Archive for the ‘Preservation’ Category
One of the proofs of fine writing is that reading it triggers writing in others. My friend, food writer, Pat Tanner, is somewhat surprised at all the buzz generated by her recent article on last meals. Interviewing local chefs, the results were far-ranging, wise, funny, challenging, with intervals of blessed simplicity in this complex world. I couldn’t put Pat’s story down.
Then I literally picked up my pen (remember pens?) and began a list of jewel-like food memories. if I could command the best foods of my life now, time and money and distance being of no matter, here is what I’d call forth. But forget this last meal fad — don’t wait! — to experience any or all of these, if you can.
What neither of us expected was that I could bring the little list along to our Petite Christmas supper this week, read it to Pat and trigger memories of her own, with her family, in the presence of sublime food.
To begin, the Malossol caviar, served aboard the S.S. France, scooped with a ladle, in quantity equal to freshly home-made ice cream, from a massive silver, crystal-lined bowl. This was April, 1964 - my husband and I sailed on the anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking and my Michigan friends were sure we would do likewise. Caviar was our first food on the France, and this was my first time to speak French with a Frenchman.
The next course of gem-like food is a tie:
Either Truffe sous les cendres, with Diane and Catherine and Werner, at Fernand Point’s La Pyramide in Vienne — truffle perfume permeating the puff pastry that had somehow survived having been cooked, as the French say, ‘in the chimney’, under the cinders:
« Une mise en bouche ou entrée idéale à partager en amoureux si vous possédez une cheminée. Les truffes, non pelées, sont enveloppées dans une fine bardes de lard et du papier cuisson, et cuisent à l’étouffée sous la cendre. Quand vous ôtez la papillote c’est déjà un bonheur olfactif splendide et la suite est tout aussi superbe. »
This is by no means Fernand’s recipe. He had perished by the time we were there, but Madame Point ruled with an iron hand, and the emporium of superb cuisine had lost not a jot of its lustre from our 1964 experience. This was summer, 1970. Madame Point was not at all pleased to see a seven-year-old and an eight-year-old arrive. But their eagerness for and knowledge of her husband’s menu items, and the swift skill with which they dispatched their meal, artichokes in particular, won her heart. At the end, she and some of the chefs bowed the girls out, giving them little chocolates to take across the street to the Inn.
The other contender, which runs neck and neck with the truffe, is my first fresh foie, so lightly seared, with but a soupcon of sauce, based in golden late afternoon light at Auberge Des Templiers in the Loire Valley. Silk. That is the only word to describe the texture of that foie, and I have yearned for it ever since. This was our Fourth-of-July trip, taking the girls ultimately to the Normandy Beaches for the Bicentennial we wouldn’t have had without those sands, in July 1976.
With no place in this menu, Wellfleet oysters must be included. Anytime. Anywhere. Also Chincoteagues. Belons and Marennes, in Normandy or Brittany, with a local Muscadet, served with those thin circles of sour rye (sans seeds) and a white porcelain dish of creamiest Buerre de Charentes.
The main course is the same, but two sites contend.
Filet de boeuf, Sauce Marchand de Vin, at the Relais St. Germain, on the left bank, in Paris, April, 1964. It was Mothers’ Day, and the girls, at 6 months and 18 months, were home with my Mother. Werner chose this Relais to bolster me, missing those babies. We thought we’d never go to Europe again, that we had to do so right now, before he entered practice. We could walk to the Relais from our hotel, the Scandinavia, whose address I think was vingt-sept rue de Tournon. We had to memorize it for cab-drivers…
The identical entree may have been the gastronomic triumph — in Tournus, in the heart of Burgundy’s cote d’or, at lunchtime. Only this beef was the legendary Charolais. For the sauces, no contest.
Pommes Souffles, Antoine’s, New Orleans, on Spring Break 1958.
Dessert - no contest — the miniature fraises bois (wild strawberries not so large as my little fingernail, explosions of flavor) at Joseph’s, our first night in Paris, April, 1964.
I see I haven’t spoken much about wine. Chateau d’Yquem, with no food, tasting with Alexis Lichine and Tony Wood, his American representative, at the chateau in 1964. This same golden elixir with the fresh foie at Auberge des Templiers in 1976.
Muscadet with oysters, indeed.
Any Montrachet with the caviar, or champagne chosen by the sommelier.
