Archive for the ‘KAYAKING’ Category
Pine Barrens Peat Water, Mullica River cfe
Between drought and development, it is hard for others, even for New Jersey natives, to credit our slogan, “The Garden State.”
NJ WILD readers know, I celebrate New Jersey’s wild beauty wherever and whenever I can find it, even right in my own (near Rocky Hill) rocky hilly foresty yard.
But sometimes, I must go far afield, gulp great ‘draughts’ of New Jersey Beauty.
As. recently, to and from my cherished ‘Brigantine’ - Wildlife Refuge, otherwise known as Edwin B. Forsythe.
The blessings of visiting ‘the Brig’ are beyond measure, starting with the long silent even winding drive through the Pine Barrens to Smithville and Oceanville. Due east of those tiny pre-Revolutionary towns stretches the 8-mile dike drive among bays and impoundments, rare birds at all times and in all seasons.
Come along with me on last week’s spur-of-the-moment, if not even desperate, flight to beauty.
Queen Anne’s Lace, Mullica River, Pine Barrens cfe
Beyond the dock, fortunate kayakers make their way up the Mullica, without whose Revolutionary waters and watermen, we wouldn’t have a nation:
Mullica Kayakers, cfe
Cloud-Studded Salinity-Managed Waters of Brigantine cfe
FIDDLER CRABS, OUT FOR LOW-TIDE LUNCH, Brig cfe
NEW JERSEY BEAUTY - CLOUD MAJESTY Brig cfe
There were great egrets everywhere, like archangels at the Nativity, as well as black-bellied and American golden plovers, ibis beyond counting, a few skimmers not skimming, and osprey families everywhere we looked — some feeding young, one ‘mantling ‘ - waving mature wings to cool the immature!
Successful Osprey Family, The Brig cfe
Duck and First Marsh Mallows of the Season cfe
Glossy Ibis and Marsh Mallow, Brig cfe
Wild Flowers (water lilies and Sagittaria) and Cranberry Bogs Near Chatsworth, #563,
The Empty, Beauty-Bracketed Route Home cfe
As you can see, beauty and wildness are with you every step of the way to and from ‘The Brig.’
(”The Pretty Way” will have no cars to speak of, even on major holidays. Route 1 South to 295 South to Columbus Exit to 206 South to Carranza Road/Tabernacle to 532 (stop at Russo’s for fresh-made cider doughnuts and very local produce). 532 east to 563 South to (I forget the number -[579?]) left to New Gretna below Chatsworth Route 9 South, moments on GSP, Exit 48 Smithville, back onto Route 9 South below Smithville to left turn to Forsythe Wildlife Refuge after fire station, Lily Lake Road. See Noyes Museum of Art while down there. Eat breakfast at The Bakery in Smithville; any time at Smithville Inn, and Oyster Creek Inn at Leeds Point, if it’s open when you’re there…)
Eagle and Sculler, Lake Carnegie, by Brenda Jones
My NJ WILD readers know that my key reason for hip replacement was to get into (and OUT of) a kayak, as often as i like, to paddle as long as I like. Thanks to Dr. Thomas Gutowski, this impossible dream has been realized.
The first return took place at dusk on Lake Carnegie, thanks to the generosity of a new friend who carried the kayaks on his head high over the arched footbridge to the still lake. Now I have kayaked, alone and with others, five or six times on the D&R Canal south of Alexander. (www.canoe.nj.com)
A major blessing of all these sojourns, –beyond no longer being crippled–, is solitude. Each morning south of Alexander, whether alone or with friends, ours are the first prows on the water. For the Lake Carnegie idyll, although Saturday evening, there wasn’t another human in sight until we returned to the put-in. Our sole companion was a majestic great blue heron, mincing along in shadowed undergrowth to our right for the entire journey. Kayaks render one nearly invisible to wildlife. Even basking turtles don’t unbask as we pass.
Basking Turtles, D&R Canal, Brenda Jones
The D&R Canal and Towpath are right here in the middle of Princeton. For seven years, I worked with people at a College Road East firm, who would ask over and over, “Now where IS that canal, anyway?” Stunned, I’d reply, “Well you can’t really get into town without crossing it.” Sad to say, corporate types don’t have nature and history antennae out as they go about their daily rounds. They’d usually follow my answer with, “You go there ALONE?!”
Those who do possess and use antennae, know that this haven for walkers, paddlers and rowers exists, thanks to preservationists, –an eastern hem to the fabric of our town. Rich in natural beauty and significant human and industrial history, that canal was the reason for the founding and thriving of many New Jersey municipalities. It also provides drinking water for those not blessed with wells in our region.
Long ago, in a poem, I described the Canal and Towpath as “nurse, haven and muse.” She’s far more than that now, once I’ve learned to know her by water. It’s a treat to be dwarfed by her flowers, to skiddle along beside her turtles or pause so as not to disturb the swimming water snake. It’s birders’ heaven in spring, when warblers and other rarities territorialize along through the Institute Woods. And sometimes, near the Aqueduct, one sees ‘our’ American bald eagles, dashing osprey and gilded orioles doubled in still water.
