Archive for the ‘Spring’ Category
Filed Under (Adventure, Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve, Bucks County, Cape May, NJ, NJ WILD, Nature, New Jersey, Oceans, South Jersey, Spring, The Seasons, Tranquillity, Wildflowers, trails, wild) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 03-05-2011
WHEN FAR IS NEAR:
April Scenes An Hour or So from Princeton
GO WITH FRIENDS
SHARE THE GAS
APPRECIATE NEW JERSEY
AND ALL OF THESE PRESERVED!
Beach Where Piping Plovers Will Soon Nest
Cape May Easter 2011
Reading Richard Louv’s newest book, “The Nature Principle”, on the reunion of humans with nature, I come across a phrase that describes all these years of NJ WILD for the Princeton Packet: NEAR IS THE NEW FAR.
Constable Scene - Spizzle Creek Bird Blind, Island Beach
This is the week I’ve first seen gas at $4 per gallon for regular, the week a friend paid $54 to fill her tank at a reasonable station.
Bluebell Enchantment April 30, Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve
All along, I’ve been insisting, New Jersey is rich in nearby natural beauty. Maybe now, everyone will listen. Adventure, remember, is right around the corner.
Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve is just across our beloved Delaware River, in Bucks County, just below New Hope.
Trillium/Bluebell Apotheosis - Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve today
Island Beach is less than 100 miles from here, just below Bay Head, Mantoloking and Lavalette.
Surf Fisherman, Bay Head, NJ - yesterday
Sandy Hook is just over a new bridge from Atlantic Highlands.
Tasha O’Neill and I in Bahrs (Restaurant) Window Across Bay from Sandy Hook -
two weeks ago
Each offers something rare, something I require - land’s end. Above all, Cape May is land’s end, for humans and for birds in migration. Even the Cape May Bird Observatory is under 100 miles from my door. I do all as day trips, but stayed this time in Cape May at the dear Jetty Motel - from which we can walk the beach at low tide to Cape May Lighthouse and the Hawk Watch Platform.
When we climbed these steps, ospreys were everywhere, fishing madly.
Kettles of vultures swirled overhead.
Kettles of vultures swirled overhead
one mute swan settled onto her nest in the reeds
full breeding plumage of one great egret lofted on the wind
and one peregrine zoomed
The peregrine falcon is the symbol of my April - for peregrinations are wanderings. Short nearby nature journeys restore the soul, as I’ve written and written. Richard Louv repeats and repeats this mantra. Nature is no luxury. It is essential. The wild is neither remote nor extraneous. It, too, is essential. You can find wild nature in this state in a matter of minutes - even right along our Towpath. But a sense of adventure remains imperative.
Wouldn’t you think I’d been far, far from here? Instead:
Lenni Lenape Ancient Dugout Canoe
behind Bahrs Restaurant, on hem of Sandy Hook
wouldn’t you think I’d've been down South to find this sign last Friday?
FIRST ASPARAGUS OF THE SEASON
CAPE MAY COUNTY
We bought the asparagus from a woman who’d just picked it an hour ago on her farm.
Farmstand of Asparagus, Sweet Potatoes and Hydrangeas
Simple Seaside Supper at the Jetty Motel
New Friends Near Barnegat Bay, Island Beach - yesterday
New Fiddleheads Unfurl in Freshwater Pond near Ocean, Island Beach
Hopper Scene, Island Beach
Lobsterman’s Relic - Barnegat Bayshore, Island Beach
Island Beach is a true barrier beach, never built upon, pruned only by sea winds sometimes laden with salt, sand and/or snow. History is everywhere there - fishermen, brigands, frigates, smugglers, Indians gathering clams, early whalers - as in Cape May. Silence reigns at Island Beach. True Pine Barrens plants burgeon. Ferns unfurl magically in fresh peat water, only yards from the tumultuous ocean.
New Jersey WILD
On all of these nearby nature adventures, the spirit is renewed.
Majestic Trillium, Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, this morning
Filed Under (Activism, Adventure, Birds, Brigantine Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, Delaware Bayshores, Destruction, Disaster, Environment, NJ WILD, Nature, New Jersey, New Jersey Pine Barrens, Oceans, Pine Barrens, Poetry, Preservation, South Jersey, Spring, The Seasons, protection, raptors) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 24-04-2011
NJ WILD readers know I tend to flee to ‘the Brig’ every chance I get, to find out from the birds what season it is.
A week ago, (yes, and again yesterday), I went to the wildlife refuge otherwise known as Edwin B. Forsythe, with friends new to the place. Afterwards, I ‘turned them loose’ in the Pine Barrens and they sent back images to share.
‘The Brig’ can be ‘lovely, dark and deep’, if one is lucky enough to get in there before the sun rises, molten and seemingly dripping, out of the sea and over its bays and impoundments.
We were somewhat later both weeks, due to the essential stop at the Bakery, for hearty real breakfast (eggs that taste like egg, homemade, hand-seasoned sausage patties, endless mugs of fragrant steaming coffee by a window giving onto Tomaselli [Pinelands] Winery and the historic Smithville Inn.)
The greatest gift of ‘the Brig’, for me, is surprisingly not its birds. Rather, limitlessness!
Dike Road Leads on Forever, by Sharon Olson
New Jersey readers will know that I am not making this up - that my drive down to meet fellow poet, Sharon Olson and her husband, Bill Sumner, at 9 a.m. was smothered in snow, flakes that quickened and thickened at the 206/70 traffic circle.
At ‘The Brig’, there was no more snow. However:
Lone Snow Goose, by Sharon Olson
We thought we were seeing the last snow goose, However, we were wrong. I heard the unmistakable musical muttering of hordes of snow geese. Sure enough, we turned a corner to
White Flecks, Snow Geese by Thousands, practically all the way to Tuckerton -by Sharon Olson
What do they know (about lands north of here) that we do not know.
This weekend, I photographed two snow geese at the Brig - the latest ever:
Last of the Snow Geese, April 9, 2011 (cfe)
April 9 View from Gull Pond Tower (cfe)
Another sense of Brigantine limitlessness.