The red wine that comes first to mind is Chateau Pichon-Longueville. There were some splendid Chateauneuf-du-Papes when we were in and near Avignon, but oddly I do not recall the food.
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?
Paul Winter Image, from Internet
Where but Princeton would the best of music and the best of poetry meet in a sacred space, to further the preservation of priceless open land in our state? On Wednesday, October 10, the sublime smooth jazz of the Paul Winter Consort will weave around the powerful global poetry of Jane Hirshfield.
Each enhancing the music of the other, music as notes and words as notes will soar to the apex of Princeton University Chapel and beyond, beginning at 7 p.m.
Princeton University Chapel Image from Internet
The beneficiary of this unique event, followed by a Meet-the-Artists Reception and Signing at Firestone Library, is D&R Greenway Land Trust. The non-profit’s preservation and stewardship accomplishments began in 1989, tallying over 23 miles-and-counting in this, our most populous state.
Poets and students in our time have thrilled to the Paul Winter Consort’s poetic evocations at the Dodge Poetry Festival, all those years in Waterloo Village, and now and soon again, in Newark. Coleman Barks and Jane Hirshfield, both, have experienced Consort Magic integrated into their work (and that of ancient poet, Rumi, translated and evoked by Coleman.) At Waterloo, ‘the big tent’ seemed to levitate during these juxtapositions. In Princeton University Chape, as during Winter’s Solstice Rituals at St. John-the-Divine in Manhattan, apses and naves seem to surge with sacred waters, the venerable stones themselves seem to take on volume, as known yet always unexpected Consort tones surge and ebb around visitors.
Firestone Library Image from Internet
The Consort concert in the chapel begins at 7 p.m. The Meet-the-Artists Reception and Signing in Firestone Library takes place from 8:30 - 9:30.
This will be a night of the blending of paradigms, all for the cause of nature.
Tickets, supporting D&R Greenway’s Preservation and Stewardship Mission, may be phoned in at $!5 (Open Seating) and $35 (Reserved Seating) to Princeton University Ticketing. 609-2584TIX, or 258-48489 between 12 and 6. CDs and Books will be on sale at the evet. For $75 Reserved Seating, followed by the Meet-the-Artists Reception and Signing in Firestone Library, phone D&R Greenway at 609-924-4646. OK to leave message with credit card details and phone and address information.
Note, performance is in the Chapel off Washington Road, on the University Campus, not at D&R Greenway. Ticket information will be mailed upon receipt of funds. Checks are made out to D&R Greenway Land Trust and mailed to One Preservation Place, Princeton 08540.
Poet Jane Hersfield was graduated in Princeton University’s first class to welcome women. She describes herself, as a freshman, as “that entirely naive and deeply shy young woman.” Jane muses upon what her freshman self would have thought, had she been told that “I would be returning to read my poems in such a space, [University Chapel], let alone in the company of the transcendentally gorgeous Paul Winter Consort, whose music makes a chapel all on its own.”
Baffled, as are many of us, that “the acutely felt environmental awareness of spring 1970 remains still under-realized,” Jane expresses gratitude that Scott and Hella McVay and D&R Greenway are bringing this event into being.
“For me, [she focuses on] the awareness of the interconnection of all life on this planet, and the sense of responsibility that emerges from that awareness,” which Jane Hirsfield terms “polestar things.”
Paul Winter generously ‘piped’ D&R Greenways Poets of the Trail to the podium, when the Scott and Hella McVay Poetry Trail opened upon the land trust’s grounds in Greenway Meadows.
Never did his saxophone sound more sweetly than upon that golden evening, beneath century-old trees, with wind and birds on the wing as accompaniment. 48 poems await visitors on that trail, any time, whether or not D&R Greenway is hard at work in its 19th-century (Robert Wood Johnson’s) working barn. The evocative trail rises among stately sycamores, opens out into warm-season grasses. It curves along a gentle ridge from which the Sourland Mountains are visible, then turns and returns to an oak that could be the sister of the Merer Oak. The trail is punctuated with rustic benches for contemplation.
Jane Hirshfield’s Zen consciousness is right at home on the Scott and Hella McVay Poetry Trail in Greenway Meadows. Her voice and presence will lend new and unique echoes to the mellifluous notes rising from Paul Winter and his Consort.
As with his music with the whales, the cause of nature will be furthered in the chapel on October 10 - do join us!