Osprey Over Millstone Aqueduct, Brenda Jones
Last week’s kayaking began by renting a ‘loon’ at Princeton Canoe and Kayak at Alexander Road by the Turning Basin. After a work week assailed by interruptions, there was nothing more refreshing and essential than the absolute silence, which descended like incense, or an invisible cloak, as soon as I moved beyond the swallows of the Alexander Bridge. As their wings literally part my hair, I am alerted to the reality that I was in a new dimension.
Each time I emerge from bridge shadow, escaping tire whirr and creosote pungency, I bless the magic of my new (yes!) kayaker’s hip: “You may find you like it better than the original,” mused my miraculous surgeon.
Beauty and nature are my major lures on the canal. Timelessness is tied with these two factors/ I am entirely under my own power. No one cares when I return. I can sally or dally or bend at the waist and plunge forward or coast beneath tree dapple or sit still under an oriole.
Baltimore Oriole, Cloudless Sky, near D&R Canal, Brenda Jones
On first trips, I made sure to dip my right hand into that canal water and baptize that scar, as I had done at the Delaware River on Bull’s Island. I was letting that leg know, at hip’s entry, “You, who carried me to beauty, nature and history times beyond counting, are restored to full function and new adventures.”
My professional life can tip me over too much into the quantitative, the numeric and the scheduled. I suspect I am not alone in this.
Kayak time counters those tendencies, restores me to my primal most vital self.
Last week’s kayak experience, for example, at first disappointed by its constellation of absences. Yes, my hair was parted by swallows under the bridge. But, after that traditional beginning, there was no bird song, and no sightings until the ubiquitous territoriality of the common yellowthroat, claiming the middle of my route.
Not a spurt of cardinal flower, –crimson as the bird or the prelates for which it is named, awaited me in any of its usual shadowed nooks. I suspect the scouring removals of Irene and Lee.
Veery in Spring Greenery, Brenda Jones
No wood thrush at entry or turnaround. Even the red-winged blackbirds were silent. And those usual scolds, the jays.
It’s too soon for white and pink fluted blooms of marsh mallow, and all that remains of blue and yellow flags are pointy tall green spires of their sheltering leaves. Everything was green, green, green.
The emptiness was so all-permeating that I was forced to acknowledge that absence was the gift of that day’s canal drift.
Just then, a shrub to my right began moving in an uncharacteristic way. As though birds were fighting in it — but we’re beyond breeding season for most save goldfinches. Suddenly, I realized I was seeing graceful legs, rounded buttocks, and that diagnostic white flag tail of deer. Right down by the water, she was blissfully and purposefully breakfasting. I was near enough to see the shine on her planted hooves.
Doe, a deer… Brenda Jones
That day brought no herons, neither green nor blue. Nor the oven bird’s ‘teacher teacher teacher’ — most treasured gift of the Institute Woods, if I’m early or lalte enough.
Not even Constable clouds filled the canal — to be cleaved by the slender prow.
I turned around, (partly because of griddle heat), deciding to see how many strokes I could paddle without stopping. All these months, I realized, I’d been taking it easy out there, because of the so-called ’surgical leg’. I was way up into the 100s, when I had to speak to careless canoeists — in order to discover on which side of them I might safely progress. So I forget my tally, but it was impressive, and it didn’t hurt me, not then, not ever.
We are so blessed to live in a canaled town. Just cross the Delaware and look at that rooty, clunky, uneven towpath, alongside Pennsylvania’s empty canal, strewn with rocks and weeds.
I don’t know why New Jersey knew enough to preserve and sustain its canal, although D&R Greenway where I work, was a major part of that (before my time). I only know I’m deeply grateful.
Canal time fills memory’s treasure chest, for sustenance throughout the weeks ahead.
Wordsworth said it best, about daffodils:
“For oft, when on my couch I lie / in vague or pensive mood / and gaze upon that inward eye / which is the bliss of solitude / and then my heart with rapture fills / and dances…”
Your heart, too, can dance upon canal waters. Just show up at Princeton Canoe and Kayak and set OUT.
North from the turning basin goes under the Dinky tracks and all the way to and through the aqueduct at Mapleton and beyond. It’s the busy way, with walkers, bikers, other water craft, and sometimes ‘our’ eagles. South is the quiet way, most likely, but not guaranteed, to provide nature’s rarities.
Full or empty, creature-wise, canal-time fills the soul.
When a Manhattan friend takes the bus to Kingston, what is the greatest contrast you can provide? One, for sure, is kayaking - which we did the next morning, along the D&R Canal.
Kayak Central, Princeton, Brenda Jones
Her welcome-to-NJ contrast, however, was to head straight west into Hopewell, up Greenwood Avenue, turn left at the red barn, head into and beyond Ringoes and Sergeantsville to Rosemont and over to the Delaware River. Such a brief ride, for such a major transition — and all in golden afternoon light.
Bull’s Island Fern Grove, Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Walking Bull’s Island is always a treat, moored like a verdant ship in the middle of my beloved Delaware. Its trails and woods are frequently inundated, needless to say. This can make for very soft trails, cushioned by charcoal-y basalt from the bottom of the river. Floods, of course, bring nourishment and new species — some blessed, some not so blessed.
Bull’s Island Footbridge, Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Friday evening, after a quick trek over the silvery footbridge to the Black Bass and back, –interstate hiking–, we entered the woods to a chorus of cedar waxwings. Masked and certain feathers gilded, there is no more handsome bird in my lexicon. Leaving sunshine for dapple, we were suddenly surrounded by the wood thrush’s liquid ascending, then descending notes. My friend is accustomed, from Catskill stays, to veeries near woodthrush, and soon we were awash in veery magic.