Plus view of my trusty car, in which I proceed on all these jaunts, safely and comfortably, so I can share them with you.
Brooding Scene of Immature Red-tailed Hawk at Brig, April 9, (cfe)
From the Gull Pond Tower, we saw two (mute) swans at the nest, necks twining in a dance that leaves Swan Lake in the shadows. It may well have been their courtship - an aspect of swan behavior about which I know zero.
I don’t have the kind of camera that can capture distant swans, nor even do a very good job of this majestic raptor. He had all the presence of a golden eagle, clearly claiming this tree on Gull Pond Road, and the wide open spaces behind it over to Leeds Eco-Trail, for his new territory. We hope spring brings him a mate for life, to share the Brig’s bounty, beauty and safety. The red-tail opened and closed this week’s Brigantine adventure.
Great Egret in April Water by Sharon Olson
These images come to me through Sharon’s Picasa account — if anyone can tell me how to enlarge, I’ll be glad to learn. It was a treat coming upon so many great egrets and some greater yellowlegs. In each case, nature wasn’t generous enough to provide other versions (of egrets, of yellowlegs), so we could be absolutely sure of that ‘great’ appendage. I did recognize the song of the greater yellowlegs, however, so we were pretty sure about these singletons on sandbanks.
Here’s Brenda Jones’ Brigantine Egret in Full Breeding Plumage at Brig
With great egrets, one can tell them from snowies because the ‘greats’ move with great serenity and dignity, as do great blue herons. Snowies (whose distinguishing field mark yellow feet are usually hidden in water) move about nervously, stirring up bottom-dwelling nourishment with those ‘golden slippers.’
Three Views - The Mirror, the Impoundment, and (arrggh!) Atlantic City! Sharon Olson
The rear-view mirror reminds me to look back, to marvel that these two new friends took to birding, well, like ducks to water.
Learning the vivid and unique shovelers early on, they took great delight in coming across and calling out the perfect name, from then on. Shovelers are russet and green and blinding white, with spade-like beaks that literally shovel under low-tide mud to find their favorite delicacies.
We were treated to elegant, spiffy (quiet) brant, a red-winged blackbird or two (there should be hundreds, and even the females by now. We did not see (they fan their tails) nor hear their territorial ‘okaleeeeee’ because there weren’t enough blackbirds worth territorializing about!
They were good about opening the bird tally (available in the Edwin B. Forsythe/Brig’s new Visitor Center, and vigorously remembering and marking each species seen. They also took time to fill out the visitor query form, being from Connecticut. Bill explained, “Figure they don’t get too many from our zip code…”
I’m not a lister (as in one who will go anywhere, pay any price, bear any burden to see and tally rarities). I’m a thousand times more interested in finding creatures of New Jersey who migrate through our state, and the occasional accidental. I’m not going to Costa Rica nor even to the Platte for cranes. If I find them at the Brig, or in Salem and Cumberland, that’s another story!
Having new birders fill out the tally afterwards cements all they learned, giving them those species as permanent impressions for all time to come.
I’ll End with the Red Knots, by the late Theodore Cross
whose splendid waterbird images we showed at D&R Greenway Land Trust last year - only weeks after his impossible death
we should be seeing throngs of red knots soon
under the full moon of May
along all-too-slender Reed’s and other Delaware Bayshore beaches
but whom we may no longer see because we have destroyed their sole nourishment
the horseshoe crabs
Sharon Olson’s crisp view of the Horseshoe Crab Alert
at the end of Seven Bridges Road
near the Cousteau Society
in a former Coast Guard Building
if enough of those horseshoe crab signs are posted and heeded
the knots and the turnstones could return
in the meantime, knot populations are down 75%
because of human greed
Only Connect is a mandate I usually honor.
I’ll alter it on this subject:
Filed Under (ART, Adventure, Amphibians, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Brenda Jones, Farms, Henry David Thoreau, NJ WILD, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Preservation, Spring, The Seasons, stewardship, trails) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 19-04-2011
FRUITS OF HABITAT PRESERVATION, COURTESY OF BRENDA AND CLIFF JONES
Essence of Spring - Robin at Hobler Park
NJ WILD readers know how Brenda’s stellar work enriches this blog, year-round, from the beginning.
Beaver Close-Up, from when we met
When I met her, Brenda and her faithful “field collaborator” husband, Cliff, all three of us seeking the beavers of Mapleton (between Princeton and Kingston.)
You may not realize that Brenda’s art has now graced the 1900 barn walls of D&R Greenway Land Trust in two art exhibitions- Birds Bees and Butterflies, and now, Born of Wonder: Childhood and Nature. You may stop by on business hours of business days to see her art in our Marie L. Matthews Galleries, and to purchase it to take home.
One of her Baltimore Oriole Pictures - it’s pulling snagged fishing line for its nest
Brenda’s first gallery appearance was in Birds Bees & Butterflies. She brought nine works, tried to take home three at the end. However, someone had seen her Baltimore oriole, so she had to ‘turn right ’round’ and bring it back, with new art for the current show. We sold many of her early works twice (she’d make prints and have her uncle frame them.) The first work to sell at Born of Wonder, Childhood and Nature, was Brenda’s of the great blue herons feeding their great blue offspring! We sold a painting from this show for four figures last night at the Poetry Walk; and most of the art in the Upmeyer Room was sold at the April 8 opening. However, the art will be up and available through July 15.
Mocking Bird this week at Hobler Park
And you’ve had the pleasure of her artistry, free, all along!
Diving Kestrel, right near home
Brenda and Cliff go on nature quests, beauty quests as often as they possibly can. She sends them to me, and you are the richer for it.
American Kestrel From the Back
Spring finally came to Brenda and Cliff this week - look at these amazing images, from Hobler Park (right here in Princeton at the corner of the Great Road and 518! - I’ve written about it for you - the images of Hobler that I find could be states away, Ohio, for example, plain and sturdy barns and silos, acres of wildflowers, and no Princeton in sight! It’s a great place to go in autumn because high, oddly enough. The light stays longer at Hobler. From Heinz refuge down below the Philadelphia Airport. From Baldpate Mountain (in our state, and D&R Greenway’s had a hand in the preservation and stewardship of that land and those trails, under our new Chairman of the Board, Alan Hershey, who so energetically also heads New Jersey Trails.
