Archive for October, 2008
GEARING UP FOR WINTER
Yes, we have to face it. If October comes, can winter be far behind? Although I have always been a person easily chilled, with the improvement of outdoor gear, I have come to cherish winter.
Everything I’ve learned about how to be out in the Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown Marsh or Cape May or Cumberland County for the Eagle Festival at 20 degrees and 20 mph winds, I have learned in person and from pamphlets at Eastern Mountain Sports.
It is my experience that those who work there love the wild outdoors as much as we do, or as much as we WISH we could. And they’ll do everything they can to give us more memorable yet safe outdoor time.
I wrote this for a New Jersey magazine some years ago, urging people to get out to Sandy Hook, Island Beach, Cape May, the Marsh in all seasons, especially in winter. Then the trees turn sculptural. Then the rarest birds arrive. Then there are no troublesome leaves to hide those birds. Then ice concentrates eagles…
Gearing Up for Winter
Space-age materials take the sting out of high winds and low temperatures, free you
to trek the winter woods. What you’re after is ‘warmth without weight’.
Your main purpose outdoors in winter is to stay dry – that’s more important than warm, yet essential for sustained warmth. Layers of wicking, breathing space-age clothes and boots ensure dryness.
Before trekking at the hem of glaciers, friends with whom I hiked in Oregon repeatedly checked one other re “space-age materials”, repeating mantra: “Cotton kills.” Cotton traps moisture, retains moisture, sets up chill-cycle. Once hypothermia sets in, it can take hours for body to re-set ‘thermostat’, even indoors.
Participating in naturalist hikes, Christmas bird counts, tree walks, etc., there may be a good deal of standing and observing, rich lecture time. It’s even more essential to remain dry on the inside, warm throughout this form of excursion.
Once, after an unexpectedly icy Sourlands hike, I exchanged my trusty leather boots for space-age wonders. now I not only am not cold while standing and listening to naturalists, my legs feel warm to my knees. Eastern Mountain Sports earned my undying gratitude when they taught me about wind-pruf space age fabrics, from gloves inside mittens to ear-guarding hats to pants themselves.
Sources: Experience and Eastern Mountain Sports pamphlets on Gear
Larry Chestnut’s Tomatoes and Wine Symbolize October 30 Event:
D&R Greenway Land Trust Presents: “From Legislature to Table”
Thursday, October 30 — 6:30 p.m. Reception; 7:00 p.m. Presentation
Free and open to the public, registration is requested at 609-924-4646.
[in place of Congressman Rush Holt, whose sister has passed away]
Michelle Mulder, his Counsel for Agriculture, and Fawn McGee, NJDEP Green Acres
will present with
Jim Weaver, Tre Piani Owner/Chef and Founder of Slow Food Central Jersey
Princeton, NJ – October, 2008. D&R Greenway Land Trust announces “From Legislature to Table”, October 30, with a 6:30 p.m. reception and 7:00 presentation. We extend our deep condolences to Congressman Rush Holt on the death of his sister. We thank Michelle Mulder, his Counsel on Agriculture, and Fawn McGee, NJDEP Green Acres. Michelle will speak on Congressman Holt’s commitment to preserving farmland in our state, as well as upon his recently proposed legislation fostering Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms and farmers through grant programs. Fawn McGee will discuss the current state of Green Acres funding and its impact upon land preservation in New Jersey.
Jim Weaver, Chef/Owner of Princeton’s Tre Piani Restaurant and co-founder and head of the Central Jersey Convivium of Slow Food will share Slow Food’s basic philosophy, “Seeking to create dramatic and lasting change in our food system,” emphasizing the group’s global commitment to foods that are “Good, Clean and Fair,” and ways to live the Slow Food life in Central Jersey. Jim Weaver’s bountiful restaurant and Slow Food events intensively spotlight local farmers, with whom he has strong personal relationships.
The programs will be introduced by D&R Greenway’s “3rd generation resident farmer”, Bill Rawlyk, Director of Land Preservation, whose Hunterdon County farm the Land Trust has preserved. Bill will give the hands-on farmer’s perspective on land preservation, especially farmland, in the Garden State.
Free and open to the public, registration is requested at 609-924-4646.
