Archive for the ‘Lenni Lenapes’ Category
Filed Under (Adventure, Amphibians, Animals of the Wild, Birding, Brenda Jones, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, Indians, Lenni Lenapes, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Preservation) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 13-05-2012
Baltimore Oriole with Fishing Line for Nest Brenda Jones
Most people don’t even know there IS a Marsh in the middle of Trenton (and Bordentown and Hamilton). Let alone the northernmost freshwater tidal wetland, which surges and empties in synch with the tides of the ocean, as amplified by the nearby Delaware River. Let alone that ‘The Marsh’ is Oriole Central this May!
Most people don’t know that the Marsh has mattered to the Lenni Lenapes for at least 10,00 years, that artifacts proving this have been found there over the centuries. That the Lenapes at first didn’t live there, but connected with each other and other tribes in spring, in autumn, en route to or from hunting lives to gathering times at the Shore. That Route #195, which noisily curves above and through the Marsh, began all those centuries ago as the Indians’ footpath to ocean gathering time.
Baltimore Oriole, Full Breeding Plumage - Brenda Jones
For sure, what most people don’t know is that, if you’re in love with orioles, as well as other rarities among our NJ birds, go to the Marsh right NOW! The earlier in the day the better, though late light is good, too. Go with anyone brought there to lead tours for the Friends for the Marsh (www.marsh-friends.org), such as Charles and Mary Leck, Lou Beck and John Marin, among others. Orioles will welcome you immediately, perhaps even before the mute swans glide over to enchant you. Not only Baltimore orioles, but also orchard orioles.
Baltimore Oriole in All His Glory Brenda Jones
If you’re with Charlie, Mary, Lou and John, you’ll be informed that the vaguely chartreuse oriole is a first-year orchard oriole. You may know, from other Marsh trips, –when Orchards and Baltimores conveniently perched on the same empty branch so that you could compare and contrast, as in English class–, that Orchard example will, next year, be the hue of a toasty chestnut.
Spring Lake was named by the Lenni Lenapes, because spring-fed. It may well have been formed by the beavers, who still generously inhabit watery stretches, in what Charlie calls, “Beaver Condominiums”
Beaver Close-Up, from D&R Canal in Princeton — Brenda Jones
There’s a trail map at entry of what is also called Roebling Park. You can hike over a small bridge (see beaver dam, which is different from lodge, to your right) into woods with well blazed trails. And/or turn left at the lake and circle it very slowly, binoculars on everything from posts to vines to tulip trees (Indians carefully burn-hollowed these trunks for canoes) to towering cottonwoods to shrubby arrow-wood viburnum (Indians used this wood for arrows) to dead trees, otherwise known as snags, perfect perching posts for avian visitors and nesters.
Great Blue Heron Brenda Jones
This morning, starting at 8 a.m., an enthusiastic group decided that birding is more important than Mothers’ Day. Birding-by-ear was the name of the game from the start. I’ll try to remember what was seen and heard, so you can pretend you were with us.
To get there yourself, take Route 1 South to South Broad Street Exit at Arena; when exit T’s, that’s South Broad/206 South, there by the River Line Train holding pen. Left is south onto Broad, past Lalor. Turn right at the light (Sewell) after the two green church steeples. Drive through tiny neighborhood until Sewell T’s at the Marsh. Turn left/down and park next to the lake. Miracles of peace, beauty and birding await.
Red-Winged Blackbird in Full Breeding Plumage — Brenda Jones
Mute swans; orchard oriole; red-winged blackbirds; yellow warblers; common yellowthroats; blue-grey gnatcatchers; solitary sandpiper (only there were 2 of these (really rare creatures); great blue heron; mallard pair; beaver lodge; beaver dam; Carolina chickadee with insect in mouth, waiting for us to pass so it could pop into its nest in post hidden by vines to feed young.
Osprey At (Much Heftier) Nest — Brenda Jones
Osprey on scrungy nest on top of hideous power tower, male arriving with outsized nest material, matrimony on his mind. Flock of cedar waxwings, conveniently in emptily dead tree. Warbling vireos everywhere, proving their name.
Cedar Waxwing — Brenda Jones
Red Admiral butterflies, the lepidopteral stars of Spring 2012, first ON parking lot, where everyone could get ‘a good look’ at it, resting mid-flight on the gravel. The next red admiral was on a tree that had been graffitied — on a large 0 after a peace sign. Those with cameras were ecstatic. Those without will never forget those juxtapositions. At the shore, such as Cape May and ‘The Brigantine’ about which I write so often, people recently saw 40,000 migrant red admirals. Warning — they’re not red - they’re orange — but that’s pretty much the norm in nature nomenclature. Remember how orange the redstart is, and to me the red knot is terra cotta…
American Redstart by Brenda Jones — If you ask ME, it’s orange!
We saw a toad upon whose species — the experts could not agree. It was right in the clover by the lake, and still as a stone. Henslow’s? American? I didn’t hear the outcome, because I was on the trail of overhead orioles, irresistibly posing in the full sun we weren’t supposed to have.
Now, answer me. Would you believe a saga like this took place in Trenton. Does all day every day, depending upon the season. Several times, those of us who are riveted by bouquet de fox were stopped in our tracks by fox pungency.
I didn’t take my camera - but Brenda Jones, of course, has pictures of some of our species. I’ll put them in for you.
Put yourSELVES into the Marsh.
And support it, through Friends for the Marsh and D&R Greenway Land Trust, where I work — who preserved and maintain those 1200 crucially moist acres, buffering temperature and drought/flood conditions, and serving as nursery and migrant corridor for species beyond counting.
Although botanist Mary Leck and ornithologist, Charlie Leck, have, indeed counted and you can find the species count for plants, animals, amphibians (fish?), and, of course, birds on www.marsh-friends.org.
Never forget that www.drgreenway.org keeps green New Jersey green
D&R Canal Above Mapleton Aqueduct by Brenda Jones
Where D&R Greenway Began its Preservation Miracles…
Filed Under (Activism, Amphibians, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Brenda Jones, Edward Abbey, Farm Markets, Forests, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, Henry David Thoreau, Indians, Lenni Lenapes, Literature, Local Food, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Nature, Nature Writing, New Jersey, Preservation, Sourland Mountains, The Seasons, Trees, Wildflowers, books, habitat, native species, protection, rivers, wild, wildness) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 04-03-2012
“…unreconstructed and necessary wildness…” Michael Pollan, The Botany of Desire
Enraged Osprey of Carnegie Lake, Brenda Jones
Michael Pollan in general, and his Botany of Desire, in particular, is one of those authors everyone means to read. I hear protestations of intention all the time, always tinged with a kind of wistfulness. Recently, Public Television gave people a visual taste of this man’s paradigm. For me, the visual alone never suffices.
I’ll go so far as to insist that Pollan is an author to re-read. His subject matter is so unexpected (apples and ‘cyder’, marijuana, tulips and potatoes) and his thinking so original. It’s worth taking Pollan in hand, even if you don’t give a fig about nature. Just for the privilege of journeying with him.
Fierce Flight (Great Blue Heron), Brenda Jones
And savoring his pithy phrases, such as “Plants are the true alchemists.” His lament that now, “It is as though nature is something that happens outside,… as if we are gazing at nature across a gulf.” As he sets out in a canoe in quest of Johnny Appleseed’s seminal (couldn’t resist) journeys, Pollan relishes trusting in the river to take him wherever he wants to go.
WILD DELAWARE RIVER, Brenda Jones
In my case, re-reading The Botany of Desire reveals a delicious (pun intended) emphasis upon the WILD.
Trenton’s Apple Bounty, cfe
People can and do tease me for prating of the WILD in New Jersey. In the first segment of The Botany of Desire, Pollan takes an even more unlikely tack — seeking the wild, as did Thoreau, through apples. One of his theses is that Appleseed’s success came because he was not peddling mere fruit, but ‘cyder’ to the pioneers.