HERE IS OUR OFFICIAL ENTIRE RELEASE:
Princeton University Chapel October 10 for D&R Greenway Fund-raiser
Paul Winter Consort and Poet Jane Hirshfield
Princeton, NJ – D&R Greenway Land Trust invites the public to hear Paul Winter, with his Consort, interweaving their iconic music with the soul-stirring words of poet Jane Hirshfield, on Wednesday, October 10. ‘Music and Poetry of the Earth’ will unfold in the Princeton University Chapel, beginning at 7 p.m. Jane Hirshfield’s books and the Consort’s CDs will be available for purchase after the performance. A meet-the-artists reception in Firestone Library will follow, from 8:30 – 9:30 p.m. Reception fees benefit the preservation mission of D&R Greenway Land Trust. [www.drgreenway.org – 609-924-4646]
Tickets for reserved performance seating, –which include the Meet-the-Artists Reception, where books and CDs will be signed, cost $75. Reservations are available directly through D&R Greenway Land Trust:(609) 924-4646. Credit cards are accepted for phone orders, or checks made payable to D&R Greenway Land Trust. For [non-reception] performance seating, ($35) and ($15) General Admission seating, call Princeton University at 609-258-9220. To order $35 and $15 tickets on-line: http://www.princeton.edu/utickets/, or arrange in person at the Frist Campus Center Ticket Office, Monday-Friday, from noon-6 pm.
‘Music and Poetry of the Earth’ is co-sponsored by the Princeton University Chapel, the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University, and Scott & Hella McVay. Scott McVay is a co-founder of the Dodge Poetry Festival, where the Paul Winter Consort traditionally performs with poets. Winter and Hirshfield first performed together at the 2008 Dodge Poetry Festival. Hirshfield will be a featured poet at the Festival at NJPAC in Newark, October 11 and 12.
Coming to Princeton is a natural for Jane Hirshfield, who graduated in Princeton University’s first class that welcomed women. Inspired by both Eastern and Western poetry, Hirshfield’s work utilizes a short form, hinging on a singular turning point or moment of arresting insight. “It is a pleasure and a privilege to join the Paul Winter Consort and broader community in support of D&R Greenway and its work in preserving and making available open space in central New Jersey,” says Hirshfield.
Paul Winter declares, “I am excited about performing in the magnificent chapel, with its magical acoustics.” The realm of this stellar musician has long embraced cultures and creatures of the entire earth, explaining his attunement D&R Greenway’s mission: “I have admired their work since I had the privilege of playing at the opening of the Scott and Hella McVay Poetry Trail there in 2010. I feel a deep resonance with this well-run organization’s efforts to preserve land in central New Jersey — more than 17,000 acres! My collaborations with the McVays go back to the ’70s, with our mutual interest in whales and poetry. This we have celebrated during twenty-five years of collaborations at the Dodge Poetry Festival.”
Paul Winter, Paul Winter Consort
Paul Winter credits the songs of the humpback whales for opening the door for the six-time Grammy-award winning Consort, in the late 1960s, to what he refers to as “the greater symphony of the Earth.” Since then, the extraordinary voices of whales, as well as those of wolves, eagles, elk, loon, and a score of other creatures have become part of the Consort’s celebrations, awakening people to the plight of endangered species. Winter’s tours and recording expeditions have taken him to fifty-two countries and to wilderness areas on six continents. The musician has traveled on rafts, dog sleds, horses, kayaks, tug-boats, and Land Rovers. The Consort’s new work, launched last spring, Flyways, celebrates the immense bird migration from Africa through the mid-East to Eurasia.
As artists-in-residence at the world’s largest Gothic cathedral, New York’s St. John the Divine, the Consort has for three decades presented annual Winter and Summer Solstice Celebrations, as well as the ecological liturgical work, Missa Gaia/Earth Mass. Winter has performed in major concert halls around the world, including Washington’s National Cathedral, the Grand Canyon and the Negev Desert.
Poet Laureate Kay Ryan describes Jane Hirshfield as “a writer who demonstrates in every possible way that this life matters.” During her twenties, she was a full-time student of Zen for eight years, three of them in a monastery in silence. She is featured, with W.S. Merwin, –recent U.S. Poet Laureate–, and His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, in the PBS special, The Buddha. Hirshfield has authored nine collections of poetry; an anthology of women poets in praise of the sacred; and a group of essays on entering the mind of poetry, among other works. Jane Hirshfield is a powerful reader of poetry and interview subject. She has been featured in two Bill Moyers PBS television specials, Fooling With Words and Sound of Poetry. In 2012, Hirshfield was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
“Tree” from Given Sugar, Given Salt (2002), Jane Hirshfield
It is foolish
to let a young redwood
grow next to a house.
