Archive for the ‘New Jersey’ Category
Long ago, I chronicled the Blizzard of ‘78, from my Princeton house on Braeburn, off Snowden. A year later, the Packet published the entire journal, with pages of professional photographs of that crippling storm. Our girls accepted the fact of its seriousness when the word came that QBM (Quaker Bridge Mall) was closed. Adults did same when they heard that IBM was…
Here, I chronicle officials’ translation of the storm out my windows above Canal Road, near Rocky Hill. Iconic phrases and images unfurl, and I have to stop my professional writing to get this down. Never did I expect to become a stormwitness anew, on a blog. Also, for the Packet.
Oddest of all, with two storms causing this weekend’s ordeals, and another ‘in the wings’, not one reporter in all these hours mentioned the word ‘climate,’ let alone ‘climate change’, let alone carbon dioxide, carbon footprint, carbon emissions, glacial melt… Nor any of the wise and courageous scientists who’ve been telling us for decades that this scenario is inevitable. How they love to blame it all on Mother Nature!
What one reporter dubbed, “A Winter Wallop - gonna be a Big One”, started here in the dark of Friday.
It all began as ‘snrain’, barely visible, yet palpable, before first light. ‘Our’ blizzard wasn’t ‘due’ until 3 p.m., but no one told the storm gods. Even though I could not see whatever was falling, it was dropping clumps on the paving stones like the sticky Lux flakes my mother used to use for hand-washing.
Our weekend forecast — emphasis on END — has gone from 38 and partly cloudy to rain to wintry mix to 9 inches before Saturday is over. With these words, my excursions to havens are systematically cancelled.
There is still no visible snowfall. Yet, in this dusk-like dawn, streaks spurt past, white and fast as comets.
[I'm reading about Yellowstone in Audubon: "There are things you learn, riding the bus between wolf sightings." It's been a long time between wolf-sightings. This hideous forest beside which I dwell, this former healthy woodland destroyed by Mr. and Mrs. McMansion next door, would be bearable, if there were wolf sightings, or even coyote. But it's too narrow, too deep, too studded with invasives, offering no appeal to predators nor prey, repelling me. I try on different names for it, The Ugly Forest, Ruination Woods. Can a super snow storm gild this pitiful lily?]
All light is sucked out of the world now — not only the woods blurred, but also sky, the very ground itself. Its as though my windows have cataracts.
At least when it blows and is this far below freezing, Trap Rock cannot burn asphalt, searing and closing my lungs, enlarging my heart, as Solstice X-ray revealed, to my terror.
Audubon writes of “a shape-shifting flock” of wolves. This is a shape-shifting storm.
Now I can see ‘flakes’ - but they’re more like shards and fragments, something left over from diamond-grinding. If the New England adage is true: “Little Snow: Big Snow; Big Snow: Little Snow”, we are IN for it. In other words, when a New England snowstorm starts with minuscule flakes, the storm itself will be enormous.
Geese on high, invisible, not frantic — peaceful regular ‘barks.’
It’s 25 and grim, 70% humidity. When I’m outdoors, whatever’s falling feels like rain on my face and hands.
Well, so much for forecast. While boiling eggs in case of power outage, I turn on Local on the 8’s to learn we could now receive 10″ on the day that was s’posed to be partly cloudy and mid-thirties and WE were going for our first post-Sandy exploration of Island Beach. Not in a Nor’easter…
The officials, despite that “ten inches”, insist we are having rain in Somerset/Somerville. OK, rain that sounds like thousands of popcorn kernels dropping on this hill, hissing and dropping.
In the Boston area, this storm sounds like it could be worse than the Blizzard of ‘78, which was always my benchmark, and seems to have become so, now, in official parlance.
Locals still insist ours here is rain and 34 or 35 - when it’s below thirty and rattling. On the deck, this NOT- rain is bouncing back up.
Now we’re hearing of travel bans in Boston, and Jim Cantore and Al Roker are on Boston Commons. Not for a bird walk, not for a swan ride, not even to jog or write or hear poetry. To be battered by winter’s worst.
Mayor Bloomberg is on in Manhattan, telling people to “Stay home, cook dinner, read a good book.” This gets translated later by commentators into everything from “read a book” (evidently doesn’t have to be good) and “order takeout.”
Worst of the Bloomberg exchanges is insistence that “there are no problems with gasoline.” I have this same note in my Sandy journal, from mayors and governors, insisting! And in Princeton, I came home on the heels of Sandy to gas lines spilling for blocks onto highways, police with red lights flashing monitoring our local gas stations! Within the hour of Bloomberg’s reassurance, with this snowstorm, there are gas problems on Long Island.
Now, whatever is coming down out my front door sounds like a really violent sandstorm, pelting against the building, against glass, fizzing through evergreens. Relentless, ceaseless.
I”ve been working on the book on Stuart Country Day School’s 50 years, relentless and ceaseless myself. I squint out windows to figure out what’s really happening.
Leaving the computer, I hear a television reporter speak of “sleet stinging my face.” Another describes rising wind and cold as “stinging to the bone.” Our local officials still call it rain.