West Windsor’s Apple Bounty — cfe
Michael sets the tone with phrases such as “A handful of wild apples came with me” (on his Johnny-Appleseed-Quest.) He insists that “sowers of wild seeds are to be prized.”
Cedar Ridge Preserve Meadow, cfe
Cedar Ridge Wild Mushrooms — cfe
Pollan laments that “we live in a world where the wild places where wild plants live are dwindling.” You’ve heard this line from me in ‘posts’ beyond counting, coupled with urgings to support your local land trusts, especially D&R Greenway, to preserve New Jersey’s wild remnants and to plant New Jersey Natives wherever we can.
Baldpate View, Ted Stiles Preserve, Brenda Jones
Let Michael define “the best of all possible worlds”: “WE’D BE PRESERVING THE WILD PLACES THEMSELVES.”
The next best possible world: “ONE THAT PRESERVES THE QUALITY OF WILDNESS ITSELF.”
Female Harrier Aloft, Pole Farm, Brenda Jones
Male Harrier, “The Grey Ghost”, in ice at Pole Farm — Brenda Jones
The generating thesis of NJ WILD is that the wild exists right in our own back yards:
Wild erupts with the whiff of fox along mown paths of The Griggstown Grasslands. This lovely lofty set of trails, with its compelling Sourlands and Watchung views, awaits but a mile or two north of me on Canal Road, before/beside Griggstown’s Causeway.
Fox Alert, Griggstown Grasslands, Brenda Jones
The wild surprised me last week In burgeonings of wildflowers, deep in the duff of the forest floor, on Bull’s Island in the Delaware. These petite fleurs lifted up the blinding waxy yellow of buttercups. 8 to 10 petals rayed out from yellow centers. These premature spring heralds were nevertheless inviting pollinators. On my hike, they seemed like pieces of eight flung onto the leaf-strewn forest floor.
Why call a delicate plant WILD? Because they arrived there on their own, blooming despite winter on the calendar, pushing through flood detritus that resembled the graphite dust of Thoreau’s pencils. A key quality of the wild is RESILIENCE — New Jersey specialty!
Sourland Mountain Rocks and Water, Brenda Jones
WILD in New Jersey, for me, requires Lenni Lenapes. The land was tended by these peaceful tribes, at least 10,000 years ago. Their vanished presence is palpable on many of my hikes, most especially among Sourlands boulders. Also on trails near Mountain Lakes House, and at Ringing Rocks just across Delaware at Upper Black Eddy. In each case, majestic boulders that render Stonehenge puny rest exactly where they were revealed by water wind and time, before time. The huge stones are frequently encountered in a massive ring. I FEEL Indian councils there, planning tribal actions for the season about to begin. Seasons which, for Lenni Lenapes, triggered travel either to or from hunting to gathering.
Mink at Play, Brenda Jones
In the Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown Marsh, the Lenapes convened with selected other tribes, before leaving central Jersey hunting grounds for Shore gatherings. This journey and the seasonal constellation of other indigenous peoples was triggered by natural phenomena. Spring’s took place when pickerel weed pierced still waters like arrows.
New Jersey’s Apple Bounty, cfe
Michael Pollan plants a wild tree in his own home garden. His hope - “that such a tree will bear witness to unreconstructed and necessary wildness.”
What can you do about wildness right now, as elusive winter gives way to spring?
Go in search of it.
Buy only native NJ species for your gardens.
Read Michael Pollan
well, you know….
REMEMBER, WILD IS ALL ABOUT HABITAT!
Rare Box Turtle, Camouflaged in Natural Habitat - Cedar Ridge cfe
Generously support D&R Greenway and other Land Trusts, preserving New Jersey’s wild wherever it exist.
Filed Under (Adventure, Agriculture, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Brenda Jones, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, Lenni Lenapes, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Nature, New Jersey, Preservation, Sourland Mountains) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 17-02-2012
Mute Swan, Brenda Jones
NJ WILD readers know me pretty well by now, all 1600 page-views of you per week. You know I have NO patience with developers, under any name. That New Jersey is my haven, and I’ll pay any price, bear any burden to bring her glories to the fore, well beyond our (three - unique) shores! That preservation is the name of the game, not only in our state. That local sustainable real food from real nearby farmers is the way to health and life as a state and as individuals. And so forth.
What you may not realize is that winter has become my favorite season. Partly because winter finally reveals the intense abstract beauty of New Jersey’s trees. Partly for winter’s subtleties — it’s a real challenge to find life and color in this season, which only renders nature’s vibrancy-for-all-seasons all the more spectacular.
I particularly cherish winter in New Jersey preserves. Rabbit tracks leading me a merry chase in new-fallen snow in Plainsboro Preserve. Moss blinding as patches of green sequins alongside my favorite Sourland Mountain Trail, off Greenwood Avenue, even in January. Bluebirds swirling around my head and shoulders on the grassy northern reaches of Griggstown Grasslands last Monday. In fact, at Plainsboro and Griggstown Grasslands, my friend and I could hardly hear ourselves whisper “bluebird!” over their merry insistent chattering song.
Bluebird, Brenda Jones
Now, as new hip enters its 13th week of miraculous healing, I’ve returned to the Marsh, as in Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown. This time, I could walk on my own, with the trekking poles - not lean on my long-suffering, never-complaining friend’s right arm. This time, I could walk not only one edge of Spring Lake (named by the Lenni Lenapes for the spring which formed it), but circumnavigate the lake. We were out so long and mesmerized by so many signs of winter life, that we returned actually sunburnt. In February.
(This warmth, while easing my recovery, never ceases to alarm me for the sake of glaciers, polar bears and corals, among other natural phenomena. If it’s twenty or so degrees warmer than usual now, how is it going to be around here in August?)
Even so, I can’t pretend I am not relishing benevolent days in the woods.
Spring Lake was literally awash in winter gifts. Regal mute swans seemed to pose in a perfection of light, as we began to hit our stride. A lone gull floated like a bathtub toy, accented by irresistible coots, whose tiny white beaks never seem large enough to capture, let alone gulp aquatic foods. An elusive raft of ducks had the elegance and elusive ways of ring-necks. Between their fast-swimming-away shyness and the bird books’ admitting “ring nearly impossible to see”, we could not confirm that guess. Home again, Sibleys in hand, it’s very likely we were granted ring-necked ducks, but we shall never know.
Wood Duck, Brenda Jones
Color accents impossible to believe among the almost funereal array of coots were the glowing wood ducks. Kindly men of the Marsh, Clyde Quin and Warren Liebensperger, rigorously tend to wood duck and bluebird nests each year, –raising the boxes, tallying hatchlings, cleaning them when breeding is over, and putting them back in place in time for boxes to make up for a serious deficit of sturdy hollow old tree trunks. I don’t know whether ‘our’ Picasso-esque wood ducks are Clyde’s and Warren’s summer residents, or simply passing through. It doesn’t really matter. The wonder is the privilege of “woodies”, right in the middle of Trenton, on a winter’s day.
Nuthatch with Seed, Brenda Jones
We were mightily enlivened, not only by the birds of Spring Lake. Our tangly walk was also studded with tinier avian creatures among the underbrush. Feisty nuthatches bopped down fattest lake-side trunks. A fugitive white-throated sparrow fed right alongside us as though it encountered humans every day of the year.
White-Throated Sparrow, Brenda Jones
The day’s auditory miracle was the whuff whuff whuff of air in swan wings, as pair after pair arrowed over us. My friend, originally from Britain, had never heard this rarity. We were blessed with it by more pairs than we could count, the entire time we circled that lake.