“The Land that Feeds You” is a mixed media art exhibition celebrating agriculture in the Garden State. D&R Greenway Curator, Jack Koeppel, has selected art inspired by regional farms, farmers and farmlands, to emphasize the urgency of preserving farmland in our state. Its September 25th opening, at which the Secretary of Agriculture, Charles Kuperus and Rush Holt’s Counsel for Agriculture, Michelle Mulder, spoke, was covered by NJN News. Read the rest of this entry »
Bucolic Vista from Hobler Park, Montgomery cfe
Every autumn, other people feel far more sensible than I, more grown-up. For one thing, they understand about Daylight Savings Time, which has always seemed backwards to me. When the days get shorter, we need more light at the end of the day!
Other people don’t make mistakes over “spring ahead, fall back”, the way I do, living in terror of turning clocks the wrong ways when the dire declaration descends. Let alone call their non-early-bird mother in Princeton, from London, at 5 a.m. instead of 5 p.m., wondering why the girls weren’t up to talk to me… Now was that six hours ahead or six hours behind?
Other people not only EXPECT it to get dark sooner; they don’t seem upset by it. ‘Real people’ even rejoice over the Summer Solstice, instead of feeling strangled, as I do: “O, no! Now the days are getting shorter!”
I learned a useful trick to counter that strangled feeling for people who crave sun: Take your walk in last light — allowing every feeble ray to work its miracles in your endorphin-factory. And two years ago, I learned a place where this trick is particularly effective - Hobler Park, on The Great Road, just east of Route 518, in Montgomery Township. Read the rest of this entry »
Anne Zeman’s Ken Lockwood Gorge — Tranquillity Base…
In a tumultuous personal time, I was refreshed by this verse, framed in my kitchen, heart of my home.
It feels most appropriate in the midst of various news currently bombarding us. Whether this was was discovered in an old church or written by a wise modern person does not concern me. Its wisdom does. I send it to my NJ WILD partners.
Blessings — Carolyn
Go placidly amid the noise and haste
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars.
Therefore be at peace with God,
Max Ehrman, 1927.
Found in Old Saint Paul’s Church, Baltimore, U.S.A. Dated 1692
From the Alt.Usage.English FAQ: “Desiderata” was written in 1927 by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945). In 1956, the rector of St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore, Maryland, used the poem in a collection of mimeographed inspirational material for his congregation. Someone who subsequently printed it asserted that it was found in Old St. Paul’s Church, dated 1692. The year 1692 was the founding date of the church and has nothing to do with the poem. See Fred D. Cavinder, “Desiderata”, TWA Ambassador, Aug. 1973, pp. 14-15.
A visit to New Jersey’s Pine Barrens can reframe anyone’s image of our beleaguered state. Contrary to John McPhee’s dire warnings, however, travelers to these pine-and-oak-studded reaches are not in constant danger of being lost, abducted, let alone encountering the Jersey Devil. Although I’ve tried! According to The Standard Dictionary of Folklore, it is written, “The Jersey Devil is no fiction.” [Cranberry Festival Program 2006]
But this time of year, it’s berries, not demons, that draw visitors to ‘The Pines’. Thirty years ago now, this blessed reason was named an International Biosphere Reserve. And most people in New Jersey have never set foot upon its sugar sand roads, among its Atlantic White Cedar groves, alongside its teak-water rivers, rivulets lakes and bogs.
The cranberry harvest festival is taking place in Chatsworth, New Jersey, this weekend, as I write. Each year, this celebration of one of New Jersey’s most famous harvests draws 100,000 people in October. Chatsworth normally slumbers at the crossroads of Routes 532 and 563, a blink-and-you’re-through-it town named “One of the 50 Best Places to Live and Play”, by National Geographic Adventure magazine.
Chatsworth is generally known as “The Heart of the Pines,” and its Buzby’s General Store, saved and named to New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places by the genial and indefatigable R. Marilyn Schmidt, is the heart of Chatsworth.