There’s something worse to me than precipitation during storms. It’s the ruination of the English language. It’s being called ‘guys’ every few minutes. It’s having reporters in the field on all stations say “Back to you guys in the studio,” when it’s two women in dresses too tight and too short, decrying their professional status as scientists, as meteorologists, and most definitely not GUYS! The other ordeal is having to absorb the new redundities. Chefs tell us to ‘reduce down’. Snow monitor speaks of “eroding away.” “Gather together, cobble together” set my teeth on edge. [Re weather today, the two storms,] Everything merges together.” Normally, I can avoid these desecrations, but not during storms. Latest — “We’ll return you back.”
I learn what I should know, “the lighter the snow, the higher the snowfall amounts.” The usual 10 - 1 ratios of rain to snow are off in this one, because whatever’s falling wherever is very very wet and heavy. “More like 1 to 3″, says the expert. Being innumerate, this is only of passing interest to me.
I have a friend who’s a self-admitted “connoisseur of snowflakes”, and nothing has fallen yet that is worthy of him.
“Already we can’t see down to the blacktop,” a girl in a puffy parka somewhere near Long Island observes; “and we still have two hours to go.” That means to the official beginning - ours still being 3 p.m., tho pelting since before purported sunrise.
One of my favorite phrases in this storm is “Waiting for the Wind.” Actually, I don’t want wind, because of all the tall trees, conifers and deciduous, in which this dwelling is set. We lost five big ones to Sandy, and there are trees beyond counting out there that could fall in any direction.
Now Governors and Mayors repeat each other’s theme song, “STAY HOME.” Christie, about whom I shall say nothing not storm-related, commands, “Do everything slowly. Be smart and be safe. Watch this storm but don’t get into the middle of it. STAY HOME.” But he does not order actions nor inactions of ordinary citizens.
Connecticut roads are about to shut down. In Bedford, L.I., “We’ve hardly seen any cars here.” “Storm isn’t the problem, outages are.” This reporter already measures 4 inches. Later she will lose her yardstick down a snow-hidden open drain.
Another favorite line: “Ya know it’s gonna be bad when the coffee shop closes.”
Our report remains, “Cloudy. Periods of rain. A few snow showers. Mid-30’s” My noisy outdoor conditions remain, including thermometer resolutely below 30 since pre-dawn.
Officials outside report, “Icy pellets coming down. Not seeing many on roads. A lot of slush” Rye, N.Y.
One daft reporter: “Transportation may become an issue.”
“Snow is coming down harder and icier. It’s expected to worsen.”
(In New England, I’ve known for hours if not days, winds can reach 70 m.p.h.)
“Flooding on Route 35 and spin-outs on the NJTPK at Route 18″ — which is New Brunswick, which is a half hour north of here. My thermometer is now down to 26, with 80% humidity, and something that feels like drizzle but makes noise.
Officials: “It’s a good idea to bring all pets indoors.” They say this, this late in the day? People need to be told this?
“Wind chill in Boston tonight may be zero.” On the Commons, it is plain that sideways snow is painting ides of trunks of trees. Officials speak calmly of two to three feet of snow in places in MA, CT, NH, RI, ME. States begin “banning vehicular traffic.”
There is an image of the Mass Pike, Route 90, without one single car on it. This is afternoon on a Friday.
Lightning is reported off the Jersey coast.
Jim Cantore, on the Commons, shakes his head, side-by-side with Al Roker, as their snow fizzes sideways, “This is the real deal.”
Reporters everywhere warn “very very slick” “Roads bad. Sidewalks may be worse.”
We can’t see the Brooklyn Bridge for the snow. Later, the same will be true of the Empire State Building.
Re NYC, “Everyone wants to get out of Dodge.” The reason is given, “to avoid the worst of the storm.” But there doesn’t seem any place around here where that would be possible.
I-84 shut down. “Connecticut very bad - 100 crashes.” “LIE shut down.” Re MTA, “10 inches or 40 mph winds will jeopardize service, … likelihood of suspension.” AmTrak suspended. Buses on Route 9 in NJ cancelled. All MTA buses and Mayor Bloomberg’s plows have chains on tires. I think I heard same re EMT vehicles. Forget flying!
“Dangerous and Icy — GET HOME and STAY HOME.”
Views of many snow-smeared towns reveal streetlights on in daytime.
I keep feeling how ghastly all these perils and predictions must be for people who lost family and friends, homes, towns, swathes of trees to Sandy, 100 brief days ago.
Newark is bleak, black, empty. Not only flights outside but people inside La Guardia not allowed. I think equally true of JFK, but not shown images there.
“It’s just snow now. The mix is over.”
Observer in Brooklyn, re predictions, “I think they’re overdoin’ it.”
As power outages begin, officials warn about high winds and bucket trucks, to say nothing of critical snow removal for access — meaning days before electric companies, although primed, can even begin to repair.
“New England is already reeling.”
A reporter describes “phalanxes of snowplows.”
“We’ll be working throughout the night.”
“Please slow down.”
“Numbers getting really big.”
“Everyone into snow now.”
Radar rotations, –even chief meteorologists admit, on many different channels–, “almost look like a tropical system.”
Wasn’t Sandy also a marriage of two storms? Or was that Irene? Or both? I do know Sandy was followed by a severe New Jersey snowstorm that in some shore towns wreaked hardship to match or even surpass the hurricane/superstorm. Al Roker dubs this a “Snowicane.”
After all these hours, officials say, “It’s beginning to ramp up.”
More and more complaints that it’s “so wet and heavy.”
“Colossal stoppage of transport.”
Power company trucks from as far away as Ohio
Hurricane-force winds on Nantucket
“Gonna be a wild night.”
