Archive for the ‘Native Americans’ Category
Filed Under (ART, Climate Change, Delaware Bayshores, Delaware River, Destruction, Disaster, Environment, Global Climate Change, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Nature, New Jersey, Oceans, Tom Brown, Tracker School, Trees, rivers, trails) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 07-12-2012
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?
Short-Eared Owl, Winter, Pole Farm by Brenda Jones
Locals know that U.S. 1 [Business] Newspaper miraculously turns itself over to creativity for two weeks of every summer. Rich Rein calls it “The Fiction Issue,” but it is richly studded with poetry.
To their publication party, everyone is invited (www.princetoninfo.com); all who submitted are encouraged to attend; all writers present are introduced, but only the poets read.
Each year, I reach out to D&R Greenway’s Poets of Preservation, urging them to submit. One never EVER knows if one’s work will appear. But, to my delight, standing in Lucy’s Ravioli Kitchen waiting to pay for scrumptious homemade pasta on Friday, I discovered that the U.S. 1 Fiction Issue editors had indeed selected my poem, “Owl Pellets”, for inclusion in this summer’s issue.
Pick up a (free) copy of this lively publication, over the next few weeks. I find mine, usually, at Main Street Cafe in Kingston, or the little coffee shop next to the Post Office of Rocky Hill. I keep a copy to savor over the weeks ahead, and bring some home to send to family and friends in other states.
It’s pretty rare that a business publication honors pure creativity. i’ve been grateful to Rich Rein, since he founded this newspaper about which “they said it couldn’t be done”, decades ago. For many years, I wrote for them on nature, history, travel and poetry, especially in and of New Jersey.
Here is “Owl Pellets,” written about the Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown Marsh, which I so cherish, down where all those pylons otherwise support superhighways such as Route 1, 295, and tracks for the spiffy River Line Train.
What intrigues me about this work is that it was written either the day of my hip operation or the day after, at what used to be Princeton Medical Center. A lonnnnngggg way from a marsh, let alone Indians…
all along the downed log
in Trenton’s old marsh
I mean really old
as in ten thousand years of
Lenni Lenape presence
a coalescence of tribes
after the long months
begun by hunger’s moon
the rising of
new pickerel weed
arrayed along greening banks
from inland hunting lives
to sea gathering
but first, this time together
in the Marsh
I descend to the log
studying, not touching
pierced silvery ovals
of bone / feather / fur
they seem arranged
by men with lithe
kneeling in loin cloths
of old deerskin
and new beads
CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN
(written in hospital – November, 2011)
U.S. 1 Newspaper Summer Fiction Issue, 2012
Filed Under (Adventure, Amphibians, Animals of the Wild, Birding, Brenda Jones, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, Indians, Lenni Lenapes, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Preservation) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 13-05-2012
Baltimore Oriole with Fishing Line for Nest Brenda Jones
Most people don’t even know there IS a Marsh in the middle of Trenton (and Bordentown and Hamilton). Let alone the northernmost freshwater tidal wetland, which surges and empties in synch with the tides of the ocean, as amplified by the nearby Delaware River. Let alone that ‘The Marsh’ is Oriole Central this May!
Most people don’t know that the Marsh has mattered to the Lenni Lenapes for at least 10,00 years, that artifacts proving this have been found there over the centuries. That the Lenapes at first didn’t live there, but connected with each other and other tribes in spring, in autumn, en route to or from hunting lives to gathering times at the Shore. That Route #195, which noisily curves above and through the Marsh, began all those centuries ago as the Indians’ footpath to ocean gathering time.
Baltimore Oriole, Full Breeding Plumage - Brenda Jones
For sure, what most people don’t know is that, if you’re in love with orioles, as well as other rarities among our NJ birds, go to the Marsh right NOW! The earlier in the day the better, though late light is good, too. Go with anyone brought there to lead tours for the Friends for the Marsh (www.marsh-friends.org), such as Charles and Mary Leck, Lou Beck and John Marin, among others. Orioles will welcome you immediately, perhaps even before the mute swans glide over to enchant you. Not only Baltimore orioles, but also orchard orioles.
Baltimore Oriole in All His Glory Brenda Jones
If you’re with Charlie, Mary, Lou and John, you’ll be informed that the vaguely chartreuse oriole is a first-year orchard oriole. You may know, from other Marsh trips, –when Orchards and Baltimores conveniently perched on the same empty branch so that you could compare and contrast, as in English class–, that Orchard example will, next year, be the hue of a toasty chestnut.
Spring Lake was named by the Lenni Lenapes, because spring-fed. It may well have been formed by the beavers, who still generously inhabit watery stretches, in what Charlie calls, “Beaver Condominiums”
Beaver Close-Up, from D&R Canal in Princeton — Brenda Jones
There’s a trail map at entry of what is also called Roebling Park. You can hike over a small bridge (see beaver dam, which is different from lodge, to your right) into woods with well blazed trails. And/or turn left at the lake and circle it very slowly, binoculars on everything from posts to vines to tulip trees (Indians carefully burn-hollowed these trunks for canoes) to towering cottonwoods to shrubby arrow-wood viburnum (Indians used this wood for arrows) to dead trees, otherwise known as snags, perfect perching posts for avian visitors and nesters.
Great Blue Heron Brenda Jones
This morning, starting at 8 a.m., an enthusiastic group decided that birding is more important than Mothers’ Day. Birding-by-ear was the name of the game from the start. I’ll try to remember what was seen and heard, so you can pretend you were with us.
To get there yourself, take Route 1 South to South Broad Street Exit at Arena; when exit T’s, that’s South Broad/206 South, there by the River Line Train holding pen. Left is south onto Broad, past Lalor. Turn right at the light (Sewell) after the two green church steeples. Drive through tiny neighborhood until Sewell T’s at the Marsh. Turn left/down and park next to the lake. Miracles of peace, beauty and birding await.