Cedar Waxwing, Brenda Jones
On either side, ferns rose, — not fragile and furtive as those I usually encounter. But feisty, even aggressive. Some were taller than we are! The Alice in Wonderland sensation was appealing. My friend then decided we were “in Jurassic Park without the critters.”
Veery, Brenda Jones
One creature we did find, a handsome toad who seemed the monarch of the glen. He was not atall ‘afeard’ of humans — sitting there, permitting our presence in his territory.
Lowering light gilded every leaf, especially super-sized jack-in-the-pulpit plants and fading Mayapple.
Mayapple Profusion, Bull’s Island, Carolyn Foote Edelmann
All the while, the river coursed alongside, deceptively quiet, a welcome change from her Manhattan life and even the bus ride out here.
A superb dinner at the Carversville Inn was not only gastronomically superior, but also time travel. In that case, the mid-1800’s surrounded us, as palpably as if we had stepped through ‘the veil.’
Home brought us through fields where some corn is already hip-high, well before the Fourth of July, and silos gleam and preside like church steeples. Sacred farm structures from other centuries were the norm most of the way back to Princeton.
Yesteryear’s Barn, Carolyn Foote Edelmann
All of this in our beautiful New Jersey. Help preserve it — especially her farmland and o, save that river, in every sense.
Your local land trusts do this for you, but we (as in D&R Greenway) require your support. It’s taken us 23 years to preserve 23 New Jersey landscape miles and many waterways. Help move preservation forward, every way you can.
Fog Along the Delaware, Brenda Jones
And get out there and enjoy the unique unpeopled beauty that is still ours, in the beleaguering 21st Century.
Archetypal View from Kayak on D&R Canal, by Tasha O’Neill
Picture a perfect day. It’s April. The sun is out, yet kind. There isn’t a hint of wind.
Someone very kind, generous and vigilant arrives at my house with two kayaks, –one red, one green.
He is determined that I not kayak alone for the first time since ‘total hip replacement’ (November 9).
I am determined to be out on the water again. ‘Scroll backwards’ to my first meeting with my surgeon. Dr. Thomas Gutowski, who is asking, “What is your surgical goal?”
As though everybody had one. As though everyone knew she would be asked such a question. As though a doctor cared.
Without a hesitation, I answered him, “To get back in the kayak.”
“Carolyn in Kayak” (pre-op) by Tasha O’Neill
“Of course!,” he responded, as though everyone gives him this answer.
Later, I would learn that this man is training for Everest, has been to Base Camp II. That explains his understanding about a passion. But I didn’t talk to Dr. G. re mountains.
Upon his immediate post-op visit, in hospital, I observed, “Of course, you were kidding when you told my friends you had given me a kayaker’s hip.”
Of course, this consummate professional was NOT kidding. He had three ’species’ of kayaker’s hips at his disposal, and I have one of them. I forget which. “You’ll find it works better than the original,” he drily observed. (No, this remarkable encounter is not the fruit of the morphine pump.)
Anyway, back to the perfect day.
View North from Mapleton Footbridge at Aqueduct, by Brenda Jones
I had expected to ‘put in’ at Mapleton Aqueduct. But, I had not kayaked last year, because this inexplicable ‘total loss of cartilage’ meant I couldn’t get myself OUT of a kayak. So I didn’t know what Irene had done to the ‘put in’ at Mapleton. Which is CHEWED the bank and evidently digested the dock I remembered to have been there for kayakers and canoeists.
I, however, am a renting kayaker. No WAY could I lift one onto or off of a car, let alone carry it anywhere, even before cartilage deprivation.
But this knight without armor could indeed lift kayaks onto and off of his vehicle.
Not only that, he could carry, on his head, the red, then the green kayak over the burgundy bridge to a sandy place at Lake Carnegie. [Neither of us had experienced that lake in a kayak.]
Since everything had ‘gone swimmingly’ re surgery and now P.T., I could even carry the ‘personal flotation devices’ and paddles, triping lightly (not literally) over the burgundy footbridge.
Footbridge at Mapleton Aqueduct — cfe
The Vigilant One settled me into his red craft, making sure my lifejacket (as they used to be called) was securely fastened. He handed me a bottle of water, then the paddle. He took out his i-phone, grinning mischievously, nudging me gently out onto the lake.
A great number of images later (”for Dr. Gutowski,” he announced, beyond my wildest imaginings), he was beside me in his own craft.
There was not a soul on that lake.
Five Canada geese rose like a Balanchine ensemble, as I floated for the first time in well over a year. Forgive the mixed metaphor, but their sounds were a Hallelujah Chorus.
Picture 5 Canada Geese, Rising Right Over Me, on Lake Carnegie — Brenda Jones Photo
A single cormorant glided, then vanished, to our left.
We headed north.
All we could see were trees down to the water, and yes, distant mountains. I’m pretty sure they were the Watchungs, and I knew Dr. Gutowski wouldn’t consider them mountains.
The stillness of the lake, and the beauty of that rising land was such that we could have been in Maine or New Hampshire.