Yellow-rumped Warbler, formerly ‘Myrtle’
With such simplicity, such memorable images arrive:
Here are the latest photos.
Kestrel & Mockingbird–Hobler Park
Hermit Thrush, Snapper Turtles and Yellow-rumped
(formerly called) Myrtle Warbler–John Heinz Philadelphia;
Robin & Groundhog–Baldpate
Enjoy, Everyone! cfe
Hermit Thrush at John Heinz Preserve, near Philly Airport
Brenda and Cliff have the gift of being in the right place at the right time — as when this majestic representative of ancient times, decided to take a stroll. It seems early for egg-laying journeys, but who knows? The snapper knows…
Snapping Turtle at John Heinz
We can relax now - Brenda and Cliff have brought us spring!
As has every Preservationist, such as D&R Greenway Land Trust and allies,
who does whatever it takes to save scarce New Jersey Land.
It has taken us/D&R Greenway 23 years to preserve 23 miles (and counting).
23 miles of HABITAT!
Hermit Thrush of John Heinz Refuge
reportedly Henry David Thoreau’s favorite bird and birdsong
WHAT IS SPRING TO YOU?
Filed Under (Adventure, Amphibians, D&R Canal & Towpath, Environment, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, NJ WILD, Nature, Preservation, Restoration, Spring, The Seasons, Weather, protection, rivers, stewardship, trails) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 15-03-2011
What with snow, rain, sleet, hail, gales and floods, I am in serious Towpath deprivation. Only a few hours ago, I saw our little Griggstown Causeway and the Blackwell’s Mills Causeway highlighted in orange on the Weather Channel, as sites for the Millstone River flood stage to be reached and even passed.
Many nights this week, I drove warily home — eyeing remaining inches between expanding waters and that fragile Towpath barricade. If the waters enter the canal, they cover Canal Road, and I am left high, if not dry. For ages after floods, the path becomes too skiddy for my comfort. In ice, it’s out of the question.
How normal it used to be for me to walk the Towpath many times each week. I know cool sections for the blazing days; and where to catch the slightest breeze across still water. Over the years, the Towpath has revealed best walks to escape cold winds. She’s divulged the parts holding most light for post-work walks. Once my sister and I made Thanksgiving for two, put the turkey in, walked to the dam and back and the feast was ready.
Now, I can’t remember the last time I set foot(e) upon that cushiony “Trail Between Two Waters.” That’s the name of one of my Towpath poems. Good thing no editor’s waiting for poetic material from me this winter!
Homesick for the Towpath, that’s my reality.
Let’s peek at some April picture, see why I am pining:
WHAT I REALLY MISS - KAYAKING ON THE D&R CANAL!
Here’s an early April walk toward Lawrenceville, below Quaker Bridge Road, ultimately through the jungley bits to Brearley House. The closest I’ve been to that storied site lately is wearing my dark green cozy sweatshirt: I DIG HISTORY AT THE BREARLEY HOUSE. I’m big on memories, but memory is not enough!
EVEN A LATE SPRING BRINGS TOWPATH BEAUTY
At D&R Greenway, last week, Jim Amon, our Director of Stewardship, called me from ‘high in the Sourlands.’ He was out monitoring trails, every sense attuned to laggard spring. When I answered, Jim exclaimed, “Just the person I wanted to reach! Can you hear them?” Silence… “Hear whom, Jim?” “Wait, I’ll walk a little closer. But not too close. I don’t want them to stop…” And then I heard that miraculous clicking, what I’ve sometimes described as Tom Sawyer dragging a stick along the picket fence, very fast. “The wood frogs!”
WOOD FROG EGG MASS, SOURLANDS, SPRING 2011, JIM AMON
Appropriate, this privileged exchange just now. Without Jim Amon’s serving as head of the D&R Canal Commission for three pivotal decades, we wouldn’t have this treasure. Jim’s vigilance preserved its beauty, purity (our drinking water), generous sight lines. His determination and persistence resulted in that that glorious metal virtual canal bridge soaring over US 1 in Lawrenceville.
In those days, no one would have faced down developers so stringently as Jim, forbidding metastases of McMansions at the hem of the canal, our “Ribbon of Life.”
DO WHATEVER IT TAKES to preserve the D&R Canal Commission, in beleaguered New Jersey, everyone!
Nobody’s ever called up and given me wood frogs, although friend/ornithologist, Charlie Leck, did report first redwings in the Marsh the week before. I’d begged him in D&R Greenway’s lobby, “Charlie, what’ve you seen that’s spring?”
Jim Amon took a superb photograph of wood frog eggs, laid during a recent (tardy, if you ask me!) warm rain. I’ll try to download and upload for you. The first time I ever met wood frogs, who make that clickety sound for a mere two weeks usually, was on this Brearley House walk. A stranger kindly and eagerly told me what was creating our watery chorus.
The Way to Brearley House from D&R Canal and Towpath below Quaker Bridge Road
I DIG HISTORY AT THE BREARLEY HOUSE
LIVING HISTORY - BREARLEY HOUSE
I love walking my Illinois sister, Marilyn, to this site. Michigan, where we grew up, was founded in 1837. Neither she nor I ever lose(s) the thrill of finding dates that begin with 16- and 17-. And we don’t have to drive to Salem and Cumberland Counties to find those dates designed into the bricks of venerable houses.
WHAT EYES HAVE SEEN WHAT SIGHTS THROUGH THESE OLD PANES?
Easy answer - nearly barefoot Colonial soldiers in winter, making their way on mud-turned-to-ice, after the two victories at Trenton, to their next victory at Princeton, January 3, 1777. Without that handful of days and that ragtag-and-bobtail army, we wouldn’t have a nation. Their determined feet trod the grass I walk, seeking Brearley images.