Moneys raised from this festival go to restore the town’s storied White Horse Inn, “a masterpiece of vernacular architecture.” But any time until frost is a fine time to toodle around Pinelands back roads in quest of ’seas incarnadine,’ cranberries floated for the harvest. The Lenni Lenapes gathered the fruit of this ground-hugging vine by hand, bending repeatedly. Cranberries in Atlantic White Cedar barrels kept New Jersey mariners from scurvy in the whaling days, as did Pine Barrens teak water which remained fresh for multi-year voyages. Today, the world sees our cran- and blueberries as powerful allies in maintaining a healthy immune system. My purpose, I admit frankly to NJ WILD readers, of October cranberry-quests, is aesthetic. Yes, I’ll bring home berries to freeze, but no Vermont forest has ever surpassed the bright primary hues of cranberry harvest in the Pines.
Buzby’s General Store now welcomes the hungry on weekend mornings to its newly re-opened cafe. http://www.pineypower.com/ is a lively and valuable site for discovering “everything you wanted to know about ‘The Pines.’ Many active links coach you as assiduously as McPhee warned you against random explorations. If it’s especially cranberries you’re after, check here: http://www.pineypower.com/cranberries.htm
Marilyn Schmidt’s Buzby’s is a treasure trove of everything “Piney” - emphasis on blueberries, cranberries, home-made jams by Nikki Giberson of Port Republic, and local art. Marilyn Schmidt’s passion is books - about the Pines - a library like no other. More than twenty have been written, illustrated, published and bound by this genial proprietress - through Pine Barrens Press and Barnegat Light Press. The hard-to-find and out-of-print may be there on a good day, especially those pertaining to railroads in the Pines. Cookbooks vie with guides to gravestones, and her almost-out-of-print map to the Pine Barrens is a must for any traveler.
There’s nothing to surpass standing on pine duff on a sparkling autumn day, surrounded by silence, watching men in yellow waterproof garb negotiate among bobbing red berries, (our nation’s third largest harvest), as October skies paint bogwater the color of lapis.
Brenda Jones Captures October Moon, Soaring Geese
Even as a child, I had scant patience with dictionaries. But perhaps never have I been more incensed than today, October 12, 2008, pondering a post called “What Is Autumn?” Deciding to let Random House answer, what did I discover, for all their fame and authority, but the dullest definition of my life: “season between summer and winter.” Talk about “damning with faint praise!” I assumed that those who work on dictionaries do so because of a love of words, of ideas. WRONG!
So I ask our NJ WILD readers — “What is autumn?” How do YOU know the season has arrived, irrefutably/beyond question? Does autumn’s arrival bring you joy, melancholy, or both?
I used to know autumn when my (Swiss) husband and I took our annual two weeks in New England, among color-splashed hillsides, October-blue skies, wading in October-warm ocean even in Maine. Along the way, we’d sample corncob-smoked hams and aged Cabot cheeses, stocking up on Vermont maple syrup for winter’s pancakes. Bring weeds home in compartmented boxes to fill the copper wash boiler on the hearth. (One year the milkweed ripened, erupted, all over the family room, just as Werner came home!)
My sister and I recognized Michigan autumn when our parents took us to the Franklin Cider Mill. A few miles north of our Lathrup Village home, approaching the old mill, we could smell the tang of apple mash right through closed car windows. There, autumn sounds were involved — creaking of ancient machinery, plash of apple juice, mushy plop of apple pulp as, in its burlap wraps, the pressed fruit landed on pale hard ground. We’d be given cider frothing from the press, and spicy doughnuts bubbling up through their fat, almost too hot to hold in flighty paper napkins. Sugar maples overhead would have turned coralline and crimson with occasonal flashes of gold. All the way to Franklin and back, we’d smell the sweet-tart fragrance of burning leafpiles. In almost every yard, children helped parents rake leaves with long pale tools that made a crisping sound as crunchy-wonderful as jumping in those piles before the burning. The cider mill is as old as Michigan and one hundred years older than I: http://www.franklincidermill.com/
For my sister, Marilyn, –far more clothes-conscious than I–, autumn meant new wool sweaters, plaid skirts of new flair, to wear above her bobby sox and loafers as she skipped to school with nearby friends. For me, fall electrified with new notebooks, new pens and pencils, new cases in which to keep the tools of a trade I did not yet realize would be mine.
But what is autumn in Princeton? Read the rest of this entry »
David Allen Sibley by Carolynne Bailey
A week ago right now, David Allen Sibley was leading a group of avid birders and land preservationists through the Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown Marsh. The author/artist whose The Sibley Guide to the Birds and The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior catapaulted birding to new levels, first in America, then round the globe, honored Princeton’s D&R Greenway Land Trust with his presence. The purpose of the fund-raising Marsh walk was to raise awareness about the urgency of saving bird habitat, not only for nesting, but also for migration.
The Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown Marsh is the northernmost freshwater tidal marsh of the Delaware River basin. Secluded in the center of three central Jersey towns, the Marsh is tended by Friends for the Marsh, under the umbrella of D&R Greenway Land Trust. [http://www.drgreenway.org; Friends: http://www.marsh-friends.org/]
Attendees gathered in the Marsh Nature Center, actively being restored by D&R Greenway and Friends for the Marsh. Over Terhune cider and doughnuts, David signed books old and new. After a brief introduction by D&R Greenway Executive Director Linda Mead, and remarks on habitat preservation by both Linda and her guest, the capacity group of 32 set out through tangled trails spun with backlit vines, in quest of birds and enhanced birding skills.
Quiet, unassuming, committed to teaching and sharing, David in the field conveys the sense of a schoolboy playing hooky. Intent, beaming, he shepherded his eager flock from vocalizing Carolina wrens to Carolina chickadees, explaining distinctions as he walked. The narrow trail opened out into Watson’s Woods, where Marsh kayakers gather to picnic and await the turn of the tide. The group was dazzled by ravening flocks of female redwings among towering swathes of ripe wild rice. In all, 50 species were tallied that morning, thanks to David’s generous, even instantaneous agreement many months ago to provide this fundraiser for D&R Greenway Land Trust.
Attendees ranged in age from the mid-eighties to cinematographer Gil Domb’s 9-year-old son, Alexander. This dedicated young birder resembles David himself, who began that hobby and his art at around the same age. Alexander had brought two ‘Sibleys’ (volumes) to be signed by his idol. Father, Gil, apologized for the dog-eared condition of the larger book. I assured the boy that there is no sight dearer to an author. Knowing Alexander’s passion for birds as individuals, which I first experienced when this lad was seven, I told David, “I think he sleeps with this book!”
[A few signed Sibley Field Guides to Eastern Birds remain at D&R Greenway - $25 plus postage/handling call for information 609-924-4646]
It was a particular joy to share this walk with Ilene Dube, my Packet Time Off Editor, with whom I’ve trekked other reaches of this Marsh at 20 degrees with 20 m.p.h. winds. Clyde Quin, who was raised near the Marsh, whom I call “The Godfather of the Marsh”, watched over the day with eagle eyes, adding Lenni Lenape tales when appropriate.
Great egrets coasted past, adding their silence to the crowd’s hush. One or two male red-winged blackbirds were spied among the muted females and immatures. Drama arrived when a sharp-shinned hawk joined a red-tail - one “at 9 o’clock”, one “at 3 o’clock” on a “snag” (dead tree - which birders turn into clocks to help each other find species.) A feisty mockingbird arrived to harry both.
Brenda Jones Honors Vigilant Blue Jay - Keepers of the Watch, with Crows, for all the Wild Kingdom
“What’s up?!” is a phrase my daughters used when they abruptly turned into teen-agers. ‘What’s up?’, I wonder this pre-dawn, when I know Nature is OUT THERE but I can’t see ANYthing!
Sunrise isn’t sunrise any more. It’s autumn.
Sometime somewhere in August, Apollo begins to oversleep and I am always shocked. I want to go find him, wiggle his toes, tell him to get into that chariot and get going! Here I am awake, all pistons firing, and it may as well be midnight.
Nature’s still there, but what can I perceive in blackness?
Crickets — that ceaseless, metallic susurrus. Seamless as silence, a blessing to me. People calculate temperature from frequency, but who cares? Crickets create the only “Surround Sound” that I treasure. In their evenness, even in their inescapability, these insects craft peace. When I am back in the office, telephones erupting on all sides, I will long for cricket time.
What’s up? Well, I know but can neither see nor hear the flight of owls across the floodplain, nor the stealthy course of foxes below these bedroom windows. The red are prevalent, but I have watched the silvery from my balcony.
Somewhere below me, our backwards skunk (white with a black stripe) pours along like melted silk. Deer are comfortable in darkness, –far moreso than I. And of course, up-canal, the beaver family is gulping supper and dessert before day, –their night–, arrives. Read the rest of this entry »