Red-Winged Blackbird in Full Breeding Plumage — Brenda Jones
Mute swans; orchard oriole; red-winged blackbirds; yellow warblers; common yellowthroats; blue-grey gnatcatchers; solitary sandpiper (only there were 2 of these (really rare creatures); great blue heron; mallard pair; beaver lodge; beaver dam; Carolina chickadee with insect in mouth, waiting for us to pass so it could pop into its nest in post hidden by vines to feed young.
Osprey At (Much Heftier) Nest — Brenda Jones
Osprey on scrungy nest on top of hideous power tower, male arriving with outsized nest material, matrimony on his mind. Flock of cedar waxwings, conveniently in emptily dead tree. Warbling vireos everywhere, proving their name.
Cedar Waxwing — Brenda Jones
Red Admiral butterflies, the lepidopteral stars of Spring 2012, first ON parking lot, where everyone could get ‘a good look’ at it, resting mid-flight on the gravel. The next red admiral was on a tree that had been graffitied — on a large 0 after a peace sign. Those with cameras were ecstatic. Those without will never forget those juxtapositions. At the shore, such as Cape May and ‘The Brigantine’ about which I write so often, people recently saw 40,000 migrant red admirals. Warning — they’re not red - they’re orange — but that’s pretty much the norm in nature nomenclature. Remember how orange the redstart is, and to me the red knot is terra cotta…
American Redstart by Brenda Jones — If you ask ME, it’s orange!
We saw a toad upon whose species — the experts could not agree. It was right in the clover by the lake, and still as a stone. Henslow’s? American? I didn’t hear the outcome, because I was on the trail of overhead orioles, irresistibly posing in the full sun we weren’t supposed to have.
Now, answer me. Would you believe a saga like this took place in Trenton. Does all day every day, depending upon the season. Several times, those of us who are riveted by bouquet de fox were stopped in our tracks by fox pungency.
I didn’t take my camera - but Brenda Jones, of course, has pictures of some of our species. I’ll put them in for you.
Put yourSELVES into the Marsh.
And support it, through Friends for the Marsh and D&R Greenway Land Trust, where I work — who preserved and maintain those 1200 crucially moist acres, buffering temperature and drought/flood conditions, and serving as nursery and migrant corridor for species beyond counting.
Although botanist Mary Leck and ornithologist, Charlie Leck, have, indeed counted and you can find the species count for plants, animals, amphibians (fish?), and, of course, birds on www.marsh-friends.org.
Never forget that www.drgreenway.org keeps green New Jersey green
D&R Canal Above Mapleton Aqueduct by Brenda Jones
Where D&R Greenway Began its Preservation Miracles…
Filed Under (Activism, Amphibians, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Brenda Jones, Edward Abbey, Farm Markets, Forests, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, Henry David Thoreau, Indians, Lenni Lenapes, Literature, Local Food, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Nature, Nature Writing, New Jersey, Preservation, Sourland Mountains, The Seasons, Trees, Wildflowers, books, habitat, native species, protection, rivers, wild, wildness) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 04-03-2012
“…unreconstructed and necessary wildness…” Michael Pollan, The Botany of Desire
Enraged Osprey of Carnegie Lake, Brenda Jones
Michael Pollan in general, and his Botany of Desire, in particular, is one of those authors everyone means to read. I hear protestations of intention all the time, always tinged with a kind of wistfulness. Recently, Public Television gave people a visual taste of this man’s paradigm. For me, the visual alone never suffices.
I’ll go so far as to insist that Pollan is an author to re-read. His subject matter is so unexpected (apples and ‘cyder’, marijuana, tulips and potatoes) and his thinking so original. It’s worth taking Pollan in hand, even if you don’t give a fig about nature. Just for the privilege of journeying with him.
Fierce Flight (Great Blue Heron), Brenda Jones
And savoring his pithy phrases, such as “Plants are the true alchemists.” His lament that now, “It is as though nature is something that happens outside,… as if we are gazing at nature across a gulf.” As he sets out in a canoe in quest of Johnny Appleseed’s seminal (couldn’t resist) journeys, Pollan relishes trusting in the river to take him wherever he wants to go.
WILD DELAWARE RIVER, Brenda Jones
In my case, re-reading The Botany of Desire reveals a delicious (pun intended) emphasis upon the WILD.
Trenton’s Apple Bounty, cfe
People can and do tease me for prating of the WILD in New Jersey. In the first segment of The Botany of Desire, Pollan takes an even more unlikely tack — seeking the wild, as did Thoreau, through apples. One of his theses is that Appleseed’s success came because he was not peddling mere fruit, but ‘cyder’ to the pioneers.
West Windsor’s Apple Bounty — cfe
Michael sets the tone with phrases such as “A handful of wild apples came with me” (on his Johnny-Appleseed-Quest.) He insists that “sowers of wild seeds are to be prized.”
Cedar Ridge Preserve Meadow, cfe
Cedar Ridge Wild Mushrooms — cfe
Pollan laments that “we live in a world where the wild places where wild plants live are dwindling.” You’ve heard this line from me in ‘posts’ beyond counting, coupled with urgings to support your local land trusts, especially D&R Greenway, to preserve New Jersey’s wild remnants and to plant New Jersey Natives wherever we can.
Baldpate View, Ted Stiles Preserve, Brenda Jones
Let Michael define “the best of all possible worlds”: “WE’D BE PRESERVING THE WILD PLACES THEMSELVES.”
The next best possible world: “ONE THAT PRESERVES THE QUALITY OF WILDNESS ITSELF.”