“Long Island’s gonna be the bull’s eye.”
“It’s like a snow machine turned on high.”
People “walked to these restaurants because it’s not safe to be out on the roadways.”
“Driving is horrendous.”
“We’re not even halfway done with this storm.”
But I am - I’m going in to Stanley Kunitz, to read his deep and stellar prose and poems celebrating his seaside garden in Provincetown. And, though my beloved Cape looked really compromised on all those rainbowed rotation maps, I’m not going to think about storms…
Autumn Dawn Majestic Tree, Brenda Jones
D&R Canal Approaching Storm, Martha Weintraub
Sourlands Mossy Monarch, Brenda Jones
As I type the title of my Christmas musings on our lost trees, three hefty deer in their no-nonsense winter coats, process like wise men out of these woods. Well, what’s left of woods…
My NJ WILD readers know I am a literal tree-hugger. I talk to them, too. I work for them constantly, at D&R Greenway Land Trust, preserving scarce open land in almost-built-out New Jersey.
It is a particular grief to leave the house each day, no matter where I’m headed. My journey of bereavement begins with stumps and (inexcusably still tumbled) segments of five monarchical trees on this property. Going to Morven to decorate D&R Greenway’s Holiday tree, my car was dwarfed by towering roots of a toppled conifer, which blessedly fell away from the home of the signer of the Declaration. In my seven miles to work, I daily drive alongside vistas of wisted and shattered and snapped and flattened formerly healthy trees. Trees tossed in piles like pick-up sticks. Trees without tops. Roots higher than McMansions. Slaughtered trees.
People keep using the phrase “war zone” to describe the effects of Sandy and the Snowstorm. But the fallen soldiers are trees. In Massachusetts, from whence I could not return during Sandy, I read of “trees as weapons.”
What is oddest about the downed giants everywhere is that they seem venerable healthy specimens. They are not spindly saplings. It’s as though the heart has gone out of the old trees on all sides, that they have ‘given up the ghost.’
Up til now, trees were beauty to me. I go to to trees to be uplifted, inspired and consoled.
The Solace of Trees, Titusville Brenda Jones
Trees have spirits, some so palpable that I can tell male from female energy, and have named some. For example, the beech at D&R Greenway I’ve christened Sylvia. After all, Sylvia Beach (pun intended) went to Paris and Shakespeare and Company from Princeton.
I cannot do justice to the trees I so mourn. To the corpses I see all over everywhere, on hill and especially The Ridge and in dales and along streams, and even fifty-five treasures on the ground at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve. Trees have closed some trails there, perhaps forever. Trees have altered waterways there, so that Gentian may not open again.
Of course, we are spewing the CO2. We are altering climate, winds, glaciers, water temperatures, currents, seasons, migrations, coastlines. We are felling these trees.
Felled trees, by the way, no longer act as ‘carbon sinks’ - what ghastly engineer dreamed up that term?
Let others speak for me:
Robert Louis Stevenson, my first favorite poet: “It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanates from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”
Carnegie Lake Winter Trees, Brenda Jones
Susan Fenimore Cooper: “Of the infinite variety of fruits which spring from the bosom of the earth, the trees of the wood are the greatest in dignity.”
Minnie Aumonier: “There is always Music among the trees, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it.”
Marcel Proust (that city person!): “We have nothing to fear and a great deal to learn from trees — that vigorous and pacific tribe which, without stint, produces strengthening essences for us, soothing balms, and in whose gracious company we spend so many cool, silent and intimate hours.”
Marcel was right for a long time, until the increasing occurrence and severity of major storms due to catastrophic anthropogenic climate change.
Yes, we had nothing to fear from trees– yet in our very own town, one of its most special citizens, Bill Sword, Jr., lost his life in the storm to a tree. A man of generosity, integrity, honor and great spirituality is no longer among us.
Is fate’s timing of Bill’s death meant to warn us that something far beyond trees is imperiled?
Could the trees, themselves, be sacrificing themselves to send us this urgent message?
I often think this about whales and dolphins, stranding along our coasts.
Where Sandy swirled is the signature not only of the earth changes we are engendering pell-mell.
It is also the signature of Inevitable sea-level rise. Where Sandy clawed, the sea will claim.
There isn’t going to be normal any more.
Tree carcasses are not normal.
How interesting that this ghastly landscape has been created the cusp of the season in which we decorate and even sing to trees….. O Tannenbaum….
Cormorants Swim Where Brenda Jones and I Birded By Car…
NJ WILD readers know, if they know anything about me, how precious is the birding refuge, ‘The Brig’, A.K.A. Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge to me, as a birder, and far more profoundly, as a spiritual being.
It’s where I restore myself when “the world is too much with me”, more and more frequently these days. Far more important than I, however, ‘The Brig’ is a key stopover on the Atlantic Flyway, rich in rarities at all times. Perhaps never more precious than in winter, when winged creatures elsewhere can be scarce.
Duck Flight Before Storm, Brenda Jones
Everyone also knows that un-hurricaned Sandy destroyed great swathes of our beloved New Jersey’s three coastlines, especially The Shore, especially at and in and near Atlantic City.
One of the eeriest factors of being at ‘The Brig’ is that you see all those gambling towers through the migrant flocks. My happiest times at ‘The Brig’ are when I can’t see Atlantic City, because of fog or whatever.