OUR CANAL - AS BEAUTIFUL AS FRANCE - ON THE WAY TO LAWRENCEVILLE
Without Jim Amon, and others I’ve described as “ardent preservationists”, the entire towpath could be desecrated as it is near Quaker Bridge Road.
Stay vigilant, everyone. Preserve the D&R Canal Commission. And walk this magical trail, even in laggard spring.
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 (ART, Adventure, Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve, Bucks County, Delaware River, Farm Markets, Fishing, Food, Local Food, NJ WILD, Nature, Pennsylvania, Spring, Timelessness, Tranquillity, rivers, trails) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 20-05-2010
Having given an art opening for two hundred or more at D&R Greenway Land Trust last evening, I waken ready to roam.
All week, I’ve not only had this major reception ‘on my plate’, quite literally. I’ve also been absolutely alone with all phone calls. My office mate is on a long journey, her back-up down with asthma. You get the picture. Long before 9, I was in the car, not knowing why nor where. Knowing only that I had to be untethered.
Perhaps this morning’s was the oddest reason for a breakfast choice that I have ever known. Headed toward my cherished Delaware (River), I’d thought Lambertville was the breakfast-site-of choice. However, the radio filled my car with the flower song from Lakme, Sutherland above all. Followed by my ‘Ur’ duet - that from the Pearl Fishers. So long as it cascaded around me, no WAY could I stop to eat, not even at the Full Moon. Onward and upward I drove, on the New Jersey side, along the River, (the ONLY river…), as the voices of Warren and Bjoerling swirled as they had in my twenties. Then, I lived on Kellogg’s K, in order to afford Obstructed View Seats at the Old Met. There, I met (pun intended) Tebaldi as Traviata, Siepi as the Don (Giovanni), Warren and Bjoerling over and over until Leonard literally died on that well-worn stage. I was not in attendance, but I had heard him that very week. And now, that voice was stilled forever. Until May 15, in the 21st Century, when Warren and Bjoerling swept me north along the Delaware River, to an unexpected feast.
All the electricity of last night’s art reception still swirled about me, but I had to keep driving, north, through small but not forgotten villages of this state I have come to call my own. Except that my geographical center is not a state, but a Valley, the Delaware Valley.
The villages were sleepy, still, as I was not. Other drivers seemed captured by the morning’s scintillation. They were all driving a good ten miles below the speed limit - how amazing in the 21st Century! And even more astonishing, I didn’t care - I was glad they were doing the car equivalent of sauntering - about which I wrote for NJ WILD readers when this blog first began.
Sun on spring leaves had that special glint of light when there’s a river near. I drove green tunnels all a-glimmer, green upon green, and under that the black glisten of rocks that winter garlands with white ice.
No one else is on so many stretches of my runaway drive! So color dominates. There is a sudden eruption (are there slow ones?) of pink and mauve and magenta, and I realize it is the season of wild phlox. Tall, stately yet dainty, the clusters resemble innocent prom girls, when voluptuousness was the farthest thing from those pristine minds, when dresses were sewn by tender mothers from fabrics with names like dimity. Shy, the way we were, these blooms, nodding, like Asian women behind coquettish fans, hiding in spring shadows. The prom-flower maidens are suddenly stirred by river winds - as we were by currents of the future.
Pearl Fisher majesty ends. I am in Stocton, New Jersey. The town of “There’s a small hotel, with a wishing well,” which song I heard at midnight on a May night when I’d voted at dawn to DUMP THE PUMP, then hustled into Manhattan to share a musical with a Michigan friend. And what song was the center-piece of that production, but ‘There’s a Small Hotel.” Written at the Stockton Inn, beside a wishing well I knew in my other life, with my once splendid husband. And when I heard that song on the bridge in the middle of the Delaware River heading home to Bucks County, I knew our referendum had won. What I didn’t know was that it was non-binding. Our opponents were laughing up their sleeves, knowing what I could not foresee — that the Pump would be built that year when I ran away to Provence. That all the land owned by lawyers and judges and chemists and utilities insiders would suddenly pass its perk tests and be worth thousands if not millions. That Bucks County would be profaned. That McMansions would rise on all sides in that rustic, rural Paradise. That my few years in Bucks County would prove to have been its apex, lost forever.
Probably that battle, that loss, fuels me even now. I will never get over the perfidy of all politicians save Peter Kostmayer, –who did win, whose position papers, speeches and release I wrote, who did name as much of our beloved Delaware as could possibly qualify, as WILD AND SCENIC. Without whom, we wouldn’t have all those shad fishermen and shad festivals up and down her banks in the 21st century. So wall was not exactly lost. But Bucks County will never be the same.
Stockton is fully alive this early. River light blinds me, though I cannot quite see the river. Only after I park do I realize I am before “one of my favorite things” — as though this town could have heard me singing: a Farmers’ Market! Tiny triangle flags in simple primary colors strain at their moorings in this morning’s gale. Hand chalked lists of today’s specialties inform me that the quaint wine shop next door proffers wine tastings at noon. Well, that ’s a long way off. Imagine shopping for local sustainable produce (and, I learn, for fish, for shellfish, for chocolates, for lavender, for cheeses, for grass-fed beef, for quiches and cookies and muffins and pies, for dried herbs and glass gardens (nearly succumbed to this) and baguettes and bacon, and on and on and on, to the tune of a country fiddler. I have to go back, in a produce mood, do justice to the Stockton Farmers’ Market.
Sun dazzles, so that I am stopped literally in my tracks, at THE tracks of the Delaware and Belvidere Railroad. Of course, it was ultimately gulped by the omnivorous Pennsylvania Railroad. Which is why I somehow overlooked this precious journey opportunity - from Trenton to Easton, awash throughout with the ‘belle-vedere’ — beautiful viewings — which gave this train its name.
A Sicilian restaurant mis-spells its signature fish, which I am sure will be succulent and unforgettable nonetheless, were I to be here in the fish hour, which I shall not.