At the rim of other water, an almost blue jay, though uncharacteristically silent, puzzled for awhile. Until it took off down, not up, uttering that kingfisher rattle that never ceases to stop me in my tracks. Kayaking on the canal, when you hear that tattoo, look toward the sound, then down, not up. For kingfishers fly toward water, their main food source. The females of this species are the more colorful.
Belted Kingfisher in Flight, Brenda Jones
My energy was high, my new hip cooperative. We almost skipped over the little bridge and into the Marsh woods itself. Here and there, we’d go off-trail, scuffing through leaves. These feet, all to recently, all too accustomed to hospital corridors, managed roots and leaves and stones and mosses, until a certain measure of caution intruded, saying, probably enough for today.
Never enough for my spirit.
But it will have to do.
And meanwhile, our Marsh proved to me anew, how very much life there is in winter.
We could not have taken that walk, and those native species could not have safely swum and fed in that Marsh, had not D&R Greenway Land Trust and Friends for the Marsh done all in their power ‘then and now’ to preserve and provide stewardship for this critical freshwater tidal wetland.
Filed Under (Activism, Animals of the Wild, D&R Canal & Towpath, Destruction, Disaster, Government, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, Indians, Lenni Lenapes, NJ WILD, habitat) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 23-05-2011
In Memoriam - Beavers of Mountain Lakes Preserve Shot on Friday, May 13
my source Princeton Packet, May 20
What could’ve happened - from my NYC roommate from 1960’s, now living in Washington, D.C.:
That’s a real shame. Washington had a beaver problem a few years back - one of them moved into the Tidal Basin and started cutting down young cherry trees! The Park Service live trapped the critter and released it out in the country, far away.
From a blog called Martinez Beavers: A couple months ago I was avidly reading “In Beaver World” by Enos Mills who was called the “John Muir of the Rockies”.
Beaver works are of economical and educational value besides adding a charm to the wilds. The beaver is a persistent practicer of conservation and should not perish from the hills and mountains of our land. Altogether, the beaver has so many interesting ways, is so useful, skillful, practical, and picturesque that his life and his deeds deserve a larger place in literature and in our hearts.
Brenda Jones’ Images of Beavers of Mapleton Aqueduct
– where and how we met –
Friday the 13th was an unlucky day, indeed, for two beavers of Princeton. On that day, our Animal Control Officer, Mark Johnson, seems to have unilaterally decided that these wild creatures were a nuisance. He took it upon himself to order a strolling woman, Kathleen Hutchins — who had been making beaver pilgrimages each (non-rainy) evening–, to leave the Mountain Lakes Preserve at 7:30 p.m., because he was “going to get rid of them.”
Beaver Swims North of Mapleton Aqueduct - Brenda Jones
Asked why not relocating, the officer’s answer was that he was going to kill them. Relocating would’ve been natural. We go on beaver walks in the Hamilton-Trenton-Bordentown Marsh, right down the road. Botanist Mary Leck and Ornithologist Charlie Leck, who lead these walks, prefer the winter ones, “because you can see the beavers’ breath…” “Not relocating because I am going to kill them” is no answer, a travesty of the highest magnitude.
The officer’s so-called reasons: “The beavers were raising the water and eating the vegetation.”
Beaver Breakfast — Brenda Jones — Mapleton Aqueduct Family
NJ WILD readers know my fascination for and gratitude to beavers, since they brought Brenda and Cliff Jones to me, north of the Millstone Aqueduct, on land preserved by D&R Greenway Land Trust, where I work. The three of us were on pilgrimage to this then new phenomenon. They knew where and when to find these nocturnal beings whose gleaming sculptures had begun to add interest to the canal’s vegetation in recent weeks. Beavers, the essence of wildness, had honored us, as have the American bald eagles, by choosing to live and raise their young in our midst.
Close-up of Millstone Aqueduct Beaver — Brenda Jones
Everyone knows, raising water levels, building dams, building lodges, eating vegetation - those heinous offenses for which the Meadow Lakes “Preserve” beavers had to pay with their lives – this is what beavers do. They are part of the cosmic circle of life. Water-raising is needed so that other forms of life may come into being and thrive. In winters, especially harsh ones, beavers keep waters open so that waterfowl may drink, may swim, may access foods to survive that season’s challenges.
Bufflehead, one of many Winter Ducks who benefit from beaver-open water - Brenda Jones
Who is this “Animal Control Officer” to decide that beavers are not to fulfill their centuries-old purpose on this planet?
It’s WE who are in Beaver Territory! Their rights to these lands and waters pre-date the Lenni Lenape, 10,000-years-ago such light voyagers upon these lands.
Beaver Swimming Away Brenda Jones
Nevermore to Be Seen at Mountain Lakes Preserve…
Letters of protest are being written.
Investigations are underway.
The “Control Officer” is on purported vacation this week.
Protests and investigations will not bring back wild lives.
Beaver Yearling as Narcissus - Brenda Jones
From the Packet article of Friday, May 20, “A permit is needed for the trapping of beaver. It is illegal to shoot beavers, which are a protected species in New Jersey.”
Beavertail Warning, Brenda Jones
later story in Times of Trenton - bolds mine, of course… $100 - $200 fine….
“TROUBLESOME’ — THE NERVE OF US! “When will we ever learn, when will we everrrrr learn?….” cfe
PRINCETON TOWNSHIP — The killing of a pair of troublesome beavers last week by a local animal control officer has sparked an uproar among animal lovers, some of whom think the aquatic tree-munching animals should simply have been relocated.
“It is just terrible to kill them that way,” said resident Kathleen Hutchins. “ It is outrageous that they had to be shot, and people in the neighborhood are really upset about it. People used to walk over with their children to see them. I’d go out at dusk to see them and they were just fabulous.”
Township administrator Bob Bruschi said the beavers were considered a nuisance because they were contributing to flooding at the Pettoranello Gardens section of Community Park North, which is home to a pond and a number of streams. [in other words, ideal beaver habitat cfe]
There was a problem with flooding in the park, Bruschi said, and workers attempted to take down dams the beavers built that made the water level in the pond rise, “but the beavers were very persistent.”
An spokesman for the state Division of Fish and Wildlife said the Princeton animal control department, which is run jointly by Princeton Borough and Township, failed to obtain the required permit prior to euthanizing the beavers, but said that the beavers probably would have had to be killed.
Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the department, said beavers may be trapped either in conibear traps, which kill them, or in live traps. If live traps are used, the animals must be euthanized and may not be relocated, he said.
Bruschi said Princeton animal control officer Mark Johnson said he had checked with state officials beforehand to find out what the process would be to remove the beavers. Bruschi acknowledged that the animal control officer did not receive an actual permit to trap, remove or kill the beavers, but said Johnson thought he had gotten verbal approvals from the state to kill the beavers.
Residents like Hutchins challenged the state policy that requires the beavers to be killed, questioning why they can’t be moved.
“We move black bears,” she said. “Why can’t beavers be trapped and moved? There are a million places they could take them where they would not cause a nuisance, like Lake Carnegie.”
More information is still being gathered about the incident, Bruschi said, adding that it is being handled as a personnel matter.
Township Mayor Chad Goerner, a frequent walker at Pettoranello Gardens, expressed shock and disappointment about the killings and called for an investigation into the way in which the matter was handled.
“I live close to the park and I would walk there just to try to catch a glimpse of the beavers,” Goerner said. “Then I learned from neighbors that they had been shot while people were present in the park. I understand that perhaps they needed to be removed, but I have concerns about the way the situation was handled, both in terms of the humane treatment of the animals and the safety factor, which is a major concern.”
The shooting occurred late at night, when the nocturnal creatures are most active and most accessible. Hutchins said no shooting should occur in a public park, no matter what time or whether the park is closed.
Hajna said fines for illegally trapping a beaver range from $100 to $200 and it is considered a municipal offense.