Female Harrier Aloft, Pole Farm, Brenda Jones
Male Harrier, “The Grey Ghost”, in ice at Pole Farm — Brenda Jones
The generating thesis of NJ WILD is that the wild exists right in our own back yards:
Wild erupts with the whiff of fox along mown paths of The Griggstown Grasslands. This lovely lofty set of trails, with its compelling Sourlands and Watchung views, awaits but a mile or two north of me on Canal Road, before/beside Griggstown’s Causeway.
Fox Alert, Griggstown Grasslands, Brenda Jones
The wild surprised me last week In burgeonings of wildflowers, deep in the duff of the forest floor, on Bull’s Island in the Delaware. These petite fleurs lifted up the blinding waxy yellow of buttercups. 8 to 10 petals rayed out from yellow centers. These premature spring heralds were nevertheless inviting pollinators. On my hike, they seemed like pieces of eight flung onto the leaf-strewn forest floor.
Why call a delicate plant WILD? Because they arrived there on their own, blooming despite winter on the calendar, pushing through flood detritus that resembled the graphite dust of Thoreau’s pencils. A key quality of the wild is RESILIENCE — New Jersey specialty!
Sourland Mountain Rocks and Water, Brenda Jones
WILD in New Jersey, for me, requires Lenni Lenapes. The land was tended by these peaceful tribes, at least 10,000 years ago. Their vanished presence is palpable on many of my hikes, most especially among Sourlands boulders. Also on trails near Mountain Lakes House, and at Ringing Rocks just across Delaware at Upper Black Eddy. In each case, majestic boulders that render Stonehenge puny rest exactly where they were revealed by water wind and time, before time. The huge stones are frequently encountered in a massive ring. I FEEL Indian councils there, planning tribal actions for the season about to begin. Seasons which, for Lenni Lenapes, triggered travel either to or from hunting to gathering.
Mink at Play, Brenda Jones
In the Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown Marsh, the Lenapes convened with selected other tribes, before leaving central Jersey hunting grounds for Shore gatherings. This journey and the seasonal constellation of other indigenous peoples was triggered by natural phenomena. Spring’s took place when pickerel weed pierced still waters like arrows.
New Jersey’s Apple Bounty, cfe
Michael Pollan plants a wild tree in his own home garden. His hope - “that such a tree will bear witness to unreconstructed and necessary wildness.”
What can you do about wildness right now, as elusive winter gives way to spring?
Go in search of it.
Buy only native NJ species for your gardens.
Read Michael Pollan
well, you know….
REMEMBER, WILD IS ALL ABOUT HABITAT!
Rare Box Turtle, Camouflaged in Natural Habitat - Cedar Ridge cfe
Generously support D&R Greenway and other Land Trusts, preserving New Jersey’s wild wherever it exist.
Filed Under (Adventure, Agriculture, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Brenda Jones, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, Lenni Lenapes, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Nature, New Jersey, Preservation, Sourland Mountains) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 17-02-2012
Mute Swan, Brenda Jones
NJ WILD readers know me pretty well by now, all 1600 page-views of you per week. You know I have NO patience with developers, under any name. That New Jersey is my haven, and I’ll pay any price, bear any burden to bring her glories to the fore, well beyond our (three - unique) shores! That preservation is the name of the game, not only in our state. That local sustainable real food from real nearby farmers is the way to health and life as a state and as individuals. And so forth.
What you may not realize is that winter has become my favorite season. Partly because winter finally reveals the intense abstract beauty of New Jersey’s trees. Partly for winter’s subtleties — it’s a real challenge to find life and color in this season, which only renders nature’s vibrancy-for-all-seasons all the more spectacular.
I particularly cherish winter in New Jersey preserves. Rabbit tracks leading me a merry chase in new-fallen snow in Plainsboro Preserve. Moss blinding as patches of green sequins alongside my favorite Sourland Mountain Trail, off Greenwood Avenue, even in January. Bluebirds swirling around my head and shoulders on the grassy northern reaches of Griggstown Grasslands last Monday. In fact, at Plainsboro and Griggstown Grasslands, my friend and I could hardly hear ourselves whisper “bluebird!” over their merry insistent chattering song.
Bluebird, Brenda Jones
Now, as new hip enters its 13th week of miraculous healing, I’ve returned to the Marsh, as in Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown. This time, I could walk on my own, with the trekking poles - not lean on my long-suffering, never-complaining friend’s right arm. This time, I could walk not only one edge of Spring Lake (named by the Lenni Lenapes for the spring which formed it), but circumnavigate the lake. We were out so long and mesmerized by so many signs of winter life, that we returned actually sunburnt. In February.
(This warmth, while easing my recovery, never ceases to alarm me for the sake of glaciers, polar bears and corals, among other natural phenomena. If it’s twenty or so degrees warmer than usual now, how is it going to be around here in August?)
Even so, I can’t pretend I am not relishing benevolent days in the woods.
Spring Lake was literally awash in winter gifts. Regal mute swans seemed to pose in a perfection of light, as we began to hit our stride. A lone gull floated like a bathtub toy, accented by irresistible coots, whose tiny white beaks never seem large enough to capture, let alone gulp aquatic foods. An elusive raft of ducks had the elegance and elusive ways of ring-necks. Between their fast-swimming-away shyness and the bird books’ admitting “ring nearly impossible to see”, we could not confirm that guess. Home again, Sibleys in hand, it’s very likely we were granted ring-necked ducks, but we shall never know.
Wood Duck, Brenda Jones
Color accents impossible to believe among the almost funereal array of coots were the glowing wood ducks. Kindly men of the Marsh, Clyde Quin and Warren Liebensperger, rigorously tend to wood duck and bluebird nests each year, –raising the boxes, tallying hatchlings, cleaning them when breeding is over, and putting them back in place in time for boxes to make up for a serious deficit of sturdy hollow old tree trunks. I don’t know whether ‘our’ Picasso-esque wood ducks are Clyde’s and Warren’s summer residents, or simply passing through. It doesn’t really matter. The wonder is the privilege of “woodies”, right in the middle of Trenton, on a winter’s day.