I have been down at the Brig in fire, fog and ice. I can never believe that anyone would rather be in those towering prisons of glass, those cacophonous, frenzied places, rather than in the seamless peace of the marshy reaches of The Brigantine.
Great Egret, Great Peace of Brigantine Wildlife Refuge, Brenda Jones
I can’t drive it’s dike road any more, because it has been severed by uncategorized-storm-Sandy.
Cormorants swim where I used to bird by car.
All those carefully managed impoundments with their specific salinities, to nourish certain aquatic plants and shelter and feed certain waterfowl, are fouled. The Bay, –Absecon Bay, whatever its salinity in the storm and ever since–, has surged in. The Brig, as we know it, is no more.
Grebe Swallowing Frog, Brigantine Wildlife Refuge December Drama — Anne Zeman
I’m going down there for Christmas, ‘come hell or high water’. Certain walking trails are open, and birds don’t watch the Weather Channel. I’ll check out Leed’s Point, where the Jersey Devil was purportedly born and which thrives as a tiny old-world fishing village, at least until Sandy. Herons frequently soar in and land on Leed’s Point pilings. I’ll drive the bumpy sand road to and from Scott’s Landing, always remembering encountering hunters with their ‘bag’ of bloodied snow geese there, late one autumn. Odd, I’ve never read a recipe for snow goose. How neatly they were lined up along the sand… below the targets, silhouettes that teach hunters the differences among birds on the wing at various distances.
Snow Geese In Flight, Brenda Jones
How Snow Geese Look when they hear shots…. cfe
In the meantime, this is some of ‘The Brig’s’ reality. God KNOWS what’s happened at my other major havens - Island Beach, south of ruined Bay Head, Mantoloking, Seaside and so forth, and Sandy Hook, up by the Highlands and too many rivers….
Serenity and Tumult, Bay Head, Carolyn Foote Edelmann
NJ WILD BEAUTY, ISLAND BEACH Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Pristine Barnegat Bay, which rose to meet the Atlantic… Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Winter Realities, Normal Sandy Hook, Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Sandy Hook, Bay Side, After a Hard Winter Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Brigantine Serenity from Leed’s Eco-Trail Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Cloudscape, Summer, Brigantine Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Glossy Ibis and Marsh Mallow’s First Bloom, Brigantine Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Update as of Friday, December 7 at 10 a.m.: The Wildlife Drive in Galloway remains closed due to damage from Hurricane Sandy. The Songbird Trail, including the portion that uses the Wildlife Drive, will be closed December 10 through 14 due to a refuge hunt. Other hiking trails in Galloway are open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily, including the Akers Woodland Trail, Leed’s Eco-trail, and foot access to Gull Pond Tower.
The Visitor Information Center is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.weekends. All fees have been temporarily waived.
Scott’s Landing Boat Launch is open. Barnegat Observation Platform is open. The deCamp Wildlife Trail in Brick Township is open for the first 2000 feet. Holgate remains closed.
The Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, where more than 47,000 acres of southern New Jersey coastal habitats are actively protected and managed for migratory birds. Forsythe is one of more than 500 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The National Wildlife Refuge System is a network of lands and waters managed specifically for the protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat and represents the most comprehensive wildlife resource management program in the world. Units of the system stretch across the United States from northern Alaska to the Florida Keys, and include small islands in the Caribbean and South Pacific. The character of the Refuges is as diverse as the nation itself.
Wish me well on my Christmas pilgrimage. Far More Important, wish the birds well no matter man’s depredations.
Do whatever you can, wherever you are, even in those 90 countries who, for some reason, read NJ WILD about our dear state, to preserve refuges in your region.
And pay attention to catastrophic climate change. It’s no myth. It’s not a subject for believe. We have seen, to borrow the Pogo line, catastrophic climate change, and it is us.
What Sandy did was dress rehearsal. Sandy scrawled the signature of inevitable sea level rise for all the world to see. Sandy was not a one-time event. Sea level rise will not undo itself, as do hurricanes in time. Although not in damage.
Our world is changed forever.
Sandy didn’t change it.
What are you doing about it?
Rainbow Before Sandy, The Berkshires cfe
NJ WILD readers know, at October’s wild end, I was led to the Berkshires, in Western Massachusetts. i was only to stay two days. My purpose was to hike in wooded hills and re-experience the finest arts at the Clark Institute, the Williams College Museum and Bennington’s, As complex 2012 wound down, mountains, art and limitless vistas had become more essential than usual.
Sandy had other ideas.
Green Mountain Trees Await Sandy cfe
My brief mountain getaway stretched to more than a week, with no heat or water in this Princeton dwelling, and major trees down along routes I needed in order to return home.
Long-time friends from corporate America laughed in unison when I referred to myself as a refugee. But what else are you when you can’t go home?
The mountains had many messages for me, which I assiduously reported in my journal.
Sandy Approaches Williamstown cfe
Above all, ‘Sandy’ is far too trivial a name for a natural event of that magnitude. Even though this Storm King lived up to its moniker, burying Jersey Shore cars well inland in sand like blizzard drifts.
Though cradled in the Green, the Berkshires, the Catskills and in the shadow of Mt. Greylock, this Jerseyan was haunted by a Shore town’s name, “Sea Girt.” Girdled by the sea. I do not know the fate of that oceanside haven, but it probably is not good. The truth is, we could change the name of New Jersey to Sea Girt.