To our right, a single great blue heron minced along, severe in his fishing. And successful. We watched it eat two whatevers in quick succession. It maintained its determined procession. We kayaked with heads turned ’round like owls. It never lifted off.
Great Blue Heron Sentinel by Brenda Jones
My kayaking companion had a deadline, and probably considered I did, as well. His was chronological. Mine was probably physical. All too soon, we both knew, it was time to turn around.
Still, there was not another human on that water.
Only the heron, still madly fishing. Completely invisible to, indifferent to, all the walkers on the Towpath. Usually, just the vibration of footfalls causes these herons to squawk and lift. No.
He felt like the monarch of the glen, the king of the waters. Everything was sparkling, almost rainbowed — even the drops from that stately bird’s nearby beak.
The magic didn’t end with that float. A young father, with two boys about three and five, was there as my ‘knight’ helped me out, Lady-of-the-Lake-time being over.
“Could I carry the other kayak for you?” asked the father.
“That would be grand,” answered the Vigilant One.
And off we trekked over the burgundy footbridge - two men carrying kayaks, the two little boys and their mother.
At a certain point, I turned around to see the father had set the red craft down, so that the lads, who’d insisted, could help their daddy carry. What an endearing scene.
It’s over now, yet will never be over. That luminosity, that stillness, even the tough paddling back against wind and over waves, and especially my own easy rising from the kayak. I needed hands to steady me, but my legs worked. All of this is in me forever.
And, so far as I know, those printed pictures are on Dr. Gutowski’s desk at Princeton Orthopaedic Associates right now.
What ‘Our’ Great Blue Heron Never Did - Flying Off With Fish — Brenda Jones
Mapleton Bridge to C&R Canal cfe
In these months of femur-rehabilitation, I have had trouble getting out onto my cherished D&R Canal and Towpath. Wild winds and rains have rendered it slippery, risky. Earthern roadways in other preserves have become my salvation, as NJ WILD readers know. Once the road to Mapleton was absolutely closed. The towpath at Quaker Bridge has been engineer-destroyed- and detoured. I had to walk the high trail toward, though not all the way to, the Brearley House. There aren’t any signs that say, “Your towpath will be restored before the Vernal Equinox” or anything…
Week after healing week, no towpath.
Then, finally, Sunday, Mapleton was open to the parking area by the fishing bridge. Trekking poles swinging merrily, I crossed ‘your Rubicon’, as a Savannah friend termed this passage.
How the Towpath and Canal toward Brearley House Should Look… cfe
I stared a long while at the beckoning canal, very aware that I am “cleared to kayak” in April.
Then I settled both feet onto the path. But it didn’t look right. It was hard and dusty as someplace in or near the Sahara. Actually, the sere scene wasn’t even that interesting, because there wouldn’t be any lions.
Even though this is the winter that never was, nothing green spurted anywhere, except possible first pickerel weed leaves in (fake) Lake Carnegie. When they are fully up, I always salute the Lenni Lenapes here, who knew by pickerel weed rise that it was time to leave their inland hunting lives for shore gathering.
The gathering on Sunday’s towpath had nothing of ritual, nor even of appeal. It was, frankly, crowds. Walkers and runners and fishers and bikers, one of whom was using the walking folks as a slalom course, nearly running me down. Had physical therapy not restored my balance and quickness, I never would have been able to leap out of the way of those wheels.
But it was the texture of the path that repelled. Finally, I realized, this could be Irene and Lee mischief. That’s about the time I went into the hospital, and I know our canal was breached in many places, although I did not witness it from hospital, ambulance, nor rehab. Now the towpath needs rehab.
It may not be a matter of color, texture or mood, however. Realizing the enormous number of cars in the Mapleton parking lot, and having seen the same in the one on #518, I suddenly understood the fury of so many of my western authors. Abbey. Bass. Out on the trails for solitude, finding them awash in humans. Discovering the trails physiologically altered even after the departure of the crowds.
Our towpath has, like their western trails, become a highway. Complete with speeding traffic. Its soil is as impervious as macadam. Its color resembles dog urine on snow.
Wasn’t my towpath verdant? Didn’t it hold a tunnel’s green allure? Didn’t it remind me of canals near Paris, beckoning, beckoning?
Instead of being renewed and refreshed, as I finally met my towpath goal, my mood became and remained forlorn.
It was like visiting a beloved friend of long standing, who’d been in some serious accident while I was away. Seeing her, pale against her pillow, I longed to rest a soothing hand upon this strafed brow.
I walked and walked, as though by my presence, I could restore ‘my friend’s’ spirit. Deeply, I knew, however she may be refurbished by various corps of engineers, nothing will ever be the same.
My sacred space, profaned….
Kayaker on D&R Canal near Brearley House cfe
Lake Oswego Peace — South of Chatsworth, Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Desperately seeking the wild, I’ve returned to my Edward Abbey collection, making my way through his work and others writing about this literary rebel, this self-proclaimed ‘desert rat’. It is essential right now that I live for awhile with ‘Cactus Ed’.
I need his crusty refusals of ‘growth and development’. I require his ecstasy in the face of cactus and rattlesnake. My healing leg ‘walks’ with Ed in these books — in his red rocks and among his cherished junipers, occasionally coming upon desert primrose, respecting the ever-present spider and viper.