My quest is Miel’s - the quirky restaurant where I shall feast on crispy/fluffy corn fritters and hearty sausage patties. Miel’s has presided at this simple corner since I lived in New Hope for most of the ‘eighties. It was the brain-child of feisty women, and I swear the same ones are still here, turning out the identical home cooking specialties, which were exotic in the eighties. They had roast turkey and stuffing, also meat loaf and mashed potatoes, every night of every season, back in those stupid years of la nouvelle cuisine….
What I love about Miel’s, in addition to its feisty women and hearty real food! - is their mismatched plates, cups, glasses, and the like - as though out of an Ohio great aunt’s kitchen. On the walls now is an historian’s dream of Shad Festival posters. It looks as though the shad itself has gone somewhat out of favor. Cats appear. Buildings are honored. The river’s scarce. The funniest is words - “To Shad or Not to Shad?”, “Shad Now or Later?”. My favorite is a standing shad, in a red convertible, with a white scarf, a la Lindbergh or Isadora, take your pick. This year’s was so clotted with information as to be nearly illegible, non-informational for all those words, and the shad a ghost of its former self. I lived in New Hope when we all, on both sides of the Delaware, celebrated the historic return of the fish that McPhee insists saved our army, its general, and created our nation, that First Fish…
But I’m not here for fish. I don’t even need the menu. Bring me those corn fritters, that unlikely raspberry mayonnaise, the sturdy homemade sausage patties. Ply me with water full of ice, as I wish the Arctic still could be, for my cherished polar bears. Bring me coffee that stops me in full flow of description and memory with its hearty redolence.
Beside me rises an iconic hand-made quilt, featuring panels of other times, exhorting guests to choose the MOST DELICIOUS HAMBURGER EVER @ 25cents, or TRY OUR BLUE PLATE SPECIAL
We don’t have blue plates. Glasses are striped with Depression-era hues of orange and brass and chartreuse. Blue willow is the oval holding my sizzling sausage patties. My crunchy yet gossamer corn fritters, studded with real corn kernels, rest on a pink version of faux-Spode flowers of simplistic Crayola colors. A sturdy crock holds heftily-seeded raspberry jam, so thick it does not move as I tip the pot to see what treasure it holds. In my daily life, in a more sophisticated venue, everyone’s health is so compromised that I can never find seed-filled jams and preserves any more. A tinier pure white ‘petit pot’ holds butter I will not need.
Waitresses exult, “Great!”, “Fantastic!”, as dazzled customers finally make food choices. In all this time, I haven’t been called a guy, nor subjected to overhearing narratives studded with the useless and to me thoroughly discouraging word, “LIKE”! True, one woman speaks of financing, financiers, her desk, the Internet. But she is the only one, in her hammering cadence, to interject these remnants of the bottom-line work world into my Stockton retreat.
Someone asks the waitress about all the pictures on the menu, high schoolers of various eras, seemingly especially the 60’s. “Everyone who works here,” the questioner is told.
In the bathroom are murals of the wooded hills through which I drove to reach this true restaurant - for the phrase in France came after their Revolution, when chefs without aristocrats were driven to prepare soup for anyone, referring to these sites and those meals as something that restored: hence “RESTAURANTS”.
A French opera brought me to Stockton this day. I will not go on to Frenchtown, erroneously named for a Swiss - they couldn’t tell the difference.
I will, instead, seek out Bowman’s Wildflower Preserve, see if the yellow lady’s slipper is anywhere to be found.
And forever thank Bjoerling and Warren, for luring me north to Stockton on this limpid Saturday morning!
Filed Under (Adventure, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Cape May, Delaware Bayshores, Environment, Farmland, NJ WILD, Nature, New Jersey, New Jersey Pine Barrens, Pine Barrens, Preservation, Solitude, Spring, The Seasons, Timelessness, Tom Brown, Tracker School, Tracking, native species, protection, trails, wild) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 12-05-2010
New Jersey at Her Best - Miracle Birds, Crayola Morning
Miracle Bird of Cape May - Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher by Mike Crewe
In the midst of unpacking from my Cape May runaway weekend, I read one of my birding hotlines - and yes, I was there, Saturday morning, at Hidden Valley, near Higbee Beach, as this amazing flycatcher with its impossibly long train of elegant feathers, worked a ploughed field the way harriers work grasslands, quartering, back and forth, high among cedars, weaving in and out of its relatives, the kingbirds, who were dwarfed by comparison. A true miracle, never expected - was this the reason I had had to flee to Cape May?
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in Flight, from Internet
Or was it the prothonotary warbler contending with the sun in blinding yellow circularity, surpassing the sun in song, facing dawn, at 7 a.m.? Or, instead, the indigo bunting, heard not seen, until kind fellow (unknown - that’s the joy of this fellowship) birders shortened their scope so I could see the song emerge from that open beak, that treasure house of pink and gold among all that blue?
Bob Zaremba’s Indigo Bunting is even more vivid than mine -
which seemed, blotched with white, to be transitioning to full breeding plumage…
Well, ‘my’ indigo bunting was singing, face-on. The friendly birders who let me peer through their scope gave me the gift of the inside of the bunting’s mouth in song, as pink and gold as the finest work on the Ponte Vecchio of Florence, Italy, in my first-ever trip to Europe in 1964. Only this pink/gold treasure was auditory as well as visual. I shall never forget it.
Indigo Bunting from the side, Singing - from the Internet
My hot-lines didn’t carry on about the other Crayola birds that morning - from this bluest of blues (which I had only seen once, arriving at Tom Brown’s Tracker School in Asbury New Jersey in 1983 in a cornfield) to the vivid crimson/scarlet and black orchard oriole that practically blinded me with its hues as it nearly deafened me with its song.
But, looking back at the entire weekend, much of which will be chronicled here with other images, the stunning scene remains not the rarest (the flycatcher) but that 7 a.m. burst of of sun in the guise of a bird - the prothonotary warbler I could see with my own plain eyes.
B. L. Sullivan’s sure hand, eye and lens brings us my sunburst warbler…
These are the joys of adventuring. Of going off alone, no idea why, some idea where, to where Adventure waits. And then waiting. Not needing a guidebook or a guide. Only attentiveness and attunement. And patience - only I didn’t require much of that in Cape May last weekend.