Nuthatch with Seed, Brenda Jones
We were mightily enlivened, not only by the birds of Spring Lake. Our tangly walk was also studded with tinier avian creatures among the underbrush. Feisty nuthatches bopped down fattest lake-side trunks. A fugitive white-throated sparrow fed right alongside us as though it encountered humans every day of the year.
White-Throated Sparrow, Brenda Jones
The day’s auditory miracle was the whuff whuff whuff of air in swan wings, as pair after pair arrowed over us. My friend, originally from Britain, had never heard this rarity. We were blessed with it by more pairs than we could count, the entire time we circled that lake.
At the rim of other water, an almost blue jay, though uncharacteristically silent, puzzled for awhile. Until it took off down, not up, uttering that kingfisher rattle that never ceases to stop me in my tracks. Kayaking on the canal, when you hear that tattoo, look toward the sound, then down, not up. For kingfishers fly toward water, their main food source. The females of this species are the more colorful.
Belted Kingfisher in Flight, Brenda Jones
My energy was high, my new hip cooperative. We almost skipped over the little bridge and into the Marsh woods itself. Here and there, we’d go off-trail, scuffing through leaves. These feet, all to recently, all too accustomed to hospital corridors, managed roots and leaves and stones and mosses, until a certain measure of caution intruded, saying, probably enough for today.
Never enough for my spirit.
But it will have to do.
And meanwhile, our Marsh proved to me anew, how very much life there is in winter.
We could not have taken that walk, and those native species could not have safely swum and fed in that Marsh, had not D&R Greenway Land Trust and Friends for the Marsh done all in their power ‘then and now’ to preserve and provide stewardship for this critical freshwater tidal wetland.
Filed Under (Adventure, Amphibians, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Brenda Jones, Climate Change, Forests, Indians, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Nature, New Jersey, Preservation) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 17-01-2012
Sourlands Rocks and Water, Brenda Jones
NJ WILD readers know that an essential facet of my hip recovery is walks with friends in nature.
#1, I require nature. #2, doctors and physical therapists require “extension of the surgical leg.” #3 - my pilgrimage now focuses upon stamina.
My forever quest is beauty, but you KNOW that. NJ beauty in particular!
I can walk well, amazingly. However, lumpy trails require the arm of a friend. I told a friend recently, “I’m Shanghai-ing friends to walk trails in right weather.” She retorted, “I’m Shanghai-able.” Fay Lachmann is always “Shanghai-able,” so we made my first return to the Sourlands last week, on a cold and sunny day.
(As Fay helped me recreate this excursion for all of you, Google’s recent NJ WILD readership numbers astonished– 1600 page views a week ago, 1330 last week — I am grateful to each and every one…)
Sourlands Winter Palette, Brenda Jones
The Sourlands’ first winter gift was the richly sustaining palette of this season. Being but a spectator of, not a participant in art, I find myself limited in trying to recreate those tones for you:
What stands out is the array of artsy colors - taupe and puce. Food tones - toast, caramel, burnt toast. Chestnut and walnut and literal hickory nuts from the ragged grey shagbarks on either side. Some beech leaves had already paled to the Devonshire cream tones of April, just before they let go to fertilize themselves.
The most stirring experience remains the darkness of stark trees — jet black, even blue-black as in childhood ink, charcoal, obsidian… Their sculptural qualities were as thrilling as any blockbuster MOMA exhibit.
We were bathed in surprising roseate tones, drawn to various gildings. Of course, always and ever, evergreen bursts.
Alongside the trail, moss erupted in full springtime exuberance, — blinding, St. Paddy’s Day green. Dazzling, sparkling, sun somehow caught in every pouf, and I use that soft word deliberately. Winter not usually being connected with softness…
Brenda’s mosses were a little more subdued, in next-day light.
Moss Abundance, Sourlands, 2012 - Brenda Jones
To the left of our Sourlands trail we came upon a grove of Christmas fern. So named because it can be enjoyed in winter — not usually after Christmas, name or no name. But, January - this was impossible. Each cluster was larger than a peck, smaller than a bushel. Almost waist-high, tendril tips had not even been licked by Jack Frost.
That Christmas fern glen was full of life, –the way I’m always determined to stay in winter, not always succeeding. The ferns were cushiony, bountiful, cradling.
On our right, we came upon first ice miracles. Temperatures had dropped to single digits that week, without undue warming. (Well, NJ WILD readers know that to me, all winter warming is undue and dangerous.)
Due to gelid nights, what would otherwise be vernal (spring) ponds, were solid enough to support minuscule figure skaters. Pond rims were awash in scrolls, as though some master had etched the art of the ’20s and ’30’s onto fine crystal. In fact, Rene Lalique himself or Louis Comfort Tiffany must have spent hours adorning the pools of our Sourland woods. Think Chrysler Building or Empire State — particularly their interior artistry — we were given that level of scrollery.
In the middle of the first small pond, with its Lalique edges, some abstract artist had had his way with the center — it was harsh, yet endearing. Against water the color of patent leather pumps, star slashes created a starry starry night, in daytime. We couldn’t walk away from this beauty. I could almost hear Antiques Road Show experts raving about this rare mastery in winter woods.
Smiling Rock, Sourlands, in another season — Carolyn Foote Edelmann
(We have most photographs courtesy of our splendid fine-art photographer, Brenda Jones. I raved so about this hike that Brenda and her husband, Cliff, took to the trail first thing the next day. They did not come upon Lalique ice. But Brenda captures mood, design, palette, and hardy beauty of this region in her own sensitive/powerful way.