But enough of this prickly Paradise. I have my own. And it’s in our state - in the spirit of Abbey, I defy myself to define Paradise, because mine is in New Jersey:
Lake Oswego Summer, South of Chatsworth, Pine Barrens (cfe)
shared with one attuned person or blessedly alone, sometimes with camera
there is sand, and/or marshland
Afloat, Lake Oswego — (cfe)
long silken grasses are kissed and rearranged by very varied tides
birds are ever present or possible: on the ground, in trees, ruffling the leaves, troubling the shrubs. Birds are overhead. They pierce tidal flats. Wings flat out, they harry and raptor. Some murmur, some croak. Everywhere I walk, there are whistlings, whisperings and rustlings. I am ever on the lookout for rails and bitterns, whether I ever find one or not. A bird is downing two snakes in the time it takes to type this (as did a great egret at ‘The Brigantine’ some years ago). A minuscule pied-billed grebe gulps a January frog, as happened a few weeks back.
Thistle Shimmer, Lake Batsto (cfe)
back roads get me to Paradise — hushed roads, where I am often the only car. Road edges are dusted with sugar sand. Forest understory (which must contain evergreen and the luminous black jack oak), switches from laurel to blueberry to fern to pine seedlings and oakthrusts, and back again.
New Jersey Paradise is especially defined by its people - who live by the seasons and the tides. The Abbey in me asserts, “not by the clock; and, by God, not by the Dow Jones Stock Index!”
the roads that lead to Carolyn’s Paradise must hold a beauty of their own, for at least 2/3 of the way. Pine Barrens and Salem and Cumberland County provide such aesthetic conduits, away from commerce, to wildest nature
Idyllic Batsto Lake, Pine Barrens (cfe)
roadways and destinations involve freshwater, saltwater, varying salinities, peatwater, whitewater, the stillness of the bays darkling streams wind alluringly back under the dark pines, tugging at the kayaker in me
the regions I am exploring involve bogs and fens, spongs, groves and copses
rare plants lurk right around the next bend — curly grass fern, swamp pink, carnivorous flowers who must lure insects for protein due to the strange ph of soils in Carolyn’s New Jersey Paradise — sundew, pitcher plant — those ravenous ones… when least expecting it, I am to be knocked over by wild fragrance, such as sweet pepperbush, along the peatwaters of Lake Oswego south of Chatsworth rare lilies bloom in ditches as I drive goldenclub erupts behind a dam I would otherwise despise with Abbey - but it did create this ideal habitat for a plant I’d only known in the splendid nature books of Howard Boyd
Among the Rare Lilies, Brigantine Wildlife Refuge (cfe)
often in my wanderings to and through Paradise, I must come on mosses and lichens and occasional fungi. Although I long to devour each mushroom, this foraging remains virtual, ignorance being quite the barrier where these savories are concerned
Leeds Point - Hard-Shell and Soft-Shell Crabs cfe
quaint names are essential — alongside the back roads and out in front of farms, beside the waters:
“Troublesome Acres” “Heaven’s Way Farm” “Farrier” Dividing Creek “Bears, Bucks and Ducks” Shellpile Bivalve Caviar Ong’s Hat — some of these names go back generations and centuries, and only the locals may know how to find them, by a crumbling foundation or some domestic plant run wild in another kind of wilderness Applejack Hill’s name has been changed, for the tourists, to Apple Pie Hill — Abbey, are you listening? Applejack, of course, — talk about terroir!– was/is New Jersey Lightnin’ — each Piney tending his own still with attention, experience and a shotgun.
Sneak Boat Ready to Sneak - Leeds Point (cfe)
History must have happened in my Paradise — especially Native American and Revolutionary
Here a battle must have been fought and lost, such as the fiery Revolutionary fate of Chestnut Neck.
Here locals must have defied and overcome proud dazzlingly uniformed British, taking their ships and their stores inland from the coast, along the storied Mullica River - without which waters and watermen we would not have a nation today!
Clouds in the Water, Chatsworth Bogs (cfe)
Here salt hay must have been harvested by man and horse in the steamiest of seasons, and great whales tugged ashore and ‘tried’ for their various riches.
Here traitors must’ve conspired, smugglers rowed by night, bootleggers brought contraband ashore to sell and to imbibe.
Leed’s Point - Smugglers’ Haven - Living Fishing Port cfe
Here clammers still tug their rich provender onto deck and into seafood restaurants tethered to waterways, creaking boards hinting of sagas of old, as at Oyster Creek Inn at Leeds Point.
It helps that Leeds Point is the home of the Jersey Devil, whom I am still requesting to meet.
“Ready to Roll” cfe
Intriguing restaurants must be nearby. Farmers’ Markets must be open, and people must be selling the spring’s first asparagus, sliced from that meagre soil, at roadstands with a little box for the money for this treasure beyond price. Russo’s Market in Tabernacle must have its spicy applesauce apples outside in thick plastic bags, next to the honesty box, at the beginning of winter.
Only people who treasure timelessness and tranquillity need apply for such journeys.