NJ WILD readers have ‘heard’ me all these years, insisting, “It’s not Mother Nature, Folks. It’s US!” This has now been demonstrated to the entire world, irrevocably, inescapably. On the heels of a political campaign in which catastrophic climate change and environmental perils, let alone carbon footprints played no role.
Are we facing the truth now? Or are we all caught up in REBUILD and THE NEW NORMAL?
What ‘Sandy’ revealed was the fate of all our coasts.
What Sandy scrawled was the signature of sea-level rise.
Vanishing glaciers mean more water in oceans, which means more ‘fuel’ for storms whether rain, snow or wind.
Where I Read Storm News, Williamstown: The Chef’s Hat cfe
In the mountains, reading local papers and the New York Times, welcomed like a local, comforted as the refugee I had become, the scariest reality had to do with my beloved trees. One estimate, early on, was that we lost, in those few Sandy hours, 2 million trees. Think “2 million carbon sinks” everyone, two million living, breathing entities that used to absorb the CO2 we insist on pumping into the greenhouse called Earth.
What the mountain newspaper asserted was, “This was not a storm of floods nor even of winds — this was a case of trees-turned-weapons.”
Sandy Fury North Williamstown cfe
Drive anywhere, without even leaving Princeton. Toppled tree roots tower over dwellings of increasing magnitude. Even Morven itself is dwarfed by roots of the downed conifer in its front yard. Get out of the car to meet friends in the most privileged enclaves. Hear the tumultuous ripple of ‘tarps’ over roofbeams. Try to speak and hear above the roar of chain saws and tree-devourers.
Calm Before Storm, Bennington VT cfe
Sandy is no respecter of history, pedigree, address, or life station.
Years ago, I completed Tom Brown’s Tracker School. Ralph-the-Seneca was one of the participants, needing to learn Indian ways, especially foraging for wild foods, as intensely as I did. Ralph had been brought there to teach us the art of bow-making. At the end of making fire, Ralph took me aside, in the opening of a sturdy barn. “We are poisoning Mother Earth,” he intoned solemnly, back in 1983. “And she will do what any healthy animal does under those circumstances. She will vomit us out.”
Although I was far from Tracker School and our beloved Jersey Shore - in fact, from New Jersey’s three unique coastlines — that battered Shore, the Delaware River and the Delaware Bay, i experienced Ralph’s prophecy’s being fulfilled.
Climate change has never been a factor of ‘belief’! It’s here, now, big-time. Are we big enough to face it?
Sandy Approaches Williamstown, Mass, bearing Rainbow cfe
All through my unexpected refugee time in Massachusetts mountains, –held there by hurricane, downed trees on the routes home, and no power at home–, I NEEDED to re-read Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”
A friend has since loaned me her teaching copy. My craving has proved powerfully apt.
As the storm approached even the Berkshires, Vermont’s Green Mountains, crept toward Melville’s Greylock, I found myself wondering, if Will were here, how would he cover it? The answers were swift in arriving:
SANDY IN WILLIAMSTOWN cfe
His headline would read, “The world has suffered a sea change, into something rich and strange.” As ever, the profundity of Will’s long-ago lines surges far beyond mere words into prophecy itself.
These sea changes on our shores (remember, New Jersey is unique in having three shores) are not merely of this storm, nor of this season.
Whether we find Sandy’s legacy ‘rich’ is a moot point. There is no question about change, and sea as agent. And man with his ceaseless carbon emissions the ultimate deus ex machina, far beyond Caliban, in this drama.
The earth, that “brave new world”, WAS “rich” before our depredations. Now, the emphasis, on all our coasts and well inland, even to towering waves off Michigan and Illinois/Chicago, must be on “strange”.
And, unlike Shakespeare’s, many of our changes are permanent, and all are harbingers.
As though Shakespeare were interviewing residents of the Jersey Shore, he has Sebastian observe, “Foul weather?” “Very foul,” Antonio replies. They speak of their boat and their sailing companions as having been “sea swallowed.”
WE are being sea-swallowed.
SANDY OVER GREEN MOUNTAINS cfe
Shakespeare’s tempest was called forth by the mage, Prospero, and carried out by his willing air sprite, Ariel. Our storms were well beyond Ariel, with more and more severe tempests waiting in the wings. There is no Prospero to halt ours.
What we had with Sandy was dress rehearsal for sea level rise. Where the waters went for a few hours is the land they’ll claim permanently, with every passing day of glacial melt and warming (therefore expanding) seas.
Ironically, since we had a snowstorm on the heels of the “Super Storm,” Will includes Trinculo’s noting, “Another storm brewing.” Trinculo further describes, “yond same black cloud — alas, the storm has come again.” As I concluded up in the mountains, this unwilling voyager concludes, “I will here shroud ’til all the dregs of the storm be passed.”
Calm Before Storm, Bennington, Vermont cfe
In another part of the island, Shakespeare/Prospero is deep in conversation with said Ariel, who refers to “the never-surfeited sea.” New Jersey waits between maw and paws of our never-surfeited sea.
Reporter Ariel paints the picture: “The powers delaying, not forgetting, have incensed the sea and shores.” The spirit exits to a stage direction, “He vanishes in thunder.”
In “The Tempest” , as in our recent lives, the storm of election was tangled with flying evergreens, sea spume, housing debris, sand-smothered vehicles. During Sandy as in our 21st-century lives, politics and literal seachange are inextricable. Trinculo frets, “If the other two be brained like us, the state totters.”