As you enjoy her scenes, remember that D&R Greenway Land Trust has been exceptionally active in preserving and linking Sourlands open space. Support your local land trusts!)
Our next nature delight, –in this season so many deem empty–, was a splendid array of turkey tail fungus on adorning a venerable log. Brenda was as stirred by this as we, without having been ‘tipped off’. I wanted to see what would speak to her.
Brenda Jones’ Turkey Tail Fungus on Downed Log
The trees on this Sourlands trail do not form a monoculture. However, beeches were the stars of our day. Elephant-toned trunks even sported knobby circularities, evocative of elephant legs. I never understand why people are disposed to carve into that silk-satin skin of large beeches. One tree had been particularly scarred. The cynic in me snaps, “The tree will outlive the relationships!”
I frankly hugged that beech, apologizing for human heedlessness.
But someone else had been working over the beech trunk– someone who’s supposed to: the yellow-bellied sapsucker.
No, we didn’t see the bird. But his or her tiny holes ringed the trunk at several levels. Were this insect-season, [which it soon well may be, at the rate we're going, climate-wise], winged protein would be attracted to sap that rises to these beak-sized openings. Attracted and doomed, insects would provide two forms of nourishment to other birds, not limited to sapsuckers.
Distant Woodpecker, Brenda Jones
Brenda and Cliff probably heard, as well as found, this member of the woodpecker family, to send along to you. This is the red-bellied woodpecker, in my experience more often heard than seen; — and, if seen, in woods far more dense than this.
The yellow-bellied sapsucker was not to be viewed by Brenda nor by us - Sibley describes them as “long-winged, rather delicate, quiet and inconspicuous.” Indeed. Fay and I do not remember having heard nor seen any birds, not even vultures on high on that luminous day.
We met few other hikers, all as stunned as we by downed mature trees on all sides, –trees beyond counting. The October snowstorm, Hurricane Irene and who else, Lee?; well, nowadays, virtually any rain or wind, had swooped through this stretch (in Fay’s words, “as though a giant’s huge hand had swept them all to the ground.” If so, those giants had been seriously enraged, as though crashing all dishes off a table after an insuperable quarrel. Humans have warmed climate to such a degree that the ‘water table’ never returns to normal. Soaked ground does not hold trees well, even without wind. If nature is the giant, She has every reason for rage at those who will not slow CO2 emissions while there’s still time, IF there’s still time…
Unabraded Sourlands Trail, Brenda Jones
The trail under our feet, also, had been abraded and even in some cases washed away. At some points I had to walk over rocks — something we hadn’t covered in physical therapy. Nor had I been taught to balance on grey drainage tubes, that until 2011 had always been deep beneath the trail - not in place of the trail, as now.
Even so, being on that road was high privilege.
“There’s a Long, Long Trail A-Winding…”, Brenda Jones
Normally, I’d've gone off to the right on the streamside trail, for the crossing of which I had bought my treasured trekking poles long long ago. And beside which, deep in the forest, I’d come upon my first ever (terrestrial) box turtle. The brook trail loops back in a leisurely manner, around to join our road. The waterside walk would, however, be too rough for me, eight weeks post-op.
Another place I turn off, normally, is to the left, farther along, which takes us to enormous Sourlands boulders. I feel Indians in council among those Stonehenge impersonators, predecessors… And wish that I were among them…
Retracing steps, back to the car, we were bowled over anew by swathes of Lalique ice on either side. Silenced by such elegance in the midst of this hardy woods, we became increasingly aware of the hush on all sides. You would never know that highways, commerce and hunters lurk on all sides of this high haven. Thank our lucky stars for local preservationists, individuals, groups, and the Hopewell Community.
Dappled Sourlands, in another season, Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Finishing my return to the Sourlands, I realized that it is for this, as much as for kayaking, that I had asked Dr. Thomas Gutowski to replace my crippled hip November 9.
Birthday, Christmas and New Year, rolled into one, I can be, anew, a pilgrim in nature.
(Find Sourlands Mountains Preserve sign and some parking to the right, off Greenwood Avenue, a right turn from #518, at Hopewell’s Dana Building)
Filed Under (Animals of the Wild, D&R Canal & Towpath, Delaware Bayshores, Destruction, Environment, Migratory Flocks, NJ, NJ State Parks, Native Americans, Nature, Nature Writing, New Jersey Pine Barrens, Pennsylvania, Preservation, habitat, native species, wild) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 28-06-2011
THIS JUST IN: Steve Hiltner’s marvelous Sustainable Jazz Ensemble will be playing at Labyrinth Books every other Friday in July - July 1, 15, 29. Labyrinth is at 122 Nassau, and the music takes place downstairs. Steve’s inimitable humor assures us that “no virgin timbres are harvested for these performances.” Michael Redmond, Lifestyle and Time Off Editor of the Packet, urges, in his Packet Pick: “Be There or Be Square.” The time is 6:30, and BYO is o.k., says the Packet Pick.
On Another Note Altogether, Steve and I are in synch. I have his permission to use his Princeton Nature Notes posting on the beavers of Princeton:
Steve Hiltner, of Friends of Princeton Open Space, writes of a joyous beaver memory within a moonlit pond, hoping that such scenes “can serve as a bridge of kinship between people and nature.” Recently, that bridge was seriously shattered in our community.
I am fascinated to see results, when I Google, Princeton, Beavers, on electronic sites, showing that others are still disturbed that the lovely waters of Pettoranello Gardens proved fatal rather than life-sustaining to our Princeton beavers.
Steve maintains a charming blog, Princeton Nature Notes, which I have quoted here in the past. He officially linked to NJ WILD recently on the beaver tragedy.
Steve is also a superb musician - whose jazz last Friday graced Labyrinth Books, in their summer Friday jazz program. I so enjoyed it many Fridays last year - hearing jazz with friends surrounded by books — what could be better. Keep an eye on the Labyrinth web-site, to see when we can hear Steve’s jazz anew.