A day in the Pines will require about 200 miles of driving, longer if we detour to Tuckerton, formerly Clamtown. Why Tuckerton? Because great and little blue and tri-colored herons may stud the grassy reaches, depending on the tide, as we tool along Seven Bridges Road. Because there’s a place along there, –out on a somewhat suspect roadway–, where one can stop for the freshest clams, unless one has wriggled them out personally, using one’s own toes. Because at the end of this road, (and HOW I LOVE Land’s Ends!), there used to be an island village, now sea-claimed. Here, in season, one can find the vivid oystercatchers in full breeding plumage, turning over the few rocks on the sandy approach to the bay.
Life of the Seasons and the Tides Leeds Point cfe
Because closer to town, one can happen to be there when evergreens are studded with black-crowned night herons, squawk-murmuring to one another as sun drops into autumnal waters.
Carolyn’s New Jersey Paradise has to include kayaking possibilities, for her physical therapist is promising ‘back in the craft’ by April. If so, there is above all the Wading River to paddle and many ‘liveries’ to make these delicate journeys possible. There is always the exquisite Barnegat Bay in Island Beach’s back reaches - those paddles used to be free, with naturalists leading us among the Sedge Islands. There a feast of shore birds includes black skimmers not only skimming, but doing their odd sand squiggle on their bellies, when it’s just too hot.
Black Skimmers in Flight, Brenda Jones
I deeply understand Cactus Ed’s passion for the sere landscape of Arches and Canyonlands. I relish, with him, the silence. I don’t have rock formations in my Paradise, nor the song of the canyon wren and the slither of sidewinder. His Paradise is red and pink and magenta and ochre and burnt sienna and irreplaceable.
Mine is mostly forest green, toasty oak, sometimes ruddy blueberry leaves, interspersed with limitless stretches of flooded cranberry bogs, throwing back the sunset. In the distance, there is salt tang. Close up, there is the sibilance of peatwater.
If Ed had known the Pine Barrens, –especially her crusty inhabitants–, I think he’d've approved. Maybe only if he found it before Arches and Canyonlands. He might’ve kayaked the Sedge Islands, and even boarded the restored oyster schooner down at Bivalve, and helped tug the sails into the sky while singing sea chanteys.
Revolutionary Massacre Site - Alloway Creek, Salem County — (cfe)
He’d probably hang out overnight, black flies and greenheads or no, on the sands of Reed’s Beach when it’s studded with courting, mating horseshoe crabs and whatever red knots and ruddy turnstones remain on our planet.
Bucolic Salem County, where Rebels Countered Redcoats and Prevailed cfe
Paradise — for Ed and for me — seems to require a dearth of humans. It need not be awash in critters, but there needs to be that ever-possibility. Even the new health of New Jersey oysters, “Cape May Salts.” Even the restoration of sturgeon to the Delaware River and elsewhere along this state of three coasts — once so enormous and plentiful that there is a mystery town still known as Caviar along the Delaware Bay.
An essential quality of Paradise, however, is that it cannot be explained.
So, inexplicably, I assert, New Jersey, especially South Jersey (and also Sandy Hook) holds varying versions of Paradise, all of them yours for the seeing. And none of them seasonally-dependent. Go for it!
Salem Preserved cfe
AND, ABOVE ALL, SEE THAT ALL VERSIONS OF NEW JERSEY PARADISE ARE PRESERVED!
Lest, like Thoreau, we find out we had not lived…
Singing Prairie Warbler
The wild is everywhere around us. But, many resemble the boy encountered by Richard Louv on the plane, whose favorite place is his “bedroom, because that is where the electrical outlets are.” Stunned, Louv crafted his seminal book that spawned a nationwide children in nature movement: “Last Child in the Woods - Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder.”
Increasingly techno-addicted, we could be convinced that there is no more wild in America, let alone New Jersey. We could be making those exit-jokesters right.
Or worse, we could assume that the wild is irrelevant. It has been too long since we first nodded in agreement with Henry David Thoreau who insists, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” But Thoreau’s warning is even more crucial in the 21st Century, most appallingly true in New Jersey. A Rutgers study predicts that we may be the first state to be completely built out - within 30 years or less.
Canal and Alexander Road Bridge from Kayak - cfe
NJ WILD readers are well aware that I could wear a bumper sticker upon my being:
“I’D RATHER BE KAYAKING”.
And my site of choice, of course, is the D&R Canal.
What most of you do not know, however, is that I haven’t been in a kayak this year. On November 9, I’ll will be having replaced this hip that won’t allow me to enter nor exit (thought I could paddle forever!) a kayak. Hence, so few outdoor experiences in recent months. It’s nearly over.
Meanwhile, I send you this poem, written after a day of doing what I love best.
KAYAK FOR ME!
Blessings to all, Carolyn
The latest I was ever in a kayak was November 23 - there’s plenty of time for YOU!
Thoreau upon the Merrimack
it’s 3 p.m. and a Friday
I’m stroking with urgency
within my red kayak
upon the placid waters
of the Delaware & Raritan Canal
they let us out early on Fridays
from profane corporate halls
to honor summer weekends
but I honor Henry Thoreau
who counted the day lost
when he did not spend several hours
sometimes taking to his canoe
for day after endless northern days
I envy him both boat and brother
time, and strong arms for rowing
upriver all the way
from Concord to Concord
but most of all, I covet
his finding a “foundation
of an Indian wigwam
– perfect circle, burnt stones
bones of small animals
– here, there, the Indians
must have fished”
in my life at its best
I row with Thoreau
REASON to REJOICE - D&R CANAL COMMISSION TO CONTINUE
NJ WILD readers know my passion for the D&R Canal and Towpath. For decades, as a poet, I referred to those sacred trails as “nurse, haven and muse.”