Even in this
you will have to choose.
That great calm being,
This clutter of soup pots and books –
Already the first branch-tips brush at the window.
Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life.
The Princeton University Chapel
Completed in 1928, the Princeton University Chapel is the third largest university chapel in the world. The Tudor Gothic building underwent a $10 million restoration in 2000-2002. There are more than 10,000 square feet of stained glass, as well as wood carvings and stonework. The chapel is listed as one of the great acoustic spaces of the U.S. and Canada, by the American Choral Directors Association.
D&R Greenway Land Trust
Founded in 1989, the mission of D&R Greenway Land Trust is to preserve and protect a permanent network of natural lands and open spaces, creating conditions for a healthy and diverse environment. It provides the public with appropriate access to these lands, encouraging active lifestyles and a greater appreciation of the natural world. D&R Greenway Land Trust also works to inspire a conservation ethic, promoting policies, educational programs and partnerships that result in a public commitment to land preservation and stewardship. In its 23 years, the Land Trust has preserved 243 properties, or 17,126 acres, valued at over $360 million. For more information, visit www.drgreenway.org
Carolyn F. Edelmann, Community Relations Associate
D&R Greenway Land Trust
“In wildness is the preservation of the world”
Packet Nature Blog: NJ WILD: www.packetinsider.com/blog/nature/
Princeton Patch Post: The Nature of Princeton
Eagle and Sculler, Lake Carnegie, by Brenda Jones
My NJ WILD readers know that my key reason for hip replacement was to get into (and OUT of) a kayak, as often as i like, to paddle as long as I like. Thanks to Dr. Thomas Gutowski, this impossible dream has been realized.
The first return took place at dusk on Lake Carnegie, thanks to the generosity of a new friend who carried the kayaks on his head high over the arched footbridge to the still lake. Now I have kayaked, alone and with others, five or six times on the D&R Canal south of Alexander. (www.canoe.nj.com)
A major blessing of all these sojourns, –beyond no longer being crippled–, is solitude. Each morning south of Alexander, whether alone or with friends, ours are the first prows on the water. For the Lake Carnegie idyll, although Saturday evening, there wasn’t another human in sight until we returned to the put-in. Our sole companion was a majestic great blue heron, mincing along in shadowed undergrowth to our right for the entire journey. Kayaks render one nearly invisible to wildlife. Even basking turtles don’t unbask as we pass.
Basking Turtles, D&R Canal, Brenda Jones
The D&R Canal and Towpath are right here in the middle of Princeton. For seven years, I worked with people at a College Road East firm, who would ask over and over, “Now where IS that canal, anyway?” Stunned, I’d reply, “Well you can’t really get into town without crossing it.” Sad to say, corporate types don’t have nature and history antennae out as they go about their daily rounds. They’d usually follow my answer with, “You go there ALONE?!”
Those who do possess and use antennae, know that this haven for walkers, paddlers and rowers exists, thanks to preservationists, –an eastern hem to the fabric of our town. Rich in natural beauty and significant human and industrial history, that canal was the reason for the founding and thriving of many New Jersey municipalities. It also provides drinking water for those not blessed with wells in our region.
Long ago, in a poem, I described the Canal and Towpath as “nurse, haven and muse.” She’s far more than that now, once I’ve learned to know her by water. It’s a treat to be dwarfed by her flowers, to skiddle along beside her turtles or pause so as not to disturb the swimming water snake. It’s birders’ heaven in spring, when warblers and other rarities territorialize along through the Institute Woods. And sometimes, near the Aqueduct, one sees ‘our’ American bald eagles, dashing osprey and gilded orioles doubled in still water.
Osprey Over Millstone Aqueduct, Brenda Jones
Last week’s kayaking began by renting a ‘loon’ at Princeton Canoe and Kayak at Alexander Road by the Turning Basin. After a work week assailed by interruptions, there was nothing more refreshing and essential than the absolute silence, which descended like incense, or an invisible cloak, as soon as I moved beyond the swallows of the Alexander Bridge. As their wings literally part my hair, I am alerted to the reality that I was in a new dimension.
Each time I emerge from bridge shadow, escaping tire whirr and creosote pungency, I bless the magic of my new (yes!) kayaker’s hip: “You may find you like it better than the original,” mused my miraculous surgeon.