Reading Shakespeare’s tempestuous masterpiece, to the sound of buzz saws on all sides and the roar of tree-devouring-devices, I realize anew that this spectacular writer was far more than author. Like the hero of the Tempest, Will was a prophet.
In a chant which I picture as in Lear, delivered high on a hill with turbulent slatey clouds ripping about on all sides, Prospero describes the storm he called forth:
“I have bedimmed the noonday sun, called forth the mutinous winds. And twixt the green sea and the azur’d vault have I given fire and riven Jove’s stout oak with his own bolt. The strong-based promontory have I made shake, and by the spurs pluck’d up the pine and cedar. Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let them forth my my so potent art.”
Those harrowing lines describe our own town. I could declaim them before the forest outside my window on Canal Road, which lost six majestic tree between house and driveway. I could carry this volume and read it to uprooted monarchs among Battle Road mansions. I could pace up and down, choosing descriptions to share with century-old conifers flung about like ninepins and jackstraws all along the Ridge.
One cannot set out in any direction without evidence of the effects of the winds of sea change. One can often not drive down a local street, even now, without passing strangles of lowering wires, phalanxes of utility trucks, spilling workers to begin their feverish heroic tasks.
But none of this is cure. Most of it is palliataive. Some areas near to us, including sacred wildlife refuges, may never open again. Who knows how many sea birds perished? What will the ospreys do, when they return to breed, with all their platforms sea-swallowed?
Up in the mountains, I read that the destruction of this storm was not a catastrophe of wind and water, as that which Prospero and Ariel had called forth. Ours is a tragedy of trees turned weapon.
As a poet, I find poetic justice in this reversal of roles.
Our storm, also unlike Prospero’s, included the deaths of dear and valued neighbor Bill Sword, II.
Our storm birthed shipwrecks beyond counting — some of them literal; many of them, former houses, built upon sand, upon barrier island sand.
In “The Tempest”, everyone’s life changed once the waters stilled and the people gathered. In “The Tempest”, reason and magic prevailed. Wounds were healed, lovers united, voyagers set out anew upon that sea for home.
We are home. We are drowning our home.
It’s up to us whether we change our planet for the better. But now, we are all Caliban, stumbling about having drunk the spirits tossed ashore by wind and wave, complaining, altering nothing.
To mix metaphors, egregiously, we are all Nero, fiddling while our planet burns.
It’s not Ariel out there surging salt waves into baywater, rivers, creeks and streams.
It is we, who have turned from tending earth as did the Indians, to using it, exploiting it, sea-changing the planet for all time. We, who have turned from citizens to consumers, and will not be stopped.
We must all become Prospero, create sea change within ourselves, still the water, still the swallowing sea.
Window View After Sandy - Berkshires, Williamstown cfe
Double Brook Farm Autumn Zinnias by Tasha O’Neill
Those of you who know me, know [-- long before my own year in Provence --] that my favorite fragrance in the entire world is lavender. A close second, –with the added benefit of that pungent evergreen flavor–, is rosemary. When I lived in Cannes, lavender honey was the key treat of weekly visits to its marche/market. Fresh herbs were a given, in that land where the mistral infused the very air with rosemary. However, never did I expect to taste rosemary ice cream.
[As a food stylist in Manhattan, there was nothing trickier than photographing ice cream --Robin McConaughy's masterful image of their unforgettable new specialty: ]
Robin McConaughy’s Rosemary-Caramel Ice Cream!
I tasted this remarkable creation, –rich as Devonshire cream, darkly complex with caramel, redolent of rosemary–, in next-door Hopewell, at Double Brook farm. There is no better flavoring for lamb — but ice cream? Splendid, never-to-be-forgotten, and probably unequaled. Even Shakespeare insists, “rosemary — that’s for remembrance.”
Double Brook Farm Fresh Bean Array by Tasha O’Neill
Those of you who read D&R Greenway newsletters and the local media, know well that sustainable farming is alive and well in Hopewell, thanks to Robin and Jon McConaughy. This past Friday, friend and fine-art-photographer Tasha O’Neill attended Jon and Robin’s Friday farm produce sale, our first visit to the farm for that purpose.
Double Brook Farm Hot Peppers by Tasha O’Neill
(This energetic young couple had hosted D&R Greenway’s Down-to-Earth Ball a year ago. Their handsome cattle are carefully moved a prescribed number of times per day, from grass field to grass field, on D&R Greenway’s St. Michaels Farm Preserve off Aunt Molly Road in Hopewell.)
Double Brook Farm Tomatilloes, Tasha O’Neill
THIS day, Tasha and I encountered Double Brook Farm’s raison d’etre, FRESH LOCAL PRODUCE and salumi (exotic meats from their own tenderly animals — Tasha bought lardo and I soppresata) cameras in hand. She was kind enough to send her images this morning, so I’m sharing them with you.
Double Brook Farm Salumi, Slow-Food-Snail-Seal-of-Approval Tasha O’Neill
As we insist, over and over in these virtual pages, New Jersey is beautiful. She produces such spectacular produce, ‘right in our own back yards.’
Garden State Bounty, Double Brook Farm by Tasha O’Neill
Here is Double Brooks web-site — Robin herself could be a fine art photographer: http://www.doublebrookfarm.com/
Double Brook Okra by Tasha O’Neill
Put yourself on Robin’s e-mail list, so you’ll know when the farmstand is open again. When the store on #518 is fully restored and providing this sort of bounty year-round. When the restaurant, on #518, that exquisite red brick home, is brought back to life and its brick-lined paths trimmed and ready for visitors. Tasha and I and I had been invited to explore the flower paths, the herb gardens behind the soon-to-be restaurants. But we “had promises to keep…”, in another dear old NJ Town, Kingston. So we don’t have herb pictures for you.