Here’s what Laurie Larsen sent about the flycatcher — copy it and read it for yourself. And go, set yourself up for adventure!
See the CMBO blog http://cmboviewfromthecape.blogspot.com/ for details of today’s Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, at Hidden Valley in Cape May. Laurie Larson
How to report NJ bird sightings: http://www.njbrc.net/reportto.html
But there was another bird, in those magical 20 minutes at Hidden Valley on Saturday Morning, all alone, except for a birder in shorts (not a good idea with deer ticks, poison ivy and thorns on all sides) and a red jacket (also not a good idea - birders ideally would wear camouflage, which I refuse for peace reasons - but at least muted tones, hats with beaks to hide our eyes from birds who would see us as raptors…). It was the man in the red jacket and shorts who insisted we’d see the flycatcher any minute now, who recognized the song of the indigo bunting, and identified the repeated music of the next bird in my Crayola Morning - the bright red deep-throated music of the orchard oriole:
Orchard Oriole from Internet
Orchard Oriole in Full View, full-throated Song — from Internet
NJ Wild readers know my constant tune, my leitmotif — that it is ESSENTIAL that we preserve sites such as Hidden Valley and Higbee Beach and whatever swathes of wild forest and grasslands we can, so that these magical creatures can migrate north in the spring and south in the autumn, to feed, to breed, to live anew, to sing, to light up the skies like melted crayons, for a solitary birder alongside a ploughed field near the Delaware Bayshores in the 21st Century.
WHY PRESERVE - THIS PLOUGHED FIELD HELD ALL MIRACLES OF MY CRAYOLA MORNING
Filed Under (Animals of the Wild, Delaware River, Destruction, Environment, Fishing, Garden State, NJ, NJ WILD, New Jersey, Politicians, Pollution/Poisoning, Preservation, Restoration, Spring, The Seasons, protection, rivers) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 09-05-2010
Dear NJ WILD Readers,
I followed our beloved Delaware to its Bay this weekend, running away from home, running to birds, at Cape May and at the Brigantine. Pix to follow, and story.
Meanwhile, if you tire of my urging that we save the STATE, save the PLANET, one acre, one creek and/or river at a time, there WAS a time when the Delaware was too dirty, too ruined, to abused to carry shad. I lived in New Hope and worked for Peter Kostmayer’s re-election, Peter who labored heroically to save our river. Peter, who had as much of it as he could named officially WILD AND SCENIC, once he was successfully back in office.
While I lived in New Hope (1981 - 1987), the Shad Festival was born, celebrating the return of the creatures McPhee calls First Fish (because they may have saved our Revolutionary soldiers over in Pennsylvania during those dire winters before we began to win a battle here and a battle there, at Valley Forge…)
Isn’t this a miracle? THIS is WHY it makes SENSE to take STANDS for our lands and our waters. What are YOU saving this week?
OUTDOORS: ‘Best fishing in years’
for Shad on Big D
Filed Under (Adventure, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Cape May, Delaware Bayshores, Delaware River, Environment, Forests, Migration, Migratory Flocks, NJ, NJ State Parks, NJ WILD, Nature, New Jersey, New Jersey Pine Barrens, Oceans, Pine Barrens, Preservation, South Jersey, Spring, Timelessness, Tranquillity, Trees, Wildflowers, protection, rivers, trails, wild) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 29-04-2010
Barnegat Bay, April, Carolyn Foote Edelmann
OK, it’s cold, dreary and rainy in our New Jersey today. Even so, we remain the only state with three coastlines. So, I am thinking of beaches.
Nobody seems to realize that we are tri-coastal:
the Shore, of course. As in ‘down the Shore’. As in Atlantic Ocean washing our barrier beaches and our mainland.
Island Beach April Solitude, Full Atlantic cfe
the Delaware River. A few do remember ‘Del.’ Right now she’s surging with healthy shad, hurtling upriver for spring’s re-creation rites, while pale shadbushes bloom along her banks.
and, our most unknown blessing, the Delaware Bay. Where there used to be more millionaires per block than anywhere in the world — because of our oyster industry. Shellpile. Bivalve. Caviar — where we shipped sturgeon roe from our waters to Russia to turn into that most luxurious commodity. The Delaware Bay, where increasingly scarce red knots, ruddy turnstones and more plentiful laughing gulls and others and some sandpipers, must feed on horseshoe crab eggs at a crucial moon of May, in order to reach their breeding grounds. Without doubling their weight in that two-week sojourn on our Delaware Bay (Reed’s Beach especially), they cannot make the journey. Or, making it, they cannot successfully breed. Rising waters, shrinking beaches, to say nothing of overfishing horseshoe crabs for bait and fertilizer, seriously compromise red knots and ruddy turnstones.
Ted Cross, whose art is at D&R Greenway Land Trust here, immortalizes his favorite red knots
It is possible to live in or near New Jersey for decades without meeting her spectacular unspoiled beaches. Just as outsiders think oil tanks when they hear our name - they also think gambling, boardwalks, honky tonk and cotton candy. These do not constitute destinations for me, rather travesties, tragedies, of what used to be WILD NJ.
Bayfoam, Barnegat, April cfe
Public beaches generally cannot hold a candle to Sandy Hook and Island Beach, where dunes and sands and bayberries vie with holly and lichen and poison ivy, never pruned except by salt-laden winds, all these centuries. On certain points of ‘the Hook’ and all points of Island Beach, it is possible to be where there is not sign of the human except for the road or the trail through the dunes…
On a recent Sunday, I spent an idyllic day trekking Island Beach’s many sideways, dune-sheltered paths –first to the Bay, then to the Ocean. I did not set out due south for Barnegat Inlet and its seminal view of ‘Old Barney’, Barnegat Light, because the wind was too high. Flags straight out, which usually means 25 - 30 miles an hour. The secret of I.B. is that one can escape winds in all seasons by heading east and west through those towering dunes.