Beauty and nature are my major lures on the canal. Timelessness is tied with these two factors/ I am entirely under my own power. No one cares when I return. I can sally or dally or bend at the waist and plunge forward or coast beneath tree dapple or sit still under an oriole.
Baltimore Oriole, Cloudless Sky, near D&R Canal, Brenda Jones
On first trips, I made sure to dip my right hand into that canal water and baptize that scar, as I had done at the Delaware River on Bull’s Island. I was letting that leg know, at hip’s entry, “You, who carried me to beauty, nature and history times beyond counting, are restored to full function and new adventures.”
My professional life can tip me over too much into the quantitative, the numeric and the scheduled. I suspect I am not alone in this.
Kayak time counters those tendencies, restores me to my primal most vital self.
Last week’s kayak experience, for example, at first disappointed by its constellation of absences. Yes, my hair was parted by swallows under the bridge. But, after that traditional beginning, there was no bird song, and no sightings until the ubiquitous territoriality of the common yellowthroat, claiming the middle of my route.
Not a spurt of cardinal flower, –crimson as the bird or the prelates for which it is named, awaited me in any of its usual shadowed nooks. I suspect the scouring removals of Irene and Lee.
Veery in Spring Greenery, Brenda Jones
No wood thrush at entry or turnaround. Even the red-winged blackbirds were silent. And those usual scolds, the jays.
It’s too soon for white and pink fluted blooms of marsh mallow, and all that remains of blue and yellow flags are pointy tall green spires of their sheltering leaves. Everything was green, green, green.
The emptiness was so all-permeating that I was forced to acknowledge that absence was the gift of that day’s canal drift.
Just then, a shrub to my right began moving in an uncharacteristic way. As though birds were fighting in it — but we’re beyond breeding season for most save goldfinches. Suddenly, I realized I was seeing graceful legs, rounded buttocks, and that diagnostic white flag tail of deer. Right down by the water, she was blissfully and purposefully breakfasting. I was near enough to see the shine on her planted hooves.
Doe, a deer… Brenda Jones
That day brought no herons, neither green nor blue. Nor the oven bird’s ‘teacher teacher teacher’ — most treasured gift of the Institute Woods, if I’m early or lalte enough.
Not even Constable clouds filled the canal — to be cleaved by the slender prow.
I turned around, (partly because of griddle heat), deciding to see how many strokes I could paddle without stopping. All these months, I realized, I’d been taking it easy out there, because of the so-called ’surgical leg’. I was way up into the 100s, when I had to speak to careless canoeists — in order to discover on which side of them I might safely progress. So I forget my tally, but it was impressive, and it didn’t hurt me, not then, not ever.
We are so blessed to live in a canaled town. Just cross the Delaware and look at that rooty, clunky, uneven towpath, alongside Pennsylvania’s empty canal, strewn with rocks and weeds.
I don’t know why New Jersey knew enough to preserve and sustain its canal, although D&R Greenway where I work, was a major part of that (before my time). I only know I’m deeply grateful.
Canal time fills memory’s treasure chest, for sustenance throughout the weeks ahead.
Wordsworth said it best, about daffodils:
“For oft, when on my couch I lie / in vague or pensive mood / and gaze upon that inward eye / which is the bliss of solitude / and then my heart with rapture fills / and dances…”
Your heart, too, can dance upon canal waters. Just show up at Princeton Canoe and Kayak and set OUT.
North from the turning basin goes under the Dinky tracks and all the way to and through the aqueduct at Mapleton and beyond. It’s the busy way, with walkers, bikers, other water craft, and sometimes ‘our’ eagles. South is the quiet way, most likely, but not guaranteed, to provide nature’s rarities.
Full or empty, creature-wise, canal-time fills the soul.
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
When a Manhattan friend takes the bus to Kingston, what is the greatest contrast you can provide? One, for sure, is kayaking - which we did the next morning, along the D&R Canal.
Kayak Central, Princeton, Brenda Jones
Her welcome-to-NJ contrast, however, was to head straight west into Hopewell, up Greenwood Avenue, turn left at the red barn, head into and beyond Ringoes and Sergeantsville to Rosemont and over to the Delaware River. Such a brief ride, for such a major transition — and all in golden afternoon light.