Local police are looking into the case, he said, but the Division of Fish and Wildlife is not actively investigating at this time. The department will review the report prepared by local police when it is completed, he said.
Goerner said the borough and township should develop a plan for handling similar problems in the future to guarantee the safety of residents.
Filed Under (Adventure, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Brenda Jones, Butterflies, Cape May, Delaware Bayshores, Henry David Thoreau, Indians, Lenni Lenapes, Migration, Migratory Flocks, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Nature, Nature Writing, New Jersey, South Jersey, The Seasons, Volunteering, books, raptors, rivers, wild) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 23-08-2010
Brenda Jones Immortalizes Moonlight Migration of Geese
I should apologize to NJ WILD readers. For, impassioned as I am about our New Jersey, I am not Thoreau, not Leopold, not Beston, let alone the redoubtable John Muir. I need all their gifts to convince most people that New Jersey is worthy of constant nature exploration and preservation. I need their inspiration, to say nothing of their eloquence, as I ponder the miracle of autumn migration through and from our state.
In my ‘other life’, I spent summers in a small cottage in Chatham, Mass., where rare birds came to us. The insistent questions of my daughters led to my buying and seriously memorizing the first Peterson’s Guide (to the birds).
Every August, as shore birds begin to move South, I am reminded of our Chatham life. Without it, I’d not have turned into birder or amateur (”avocational”, in the words of Packet Editor Michael Redmond naturalist. I miss our daily strides — at least one and sometimes three–, to Harding’s Beach Light.
We’d go at low tide, for the swift-walking pleasure of hard-packed sand. We’d return by the high road, among beach heather and horned larks. Down at the point, among streamlets and packed peat, we’d come across the vivid oystercatchers and hideous but endearing sea robins. We could hold a blue-eyed scallop on a flat palm as we waded, marveling at all those eyes. Then tenderly tuck him back into lapping waters, where he’d would squirt brilliantly away. I miss tough Scrabble by firelight, moonlit wading, reading while Hudsonian Godwits tiptoes around our beach towels. I miss my most expected young love, a bard, himself, who added lustre the Cape never required. I miss staying up there alone in a hurricane so I could learn what it’s like. (That one turned out to be wilder after the storm, than during.)
Henry Beston’s Cape Cod Cottage Before Blizzard of ‘78
When this mood comes upon me, I have to re-read Henry Beston. The girls and I would make pilgrimage each year to his weathered Outermost House at Nauset - [until the blizzard of 78, that is, washed it into true outermostness.]
Beston managed what I longed to do, to see the seasons round on that upraised arm out into the North Atlantic, experience Mother Nature at her most sublime and often furious.
Right now, he was doing what I’d be doing then, as I lengthened our stays into September — watching bird migration. Chatham taught us curlews and phalaropes, immature common eiders and long-tailed jaegers. On our beach I learned how furiously crows protest the presence of eagle.
Eagle Intent, by Brenda Jones
Henry writes, “Early in September, Hudsonian curlews arrived at the Eastham Marsh. To see them, I began going to Nauset through the meadows, rather than by the beach.” He could hear them “calling, each to each”, as Eliot has written of mermaids. “And then there would be silence,” Henry Beston notes. “And I would hear the sound of autumn and the world.”
He writes of the first of the warblers, an invasion of juncos, a ’sparrow hawk’s’ successful capture and devouring of one of the latter.
Watching these arrivals, Beston wonders “where it was that she forsook her familiar earth for the grey ocean, an ocean she perhaps had never seen. What a gesture of ancient faith and present courage such a flight is, what a defiance of circumstance and death — land wing and hostile see, the fading land behind, the unknown and the distant articulate and imperious in the bright arterial blood.” He names and treasures all the sparrows, then announces, “Mid-October and the land birds have gone.”
Barrow’s Goldeneye in Flight over Delaware River by Brenda Jones
Beston goes into raptures over what comes next: “Now come the sea fowl, and the wild fowl to the beach, from the lonely and darkening north… Over the round of earth, down from the flattened summit, pour the living stream, bearing south the tribes and gathered nations, the flocks and families… There are many streams [of migrant birds], and it is said that two of the greatest bear down on Cape Cod.” He goes on with his watery image, inevitable upon that spit of sand he then called home: “These streams immix their multitudes, and south to New England moves the great united flood, peopling with primeval life the seacoasts and the sky.”
In these very weeks, when you are driving about in New Jersey, keep a sharp eye on the skies and on wires, where migrants are staging for migration. Attune your ears — song you have not heard since spring breeding season may recur in your yard, as has the peewee here this week. Waken on purpose in the middle of the night, ears as well as eyes to the sky. Most non-raptors migrate at night, filling the airwaves and radar that tracks them, with the music of their passage. Beston also dares to reveal, “I hear birds talking.”
Tune your ears to absences, as well. I haven’t heard the miraculous towhees who successfully bred on my hill, not for a number of weeks.
Oystercatcher at Barnegat Light, Brenda Jones
If you can get yourself down to the Delaware Bayshore, look not only up but out, over the reeds and phragmites that fringe South Jersey rivers. Swallows and purple martins by the YES hundreds of thousands float/drop in just before sundown. Evening after evening, these blue-black relatives will bend the reeds, then ‘do a flycatcher’ out for one last insect before dark. Any day now, they’ll all lift off in a blue-black river, coursing southward, southward.
Brenda’s Swallowtail on Purple Loostrife
You’ve seen them, but do you know what they’re up to, the butterflies? The yellow tiger swallowtails and the ubiquitous but so endangered monarchs (by genetically engineered crops involving poisons that murder their caterpillars.) They’re setting out for regions beyond belief, Mexico among their winter havens. In Cape May and at the Kate Gorrie Butterfly House at the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association, I have watched delicate volunteers weigh and band monarchs before the impossible journey. Weight, gender and a site code are entered on minuscule tags that do not interfere with flight. These experts teach us much we could not know, including the fact that the females have thicker dark stripes, to keep the eggs warm. To Henry Beston suddenly realizes that “the strangest and most beautiful of the migrations over the dunes was not a movement of birds at all, but of butterflies.”
Henry did not have to fret as we do this year, over ceaseless drought that has made nectar scarce, nectar needed for their voyage.
Let alone dread that the travelers will land in oiled marshes, where they need to buttress themselves nutritionally for their long flights to Mexico and South America.
I cannot summon words effective enough to convey my passion for New Jersey and all her treasures, especially what the Lenni Lenapes called ‘The Winged’ in these autumnal days and nights. You’ll just have to go out there and see for yourselves. Then write ME about it.
Henry and Henry and Aldo and John, I salute your miraculous ways with words!
Filed Under (Adventure, Animals of the Wild, Delaware River, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, KAYAKING, Lenni Lenapes, Migration, NJ WILD, Preservation, The Jerseys, The Seasons, Trees, West Jersey, Winter, protection, raptors, trails, wild, wildness) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 08-07-2010
Peaceful Delaware, accessible by The River Line, Riverton cfe
It’s a flawless Saturday in June, the kind of just-washed morning that simply requires an excursion. Luckily, a friend and I have one all planned. Debbie and I meet at the Light Rail Line station in Bordentown, because it’s nearby, pretty, free and safe. I particularly treasure the miracle of waiting at the River Line Station, studying the nearby Delaware, sparkling, enticing — the reason for for this train.