“Heather Bald” — Hudsonia and Lichen cfe
My idea of a perfect beach day includes beachside greenery, especially Island Beach’s rare Hudsonia, and its (to this Midwesterner) always unexpected but so native prickly pear cactus. Ten years ago, June, I met highbush blueberries along the Spizzle Creek Trail. Each bush offered berries of a different hue, size, juiciness, and above all savor. It was like a wine tasting, each new handful of sunwarmed berries.
Tomorrow’s Blueberries, cfe
My paradise must include osprey - and this Sunday they were everywhere, on feeding platforms, on nests, building nests, guarding nests, changing the guard on nests, carrying fish in that aerodynamically flawless position, head first into the sea winds.
My heaven days, again because of having grown up in Michigan, includes the distant sound of surf. Our ’surf’ rolled in on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior beaches — (I had little patience for the other great lakes.) Michigan didn’t have salt air or tides, and tides continue to baffle me to this day.
If one is, as I am, of a certain age, one is given, with no trouble atall, a free lifetime pass to Island Beach - merely by filling out a quick form in the entry area.
They’ll also hand you a stern reminder that it is absolutely forbidden to feed the foxes. A pale fox, nowhere near red - rather strawberry blonde — met us immediately after we read the notice. Hours later, another blonde fox bid us farewell. I have been told that normally nocturnal foxes are bleaching now, because the spend so much time in the sun. Their rose-petal footprints are everywhere in the far dunes — straight and determined, knowing, eternal explorers.
Place of Fox Tracks, Reed’s Road to the Bay cfe
My favorite first walk is almost immediately on the right. It meanders through a handsome split-rail fence, then slices through dunes and wends through evergreen woodlands to the Bay. For all the world, this could be Good Harbor near Lake Leelanau on Lake Michigan in childhood. There is no vista dearer to me than first spying blue water through evergreens - in this case, red cedar.
I met this walk, Reed’s Beach, years ago at 20 degrees with 20 mph winds, in quest of Bohemian waxwings among the cedar waxwings and robins. As a dear friend and fellow birder taunted, at the end, “Carolyn, you are 0 for 5!” (Number of total trips to Island Beach and Sandy Hook for never-found Bohemians, although I discovered the flock in literally blinding fog on excursion #5.) Those journeys were as important as any bird.
And one of those quests, at Island Beach, brought me a Northern Shrike. I didn’t even know there WAS such a thing — thought it a masked mocking bird. Home, describing its field marks, more importantly its behavior and setting, I was not only told the species (very rare in NJ) but also listed on the Audubon Hot Line for having (1) discovered it; and (2) noted all essential particulars, about which I knew nothing.
Walking a side trail at Island Beach, I came upon this snake — evidently, being cold-blooded, it had perished in those sudden winds. Its last supper was apparent in the midsection. Someone thoughtful had laid a reed over the snake, an offering, a eulogy…
Snake’s Last Meal cfe
Spring’s First Oak, cfe
Island Beach is full of gifts, as is all of WILD NJ, in all seasons. See (sea!) for yourself!
And remember, this paradise is the gift of PRESERVATION in our State. See to it that preservation here expands!
“Clouds From Both Sides Now” Spizzle Creek, April, cfe
Filed Under (Adventure, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Bucks County, Delaware River, Environment, Forests, Indians, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Nature, Pennsylvania, Preservation, Spring, The Seasons, Timelessness, Tranquillity, Trees, Wildflowers, native species, protection, rivers, stewardship, trails, wild, wildness) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 24-04-2010
Rocks That Ring, Bucks County, PA, by David Hanauer
Most people claim, when I mention Ringing Rocks Park, –above Upper Black Eddy on the New Hope side of the Delaware–, that they’ve always been MEANING to go there.
However, most people I know visit for the first time at my side. And, frankly, they don’t quite believe me that we’ll strike boulders with hammers to call forth a concert. Frankly, I am usually the only one determined enough to carry a hammer.
Barren Rock Field, Dense Tree Line, Visitors Ring the Rocks - David Hanauer
Except for the time I was privileged to introduce a Princeton University geologist to the rocks — he portaged an entire collection of purely metal professional hammers, which resulted in the finest rock music of my nature-life.
At Ringing Rocks, minerals and placement are proposed as the reason that certain rocks ring. Humans need hammers to call forth the chorus. Some use other rocks, but that exquisite pinging sound does not result from rock on rock. Hammers without cushioned handles strike the purest notes. Rocks with white ’scars’ in profusion, tend to be the ones that ring best - others insist red rocks sing most truly. I don’t know and I don’t care — the experiment is the whole point!
This rock field has been measured at ten feet thick. Basically nothing grows among the boulders, unlike the rest of the forest in this Bucks County Preserve. I’m assuming this will change in a few millenia.
Oddest of all is that the rocks were not left by glaciers, which did not progress this far. And they are not at the base of a mountain, not a rock slide, not tumbled there by coursing waters. ‘My’ geologist insisted it’s all about weathering of rocks once molten… Hard to believe — but he should know.
In addition to music and new playfulness, there are other gifts in Ringing Rocks — above all, what calls me forth any day, WILD BEAUTY.
Near the Waterfall in Winter, Chuck Rudy
Other life essentials exist at Ringing Rocks in profusion. For example, the opportunity to listen to silence.
Birding by ear is a vital skill in this dense forest. We heard red-wings, robins, distant crows, the purring of the red-bellied woodpecker, the insistent identification of Phoebe! Phoebe! - who conveniently, but needlessly, revealed himself upon a waterfall-side bare branch. We were blessed by red-tail shadow and the tipping search of the turkey vulture. On the way over from Hopewell through Sergeantsville, we’d had bluebirds upon bluebirds, flashing iridescent beauty at the side of the road.
Bells of Solomon’s Seal Also Ring at Ringing Rocks, cfe
Photographer Anne Zeman Zeroes in on Waterfall’s Gifts
Birding-by-ear was also essential, since our eyes (and lenses) were fully occupied with a bounty of ephemerals - spring wildflowers that will vanish the moment the tree canopy fully leafs out.