Bull’s Island Fern Grove, Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Walking Bull’s Island is always a treat, moored like a verdant ship in the middle of my beloved Delaware. Its trails and woods are frequently inundated, needless to say. This can make for very soft trails, cushioned by charcoal-y basalt from the bottom of the river. Floods, of course, bring nourishment and new species — some blessed, some not so blessed.
Bull’s Island Footbridge, Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Friday evening, after a quick trek over the silvery footbridge to the Black Bass and back, –interstate hiking–, we entered the woods to a chorus of cedar waxwings. Masked and certain feathers gilded, there is no more handsome bird in my lexicon. Leaving sunshine for dapple, we were suddenly surrounded by the wood thrush’s liquid ascending, then descending notes. My friend is accustomed, from Catskill stays, to veeries near woodthrush, and soon we were awash in veery magic.
Cedar Waxwing, Brenda Jones
On either side, ferns rose, — not fragile and furtive as those I usually encounter. But feisty, even aggressive. Some were taller than we are! The Alice in Wonderland sensation was appealing. My friend then decided we were “in Jurassic Park without the critters.”
Veery, Brenda Jones
One creature we did find, a handsome toad who seemed the monarch of the glen. He was not atall ‘afeard’ of humans — sitting there, permitting our presence in his territory.
Lowering light gilded every leaf, especially super-sized jack-in-the-pulpit plants and fading Mayapple.
Mayapple Profusion, Bull’s Island, Carolyn Foote Edelmann
All the while, the river coursed alongside, deceptively quiet, a welcome change from her Manhattan life and even the bus ride out here.
A superb dinner at the Carversville Inn was not only gastronomically superior, but also time travel. In that case, the mid-1800’s surrounded us, as palpably as if we had stepped through ‘the veil.’
Home brought us through fields where some corn is already hip-high, well before the Fourth of July, and silos gleam and preside like church steeples. Sacred farm structures from other centuries were the norm most of the way back to Princeton.
Yesteryear’s Barn, Carolyn Foote Edelmann
All of this in our beautiful New Jersey. Help preserve it — especially her farmland and o, save that river, in every sense.
Your local land trusts do this for you, but we (as in D&R Greenway) require your support. It’s taken us 23 years to preserve 23 New Jersey landscape miles and many waterways. Help move preservation forward, every way you can.
Fog Along the Delaware, Brenda Jones
And get out there and enjoy the unique unpeopled beauty that is still ours, in the beleaguering 21st Century.
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…”
Black-Crowned Night Heron by Brenda Jones
NJ WILD readers know I have been to ‘the Brig’ (Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge at Smithville above Atlantic City) in virtually all conditions. Literally, fire and ice. Snow, of course. Fog.
The fire was a controlled burn to remove phragmites (tall blinding invasive grasses that alter food supplies for birds ‘the Brig’ was created to attract and protect.) The ice was Mother Nature at winter normal, making the dike roads too slippery for entry. Fog is heaven, though birds scarce — because you can’t see Atlantic City looming.
Yesterday, Tasha O’Neill, a fine-art photographer and dear friend and I deliberately traveled to ‘the Brig’ in rain. Both of us had been incarcerated at our desks for a ‘rosary’ of crisp sunny days. When freedom arrived, rain came with it. ‘The Brig’ holds miracles anyway. (It used to be called Brigantine Wildlife Refuge, and is in NO WAY connected, save visually across water, to cheek-by-jowl developed Brigantine Island).
Waterlilies welcomed us, half-open upon arrival because of the dearth of sun. But waterlilies are rewards in any weather.
Waterlily in Rain by Tasha O’Neill
Among the “miracles anyway” was a red knot — our most tragically scarce bird. They used to feed by the hundreds of thousands on 100s of 1000s of horseshoe crab eggs. But developers, along with exploiters of horseshoe crab for bait and fertilizer, have had their way with this lustrous bird of far-flung migratory habits, all centered on our Delaware Bay this time of year. To see any red knot is to see the NJ equivalent of the passenger pigeon, the ivory-billed woodpecker. Any year now may be their last.
Accompanying the knot, and then sprinkled throughout our day, was a profligacy of ruddy turnstones. I’ve been in love with their yes ruddy patchwork backs, their dapper jet ascots and cummberbunds, since I met turnstones at our Chatham, Mass., shore house. They, too, feed at nearby Reed’s Beach, Fortescue and others in Salem and Cumberland County, on whatever horseshoe crab eggs there may be.
