs when all are laid. Until that time, the eggs are extremely vulnerable to being stepped upon.

Currently the two nesting areas identified on Good Harbor Beach are taking up more space than will be the case once the PiPl begin to lay eggs. As soon as the first egg is laid, an exclosure will be placed over the nest and the overall cordoned off area will shrink some.

Mama PiPl and one-day-old chick


Super huge shout out and congratulations to David Robinson, artist and owner of the Rockport gallery Windmere Art and Antiques, for entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with fellow band members Ric Ocasek, Elliot Easton, Greg Hawkes, and Ben Orr (posthumously).

The ceremony airs on May 5th at 8pm on HBO, and in the meantime, here are some clips. Read more in the Boston Globe here.

 The Cars: David Robinson, Ric Okasek, Elliot Easton, Greg Hawkes




I am taking orders for the limited edition “We Love YOu Too Snowy Owl” photo through Tuesday, April 16th. If you have not yet mailed your check, please email me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com. Thank you!

Snail Mail for Millenials

It has come to my attention that we failed our children in at least one life lesson: how to use the United States Postal Service (USPS or “snail mail”).  There is ample evidence that we did not cover this life skill and I thought you might be in the same boat.  I believe this applies to Millenials and any younger generation such as Post Millenial or Gen Z. Share this with your children if you feel they might benefit.  There will be a test later.

The USPS is an independent agency of the federal government.  It moves paper and packages from your house to mine.  It’s pretty efficient and cost effective especially when you consider what its customers ask of it sometimes.  However, for many people, going to the post office personally can be challenging–like spending Thanksgiving night with your parents.

Despite current technologies, there will be a need for this service for the foreseeable future.  So buckle down and learn how to use it.  Stop calling your mother while she is in the cemetery to ask “how do I send this phone back again?  I’m at the post office and the lady says she can’t help me.  I have the phone right here in my hand.  What’s the problem?”

Sorry, I wandered a little bit there.  When you need to send mail out–like a birthday card to your father or a wedding invitation — you’ll need envelopes, addresses and stamps.  An envelope needs to be addressed to the desired recipient.  Put this in the middle of the envelope when it is in landscape format.  Usually you want the back flap on top but it doesn’t really matter.

There should be 3 lines: the first is the person’s name (first AND last is helpful).  The 2nd is the street address and the 3rd is City State Zip.  It’s a little like sharing on Facebook–you have to find the person by name with whom you want to share that crazy link.   This information should be clearly written to be legible by your most elderly aunt.  The print should be in contrast to the envelope (white envelope: blue or black ink creates contrast).  Avoid using gold ink on a gold envelope for example.

You MUST add postage.  One Forever stamp per envelope is generally sufficient.  Put the stamp in the upper right hand corner without obliterating any portion of the TO address.

Now there are “Forever” stamps.  You can use it Forever, I guess.  Currently they cost 50 cents each.  It will not go down.  You can pay 50 cents for a stamp today and use it a year or two from now when the cost of a stamp is 55 cents.  As millenials, you will not have that precious experience of looking across the table at a friend and saying “Remember when we stamps were 6 cents?” while smiling fondly and shaking your head.  You’ll never know how much it cost to send that envelope because the stamp won’t tell you.  Back in the olden days, looking at the stamp could tell you quite a story:Yes, this was in my lifetime thank you very much.

A third item on an envelope is the return address found in the upper left corner.  Contrary to popular opinion, a return address is not mandatory but is quite helpful if you haven’t followed USPS guidelines to the T.  The return address is your name, street address and city state zip.  You’ll get the envelope back if you fail one of the postal guidelines. 

The USPS has a great deal in common with the TSA in that the rules change regularly and you never quite know what new thing will be disallowed (and it’s always something new that you CAN’T do–never something new that you CAN do).  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Then you have to put the letter in a mailbox or give it to the person manning the desk at the post office, which is NOT open and available to you 24/7.

That’s what these blue boxes are for–you can drop your letters in these to mail them OR  use your own mailbox.  It helps to put the little flag up to let the carrier know there’s something in there to be picked up.  It’s also a good way for you to tell if your own mail has been delivered yet since the postman will put the flag back down after he picks up your mail.

Mailing packages follow similar guidelines.  You need postage, an address and a properly sealed package.  You may re-use boxes you might already have if you scribble out any barcodes and do your best to remove any labeling that might cause confusion.

Seal it up really well –the kind of sealing up that makes people nuts when they try to open it.  The USPS designed the rules that way.  Usually you put the name and address on the top of the box–I like to use a clean sheet of paper so it stands out.

Then you’re probably going to have to take the package to the post office to pay the postage and have them put it on their trucks.  This can be tricky sometimes as postal hours can be a little finicky


$5 Community Crossfit Class

Cape Ann Wellness

Haven’t check out CFCA yet? Why not?! Join us at 18 Sargent Street every Saturday at 9AM for our Community Team WOD. You can even bring a friend! The more the merrier! $5 for all non members which is donated locally. No Crossfit experience necessary. If you’ve been wondering what Crossfit is all about, no better time than now. See you there!


Check us out at http://www.crossfitcapeann.com of find us on Facebook @crossfitcapeanners

Looking for an insight on what actually happens on Saturday mornings? Check out this first hand look at why people love CFCA!


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Still Time to Revolutionize Your Life in Time for Summer! Dive in to Our Spring 40 Days to Personal Revolution! Change Your Life by Waking up Sunday Morning and Meditating for 5 Minutes (do it badly! that’s okay!) – Eating Clean – Taking a Yoga Class – and Joining us at our Kick-Off Meeting 6:30-7:30. Everyone of us at Cape Ann Power Yoga WANTS for You to Succeed and Become a Part of Our Community! Old? Out of Shape? Inflexible? Never Done Yoga? All the Better. Join us and Revolutionize Your Health, Mental Clarity, Personal Relationships, and Overall Happiness.

Cape Ann Wellness



Kick-Off Meeting is Sunday night from 6:30-7:30 at Cape Ann Power Yoga, second floor Brown’s Mall – 186 Main Street, Gloucester. Please call, text, or email us with any questions at capeannpoweryoga@gmail.comcapeannpoweryoga@gmail.com or 6178216734.

Sign up for the program HERE.

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