I was at the Brandywine Museum that night for Jamie Wyeth’s opening of his farm art. More to come on that after I download pictures from his father’s beloved Kuerner farm site, setting the tone for Jamie’s impeccably rendered farm creatures.
Here’s Steve’s wise reading of the beaver situation. Thanks for linking, Steve, to NJ WILD and to D&R Greenway, which shares your preservation mission in our region.
The killing of two beavers at Pettoranello Pond two weeks ago brought into the spotlight two sharply contrasting views of the animals. Beavers are adorable, and impressive in their craftsmanship. One of my most serene memories is watching a beaver swim peacefully across a moonlit pond. Their approach to living–find an auspicious spot, transform it to your needs, and make a living there–has parallels with ours, and so can serve as a bridge of kinship between people and nature.
Their inclination to change their surroundings, as in the sticks and mud they were using to obstruct water flow under this bridge, also triggers a distinctly negative view of beavers as nuisance animals. People get a pond just the way they want it, plant some pretty trees, and then a beaver comes along, changes the water level and starts eating the trees. That’s what was happening at Pettoranello Pond. Of course, if beavers are stigmatized for changing the environment, imagine what an animal community that could form and hold opinions would be thinking about us.
Beavers have been living in the canal and Lake Carnegie for a long time, and I had been wondering why they hadn’t made it up Mountain Brook to Mountain Lakes and Pettoranello Gardens. Now that they have, I’d expect more will come. My hope would be that some way could be found to accommodate the beavers while keeping the pond level stable and any valuable trees protected. There are devices that allow water through dams without the beavers being aware. In my opinion, the beavers would do Pettoranello Gardens at least one favor by thinning out its thick stands of alder along the water’s edge. If the beaver’s additions to the dam obstructed storm flow, then a spillway for heavy runoff could be dug somewhere along the bank. The pond already has a bypass upstream of it for storm surges.
Dear NJ WILD Readers -the marriage of nature and art: April 15!
Here’s your chance to walk the new Poetry Trail with Native American poet Joseph Bruchac, enjoy a post-walk reception where you can buy and he will sign his books, then hear his crisp, evocative, chant-like poems read aloud. Just call 609 924 4646 to register.
The view from the top of the Scott and Hella McVay Poetry Trail, over toward the Sourlands, resembles Constable paintings… Carolyn
Wei-ling Wu, West Windsor-Plainsboro teacher, reads poetry in English and Chinese at the 2010 dedication of the Scott and Hella McVay Poetry Trail in Princeton’s Greenway Meadows Park. D&R Greenway will sponsor a walk along the one-mile trail and welcome Joseph Bruchac for a reception, book-signing, and walk on Friday, April 15.
World-renowned Native American poet
Joseph Bruchac will join us to walk the
McVay Poetry Trail
First New Jersey Poet Laureate Gerald Stern reads his poem, “Your Animal” at the 2010 dedication of the Poetry Trail
Poetry flags by
Acclaimed musician Paul Winter opens the dedication ceremony for the Poetry Trail
Please join us for the first major poetry event held on the McVay Poetry Trail since its dedication in fall 2010.
- 4:30 pm - Walk the Scott & Hella McVay Poetry Trail with Joseph Bruchac and his son and fellow troubadour, Jesse
- 6:00 pm - Welcoming Reception and Book-signing
- 7:00 pm - Poetry from Above the Line, Ndakkina, and No Borders, some Earth songs, and a story or two
Joseph Bruchac’s poem “Prayer” can be found on a sign along the one-mile loop trail:
Let my words
be bright with animals
images the flash of a gull’s wing.
If we pretend
that we are at the center,
that moles and kingfishers,
eels and coyotes
are at the edge of grace,
then we circle, dead moons
about a cold sun.
This morning I ask only
the blessing of the crayfish,
the beatitude of the birds;
to wear the skin of the bear
in my songs;
to work like a man with my hands.
Joseph Bruchac will walk the Scott and Hella McVay Poetry Trail and read from his books of poetry.
Walk the McVay Poetry Trail with storyteller
and author of more than 100 books,
Joseph Bruchac, on Friday, April 15, 2011
For more than 30 years, Joseph Bruchac has been creating poetry, short stories, novels, anthologies, and music that reflect his Abenaki Indian heritage and Native American traditions. Bruschac was chosen as Poet-in-Residence at the Little Rock Zoo, and has also received many fellowships and awards for his writing.
This promises to be an evening you will remember. You may join us for the walk, the talk or the entire evening. Call 609.924.4646 or register by e-mail at email@example.com.
The Scott and Hella McVay Poetry Trail was dedicated at Princeton’s Greenway Meadows Park in October 2010 on a glorious autumn afternoon with friends and family in attendance. The Poetry Trail includes 48 poems chosen on the subject of truth in nature, written by poets from around the globe, including Chile, China, England, Germany, Poland, and the United States. The diverse poetry selections stir curiosity about the joy of language and poetry in people of all ages.
For more information about D&R Greenway Land Trust, please visit www.drgreenway.org CALL 609 924 4646 TO REGISTER
D&R Greenway Land Trust | at the Johnson Education Center | One Preservation Place | Princeton | NJ | 08540
Le Claire, Iowa’s, Buffalo Bill Museum of Prairie Life and River Life
My sister and I made it to the Mississippi from Chicago’s western suburbs, due west on straight 88, — Farm Central, where the harvest was everywhere underway on every side. Corn is still king, west of Chicago. Farmland stretches to the horizon, so far as the eye can see. In all those 247 miles, there was barely a tree. The cornfields were studded with barns and silos, most barns red, some white. Silos of dun color, of almost cloisonne enamel blue, of metal like spacecraft rose rose among palomino-pale cornstalks, reminding me of my first view of Chartres in her wheatfields. As though we ourselves were pioneers, we arrowed due west until we literally hit the river.