My co-birder that day was fine art photographer, Tasha O’ Neill. Weather made seeing out of the windows chancy, let alone photographing, but she did her best. She found the black-crowned night heron off to our left - standing bolt upright as I have virtually never seen them. Hunkered in shrubs over water, breeding plume reaching the water below; settling into taller trees for the night; posing like a football on rocks by a channel — these are usual BCNH positions in my experience. Not sentinel-straight. Not marching like a soldier at the changing of the guard.
Rain-Drenched Black-Crowned Night Heron at Brigantine, by Tasha O’Neill
I never found a harrier, my signifying bird at Brig. But Tasha found two definite red-tails in a dead tree before we were even off 206, and I saw one quartering a field like a harrier somewhere near Tabernacle. It’s always good when your birding starts off before the sanctuary.
Willets were quieter than usual at the Brig — otherwise they generously call out, “I’m the Willet! I’m the Willet!”, as they prance, pounce, then lift off. These birds the color of light toast turn snappily black and white as they lift off over the impoundments.
We were there at low tide - best for shorebirds. A couple of black-bellied plover did not impress my co-birder, wanting them to match their full breeding plumage in my Sibley Guide. It’s not quite time yet for turnstones, or for black-bellies, to be completely in the full black splendor of what always looks like formal evening attire, lacking the patent dress shoes. Stars of low tide for both of us, however, were black skimmers - only two in total, and not performing their Balanchine skimming act in such low water. But handsome and dapper and inescapable with those formidable red-orange beaks.
Skimmer in the Air, by Brenda Jones
We had one golden plover, stately as Tutankhamun, amongst a host of busy ‘little grey jobs’, busy as pyramid builders stoking up before the carry. I have friends who have mastered sandpipers; ditto sparrows. I’m slowly learning sparrows at their hands (we had a nearby chipping sparrow, down on the ground where he belongs, rusty little head pouf very visible, early on); but I remain hopeless with sandpipers. Dunlins?
We found longbilled dowitchers and a lovely curved-bill whimbrel, looking classic against dark peat and green marsh grasses.
Great Egret Fishing in Rain, Brigantine, by Tasha O’Neill
Egrets were stately, immaculate, and the rain-wind generously blew their full breeding plumage, so that they resembled ladies in Dress Circle, sporting plumes for a new diva’s Traviata — back in the days when egrets were killed for these immensely long, pristine feathers. The snowy egrets’ breeding plumage turned them into bleached female mergansers — who always look to me as though they’ve their toes stuck in an electric socket for the effect on head feathers.
Fish crows mourned overhead. There was a scarcity of osprey, though some on nests. Most nests stood empty. One was adorned with all sorts of human detritus — from a float for a lobster trap to orange construction netting. One or two nests showed sitting females, the male on the nearby feeding platform. We did not hear that plaintive delicate osprey call we’ve come to cherish.
Osprey Returning to Nest, by Brenda Jones
Tasha was delighted with a levittown of horseshoe crabs, each defending his domicile with an ivory-hued larger claw, all the rest of the crab invisible in subeterranean safety.
No swans that day.
One SNOW GOOSE! — yes, indeed, white with black feathers and that characteristic rosy beak. Have you EVER seen a solitary snow goose?
Tree swallows, then barn swallows — virtually the only bird call we could hear.
One scowling snapping turtle, resembling an armored tank on a forested road.
Early stars and late, the angular glossy ibis. Even in the half light, their forest green and buffed copper highlights gleamed.
However, I have to admit, the highlight of this journey was coming home through the Pine Barrens, studded with just opening rosy-to-pale-pink mountain laurel, deep into the pinewoods.
Laurel in the Mist, Sooy Place, Pine Barrens, by Tasha O’Neill
And, as I’d hoped, jewels encrusting the north side only of Sooy Place off 563, goat’s rue. Tasha had never seen it. I’ve probably been lucky enough to be their for its brief rare bloom five times total. Its foliage is icy green and lacy, its little face like a snapdragon sticking out its saucy fuchsia tongue.
Goat’s Rue in the Mist, Sooy Place, Pine Barrens, by Tasha O’Neill
It’s not often that the birds of Brigantine are eclipsed (pun intended). But May 21, on the day after the solar eclipse (only seen in Albuquerque, I gather), birds took second place.
Every trip to the Brig is different. Get DOWN there.
Remember, we have that sanctuary because of people with high and deep commitment to preservation!