Eagle over Sculler on Lake Carnegie - D&R Canal Park - Brenda Jones
It’s never made any sense to me that we might do away with the D&R Canal Commission! That water is our drinking water. That historic landscape is beyond price. The Commission costs taxpayers nothing, which people more politically astute than I can and do explain easily. My friend and colleague at D&R Greenway, Jim Amon, is a person of the highest integrity and honor. He served as Director of the D&R Canal Commission for thirty years before coming to us as Director of Land Stewardship. It is to Jim’s vigilance, persistence, high aesthetic sense, and political savvy that we owe much of the beauty of that State Park. Even the handsome ‘new’ bridge over Route 1 at Lawrenceville, designed to echo canal bridges and wrought iron signs of yesterday, wouldn’t have happened without Jim. In all its years, the D&R Canal Commission has only missed decision deadlines ten times! Tell us what other government agency can match this record, these accomplishments.
Alexander Road Bridge, D&R Canal and Towpath, Full Summer cfe
But Governor Christie said the Commission had to go. The Commission was going to be folded into NJ DEP, that same sterling bureaucracy that just brought us the inexplicable shooting of the beavers of Mountain Lakes so-called Preserve… “And Governor Christie is an honorable man….” (please feel full irony straight from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in the above quote, one of my favorite speeches in all theatre…)
Approaching Storm, Griggstown, D&R Canal and Towpath, Martha Weintraub
Many of us protested the evisceration of the D&R Canal Commission in various ways, –in person and through letters and in the hot links I am always urging NJ WILD readers to use. Thank heaven especially for Jeff Tittel, head of NJ Sierra Club, for leading the charge. Here is the result of courage and persistence.
Great Blue Heron with Fish, Lake Carnegie, D&R Canal State Park, Brenda Jones
Never cease to be vigilant in terms of saving New Jersey beauty and history.
D&R Canal State Park, Mapleton Aqueduct, cfe
Senate resolution supports D&R Canal
On Thursday, the Senate Environment Committee unanimously released SR117 (Smith/Bateman), a resolution supporting the continued existence of the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission (DRCC) and calling on the governor to authorize the commission to hire a new executive director and full-time staff.
The Assembly Environment Committee passed a similar resolution on Monday. The commission helps operate the Canal Park, which is a state and national historic district visited by 1 million people a year, and oversees land decisions that impact the state park and the water supply for 1.5 million people.
Not Only Drinking Water - Kayaker, Tasha O’Neill
“In order for the D&R Canal Commission to be an independent, professional board, the Legislature needs to support it. The DRCC brings a planning and regional perspective to development applications along the Canal that DEP does not have when it comes to land use planning,” said Jeff Tittel, director of NJ Sierra Club. “The Governor is trying to take over the DRCC and merge it with the DEP. We believe that what the administration wants to do is wrong and we applaud the Legislature for moving this resolution forward.”
The DRCC has been under attack since December when DEP Commissioner Martin recommended the board be abolished under Governor Christie’s Executive Order 15.
The Sierra Club challenged the statutory authority of the governor to eliminate the DRCC and that of the DEP to dictate who the DRCC hires. On Thursday the DRCC held a special meeting where the governor’s representative on the board outlined the administration’s plan to maintain the commission but move staff into the DEP to share resources, despite DEP staffing being at historical lows. The representative also presents two resumes from within the DEP to fulfill the executive director position, which will be vacant on June 1, leaving the DRCC with no staff to review or process permit applications.
In response, The DRCC passed a resolution stating it will decide who it will hire for their Executive Director position. The resolution also asked the Attorney General’s office to appoint legal representation to the Commission if the DEP and Department of Treasury did not place the new staff members on the payroll.
Having an independent regulatory land use program and board is critical not only for water quality but also for properly dealing with land use issues that affect the canal and the 400-square mile watershed. Diminishing staff at the DEP is ill-equipped to handle the additional workload eliminating the commission would result in and would not review localized and cumulative impacts to the park as thoroughly as the commission.
The commission has established their own standards and review procedures for projects to consider natural, historic, and recreational resources of the park, and the DEP only considers regulated program areas in issuing permits.
Less than 10 percent of projects considered by the DRCC would require DEP Land Use approval and the State Historic Preservation Office only has authority over projects in the Park that receive state or federal funding and cannot protect the scenic and recreational qualities of the Park.
Re-Creation: Come Sit a Spell, North from Mapleton Aqueduct, cfe
The commission also holds and monitors conservation easements for stream corridors prohibiting any future development, a land preservation technique that involves no expense to the state.
The 70-mile canal spans 22 municipalities in Mercer, Hunterdon, Somerset, Middlesex, and Monmouth counties. Fifteen of these municipalities and Mercer County have adopted resolutions opposing the elimination of the DRCC.
Louv has prescribed kayaking, urges “radical amazement”
Our Boundary Waters - One of our unique three coasts…
NJ WILD - Our Delaware River in Flood-time — Brenda Jones
NJ WILD readers know that my key nature hero remains Henry David Thoreau.
