Archive for the ‘Tom Brown’ Category
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?
New Jersey at Her Best - Miracle Birds, Crayola Morning
Miracle Bird of Cape May - Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher by Mike Crewe
In the midst of unpacking from my Cape May runaway weekend, I read one of my birding hotlines - and yes, I was there, Saturday morning, at Hidden Valley, near Higbee Beach, as this amazing flycatcher with its impossibly long train of elegant feathers, worked a ploughed field the way harriers work grasslands, quartering, back and forth, high among cedars, weaving in and out of its relatives, the kingbirds, who were dwarfed by comparison. A true miracle, never expected - was this the reason I had had to flee to Cape May?
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in Flight, from Internet
Or was it the prothonotary warbler contending with the sun in blinding yellow circularity, surpassing the sun in song, facing dawn, at 7 a.m.? Or, instead, the indigo bunting, heard not seen, until kind fellow (unknown - that’s the joy of this fellowship) birders shortened their scope so I could see the song emerge from that open beak, that treasure house of pink and gold among all that blue?
Bob Zaremba’s Indigo Bunting is even more vivid than mine -
which seemed, blotched with white, to be transitioning to full breeding plumage…
Well, ‘my’ indigo bunting was singing, face-on. The friendly birders who let me peer through their scope gave me the gift of the inside of the bunting’s mouth in song, as pink and gold as the finest work on the Ponte Vecchio of Florence, Italy, in my first-ever trip to Europe in 1964. Only this pink/gold treasure was auditory as well as visual. I shall never forget it.
Indigo Bunting from the side, Singing - from the Internet
My hot-lines didn’t carry on about the other Crayola birds that morning - from this bluest of blues (which I had only seen once, arriving at Tom Brown’s Tracker School in Asbury New Jersey in 1983 in a cornfield) to the vivid crimson/scarlet and black orchard oriole that practically blinded me with its hues as it nearly deafened me with its song.
But, looking back at the entire weekend, much of which will be chronicled here with other images, the stunning scene remains not the rarest (the flycatcher) but that 7 a.m. burst of of sun in the guise of a bird - the prothonotary warbler I could see with my own plain eyes.
B. L. Sullivan’s sure hand, eye and lens brings us my sunburst warbler…
These are the joys of adventuring. Of going off alone, no idea why, some idea where, to where Adventure waits. And then waiting. Not needing a guidebook or a guide. Only attentiveness and attunement. And patience - only I didn’t require much of that in Cape May last weekend.
Here’s what Laurie Larsen sent about the flycatcher — copy it and read it for yourself. And go, set yourself up for adventure!
See the CMBO blog http://cmboviewfromthecape.blogspot.com/ for details of today’s Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, at Hidden Valley in Cape May. Laurie Larson
How to report NJ bird sightings: http://www.njbrc.net/reportto.html
But there was another bird, in those magical 20 minutes at Hidden Valley on Saturday Morning, all alone, except for a birder in shorts (not a good idea with deer ticks, poison ivy and thorns on all sides) and a red jacket (also not a good idea - birders ideally would wear camouflage, which I refuse for peace reasons - but at least muted tones, hats with beaks to hide our eyes from birds who would see us as raptors…). It was the man in the red jacket and shorts who insisted we’d see the flycatcher any minute now, who recognized the song of the indigo bunting, and identified the repeated music of the next bird in my Crayola Morning - the bright red deep-throated music of the orchard oriole:
Orchard Oriole from Internet
Orchard Oriole in Full View, full-throated Song — from Internet
NJ Wild readers know my constant tune, my leitmotif — that it is ESSENTIAL that we preserve sites such as Hidden Valley and Higbee Beach and whatever swathes of wild forest and grasslands we can, so that these magical creatures can migrate north in the spring and south in the autumn, to feed, to breed, to live anew, to sing, to light up the skies like melted crayons, for a solitary birder alongside a ploughed field near the Delaware Bayshores in the 21st Century.
WHY PRESERVE - THIS PLOUGHED FIELD HELD ALL MIRACLES OF MY CRAYOLA MORNING
Chief Joseph, Nez Perce, Wisdom-Keeper
My little sister, Marilyn, and I were acutely attuned to Indians who had preceded us in Michigan, particularly summering at Lake Leelanau and Traverse City, then north to Naubinway and the Keewenaw Peninsula. We thrilled to Indian names of towns, creeks, roadways and landforms. Unlike Thoreau, Marilyn and I did not find arrowheads everywhere we walked.
But, particularly in a canoe or a small boat, on limpid wooded rivers of the Upper Peninsula, rowing over to and back from Tahquamenon Falls, we could sense Indians’ silent presence on all sides. In those days, virgin forests were frequent, one of my most cherished named after my favorite poem, “The Hiawatha Forest.” Even as little girls we knew that Indians’ absolute right to these regions had been profaned by miners and lumberjacks and all those soldiers with their primitive wooden forts.
It wasn’t popular in childhood, in Michigan, to be on the Indians’ side. I was the only girl in the entire theatre who wanted Indians to win, on the few Saturdays when someone’s mother could take us to a Western movie in a nearby town. (Ours, Lathrup Village near Detroit, had no store, no library, no post office, so certainly no theatre!) I never understood why everyone in those movies cheered the brutal usual outcome. I was not on Custer’s side. I waited a long time for Dances With Wolves. Read the rest of this entry »