Artisanal Tiles Tell the Story of Each River Town Riverside cfe
Once upon a time, commerce in New Jersey (and across-the-Delaware Pennsylvania) took place under sail along this glimmering and capacious body of water. Today, Debbie and I will hop aboard, with our validated two-hour tickets tucked in a handy pocket, in case some official might ask to peruse them. The beautiful weather puts us in such a dreamy mood that we don’t care which way we go - north or south. Whichever train comes first. There are printed schedules on the walls of each shelter/station, showing that trains arrive (like clockwork - well, they were built by Swiss), and you never have long to wait for the next one. When your ticket runs out, which it will, no big deal - our tickets were 70 cents — because of our venerability! — others are probably $1.50 or so, and each ticket grants two hours of light rail magic. The trains have hooks for bicycles, so people can bike to the train, train far and wide, lift up the bike and bike off again. Terribly civilized. Terribly European, it all seems to me. But it’s actually very New Jersey. A reason for great pride in our state.
Ready to Roll, on the River Line cfe
What arrives is the northbound train, to Trenton. We know not to stick the little purple tickets into the validation machines until we see the beaming headlight of the Little Engine That Really Can! Brightest Blue and Sunflower Yellow, these zingy Swiss two-ended, two-engined trains zing up and down from Trenton to Camden and back all day and a little bit into the night, carrying people to new jobs and restored towns all along the route. After a certain hour, the tracks revert to carrying freight. Until the next morning, and the next round of commuters.
I’ve watched a woman in medical attire intensively studying all the way from Camden to Trenton. This day, we would be across the aisle from a young exhausted mother, who managed sleep the whole way with babe in arms, –modern madonna, modern pieta. Her slumbrous child was wrapped as in some ancient land, but in a blanket decorated with tiny soccer balls. I’ve listened as greetings conveyed to new arrivals with the eagerness and delight of family reunions. The train serves as a kind of moving neighborhood. I’ve heard youngsters practicing their drumming from Camden to Trenton, where a competition awaited. I’ve taken the train myself twice, though unsuccessfully, to try to enter Whitman’s house in Camden, to see the room where our legendary poet who changed poetry forever wrote, entertained visitors, even died. But the house is not open when I’m there. Nevertheless, it was important to make the pilgrimage.
Inside the River Line cfe
Today, Debbie and I luxuriate in a timeless sojourn, beginning with north through the Marsh (The Hamilton-Trenton-Bordentown Marsh). Here I’ve hiked, relished birding walks with Ornithologist Charlie Leck and Lou Beck of Washington’s Crossing Audubon, as well as legendary bird author/artist David Allen Sibley. I’ve relished wildflower journeys with Mary Leck, emeritus professor of biology at Rider. Here we’ve scouted for beaver-breath at 20 degrees, curling white and frail above their scattered-looking lodges, Here I’ve found the great horned owl nest although so well hidden in its tangley vines, just before sunset. In the Marsh I’ve followed dawn’s fox tracks. We could tell when he was sauntering, hunting, just going back home in light fresh snowfall. I’ve kayaked the creek we now begin to cross, Crosswicks, then nipped off onto Watson’s Creek and strange encounters under highway abutments, where cave swallows have made the most of all that concrete. Ultimately, we’d emerge in wetlands (freshwater tidal) belonging to egrets, herons (green and blue), wood ducks that look like Picasso designed them, owls being mobbed by ferocious crows, and American bald eagles themselves, nesting again in the Marsh where he belongs, now that DDT is behind us and them.
All of this in the heart of New Jersey’s State Capitol. And nobody knows its there. But you can ‘to and fro’ through the magical Marsh on New Jersey’s enlightened River Line Train.
Turning south, I find an egret for Debbie off to our right, where the Marsh gives way to the Delaware herself, and pickerel weed at low tide is standing tall as toy soldiers, the water a long long way from those bright green pointy leaves. In the afternoon, full moon tides having come back in, big-time, those leaves are nearly submerged.
Swiss Designed River Line Car at Station cfe
The train is cool but not cold, its windows large and gleaming. I like to sit the same way the train is going - with an engine at either end, half the passengers are always riding backwards, not my favorite way to travel. A written led display and a formal woman’s voice announce each new station. Roebling arrives, coming back to life after its years as one of the first company towns, much of its amazing industrial might still in situ, and a new museum being spiffed up off to one side of the tracks.
River Line tracks arrow straight through the center of these Delaware-side towns, these former ports, these formerly abandoned villages. Evidence of New Jersey’s industrial past is on either side, sometimes still thriving, sometimes thriving anew, sometimes in ruins as evocative as Tintern Abbey.
We puzzle over the large abandoned building beside the Riverside tracks — a few years ago, it had been festooned with signs promising condominiums there by the train. There’s the Madison Pub beside the train stop there, just below the eagle statue with the River Line train painted on its back - mixed emotions here… Madison Pub, I was told, has been there since before Prohibition - medicinal purposes only, I guess. Now it has more than doubled in size, fed as it feeds passengers on the River Line.
But our goal is sleepy little Riverton, almost to Camden. Flower-bedecked, Victorian-restored, it’s a newer town than 18th Century Burlington, but their histories are equally palpable. We’ll lunch at Zena’s, right beside the track, noting that the train comes at 7 after and 37 after the hour. But first, a stroll.
Flower-Bedecked Riverton cfe
‘Down By the Riverside’, Riverton cfe
Shorebird Breakfast, Riverton Yard cfe
Riverton Yacht Club, on the Delaware cfe
Moored in the Delaware cfe
Riverton Yacht Club Through the Sycamores cfe
What Used to Be — Riverton, Restored cfe
Rooftop Garden, Riverton cfe
Zena’s - our Mecca cfe
I’ll save the story of our superb lunch, the ride back north, our sojourn in Burlington - which was the capitol of The Jerseys when we were two provinces separated by Province Line Road — and our antiquing in the building where many-masted ships were formerly repaired, for another day.
If you can’t wait - take the River Line right now. Any time. Any direction. For a day you will never forget.
Filed Under (Adventure, Agriculture, Birds, Climate Change, Environment, Farm Markets, Farmers, Farmland, Farms, Fishing, Food, Global Climate Change, Government, Harvest, Indians, Jersey Fresh, Lenni Lenapes, Local Food, Migration, Migratory Flocks, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Nature, New Jersey, New Jersey Pine Barrens, Oceans, Politicians, Pollution/Poisoning) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 05-07-2010
Lake Oswego Heaven - Fourth of July Late Afternoon- NJ Pine Barrens South of Chatsworth
NJ WILD readers know that ‘the world is too much with me’, too often. The world of oiled birds and abandoned fishermen’s families waiting for checks so that they may buy toilet paper and dish detergent. The world of catastrophic weather as the new normal. The world of governments’ having changed without dire conditions changing for the better. ["Yes We Can". "Yes We Did". And so what?]
The world in which migrating shorebirds will soon be staging for their southward journeys, expecting to feed in marshes covered in oil the color of rusting tankers, before setting out to cross the interminable poisoned Gulf.
What Will be Happening Soon at Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge near Smithville
Next stop - oiled Gulf
Pine Barrens Byways photograph
So I take myself to New Jersey Wilderness to be restored. Sometimes it is enough simply to be there, especially among the Pines and the sands of our so-called Pine Barrens.
Lake Oswego Pines and Sedges cfe
Sometimes I do have to bring back photographs, at least.
Ripening Grapes, Historic Building, Tomasello Winery, Smithville, Pine Barrens cfe
Ideally, farm markets are open and I can return with treasures grown by real people in real soil in our own very real state. Not thousands of miles away, growing stale dead and flavorless as they cross interstates. Pine Barrens markets are rich in foods alive with the best energies of earth, blessed by those who planted, weeded, tilled, tended, harvested and sold them to this eager customer. Foods whose prices are so low, you think they have to be a mistake.
Home from the Markets, July 4 2010 cfe
Here are cameos from yesterday’s trip to the ‘Barrens’. The market for the pristine and slender Jersey asparagus and the first berries is Russo’s. Those berries come to them from nearby Indian Mills. They preside at a key corner in dear little Tabernacle, on Route 532 just slightly east of #206. The last Lenni Lenape, Indian Ann, is buried in the Tabernacle churchyard. I want to wake her up and get her to talk of her life there, teach us her language. Instead, I talk crops with the real farmers of Russo’s.