Robin’s and Jon’s Rubies - Red Onions of Double Brook Farm by Tasha O’Neill
But we do have some of the essence of Double Brook Farm in these new scenes.
Succulent, Tender, Subtly Irresistible Shiitakes of Double Brook by Tasha O’Neill
I am awash in gratitude, as you know, to those who KEEP THE meaning of GARDEN in the Garden State.
Preserved Farm, Salem County, New Jersey cfe
I thank you for reading NJ WILD so often and so studiously. Last month’s statistics included 3500 viewers, most of you staying on for a page and a half, from virtually every country/continent. How can that be? Because New Jersey is beautiful and bountiful, and we’re lucky enough to live and farm-shop here!
Pine Barrens Peat Water, Mullica River cfe
Between drought and development, it is hard for others, even for New Jersey natives, to credit our slogan, “The Garden State.”
NJ WILD readers know, I celebrate New Jersey’s wild beauty wherever and whenever I can find it, even right in my own (near Rocky Hill) rocky hilly foresty yard.
But sometimes, I must go far afield, gulp great ‘draughts’ of New Jersey Beauty.
As. recently, to and from my cherished ‘Brigantine’ - Wildlife Refuge, otherwise known as Edwin B. Forsythe.
The blessings of visiting ‘the Brig’ are beyond measure, starting with the long silent even winding drive through the Pine Barrens to Smithville and Oceanville. Due east of those tiny pre-Revolutionary towns stretches the 8-mile dike drive among bays and impoundments, rare birds at all times and in all seasons.
Come along with me on last week’s spur-of-the-moment, if not even desperate, flight to beauty.
Queen Anne’s Lace, Mullica River, Pine Barrens cfe
Beyond the dock, fortunate kayakers make their way up the Mullica, without whose Revolutionary waters and watermen, we wouldn’t have a nation:
Mullica Kayakers, cfe
Cloud-Studded Salinity-Managed Waters of Brigantine cfe
FIDDLER CRABS, OUT FOR LOW-TIDE LUNCH, Brig cfe
NEW JERSEY BEAUTY - CLOUD MAJESTY Brig cfe
There were great egrets everywhere, like archangels at the Nativity, as well as black-bellied and American golden plovers, ibis beyond counting, a few skimmers not skimming, and osprey families everywhere we looked — some feeding young, one ‘mantling ‘ - waving mature wings to cool the immature!
Successful Osprey Family, The Brig cfe
Duck and First Marsh Mallows of the Season cfe
Glossy Ibis and Marsh Mallow, Brig cfe
Wild Flowers (water lilies and Sagittaria) and Cranberry Bogs Near Chatsworth, #563,
The Empty, Beauty-Bracketed Route Home cfe
As you can see, beauty and wildness are with you every step of the way to and from ‘The Brig.’
(”The Pretty Way” will have no cars to speak of, even on major holidays. Route 1 South to 295 South to Columbus Exit to 206 South to Carranza Road/Tabernacle to 532 (stop at Russo’s for fresh-made cider doughnuts and very local produce). 532 east to 563 South to (I forget the number -[579?]) left to New Gretna below Chatsworth Route 9 South, moments on GSP, Exit 48 Smithville, back onto Route 9 South below Smithville to left turn to Forsythe Wildlife Refuge after fire station, Lily Lake Road. See Noyes Museum of Art while down there. Eat breakfast at The Bakery in Smithville; any time at Smithville Inn, and Oyster Creek Inn at Leeds Point, if it’s open when you’re there…)
Grebe Swallowing Frog, Brigantine, by Anne Zeman
Natural End for Frog - Nourishing Another Species
NJ WILD readers remember that, when Ilene Dube insisted I begin this nature blog for the Packet, she urged the presence of poetry.
You also know that the focus of my life is preservation, carried out professionally at D&R Greenway Land Trust. It has taken us 23 years to save 23 New Jersey miles.
Every day, all over our state, carnage of this magnitude is taking place, often in the guise of restoration, as at the Pole Farm - although no mention is made upon their signs of the importance of this ‘new habitat’ for wild creatures.
Sometimes my rage takes the form of verse. This, in my world, represents a heightening of fury — prose mere distillation. See what YOU think..
naturalists alert me
that this very week, at midnight,
crept out of winter
left glistening egg clusters
ripening like grapes
in old furrows and new ponds
I know where the frogs spawn
throughout these fields and woods
but heartless engineers
have studded nature’s nurseries
with rip-rap and coarse gravels
torn earth gapes
raw treads scar refuge trails
The Pole Farm has become
yesteryear’s moist furrows
sacred vernal ponds
reduced to memory
CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN
Long ago, –when Ilene Dube urged me to begin this nature blog for the Packet Publications–, I, who had never seen a blog at that time, discovered in the naming that I had to define “wild.
One of the key definers, so long as I’ve known of him, starting with Desert Solitaire, is Edward Abbey.
Whenever I read nature books, I write favorite lines in empty pages in the front and the back. Lines which buttress me in my sometimes daunting challenge of preserving land in our New Jersey at D&R Greenway Land Trust five days a week. Lines which form my life paradigm, actually — recognized by Ilene, who was so right that I must communicate in this 21st Century format.
