Archive for September, 2008
Brenda Jones Captures Intimacy Among the Deer — Danger For Drivers
A few years ago, publicity clients of mine, –an organization respected for its assiduous repair of cars–, went to great lengths to alert drivers to the automotive peril of “The R Months.”
That’s right - just like oysters. September through April are bad news for oysters, great news for us, — as we savor these gastronomic treasures during the eight months having ‘R’ in their names. What I did not know is that, among the deer, these months mean rut and romance. We need to remain highly aware, in deer territory (where is it not?), that safety is not the uppermost concern of deer from September through April.
Driving in R Months, have deer on YOUR mind. Expect dashing swains and fleeing maidens, who will ‘pay any price, bear any burden…’ Well, you get it. Ardent males and the objects of their affection leap significant shrubs and even fences that serve as barriers in less turbulent times. Read the rest of this entry »
IT ONLY HAPPENS EVERY OTHER YEAR — THE TIME IS NOW, TONIGHT, TOMORROW, SUNDAY — POETRY HEAVEN IN NEW JERSEY!
Historic Waterloo Village in Stanhope, New Jersey will be re-opened especially for the audiences of up to 20,000 expected for the 12th biennial Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, which will run from Thursday, September 25 through Sunday, September 28, 2008.
Join poets Chris Abani, Coleman Barks, Coral Bracho, Billy Collins, Lucille Clifton, Mark Doty, Martín Espada, Joy Harjo, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Edward Hirsch, Jane Hirshfield, Ted Kooser, Maxine Kumin, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sharon Olds, Linda Pastan, Charles Simic, C. D. Wright, Franz Wright and dozens of other accomplished poets, musicians and storytellers for four days of poetry and music beside the Musconetcong River and among Waterloo Village’s lawns, trees, and landmark historic buildings.
Waterloo Village is the ideal site and all the living laureates are reading. Whether you’re a poet or not, this is not to be missed! If you’re not a poet, you might become one at the Dodge.
Their image of cave paintings emboldens me to share with you my poem on that subject – enjoy and go hear those poets!
I would return to the caves
carry a small flicker of light
in the pointed clay lamp
that just fits
in the palm of my left hand, leaving
the right free to fumble
and to know the true
contours of this mammoth’s haunch
quick swelling of auroch’s chest
smooth hollow at the bison’s sooty flank
the cave itself collaborating
in new art
CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN
Cool Women Poems, Volume II
RESCUED LAKOTA WOLF, JASMINE, MEETS AND GREETS THOSE WHO COME TO HEAR HER TALE AND THAT OF HER TIMBER, ARCTIC AND TUNDRA RELATIONS, UP NEAR NJ’S DELAWARE WATER GAP
A specialist in wolves, Rick Bass is a stellar nature writer, whose books gave me everything I needed in order to meet and write of New Jersey’s Lakota wolves, for the Princeton Packet recently. Bass’s The Ninemile Wolves set the tone I required, –from despair through heroic recovery efforts to what seemed lasting hope. His book follows a modern wolf pack, resurgent in Montana, –threatened, then miraculously thriving outside protected territory.
Calling himself “a follower of wolves”, Rick Bass insists at the outset, “The fear surrounding wolves and their abilities is so much larger than the animals themselves.” We have seen too many contorted pictures of these noble creatures, –demonized by church and state, fangs emphasized, angry eyes smoldering, eyes and demeanor nothing like the gentle eyes beyond counting that I encountered at New Jersey’s Lakota Wolf Preserve.
At the outset of the the Nine Mile Wolves project, Bass muses, concerning our centuries of depredation against wolves, that “To regret deeply is to live afresh.” At the successful conclusion, he writes my vivid experience up at Lakota, “Wolves are healing a fragmented landscape.”
In The Nine Mile Wolves, “One lone female… led the way to recolonization that has expanded to nearly seven hundred wolves, with more than forty packs throughout Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.” This last is from the 1992 preface to a new edition.
In light of recent news of the candidacy of Sarah Palin for one of the highest offices in our land, I shudder to consider the fate of these miraculously restored wild creatures. For awhile, I had relaxed in gratitude and gratification that we have finally begun to make amends to our wild brothers, charged as we are to be stewards of this planet, not its despoilers.
Now a woman, who could hold the fate of our nation and therefore the globe in her hands, is revealed as favoring a $150 bounty for the foreleg of each dead wolf brought in through a vicious aerial hunting program. Under her aegis as Governor, nearly 800 Alaskan wolves have already perished. She is also suing federal agencies to have polar bears removed from threatened and endangered lists. She prates of the sacredness of human life while extinguishing that of those whom the Indians revered as the four-leggeds, our relations, and our charge upon this planet. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
2 p.m.: Hurricane Hanna in the wings. Dry as desert at Canal Pointe, earth like tan marble under struggling greenery. Electric air suffocates and tingles all at once.