Freshly Hard-Boiled Organic Eggs from Market cfe
The dark and hearty pumpernickel bread under the smoked salmon is from The Bakery, a tiny place whose origins, in Smithville, are pre-Revolutionary. They used to age the hams and sausages upstairs. I tell my favorite waitresses, “I drive 80 miles for your sausage patties.” The eggs taste like eggs. I mean, you can close your eyes and know what is in your mouth, what is blessing your palate. The coffee is hot, steamy, non-sophisticated (no &*(&^ hazelnuts!), and constantly refilled by joshing waitresses who’ve been there forever. When I first went to the Bakery, its current owner was a baker there. He saved his money and now it’s his. On the walls are antique farm implements, signs for Provisions, “God Speed Ye Plow” and a wooden plow, Campbell’s soup tins of long ago, and saltine tins, and wire whisks and, well, go see for yourself.
The smoked Atlantic Salmon and the avocado are from Trader Joe’s, which store is local if not these food items — but it feels like a farm market in there. That is my highest praise, as NJ WILD readers know.
Pine Barrens Blueberries from Indian Mills via Russo’s cfe
What I don’t have on the table is the blueberry champagne, bought as gifts next-door at Tomasello’s Winery - wine of the Pines. Everyone expects it to be in some way a joke - it is sublime - outdistanced every bottle of Prosecco at a recent dinner party here.
All the way down and all the way back, except of course for 295 and 206, there was no one on most of the roads but us. On the Fourth of July. Try me - try Labor Day. But only if solitude is blessed to you.
Lake Oswego Solitude, Fourth of July cfe
Only if solitude, for you, pushes away that too-much world.
I go to the Pines to watch grapes ripen and peat waters ripple and rare birds feed…
Good news re Refuges about to be funded by U.S. Fish and Wildlife for our birds — my beloved ‘Brig’ - Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge near Smithville - point of yesterday’s journey.
Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, Ocean County, New Jersey – Protect 243 acres of wetlands and upland fringes, the last natural open space on the northern portion of Barnegat Bay. The area provides essential migratory habitat for waterfowl and passerine birds species, as well as several state-listed endangered and threatened bird species.
Filed Under (Adventure, Agriculture, Birds, Brigantine Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, Butterflies, Climate Change, Farm Markets, Farmers, Farmland, Farms, Food, Forests, Garden State, Global Climate Change, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, Harvest, Indians, Jersey Fresh, Lenni Lenapes, Local Food, Migration, Migratory Flocks, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Nature, New Jersey, New Jersey Pine Barrens, Oceans, Pine Barrens, Preservation, Solitude, Tranquillity, native species, rivers, trails) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 27-05-2010
What Prepared Birders Do at the Brig… cfe
UNEXPECTED BIRDING - TO HAVE ADVENTURES, GO WHERE ADVENTURES ARE…
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, FROM INTERNET - GIFT OF A TRAFFIC JAM
The plan, on a perfect May Friday, was to zip down to Island Beach for a day of hiking in dunes. I planned to nip across New Jersey on what had been a Lenni Lenape trail - from the sites of hunter months to summer sites of gathering.
From Route 295, almost empty, even quiet, Route 195 beckoned. The connection happens above my beloved Hamilton-Trenton-Bordentown Marsh. This wetland beckons, shimmering and simmering in the hot months, lushly green, freshwater yet tidal, right off 295. I made the big swoop, –that circle that can revel herons, above waters I have kayaked from Bordentown Beach up along Crosswicks Creek to Watson’s. But, instead of kayak currents, I plunged into a river of trucks long as houses, –dwarfing all cars, not only mine, and none of them moving. It was 7-something in the morning, and I was face-to-face with a Berlin Wall, a Great Wall, a Hadrian’s Wall of stopped vehicles. No Island Beach for me.
It took nearly a half hour to reach 195’s first exit, 206 South through Bordentown. Some powers beyond vision and sound had a different plan for me - back to the Brigantine (Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge near Smithville/Oceanville) for the third time in a week.
206 is never easy, least of all the Bordentown parts, which is why I never get on til Columbus when I KNOW I’m going birding. I nearly became a Buick sandwich between another house-sized truck and a series of smaller impetuous ones. The monster suddenly stopped right in the middle of 206, acrid smoke from his tires filling my car, as drivers behind me refused to let me out and around the obstruction. I was not in a good mood.
Somewhere after Columbus, however, cross as I was, sights that mean I am on my way to the Pinelands lifted my grouchy heart. A faded red barn presided above a broad, fresh-tilled field, –reminder of agronomy, promise of harvest. It could have been a canvas by Hopper or Homer (Winslow), that striated color testifying to time before Route 206.
Angling left onto Carranza Road, first drifts of sugar-sand softened the harsh edges of my journey. In Michigan, we’d have to drive all day to get to white sand alongside the road. I decided to save Russo’s Farm (for provisions) for the trip home, turning blessedly east (where the ocean is) onto 232.
My heart lifted, even though right at that moment, my sister was visiting a new kind of doctor - physiologic, electronic? — I can’t remember that strange term muddied by boundless concern. Her atrial fibrillation has returned. Can this new physician jump start my sister to normalcy? Will I ever again take Marilyn to Russo’s for morning’s hot donuts and a small crisp cup of cider?
My own heart lift, however, took place beside burgeoning chunks of thick dark New Jersey loam, turned perhaps yesterday, bursting with fertility. I’m not used to our soil’s being dark. This field is probably Russo’s, who sell foods they (and we, if we like) gather in rich surrounding farmland. I’m guessing Russo’s still knows the worth of manure, hence this color and heft. A sign warns, Tractors Next 3 Miles. My favorite kind of sign.
FRESH JERSEY ASPARAGUS, reads another hand-lettered sign. OUR OWN STRAWBERRIES. There is pride in the lettering and will be health in my feasting, later this weekend.
Sudden spurts of pink reveal laurel in the woodlands, at peak bloom — a good two weeks ahead of schedule. This is beautiful and not good. NJ WILD readers know why- catastrophic climate change can be so seductive. If the plants open before the pollinators are here, then what - for the plants? What for the insects? What for orchards, for cranberries about to spurt with flowers like stars? Will bee-visits coincide?
Pinewoods stretch on all sides. Their understory changes as abruptly as if a set designer with a straight-edge had measured and declared, “Just here and no farther” for the ferns. “Bring on the blueberries now.” “We need a laurel or two for contrast.”
My leaden heart lifts and lifts, in the pines. There may be no light I cherish more than earliest through ferns in pinewood. Abruptly blueberry shrubs glimmer throughout the depths. Those medium tall dazzlers at road’s edge are Black Jack Oaks, pugilistic leaves thrust at a scrimmed sky. It is supposed to be nearly 90 today, which is why I had headed for dune hikes. This sky, behind a warehouse full of communion veils, could go either way - sizzle or drizzle. We shall see. Sand and pines. Pines and sand. Paradise enow!
I don’t want my sister going to the electro-cardiologist. I want her on the seat beside me, binoculars at the ready, because she’s the one with the ‘hawk eyes’ and I’ll just keep pushing us forward to the Brig.
Am I running away or running toward? Or both? From too many people, too many interruptions, from a world where trucks can keep me from the ocean, for sure. To birds in migration, indeed. I pass a small sign next to a rustic building: CORPORATE CENTER! From a world where corporate centers are the rule, above all. To tranquillity in solitude. To beauty. To the wild. To a preserve that has brought me some of the most memorable nature encounters of my entire life - thanks to Republican Edwin B. Forsythe, wherever you are, and to New Jersey.