One of my favorite “Abbeyisms” I just added to e-mail signatures, as AOL somehow deleted the carefully crafted sign-off that had always been there.
Basically, Ed Abbey said it all. I don’t need to write about nature for you. All we have to do is to contemplate Ed’s clarion call: “LONG LIVE THE WEEDS AND THE WILDERNESS!” (The Journey Home.)
Ed challenges all authority in ringing tones, such as, “Are we going to ration the wilderness experience?”
D&R Greenway’s Art Curator, Diana Moore, answered Ed’s challenge in her speech at our art opening reception for “Crossing Cultures” - “The message of this exhibition is that D&R Greenway saves land for all.” (Come see this edgey array, so praised by Jan Purcell in the Times of Trenton on Friday: business hours of business days, through July 27.)
Ed saw the earth as a being before the astronauts sent back their image of our jeweled sphere of blue: “The earth is not a mechanism but an organism.”
Protesting roads in national parks, he trumpeted, “You’ve got to be willing to walk!”
(NJ WILD readers - you have read these concepts in these posts ever since we began. These positions wouldn’t be so powerful in me, without Edward Abbey.)
Ed dedicated The Journey Home to his staunch father, “who taught me to hate injustice, to defy the powerful and to speak for the voiceless.”
Ed educates me not only as a naturalist and courageous voyageur, but politically: “All government is bad, including good government.”
His rage at the despoilation of nature pours forth in what used to be called “deathless prose.” Only, in today’s techno-era, –which Ed would deplore–, prose isn’t deathless any more. Ed decries “the degradation of our national heritage”, as I rail against despoilations of New Jersey. Caustically, he blurts, “They even oppose wilderness in the National Parks.”
Ed sums it all up, although s writing of the Southwest. NJ WILD reader, just substitute our beleaguered New Jersey: “THE IDEA OF WILDERNESS NEEDS NO DEFENSE. IT ONLY NEEDS MORE DEFENDERS.”
BE ONE! Support your local land trusts, and walk preserved trails weekly, to remember why preservation and stewardship are the key issues of our day.
(Yes, I know - there’s catastrophic climate change. It is slowed by the presence of nature, trees, broad rivers and absorbent, fruitful wetlands…)
Take your stand against what Ed calls “…a fanatical greed, an arrogant stupidity, … robbing us of the past and tranforming the future into nightmares…”
Canal Scene at Millstone Aqueduct, Brenda Jones
near first post-op kayaking on Lake Carnegie, near new eagle nest and feeding tree…
NJ Wild readers know that I have been on a healing journey. since total hip replacement on November 9. Most of the time, I write of its miracles. But I must admit, the voyage is long and sometimes gruelling. It involves a great deal of spiritual work, as well as lengthy nightly exercise, not only of ‘the surgical leg.’
It won’t surprise NJ WILD that, for me, key spiritual healing happen OUTDOORS, in nature, in New Jersey, especially on or near Princeton’s D&R Canal and Towpath. Of course, that region was particularly effective that day I was taken kayaking for the first time, post-op, this April, on Carnegie Lake.
This week, for example, I felt far less alone as I unexpectedly encountered ‘our’ American bald eagle in the top of a deciduous tree right across the Lake Carnegie dam. This bird, as Brenda’s below, was most staunch, ’stiffening my spine’ to continue the sometimes invisible progress.
Eagle Perched, by Brenda Jones
as in deciduous tree across Lake Carnegie Dam from Towpath
Last night, a red fox, right out of The Little Prince, was sitting next to my white begonias, shining in starlight. Picture this alert creature clouded by darkness, surrounded by white petals. He gazed and gazed deep into my eyes, and I had to leave before he did. “…and you will sit a little closer to me, every day…”
Fox Close-Up, Brenda Jones
A significant portion of my spiritual healing takes place meditatively. Right now, it is, when I am most blessed, in the company of wolves. The wolf phalanx headed by Jasmine, a timber wolf I met in real life at New Jersey’s stunning Lakota Wolf Preserve, up near the Water Gap. Jasmine has since passed to the spiritual realms, but shewas very real, welcoming Tasha O’Neill and me to that wild place, although Jasmine emerged from pale roses.
Jasmine, of Lakota Wolf Preserve
Here is a new poem about the wolves, the comfort, sustenance and protection they provide me. Being ‘torn from sanctuary’ refers particularly to having to perform healing contortions in public in a cacophonous place otherwise known as ‘physical therapy.’ I would rather be home with the wolves…
Here is one of the new poems, gift of the Muse who returned at the hospital on the day of my hip surgery:
Lakota Wolf by Tasha O’Neill, with whom I met Jasmine…
JASMINE AND THE PHALANX
finally, it is time
to lie down with the wolves
this phalanx sent daily
to expand my healing
– the silver, the noir –
only one is named
but all are ready
– hushed, puissant
I first met sweet calm
in wolf eyes
when exquisite Jasmine
emerged from her rose bower
in the place named Lakota
my wolves lope
wherever I must go
especially as I am torn and torn
pelts, stiff yet soft
over perfect bones
I do not share
then pour recovery
into this strafed body
horizontal and free
I sink into the hush
of wolf breathing
light in wolf fur
supple power radiating
like the moon’s corona
at full eclipse
CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN