Archive for July, 2008
Whenever my friend, photographer, Tasha O’Neill and I kayak our D&R Canal, I am bowled over by New Jersey’s seamless wild beauty. Everywhere we look, the world is lush and dense with tangled woods, the waters limpid. Turtles so trust us in passing that they do not even slip off their basking logs. Skies call for Sisley, Pissarro, Monet, –or Turner, when we’re out there at sunset. New Jersey Nature takes my breath away. But not everyone shares this passion.
Frankly, I’ve had it with people terming New Jersey Nature an ‘oxymoron’! That tired Exit joke, also, should be retired. It only convinces people that our state is a snaggle of highways, bordered by chemical tanks, metal cranes looming like dinosaurs. Can’t commuters look up from the bad news to count morning’s and evening’s great blue herons and great egrets? No one seems to perceive these antedeluvian birds, wafting regularly over quietly restored marshes that separate us from the Hudson River and that other sort of wild, Manhattan’s.
Lately I learned that people don’t even consider the Jersey Shore nature. No, it’s sunburn and boardwalks; thrill rides and cotton candy; lifeguards and pick-ups and beach-blanket bingo; casinos and high rises, high idlers. Who notices dauntless piping plovers, –so endangered, yet raising diminutive young between fragile dunes and relentless wave action? Does anyone marvel at black skimmers, hunkered down on wet sand, trying to ‘cool it’ along our real and timeless shore?
People chuckle when I mention our mountains, although the Sourlands over in Hopewell shelter the last swath of contiguous forest in the state. Read the rest of this entry »
Brenda Jones Bumblebee and Chicory
This time of year, wild blue chicory embroiders New Jersey roadsides. My friend, Anne Zeman’s, closeup of my favorite weed captures it perfectly.
Its humble flowers seem snipped of cotton. Its peaceful hues range from pale blue to lavender; sometimes pink bleaching to white. And, at its healthiest, chicory heartens to the intensity of Swiss gentians.
Probably you’ve seen them all your life, –seemingly fragile, waving flat blue ‘hands’ as you drive new roads and old on summer vacations. Possibly you did not know chicory’s names, which include: “blue daisy, blue dandelion, blue sailors, blue weed, bunk, coffeeweed, common chicory, cornflower, hendibeh, horseweed, ragged sailors, succory, wild bachelor’s buttons, wild endive, witloof.” Read the rest of this entry »
In New Jersey, at this season, along trails and towpaths, as well as at abundant farmstands, we rejoice because the raspberries are in. In flavor and texture, for me, these are the reigning fruit. Sweet marries tang, plush with yielding, and their gleam outshines any gem.
It saddens me that, nowadays, the people who ‘come and go, talking of raspberries’, discuss price, rather than savor. Are taste-buds on the brink of extinction among humans for whom food has become fuel?
When I was a teen-ager, we never ever bought raspberries, except for one memorable summer. My parents had moved us to a new house in another Michigan town, so that I could attend a co-educational high school. Unbeknownst to us, in our backyard, all along the east fence, sometime in July, those tangled thorny green bushes would erupt with raspberries. Not just some raspberries. Not just any raspberries. The biggest, velvetiest, spurtingest fruit anyone we knew had ever tasted. Raspberries beyond counting. The more we picked, the more we’d have. Read the rest of this entry »
WHALES FOR THE KILLING: Greenpeace Activists Jailed in Japan
No picture for this one — instead, blankness. Imagine our oceans without the great whales. This is still very well on its way to reality!
All I usually ask NJ WILD readers to do is to glance at our posts, enjoy our photographs, and comment every so often. This way, Packet Insider Editors realize how many of you are out there who care about nature!
And that you are a powerful constituency, not limited to our state or even to our nation.
Read what just came to me re new whaling tragedies. Here are people who, –like Henry David Thoreau, protesting against war, refusing to pay a government that countenanced war–, went to jail for their beliefs. To jail, yes, because they love whales, love nature. Can you read this without action?
A few posts ago, re polar bears, I wrote that admiration is not enough. What are you willing to do for whales, bears, forests, the waters, Mother Nature herself?
FROM GREENPEACE July 25, 2008:
After nearly a month in detention, I’m so glad to tell you that Greenpeace activists Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki are finally free on bail and home with their families. More than a quarter of a million of you took action worldwide to demand justice for the Tokyo Two, while Amnesty International and several other global non-profits also lent our activists their support and helped to shine a spotlight on this miscarriage of justice in Japan.We have you to thank for Junichi and Toru’s freedom. Only 10% of bail applications are granted by the Japanese courts, which means that there are about 250,000 reasons why Junichi and Toru are out on bail today. We can’t thank all of you enough for your support.
It’s clear that there is tremendous political pressure within Japan to persecute our activists and cover up the truth about Japan’s whaling program. What’s even clearer is that international pressure from YOU is also working, which is why I’m asking you to ramp up your efforts to support Junichi and Toru and expose the truth about Japan’s illegal whaling industry.
Brenda Jones captures deer magic in our midst…
From my other Packet Editor, Michael Redmond, just now, these lines arrived from Wallace Stevens’ stunning poem, Sunday Morning.
I send them immediately, because they dilute my severe pessimism in our current world. Thank you, Michael. I, of all people, need to remember that Nature is always there to restore us, and poetry about nature.