My 21st-Century Nature Hero is Richard Louv. I have just finished his newest book - “The Nature Principle — Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder“ – a result devoutly to be wished!, especially in beleaguered New Jersey.
You may wonder why this hugely successful author of “Last Child in the Woods - Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder”, as well as founder of the Children and Nature Network, needs to do another nature blockbuster already.
Because everywhere he goes to speak, –including HERE at D&R Greenway Land Trust last summer (we gave a dinner for 60 and 80 showed up, and we fed them, loaves and fishes and all that jazz…)–, grown-ups buttonhole the author and insist, “Adults have Nature-Deficit Disorder too!” All over this country and beyond, grown-ups now are actively forging antidotes to the disease Louv named. This book is his report of that renaissance.
Cormorant-Gull Battle, Lake Carnegie, Princeton — Brenda Jones
If Brenda Jones didn’t seek nature, she would not be our Witness to the Wild…
NJ WILD readers also know that I’m never finished with a beloved book, nor author. Henry and Richard pop up in these virtual pages all the time, and never enough - motto of the impassioned.
I’ve decided to write key phrases from “The Nature Principle” for all of you (who bring it 1300 page views a recent week, in 90 countries!) to savor, absorb, to use as carrots and sticks to get you and children out into the WILD.
I’d've bought this book if only to be in the presence of a man who would prescribe kayaking and urges “radical amazement”.
Louv really won me with his line, “Clouds are nature’s poetry.”
The point of this new book is to chronicle all that is happening to bring about what Louv, a master of word-coinage, terms “THE HUMAN-NATURE REUNION.”
He introduces Nature-as-Partner, Nature-as-Design-Partner, and urges “Nature-assisted aging.”
Among Louv’s passions is the “Rewilding of cities and suburbs.”
He wins my heart, justification for the urgency of reconnecting humans and nature, because such programs are “linked to the health benefits of nearby nature.” Nearby nature being our theme song…
Enraged Osprey, Lake Carnegie, Princeton — Brenda Jones
NJ WILD readers know that, from the beginning, I’ve been insisting upon walks, if kayaking isn’t possible near you. Louv underlines that insistence: “We were born to walk. We need to keep moving.”
Who wouldn’t be keen on an author who posits the importance of “FREE-RANGE HABITAT FOR CHILDREN!” Why should chickens have all the fun?
The book is rich in programs underway, already succeeding, and with simple ideas for any family to follow, such as ‘MAKE THE GREEN HOUR A FAMILY TRADITION.’
As much as I love to write, I could stop altogether and just give you the Richard Louv quote of the day. How about: “NATURE IS NOT A PLACE TO VISIT. NATURE IS HOME.”
Nature is Home - ‘Our’ Eagle and Sculler, Lake Carnegie, Princeton — Brenda Jones
You’ve heard/read all this before, over and over here, interlaced with images.
But I am not a coiner of phrases. I do not have Louv’s savvy awareness of what piques 21st-Century curiosity and catalyzes memory.
Louv has been awarded the Audubon Medal, presented by the National Audubon Society, for his work on children and nature, in 2008. Children and Nature Network has lobbied for changes in legislation in state after state, to mandate (isn’t it tragic that this is necessary?) outdoor time for our children.
“Ephemeral Beauty” — Great Egret — Brenda Jones
This wordsmith/phrasesmith is changing the world.
When he goes out in the woods himself, Louv frankly revels in doing what he urges us to do: “Look up. Marvel at the ephemeral beauty.”
He’s a big fan of turning off lights, streetlights, building lights, not only because they confuse migrant birds, causing millions of needless deaths of species threatened and otherwise each year. He calls what those mercury vapor and other lamps do “STEALING STARLIGHT”. He advocates the “DARK SKY INITIATIVE.”
Geese Pass Full Moon — Brenda Jones
Louv proposes “the creation of restorative transportation.”
This book is by no means all sweetness and light. There is not much good that can be said for the direction of childhood today, toward increasing technocentricity. “Today’s culture,” he asserts, “is frozen in time, obsessed with the immediate.” “Right now, in our culture, we believe mainly in fear.” He quotes naturalist/philosopher, Thomas Berry: “Degraded habitat produces degraded humans.”
Above all, he quotes the eminently quotable, such as James Hubbell, asking, “CAN THERE BE A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE WITHOUT BEAUTY?”
NJ WILD readers know that, all too often, this 21st-Century world is too much with me. NJ nature, wild New Jersey, is my constant antidote.
D&R Greenway is working day and night and weekends to preserve more than our twenty-two miles in this state which Rutgers says could well be the first to be completely built out. That’s why I spend the preponderance of my indoor time within these 1900’s barn walls.
With Richard Louv in the world, I feel better. Visions of his “New Agrarians” dance in my head. I’ve already wovlen his “NEAR IS THE NEW FAR” into a post this week, with an eye toward skyrocketing gas prices. Nearby nature, insists Louv, is “EVERYDAY EDEN.”
He asks that we “bring back a sense of sacredness to our relationship to the Earth.” How long has it been since you’ve been asked to consider the sacred…? Richard Louv has become, –but would by no means claim this–, nature’s high priest, reminding that Nature is not only essential, but holy, wholly to be honored.
This Thanksgiving, I will be thankful for Richard Louv.