My very first Brigantine birds are ospreys, one on the feeding platform, one on the struts of the nest platform. Meaning that this pair is no on eggs, as most others are now at the Brig. Meaning, they may be immatures, ‘practicing’, as birders say. Almost every osprey platform at the Brig is occupied this year! On most, one partner is flat-to-invisible on the nest, the other vigilantly nearby, should any marauder appear and threaten those vital eggs.
My Osprey were Tranquil and Domestic - Brenda Jones’ is Enraged!
[As I will admit to a camouflaged cameraman many hours from now, "I think everyone else is the real birder. I'll have to go home, ask friends who ARE, what that eerie marsh sound could have been." Buzzy and booming, subtle, --almost heard, almost imagined. I've heard so few rails, few bitterns in my life -- it could have been one of these elusive miracles of this preserve...] The Brig is very forgiving to beginning birders.
Dunlin (’via Sharon’) From Internet
My sister would’ve liked this. I’m way out on the new Leeds Eco Trail. Its raised platform rises high and dry above glossy and fecund mud. On this jaunt, these gleaming mudflats are studded with dark feisty fiddler crabs. Tidal reaches probed by dunlins on all sides. Ruddy as turnstones on the back, black-bellied as the larger plovers I hope to find later, I’ve never been so aware of dunlins at Brig before. It is so easy to be distracted by rarities.
Saucy Cormorant, Brenda Jones
There is enough water for two comorants to play hide-and-seek, making me laugh out loud, all by myself. Now you see them, now you don’t. When I bring first-time birders down here, they are sure those black birds (half submerged so much of the time) are drowning!
Hieroglyphic ibis with scimitar beaks arrow over and over, without sound. The ibis cluster in iridescent flocks I cannot count. Their fluorescent greens, so visible in Cape May’s sandy setting last week, all but vanishing among springing marsh grasses.
Low Tide with Fiddler Crabs Carolyn Foote Edelmann
In a slender runnel, a natty semi-palmated plover slurps meal after meal. He constantly turns his pristine head, eyeing possible feasts-in-the-mud, with first one eye, then the other, as do robins. The plover’s snappy black ascot remains unbesmirched. To my right, amidst leftover tide are three possible godwits, but I didn’t know I was coming so I don’t have my Sibley! Nobody should ever go to the Brig without Sibley. [Mine is signed from the time we walked the Hamilton-Trenton-Bordentown Marsh in fall migration with David, as a fundraiser for D&R Greenway Land Trust.] It was pretty dog-eared even then, But Sibley’s s not doing me any good back at home by the computer.
Willets scream, “I’m the WILLET!, I’m the WILLET!” on every side. They fan grey wings, revealing black patent-like feathers in flight. Willets to every compass point, patently furious with all those ibis on the their traditional New Jersey marshland feeding ground.
At the end of my day, will I decide that the best part was driving more slowly than the tiger swallowtail butterfly? The whole palette is the sharp green of Ireland, a country I’ve yet to see. The sky remains hazed blue, with blowing and drifting clouds, thin-to-vanishing. Yellow mustard claims both sides of the roadways, beyond wire cages where turtles have laid eggs - most likely terrapin. On yellow flower spikes, black butterflies no larger than my thumbnail sip spring nourishment.
Turtle Egg Protection at Brig (inside car - didn’t open windows because of insects) cfe
Out of the car, discussing whether those tall dun-colored shorebirds could possibly be the godwits reported on our hotlines all week (I had seen the bar-tailed here last week - but didn’t know which godwit it was til I read NJ Audubon…), I discover what the Jersey Devil really is - the no-see-um, crowds and clouds and hordes of the almost invisible voracious critters. When I apologize for getting back in my car “because of the bugs,” the woman with the bird book almost smirks: “This isn’t buggy!”
Ah, here, now, along the dike road going due east, in a landscape almost void of gulls and/or terns, I am granted my rarity-wish-of-the-day - the black-bellied plover. Several of them pass in stately dance, imperious as monarchs consorting with the commoners, all their breeding plumage in finest array, intensity, as blinding as patent leather in sudden full sun.
I turn north, driving more slowly than the great egret. It had one fish in its long gullet, then speared and swallowed another (still alive, swimming humps revealed all along the elegant white passageway), and then another. I never noticed smugness in an egret before.
Brenda’s Hunting Egret in Brig’s Primordial Ooze
I stop and call my sister, watching the coast and plunge of silent terns. Here among the yellowness of mustard are purple spurts of something in the pea family, and her favorite flower, fountains of egret-white daisies. She likes the new doctor, who has to give her such bad news. Of the two forms of atrial fibrillation, hers is the more dangerous. Another cardioversion (electrical intervention) is called for, and ablation (don’t ask! something to do with burning parts of the heart’s electrical system) may be down the road. He gives her pamphlets on her rarity, not the type we seek together or separately, and a web-site that is useful. He tells her, “Live your life with caution, but do not change it. I don’t want you living in fear.”
It is no accident that I hear this in the kingdom of the grasses and the tides. Everything at the Brig, even more obviously than at Island Beach, is cyclical, seasonal, tidal, changing. I have to believe that she, the ideal patient, will win through with the help of her two cardiologists. Two cardiologists?! Who wants even one?
Two more black-bellied plovers march into view, stopping all the cars along the dike road. They are frankly tremendous in their presence. I’d rather see plovers than doctors. So would she.
LOW TIDE AT THE BRIG FROM THE DIKE ROAD cfe
Eerie juxtaposition — Atlantic City in my rearview mirror, two egrets and a cormorant out the windshield.
Two ducks glide west along a fuller tide - imperious as the plovers. Eye stripes give the ducks a seductive look, appropriate, since they are in full breeding plumage. I guess canvasbacks, but darn it, where’s my Sibley? Who ever heard of sultry ducks?
A mourning cloak butterfly near me is so large, by comparison, that he blocks out a cormorant. Symphony in black. I find myself tempering my car’s speed to that of the ducks - I coast out in front, wait for them to swim into view, coast anew. There are worse ways to spend a day, to absorb medical news.
Brenda’s Raucous Heron - mine were still and hungry…
I think about how solitary great egrets seem to be. Where and when do they court and breed? As if to underscore my bafflement, one flies softly, slowly toward me, so low that its wings absolutely meet those of its watery twin, a softest kiss of wingtips.
Egret Vigil - Atlantic City Behind Him- cfe
Laughing gulls at the Brigantine are generally silent. My theory is that people don’t eat here, so these gulls have not learned screamingly to beg for hand-outs. Predation is mostly a silent task. The laughing gulls are comical, after the dignity of the oystercatcher, all alone in an impoundment. Both share vivid hues of black (like a brand new record in my father’s time) and white (freshest snow by moonlight) and red (an oystercatcher’s beak looks “like a ripe carrot stuck on a snowman”, says a cherished friend upon whose trail I happened in Cape May a week ago.) There, the resemblance ends - and, well, the laughing gull is more the color of a rotund Burgundy than a carrot, actually… The oystercatcher moves with deliberate grace. Laughing gulls, especially in twos, flitter along bustly as dowagers elbowing their ways to the best seats in church, a kind of righteous shiver to the shoulders in the passage. I wonder if laughing gulls gossip.
Whimbrel, From Internet
All of a sudden, I am treated to the best of the day — a pair of whimbrels to my left. On this final turn of the dike road, people tend to speed up. No one else saw the oystercatcher, which I discovered while seeking the mate of a lone osprey on the nest but upright and agitated, ‘arms’ up like the Winged Victory at the Louvre. No one even slowed where the whimbrels wait. I love those curved beaks- memories of our Chatham (Mass.) cottage all those heaven-summers.