I’ll continue to seek it out for all of us in word and image. And we must all, more urgently every day, work to save the wild creatures and their habitats.
We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Wallace Stevens excerpt
Inside the Princeton Public Library, waiting for Socrates Cafe to begin, [fourth Tuesdays, 7 p.m.] I feel too far from nature. Yes, it’s a beautiful building and yes, their food center is lively indeed. But I can’t find anything green! And it’s too hot to sit on the plaza, about which I’ve written on a cooler evening.
OK, Carolyn, you’ve lived in Princeton, more or less, since 1968. You moved here first for the schools, then for all those trees. What nature do you remember, considering that you are here surrounded by brick steel glass plastic and stucco? What nature is iconic for Princeton? Read the rest of this entry »
Olga Sergyeyva’s evocation of D&R Canal Towpath near Quaker Bridge Road en route to Lawrenceville and the 1760’s Brearley House
It’s hard for a writer to face that fact that pictures are worth 10,000 words. But, as you may have noticed, photographers who permit me to use their work for NJ WILD tend to be rather spectacular. In fact, often, they need no words beyond credit for their excellence.
Olga Sergyeyva is one of these miracle-workers, whom I know from any number of the art exhibitions upon which I work at D&R Greenway Land Trust. Olga and her husband, Igor Svibilsky, grace our circa-1900 restored barn walls whenever their work fits into our preservation and stewardship themes. Such as the current “Our Historic Landscape — Past, Present, and Future…?”
Olga and Igor are particular fans of the D&R Canal and Towpath - which is my ‘desert island hike’. The place I’d go if some doctor would announce, “You have one day to live. Where will you walk?”
So you’ll see their work in these virtual pages. Before their art, I am simply speechless. Let its magnitude lure you out to our canal and towpath. What is YOUR favorite section?
When “the world is too much with us, gathering and spinning,” –pretty much every day, especially at rush hour–, I spin back to Cactus Ed. Edward Abbey, –renegade, curmudgeon, author par excellence–, is a worthy Western spin-off of Henry David Thoreau. I can hardly bear the earth without the two of them.
After daily contentions with road rage seasoned by entitlement, it’s essential to come home to no-nonsense Ed, to learn what really matters : “Heaven is home. Utopia is here. Nirvana is now.”
Watching new destruction of deep greenery along (but by no means limited to) Canal Pointe Boulevard, I hear Ed declaim, “To disparage the world that we know is to be false to the mother who sustains us.”
When I succumb to despair over politicians, whom we used to call ‘Leaders’, Ed tells it like it is: “The highest treason, the meanest treason, is to disavow and deny this lone but glorious planet.” Read the rest of this entry »
Once I knew the absolute difference between coyote tracks and cougar tracks. Still, I know weasel scat and how to make red sumac tea, which tastes like strawberry lemonade, to prevent scurvy in wilderness.
It took me three days to make fire with the bow drill. At every break, when I crept out to kneel and try anew, I thought everyone else had accomplished this but me… Wrong. I have reaped grasses; thatched a sweat lodge; tracked psychically; foraged by night and blindfolded. If I never taste squirrel stew again, it’ll be too soon.
This by way of explaining when (1983) the Wild took me by the scruff of the neck. What is harder is the Why. A new friend, consultant at a major Fortune 500 company on a dozen of same, and I decided, in a Women Unlimited Workshop, that we were significantly underprepared should we ever come to the wilderness or vice versa. In fact, to us in our pampered air-conditioned lives, staying in a Holiday Inn would’ve qualified as wilderness.
We’d read Tom Brown, Jr.’s non-fiction memoirs, The Tracker and The Search. Enraptured by all that his friend’s grandfather, Stalking Wolf, had taught Tom in the Pine Barrens (where neither of us had ever been), we decided we had to BE with Tom. We had to learn Stalking Wolf’s Apache ways; and more than that, his wisdom.
Eight days would be required, in the height of summer. About 30 others showed up by noon on that July Saturday, far north near Asbury, New Jersey. Grandparents to boyscouts, we all had our Buck knives, our tattered paperbacks of Tom’s books, and various degrees of determination and experience. I rated high on the former, at the bottom of the scale on the lower. http://trackertrail.com/tombrown/index.html Read the rest of this entry »
In this room with lace curtains, fresh wildflowers in a Waterford vase, beside beeswax candles in their natural hue, in a time before sunrise, I am considering wild places.
I gaze at artisanal pottery leaves upon the white tablecloth, remembering kayaking: when, despite being human, I can float like an early autumn leaf, alert to subtlest currents, along our D&R Canal.
In the silence, I study a quasi-Tiffany representation of forest in autumn. But I hear my little sister and me hiking up Brown Mountain in Michigan with Mr. Brown, for whom that peak was named. Our feet in leaf-fall, –almost all sugar maples–, sounded as though we were stomping fresh potato chips. [In those days, we ate potato chips made nearby, so we knew fresh.]
I sip British tea from a flowered china cup my sister gave me. The tea’s welcome sharpness brings back Granny-apple shock: my first bite of a wild cranberry alongside Chatsworth bogs in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. The second cup elicits tea-dark peat water at Whitesbog, turning my pale legs deep orange. Wading in the healthiest, freshest, darkest waters I’ve known, I thought, “I always wanted to be a ‘red man’.” Read the rest of this entry »