Check-in was swift. We could barely bear to leave our bedroom windows, with the the Father of the Waters stretching unendingly north and south right outside. Eager to learn about the town of our Twilight steamboat embarkation, we drove straight into tiny Le Claire, so I could kneel and touch those waters. The next two days, we would be sailing upon them, on The Twilight steamboat. Tonight, I had to connect on my knees…
The Delta Queen, painting in Buffalo Bill Museum
A sleepy town, Le Claire is bordered by that broad and deceptively sleepy river (which had yet to crest, we would learn). Marilyn and I studied river buildings of a curious characteristic boxy shape; marveled at river pilots’ houses (famous for safely and heroically running the Le Claire rapids, and obviously generously rewarded); checked out riverside Saloons with names like Sneaky Pete’s that, initially, we found somewhat daunting. A Mississippi Brewery was under construction. We didn’t voice our puzzlement - does that mean they’ll use the waters of the Big Muddy?
With my sister and me, however, there is no discussion of priorities when there’s a local history museum at hand. Arriving at the above sign at 4 p.m., we had exactly one hour to learn all we could about Le Claire.
Hurriedly we studied relevant facts about the entire life of her famous part-time resident, Buffalo Bill. But, first, we turned to hand-knapped tools, hunks of obsidian that didn’t make it to arrowhead or spearpoint, exquisitely beaded mocassins crafted for a child, by Sioux and Potawatomi natives to whom this river and its ever changing banks once belonged. Although, of course, with Native Americans, it was more that they belonged to the river and the land - it’s European, this ownership-fixation.
Spinner’s Chair - Wouldn’t Antiques Road Show Love this Three-Legged Treasure?
The venerable custodian of the Buffalo Bill Museum, overhearing our enthusiasms, began to tell us stories. That Buffalo Bill was known first of all for being a crack shot, outmaneuvered only by Annie Oakley, who could put a bullet through a dime, and even through the hole her bullet had made in the dime. That Buffalo Bill was good to the Indians, paying them handsomely for their participation in his internationally known shows, (he disdained the term, you can be sure.) That he only lived in Le Claire a few years, many of them in various fairly primitive log cabins.
Buffalo Bill Life Images in Needlework
We were really riveted by the story of moccasins beaded on the bottom. “For the grave,” our interpreter explained. Nobody’s going to walk on them… Visited a woman just this week who had a pair on her wall. Turns out they were Red Cloud’s.” “‘What’d'you plan to do with them?,’” I inquired of my hostess. Our storyteller waved a languid hand, “O, my son wants ‘em,” was her reply. “‘Those moccasins,’” I blurted, “‘…they belong in a museum!.” There was a long sad silence followed by, “No tellin’ what she’ll do with ‘em.”
As he talked, we trailed from handsome Victorial garments of former residents, past musical instruments used by the famous of the town, over an early fire engine - so red, it seemed to throb. Our mother’s father, Fred Foote of Bowling Green Ohio, had been fire chief in his town. Each day he had to exercise his horses. If there hadn’t been a fire by the time school let out, the scarlet fire wagon would make its noisy way to the gradeschool where Mother and four little sisters waited to be driven the mile they otherwise walked.
For my mother and her sisters, it was a sad day when the fire horses were replaced by such a truck.
Essentials for Turning Milk to Butter in Le Claire, Iowa
When we were girls, our favorite museum was Henry Ford’s, in Dearborn, sporting everything from snazzy cars of other eras (of course), to (OUR) Edison’s laboratory, through the Wright Brothers’ Cycle Shop. Stephen Foster’s home was on some stretch of water, evocative of the Mississippi, I now realize. Most harrowing of all at Greenfield Village was the chair from Ford’s Theatre, in which Abraham Lincoln had been murdered. I think his hat was near the chair, but I can still see that faded red-to-pink velvet upholstery and the dire stains. There was nothing sinister at Buffalo Bill’s museum. Unless you count this travesty of the Red Man:
The Tools That Broke The Prairie
Or, for a preservationist whose emphasis is farmland and native species, these handsome and historic and essential tools, that nevertheless destroyed the sea of grasses that once stretched even farther than the mighty Mississippi.
Hitting the Trail - How the West was Won
Many pioneers, of course, set out from St. Louis, not that far from us in Le Claire. Our Brandywine River Valley claims the invention of the covered wagon - first to keep the flour dry that was ground in mills along the steady Brandywine (steady current meant no lumps), and then to keep the black powder of the French (Revolutionary refugees) the du Ponts, dry en route to wars beyond counting.
Marilyn and I would take off on an historic voyage ourselves at eight a.m.
“The Eclipse”- written about in my Mark Twain “Life Upon the Mississippi”
Ours would not be a paddlewheeler, but in many other respects, these two evocations of steamships in the Buffalo Bill Museum set us off on our journey.
First, dinner would be in order. On land, but as near to the river as possible. But that’s another story.
To Be Continued…
Memorial to Pilots Lost Upon the River
Filed Under (Adventure, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Brenda Jones, Butterflies, Cape May, Delaware Bayshores, Henry David Thoreau, Indians, Lenni Lenapes, Migration, Migratory Flocks, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Nature, Nature Writing, New Jersey, South Jersey, The Seasons, Volunteering, books, raptors, rivers, wild) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 23-08-2010
Brenda Jones Immortalizes Moonlight Migration of Geese
I should apologize to NJ WILD readers. For, impassioned as I am about our New Jersey, I am not Thoreau, not Leopold, not Beston, let alone the redoubtable John Muir. I need all their gifts to convince most people that New Jersey is worthy of constant nature exploration and preservation. I need their inspiration, to say nothing of their eloquence, as I ponder the miracle of autumn migration through and from our state.