2:15: Abrupt deluge. Gully-washer. Sounds like hailstones, marbles-from-the-sky. Eavestroughs pouring, cascades down and lava-like eruptions up, as though this storm is hours, not minutes old.
Beyond hot - steamy. Airlessness — cannot draw a breath. Well, this is a tropical storm. You never DID much like the tropics. In cotton shorts and short-sleeved shirt, feel like an Albee play, only not in a garbage can, in a garbage bag, tied at the neck. Face flushed, as though hiking straight uphill in mid-August. Try drinking hot tea - that business about hot making cool is totally fraudulent! Electrified and dim at once. Go in and turn off computer and it takes forEVER. Hoping my new battery back-up system works.
Rain never used to start out like this. Yes, of course, I’d forgotten global warming. Ice melting, oceans overfull and overhot, no ice caps to fling back heat into the ether — I’ve read books beyond counting that explain: as our earth terminally warms at our hands, we can expect storms to be more and more violent. Rain used to trickle down, tickle the earth, gently open it for soft soaking rains. In Michigan childhood, parents rejoiced as day-long rains tenderly nourished our Victory Gardens. We always used to go out and play, barefoot, in the rain. This deluge sounds like a thousand thousand drummers marching through the floodplain between this apartment and the Canal.
Blindlingly steady silver rain. Catchment basin begins to stop being the meadow they’ve mowed every week all summer. All morning, trees on all sides have been preternaturally still. Theatre on opening night before curtain rises… Skies are tin all over.
3:11 POURING down! A deluge. Was it Bob Newhart or Bill Cosby who dared spoof the bible: “What’s a cubit, Lord?” Read the rest of this entry »
Marsh Mallow In Better Days
before Butcher of the Towpath Struck, Creating Wasteland
Brenda Jones immortalizes a sprig of purple loosestrife.
There is a whole lot less wild to our New Jersey than there was a week ago! Although invasive, Brenda Jones’ purple loosestrife, and other wildflowers of comparable loveliness, have been brutally extirpated along the D&R Canal, from Alexander Road south.
Kayaking last night at last light, my pleasure in the tranquil scene had been absolutely destroyed. As in ‘Desert Storm’. As in ‘Scorched Earth’. As in T.S. Eliot’s haunting, inescapable masterpiece of a poem, The Wasteland.
Only a week ago, marsh mallow (resembling pale pink and occasional rare white blooms of hibiscus, the roots of which were used by Lenni Lenapes to create a sticky sweet dessert) had towered over a friend and me as we stroked away from the work week into canal timelessness. Tucked in and out among these majestic blooms, –so tall they had made us feel like Alice in Wonderland after the potion–, were diminutive yellow and white ‘butter and eggs’, snapdragon-relatives. Minute as they are, when walking the D&R Towpath, you can pinch ‘butter and eggs’, make them open their fierce little mouths. Well, you could, that is, until now!
Exploding like red exclamation points were the normally shy [but this year exceptionally vigorous] cardinal flowers, their hue the blinding crimson of the male of that bird species, tall sharp spikes like ignited fireworks in canal shadow.
Airy Queen Anne’s lace had vied with tough little brown-eyed Susans, petals like sunspokes, like radiant Apollo himself, circling bittersweet centers. These daisy-like flowers had hunkered down among fragrant sedum and occasional intoxicating sprays of honeysuckle.
Until last night, kayaking the canal, –cleaving clouds, no sound but the purr of prow in cooling waters–, had been as much an exercise in natural aromatherapy as in the visual. No longer. Read the rest of this entry »
Brenda Jones Captures Eagle Using Thermals for Effortless Flight
We are blessed, in New Jersey, to live midway between two of the most famous bird-magnets on the planet - Cape May Point, where voyaging birds ‘gang up’ and feed up before crossing the Delaware Bay that most of us don’t even realize exists; and Hawk Mountain, just beyond the Delaware River in Pennsylvania.
Hours at Cape May Point’s Hawk Platform, –built with the encouragement of Cape May Bird Observatory and the funds of major optics manufacturers–, open pearly gates to raptor heaven every autumn and somewhat more sporadically in spring. There and at Hawk Mountain’s North Lookout, experts in spotting and identifying birds on the wing are ready, willing, able and eager to let you know what each black smudge will turn into when it zoooooms over your head.
Author Pete Dunne is known for having rendered birding ’sexy’ in our time, with the brilliant assistance of David Allen Sibley — whose artistry and science marry in the most pivotal and birding-altering works since Roger Tory Peterson. David is genuine, even humble about his expertise - which he’ll be bringing to a select few for a D&R Greenway Land Trust fundraising Bird Walk on Saturday, October 4, meeting at the Marsh Nature Center of the Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, at 8 a.m. To register, call 609-924-4646 for information, directions, and how to make out the tax-deductible checks to further the cause of land preservation and stewardship in our state, in our time. Read the rest of this entry »