Jack-in-the-pulpit, some with burgundy stripes; some with royal purple. May apple - well before May, its white smiley-face blossom peering out from green umbrellas at every trail meander. Sensitive fern, hay-scented fern, Christmas fern, and some even my garden-savvy friends could not name. Spring beauty - already bleached, barely revealing the red/pink landing-stripes that guide pollinators earlier in their blooming. Violets peeked from below heart-shaped leaves - mostly truly violet, some yellow, some even white, — elongated, slim ballerinas upon the stage of that woods, rock music pinging in the background. Best of all, at the brink of the falls, saxifrage lived up to its name, literally breaking the rocks of Ringing Rocks, nodding sturdy-delicate white tufts above the rush of falling water and its delicate spray.
Saxifrage-at-the-Brink, Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Deeper into the Ringing Rock woods were the semi-circle leaves of bloodroot, the lacy leaves of Dutchmen’s britches, their frail white flowers ‘gone by’ a week or so ago, as this tree canopy leafed out.
Today, what remains in my mind, however, is what rangers call ‘bear sign’. On standing trees and fallen trees, on stumps, everywhere on either sides of their drinking water, the falls, we found paw-sized scrapes and entire raked trees. Some sites old, browned-over, and had risen, with trees themselves, far above our heads. Some were raw and golden. Even without having ridden a tree-elevator, these scrapes were well above our heads. Some were raw and golden and about at the height of our waists — baby bears fresh from winter’s den?
Bear Browse Near Falls, Ringing Rocks cfe
Bear-sign, –where I learned it, out West–, meant places where these monarchs of the glen had torn at bark in quest of insects. Preferably old bark. Preferably trees already marked as failing and therefore housing insects, –marked by the presence of turkey tail fungus, nature’s restaurant sign to woodpeckers and bears.
But here, even newly fallen trunks had been raked from brunette to blonde, and not long before our visit. Bears usually flee humans, and mid-day is not their feeding time. I admit to deep regret on these scores…
Bear Sign Near Waterfall, cfe
Where the Bears Feast, cfe
THE GIVING TREE - TO WOODPECKERS AND BEARS cfe
Second to bear browse, I remember what I call either “The Hall of the Mountain Kings” or “Indian Council Rocks”. Towering above wild greenery and us, imposing rocks remind that the Transcendentalists insisted that God, the spirit, even life itself was in everything, not only trees — also rocks.
In the center of the waterfall trail is a cluster that resounds with echoes of Indians gathering here, perhaps to debate yet again who really had a right to all those grasshoppers, essential bait for shad in the nearby Delaware. Not far north of Upper Black Eddy is Indian Rock Inn and beyond that the Indian Rock itself, where the Grasshopper War played out to its tragic ending for one tribe, victory for another. I always feel that great decisions were made among these boulders.
Some resemble whales, coming up for air. Others, manatees. One, an elephant’s eye. Bowling balls downstream from the falls. Snails. THRONES.
To presume to sit upon one of these monarch rocks is to allow rock power to stream into our beings, buttressing and sustaining.
Rock energy seeps into every cell, the way iron would seep in from a sip in the stream. Calming and strengthening, all at once.
Animate Rock, Ringing Rocks cfe
High above, all that time, is another form of music. What my sister calls ’soughing’ and no one can convince me whether it rhymes with ‘canoeing’ or ’stuffing’ — do YOU know?! It is wind’s humming, especially poignant when caught in spring’s first leaves.
There is a visual flickering which translates into the audible. Each leaf is ignited in April light. Each leaf seems a newly arrived moth, a butterfly, before we’re seeing many or even any of these, at least any we can identify. Tethered moths, attached butterflies, all a-tremble in the light breeze. And, in the background, always the ping, ping, cling of so many hammers.
Also in the distance is the song of the falls. Far gentler than either Vivaldi or Handel with their water music, which is either too frenetic or too triumphal for the sound of Ringing Rocks Falls.
It is the whisper of shy waters, so elusive, indeed, camera-shy. They seem to carol, “We will do our work,” these trilling waters, “of refreshment, nourishment, of holding the sun itself, here at the corner of these flat rocks. We choose the shadows, near-invisibility. Nearly inaudible. Essential…”
If you need ‘my’ geologist’s ‘explanation’, this is the best I can manage. Basalt, long ago deposited as molten, has been pried by time itself, its cracks intensified by snowmelt, spring surges and cataclysmic floods from the nearby Delaware before it had a name.
Violet Profusion, cfe
Striations were deepened over milennia. Now, bitter green moss fills some cavities, darkening yet highlighting. The molten time gave over to the cracked time, turned into the time of the rocks. However ‘time’ is absolutely the wrong word here, since this all happened in the time before time.
Now each rock has its own voice, shrill or dull and everything in between. Called forth by toddlers playing and singing “Jesus Loves Me” and by their parents and strangers returning to toddler, just for this moment. The ‘anvil chorus’ blends with the soughing of overhead trees, in fresh spring garments, and the hushed trills of waterfall, far far away. These woods are truly “alive with the sound of music.” Real music. Wild music.
The Kingdom of the Rocks, cfe
Rock music of the winds — true WOODWINDS! The wild music of invisible birds, bent upon breeding in the shadows.
I rejoice also in the music of children, unplugged for this one afternoon, scrambling among the boulders, heading eagerly yet cautiously toward the falls. Rapt, as we are, by light in the dark wood, caught in wildflowers beyond counting, spilled at our feet.
Only one of my guests breaks sanctuary, by having brought her cell phone, turned ON, on our wild walk. News, bad news — any news is bad news in the wild — shatters until I say, “We are leaving that, now. We are here for the WILD.”
It’s not NJ WILD, I admit. But it’s only an hour away - cross the Delaware at Frenchtown and turn north or Milford and turn south. Either way, you’ll never regret hours at Ringing Rocks.
In July, we can find Indian pipes, white bell-like flowers without chlorphyll, which feed upon decaying wood in old forests. True miracles — they enchanted the geologist’s (Certified Master Gardener) wife even more than the rocks that rang. I can hardly wait…