Among white waterlilies, a mute swan sleeps. And it is over. I’ve strung out my dike tour so long as I can. Time to hit the pineroads home, if I’m to be back on dread highways before Rush Hour. On Old New York Road, laurels are everywhere — like lighthouses gleaming from nameless islands, across a trackless sea of evergreen blackness, at the dark of the moon. Rhododendrons rise in tiny yards, but there is no contest. Iris flutter in a light afternoon breeze.
I stop as I’d always meant to do to photograph the storied Mullica River at Green Bank. People actually live on this river, with high porches upon which some are sitting and reading at three in the afternoon on a May Friday, watching the glimmer. Do they sense hints of Revolutionary times when patriots rowed with muffled oars, taking products from Pine Barrens forges toward the Delaware River and George Washington and Valley Forge during dire winters? Where patriots trapped and boarded and captured British brig after brig, boldly advertising sale of ‘the stores’ in Philadelphia (those hotheads!) papers? Maybe. Maybe not.
Peaceful Mullica River, May 2010, Carolyn Foote Edelmann
I’ll take ‘my’ Brig, whose stores are rarities of the finest kind (name of a clipper ship I once knew way up in Maine) — wild and on the wing and as free as those patriots fought so we could be, we could remain…
Remember, always, none of these adventures could have taken place if New Jersey hadn’t preserved ‘The Brig’ and built and maintained those bays and impoundments!
Magnolias and Lilies cfe
AMONG THE LILIES, BRIG, MAY cfe
Filed Under (Amphibians, Animals of the Wild, Birds, D&R Canal & Towpath, Destruction, Forests, Indians, Lenni Lenapes, NJ, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Nature, New Jersey, Preservation, Solitude, Spring, The Seasons, Timelessness, Tranquillity, Trees, Wildflowers, invasive species, native species, protection, trails, wild) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 26-05-2010
It’s ‘unseasonably’ hot this morning, and I don’t have to be at work until 2. D&R Greenway is hosting an archaeology talk at D&R Greenway tonight, on the Lenni Lenapes and the Bonapartes-of-Bordentown, who lived above the Hamilton-Trenton-Bordentown Marsh. (Call 609-924-4646 to register for free 6:30 program: The Cultural History of the Marsh.
When I’m the food stylist for evening events, mornings take place at home, –at my speed, my priorities. Of course, I head straight to the Towpath [near #518 off Canal Road where I now live.] D&R Greenway began as a non-profit to save land near the D&R Canal and Towpath. Friends for the Marsh exists ‘under our umbrella’, and we’re featuring their juried photography exhibition this summer, on our circa-1900 barn walls. I walk this trail and ponder the miracles of hard-won preservation.
What literally strikes me first, as I clamber from the car and move onto the more or less authentic canal bridge, is the force of the sun. It sears like August sun in Provence. One of my Provence poems complains, “August strikes its flat sword blade”. One fled the sun of August in Provence, as though it were a vindictive sword wielded by a heedless barbarian. I feel this way in this light on this trail, even though I am awash in fragrances headier than those distilled from Provencal petals in Grasse over the hill from my villa.
I want to capture what was given on this morning’s hot towpath, before all so rudely ended.
A bower of berry blossoms - hence, heady, even dizzying scents on all sides
Fern groves; hefty skunk cabbage clusters in the hollow.
First swathes of bright yellow ‘flags’, wild iris, –very very native.
Mockingbird trills, –over and over and over again.
PHOEBE! PHOEBE! - this tiny bird shouting its name, and answered to my right and to my left.
Bullfrog bellows. Sometimes they call to mind Casals or Yo Yo Ma - but this is too earthy and flat-out territorial for classical reference.
“Pretty pretty me!” “Pretty pretty me” - the sweet narcissism of the yellow warbler.
Two fragrances now - honeysuckle vying with berries, –too much sweetness, really, until I long for a whiff of fox, of skunk, of something rank decaying into the trail.
But I find myself flinching every time I move out of treeshadow into sunglare. Now, I remember hot Memorial Days, even in Michigan, definitely in Princeton. Even so, there is a suffocating inescapable quality to this sultriness, even so early, that thrusts me right into the subject of catastrophic climate change - something NJ WILD readers might suspect I came out on the trail to forget.
Spring is at its zenith. Summer, that predator, is literally at my throat.
Everything is that too-green that it will stay until the first coppery glints of woodbine and poison ivy remind, “Don’t worry. Fall is coming!”
At first, others on the Towpath are captivated by the miracle of running through this tunnel of blossoms. Their gaze meets mine, even the men whispering in passing. Then, as heat takes over, runners flash past without greeting. “Ha!,” I think, bitterly, “fitness is more important than fellowship.”
But my soundlessness and timelessness are short-lived.
I become aware of frenzied traffic, hurtling like missiles along the road that used to be Tranquillity Central. Then, the sound I hate above all others, back-up beeps of trucks. I don’t know where I am, because the green and blossoms are so thick here — so I don’t know how to avoid these trucks, which clatter, clang and growl frontwards and shriek backwards, while the hard-hatted men who tend them shout above their own cacophony. Overhead, first one helicopter. Then another.
I turn, pick up the pace, head back to the bridge. Damn! I probably can’t ever hike this part of the trail again.
It holds everything I flee - what NJ WILD readers have heard me decry over and over, DESTRUCTION in the name of CONSTRUCTION.
Others turn, also. We’re a human traffic jam fleeing human traffic.
The only blessing is a birdsong I almost know but haven’t heard yet in 2010 — and then I see it in silhouette, right over my head. As I focus my ‘glass’ upon the unknown soloist, orange and black that out-Princeton Princeton flash in the hot white light. First Baltimore Oriole.
Worthy of the journey…
Equal of the Eastern towhee who blessed my departure for work yesterday morning. I want to see Nature as the victor…
Can she be, with us in the equation?
Filed Under (Adventure, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Cape May, Environment, Fishing, Indians, Lenni Lenapes, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Nature, New Jersey, New Jersey Pine Barrens, Oceans, Pine Barrens, The Seasons, Timelessness, Tranquillity, Weather, Winter, trails, whales, wild, wildness) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 19-02-2010
NJ WILD readers know that my key hiking/birding/art companion, Janet Black, and I set out on Christmas Eve for old Cape May.
Old as in sheltering and feeding Lenni Lenapes 10,000 years ago. Old as in welcoming whalers of Cape Cod in the 1600’s, some of which old New England seafaring names remain in the town today. Old as in still living by the seasons and the tides, as do so few places in our modern world.
This Christmas Eve, however, there was more of a certain season - i.e., Old Man Winter, than we might have preferred, had we known. We traveled there to escape commercial frenzy - that we achieved. We traveled there to hike and to bird — that was another story.
NJ WILD readers also know that I haven’t been able to insert many pictures since before that journey. Therefore, I may allow the pictures to speak, rather than words. These few, in this thin sun, were all we were granted.
The trip held other gifts, the kindness of strangers, gastronomic surprises of the remarkable seafood variety, magical fogs that somehow brought all that Victorian architecture to life as though back in its time- another story, also.
Here then, is Christmas Eve Cape May. Enjoy.
Jetty Motel Christmas
Winter Ocean and Cape May Light
Cold Shells, The Jetty
Gilded Grasses, Cape May Beach
Cape May Bird Observatory’s Hawk Watch Platform - Unshoveled, No Hawks
‘Rare Birds’ Takes on New Meaning: this was ‘It’!
Christmas Eve Last Light on Concrete Ship
Cape May Light from Beach near the Jetty
Christmas Eve Walk, Cape May
Christmas Eve Gifts Someone Had Arranged
Great Black-Backed and Other Gulls - Christmas Eve Congregation
Christmas Eve Church
‘Snice’ - Snow and Ice on Sand- Our Christmas Reality
Last Rays in The Shelter at The Jetty
Cape May Light from Hawk Watch Platform
Silent Night, Cape May
Christmas Eve Gifts - Waiting for Santa