In my ‘other life’, I spent summers in a small cottage in Chatham, Mass., where rare birds came to us. The insistent questions of my daughters led to my buying and seriously memorizing the first Peterson’s Guide (to the birds).
Every August, as shore birds begin to move South, I am reminded of our Chatham life. Without it, I’d not have turned into birder or amateur (”avocational”, in the words of Packet Editor Michael Redmond naturalist. I miss our daily strides — at least one and sometimes three–, to Harding’s Beach Light.
We’d go at low tide, for the swift-walking pleasure of hard-packed sand. We’d return by the high road, among beach heather and horned larks. Down at the point, among streamlets and packed peat, we’d come across the vivid oystercatchers and hideous but endearing sea robins. We could hold a blue-eyed scallop on a flat palm as we waded, marveling at all those eyes. Then tenderly tuck him back into lapping waters, where he’d would squirt brilliantly away. I miss tough Scrabble by firelight, moonlit wading, reading while Hudsonian Godwits tiptoes around our beach towels. I miss my most expected young love, a bard, himself, who added lustre the Cape never required. I miss staying up there alone in a hurricane so I could learn what it’s like. (That one turned out to be wilder after the storm, than during.)
Henry Beston’s Cape Cod Cottage Before Blizzard of ‘78
When this mood comes upon me, I have to re-read Henry Beston. The girls and I would make pilgrimage each year to his weathered Outermost House at Nauset - [until the blizzard of 78, that is, washed it into true outermostness.]
Beston managed what I longed to do, to see the seasons round on that upraised arm out into the North Atlantic, experience Mother Nature at her most sublime and often furious.
Right now, he was doing what I’d be doing then, as I lengthened our stays into September — watching bird migration. Chatham taught us curlews and phalaropes, immature common eiders and long-tailed jaegers. On our beach I learned how furiously crows protest the presence of eagle.
Eagle Intent, by Brenda Jones
Henry writes, “Early in September, Hudsonian curlews arrived at the Eastham Marsh. To see them, I began going to Nauset through the meadows, rather than by the beach.” He could hear them “calling, each to each”, as Eliot has written of mermaids. “And then there would be silence,” Henry Beston notes. “And I would hear the sound of autumn and the world.”
He writes of the first of the warblers, an invasion of juncos, a ’sparrow hawk’s’ successful capture and devouring of one of the latter.
Watching these arrivals, Beston wonders “where it was that she forsook her familiar earth for the grey ocean, an ocean she perhaps had never seen. What a gesture of ancient faith and present courage such a flight is, what a defiance of circumstance and death — land wing and hostile see, the fading land behind, the unknown and the distant articulate and imperious in the bright arterial blood.” He names and treasures all the sparrows, then announces, “Mid-October and the land birds have gone.”
Barrow’s Goldeneye in Flight over Delaware River by Brenda Jones
Beston goes into raptures over what comes next: “Now come the sea fowl, and the wild fowl to the beach, from the lonely and darkening north… Over the round of earth, down from the flattened summit, pour the living stream, bearing south the tribes and gathered nations, the flocks and families… There are many streams [of migrant birds], and it is said that two of the greatest bear down on Cape Cod.” He goes on with his watery image, inevitable upon that spit of sand he then called home: “These streams immix their multitudes, and south to New England moves the great united flood, peopling with primeval life the seacoasts and the sky.”
In these very weeks, when you are driving about in New Jersey, keep a sharp eye on the skies and on wires, where migrants are staging for migration. Attune your ears — song you have not heard since spring breeding season may recur in your yard, as has the peewee here this week. Waken on purpose in the middle of the night, ears as well as eyes to the sky. Most non-raptors migrate at night, filling the airwaves and radar that tracks them, with the music of their passage. Beston also dares to reveal, “I hear birds talking.”
Tune your ears to absences, as well. I haven’t heard the miraculous towhees who successfully bred on my hill, not for a number of weeks.
Oystercatcher at Barnegat Light, Brenda Jones
If you can get yourself down to the Delaware Bayshore, look not only up but out, over the reeds and phragmites that fringe South Jersey rivers. Swallows and purple martins by the YES hundreds of thousands float/drop in just before sundown. Evening after evening, these blue-black relatives will bend the reeds, then ‘do a flycatcher’ out for one last insect before dark. Any day now, they’ll all lift off in a blue-black river, coursing southward, southward.
Brenda’s Swallowtail on Purple Loostrife
You’ve seen them, but do you know what they’re up to, the butterflies? The yellow tiger swallowtails and the ubiquitous but so endangered monarchs (by genetically engineered crops involving poisons that murder their caterpillars.) They’re setting out for regions beyond belief, Mexico among their winter havens. In Cape May and at the Kate Gorrie Butterfly House at the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association, I have watched delicate volunteers weigh and band monarchs before the impossible journey. Weight, gender and a site code are entered on minuscule tags that do not interfere with flight. These experts teach us much we could not know, including the fact that the females have thicker dark stripes, to keep the eggs warm. To Henry Beston suddenly realizes that “the strangest and most beautiful of the migrations over the dunes was not a movement of birds at all, but of butterflies.”
Henry did not have to fret as we do this year, over ceaseless drought that has made nectar scarce, nectar needed for their voyage.
Let alone dread that the travelers will land in oiled marshes, where they need to buttress themselves nutritionally for their long flights to Mexico and South America.
I cannot summon words effective enough to convey my passion for New Jersey and all her treasures, especially what the Lenni Lenapes called ‘The Winged’ in these autumnal days and nights. You’ll just have to go out there and see for yourselves. Then write ME about it.
Henry and Henry and Aldo and John, I salute your miraculous ways with words!