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…
Brenda Jones’ Immature Princeton Eagles, 2011, on Unlikely Nest
One of the miracles of living New Jersey in general, and near Princeton’s D&R Canal and Towpath, in particular. is that adventure is always at hand. After a dizzying work day, Thursday, and probably too close to sundown, I took myself to the Towpath at Mapleton, I cannot even count all the wonders that were mine, as a result.
En route, I stopped at ‘our eagle nest, glad to see ‘Mama’ perky on the rim of her most uncharacteristic, but very successful cone-shaped nest. Can’t tell if she has young, but her vertical posture suggests same.
Five minutes after I set foot(e) on the Towpath, a fisherman asked, “Do you want to see a fish?”
“Of course!,” I responded.
With that, he tugged on a line in canal water at the aqueduct. Something large and luminous waited in a golden net. The man was from another land, so at first I could not understand the species. Then, the word penetrated, “Carp,” he kindly repeated. “I take them out of here fifteen pounds sometimes. This one’s about ten.”
Speechless at the size of his catch, I asked, “How will you cook it?”
“Paprika,” he immediately answered. “Onions.” Then his brow furrowed. He may not know the English words he needed, so continued, “and all the others.” He smiled eagerly, adding, “and a lot of hot fat.”
“That sounds great!,” I replied, thanking him, walking on.
Another fisherman was literally taking time to smell the flowers.
“A different kind of honeysuckle,” he observed. I bent, inhaled, agreed. I rubbed a flower between my fingers, and it turned to dust. “Dry,” I said sadly.
The fisherman nodded. “March, too,” he observed. “We are ruining the weather.”
I thanked him for wisdom not shared by the Weather Channel, licking its chops over disaster, as usual.
I walked north from the aqueduct, as crew upon crew glided north on Lake Carnegie, gilded by late light.
On my left were cascades of white dogwood bloom, each larger than my hand.
On my right, in the canal, a nose was swimming. Sure enough, it was a slim gold snake. I’ve been writing poems anew, since my November hip replacement. Several of them include snakes. It felt a wonderful omen, not only to ‘meet’ one, but to see it swimming so healthily.
I became aware of a welcome fragrance, far beyond blossoms in rarity this year. It had rained a bit, the night before, though you’d never know it on that dry path. The lake had been renewed by fresh rainfall. The air smelled ‘like clean clothes dried on lines.’ At shore houses and in childhood, one of the rewards of tugging sheets from clotheslines had been that superoxygenated scent, like no other on earth. Until I moved to Princeton, and walked the towpath, that is. I wanted to inhale only, keep it all.
Red-Winged Blackbird, Brenda Jones
Sounds were important on the towpath that evening — red-winged blackbirds’ ‘okaleeeeee’; the uh-oh of fish crows; the imperious command to drink-your-tea!, drink-your-tea! of the white-throated sparrow. An unpleasant leitmotif was also involved commands — from coxswains ordering their rowing students to tighten their thighs.
All the while, both lake and canal shimmered. Leaves trembled, dappling the path and this contented restored walker.
I felt as though I could trek on forever. But, ever mindful of this new hip, decided to pause at the turtles, try to count them. resting on the only logs Irene seems to have left. These were the largest turtles I’ve ever seen resting in serried rows — some like platters!. There must have been at least twenty four. The dark shapes gleamed, and some were accented by coral striations along the relaxed legs.
Turtle Pecking Order Alongside D&R Canal and Towpath, Brenda Jones
Turning at Turtle Central, I made my way back to the footbridge. As I’d promised various health professionals, I took advantage of every bench, only for moments. At my feet in the lake, water lily leaves had opened and pickerel weed arrows had begun to emerge.
I thought of the Lenni Lenapes, who recognized pickerel weed emergence as the signal the tribal reunions from throughout the Delaware Valley and beyond, in the Hamilton-Trenton-Bordentown Marsh. This shiny pointed plant alerted them to end hunter-live for the time being. After exchanging critical news and performing rituals in the Marsh, our first residents took trails that we have now numbered, 195 being one of them, in order to reach the sea and their gathering season.
I realized, as the sun slipped below western trees, gathering is what I had been doing. From carp through dogwood, snake to turtles. Gathering beauty and memory.
That exists because wise people knew to preserve the D&R Canal and Towpath, among the wise ones having been D&R Greenway Land Trust, where I work. Support your local land trust. Preserve natural New Jersey.
D&R Canal Footbridge at Mapleton cfe