Archive for February, 2009
It intrigues me that confessions of my lack of spaghetti skill bring such intense comments from NJ WILD Readers. How amazing to read, to hear in person, “I can’t twirl spaghetti, either.”
There was method to the madness of this diversion from our usual theme. I realize that writing in a nature blog about the S.S. France and Les Halles, Venice and Ravenna, is sailing (pun intended) pretty far afield. In my Pied Piper role here, my plan was to urge you all to plunge into other realms of ‘I-Don’t-Know.’
For all my (41!) years in Princeton, I increasingly realize that there is more to life than the academic. Fear of not knowing can impede exploration. In reality, beyond mere ‘knowing’ lie riches untold. Here, above all, the journey is the destination.
Yes, there was a long time, –2/3 of my attenuated life–, when I was by no means a birder. From Michigan days, I knew robins, blue jays and crows. When an Audubon guide asked our group in an Illinois canyon, “How many of you are listers?,” I could only half-wave a lowered hand. [That was right up there with having to admit to "poet" in the 1970's.] That man added rare birds to my virtual list that day. And, he let me hold a tree frog. Most importantly his entire being emanated the joy and glory of the quest.
The spectre of not knowing may be keeping people from spending more time in Nature. Lacking names, [as when lacking techniques, such as spaghetti-twirling], stained the child Carolyn with poor grades and physical punishments. Plus scoldings at home.
Richard Louv urges, in his literally seminal Last Child in the Woods, Protecting our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, that families explore natural places together. Without boundaries. Without schedules. That they create formless time outdoors.
With this radical suggestion, Louv contends with parents afraid or ashamed not to to know. What if a child needs to tell dandelion from lily, titmouse from robin, raptors from songbirds, let alone accipiters from buteos. Better to stay indoors –like Louv’s airplane-encountered boy–, whose favorite place is “my bedroom, because that’s where the electrical outlets are.” Louv insists, and tens of thousands with him, now, in Children and Nature Network, get out there! Names can come later. Experience transcends.
The name game can be a joy, yes. Especially for poets and scientists. For others, not knowing can serve as everything from burden to wall. Read the rest of this entry »
As a child, both parents and nuns/priests expected us to learn/memorize/know a great many things - not all of them useful and some of them erroneous-to-misleading.
Therefore, one of the most difficult aspects of life for me is admitting that I do not know.
Tonight, twirling spaghetti, by candlelight, — a sauce I had crafted from New Jersey tomatoes, God knows whose garlic, the best olive oil of my life from the Trenton Farmer’s Market, and spaghetti ‘noodles’ (as we called them in the Midwest) which are my friend, Faith Bahadurian’s favorite brand - I was suddenly flung back to 1964. It was my first journey to Europe in general and Italy in particular.
There were so many things I did not know, that it felt like everyone else in the world had mastered in childhood.
My then husband, Werner Oscar Joseph Edelmann, rather obviously 100% Swiss, came from from St. Gallen, the lace-making center. This was my first crossing to what had always felt like the real world, though his seventh. I had delivered and raised two babies within twelve months, and what was then called, rather euphemestically, ‘fragile.’
We relished every moment abpard the S.S. France, I wondering what the ‘Old World’, — as it was then called–, could offer to top the excellent and exquisite service that had been ours despite high seas in April of 1964.
I well remember that we set sail on the anniversary of the Titanic’s doom. My Michigan friends, at bon voyage parties, had been convinced we would encounter icebergs and perish. We did, indeed, encounter icebergs — without touching them. They didn’t bother Alfred Hitchcock, –at the next table–, blithely ordering English mustard (in cardboard ‘tins’, such as we’d used as mustard plaster for bronchitis) with each exquisite French meal, starting with breakfast. Icebergs didn’t indimidate Will and Ariel Durant to our right, intently discussing ancient music with a tableful of professors of music from Columbia.)
Halfway across, champagning and Viennese waltzing with my superbly graceful Swiss husband, I decided, “What a way to go!”
Yes, NJ WILD readers, this has nothing to do with New Jersey, but may have a lot to do with WILD. Read the rest of this entry »
(Brenda Jones picture of the fog’s gift below…)
Very early this morning, unfamiliar shapes studded the flood-plain undergrowth outside my bedroom window. Possibly because Valentines’ Day isn’t that far behind us, the shapes resembled large beige and ivory hearts. Above the canal on the horizon, mist and fog played tag. Fog won.
Sleepy eyes gradually revealed that these presences were deer haunches. They uncharacteristically faced deep into the flood-plain, devouring with Oliver-intensity. Usually deer stop every 20 seconds, vigilant and tremulous. Both stood stock-still’, a phrase of my Midwestern mother’s. Food absolutely engaged them. When they moved at all, they were strangely somnolent among the shrubs.
I laughed out loud. These deer suddenly reminded me of someone in flappy pajamas, who can’t do anything without morning coffee, bumbling grouchily about an ill-lit kitchen. This was not usual light deer grazing. Chlorophyll may be deer caffeine, but it was taking a long time to work. I know deer aren’t prey to alarm clocks, but these two really did not want to be up yet. Read the rest of this entry »
No images today. Felled by flu, nature has become memory. I trust that “This, too, shall pass.”
Meanwhile, I ask myself (and NJ WILD readers), what are the places I most miss, most need, when I can’t be out IN them?
On this bright sun windless morning, my immediate answers are Sandy Hook and Island Beach. You’ve ‘heard’ me go on about beaches in winter, possibly my favorite season, in earlier blogs. Today, I am lured by the rare Bohemian Waxwing hopping about among cedars and Cedar Waxwings and probably robins at ‘The Hook.’ One recent year, a friend teased me for being “0 for 5″ in February Bohemian searches. But I had experienced five riveting beach adventures in the process.
It might be the ‘masked mockingbird’, the Northern Shrike I discovered on two separate journeys in separate years to Island Beach, both in gelid February. Each time, I called the bird in to N.J. Audubon. Both times, my sighting was accepted - to my great amazement, and the sense that maybe now I’ve really become a birder, after all.
[The Voice of NJ Audubon is a weekly report on birding in NJ. To
*Birders are encouraged to submit reports of Review List Species
NJ WILD readers know, I’m on my I-Love-Winter Binge, –wondering if any of you are going to ‘call me’ on it.
Part of the glory of winter in Central Jersey is that we are finally preserving open land and important waterways, and providing stewardship for it, as at D&R Greenway Land Trust, where I work (over 10,000 acres in our 20th year…) Therefore, rare wild creatures can actually thrive in our midst.
No words are needed when we are privileged to gaze at Brenda Jones’ stunning nature photography.
So, I will not presume, except to alert you that most of these have been taken near Princeton’s D&R Canal and Towpath, Lake Carnegie, Mercer County Park and the Pole Farm in Lawrenceville. Brenda’s genius proves my life thesis - New Jersey is rich in wild wonders.
December’s Eagles, Princeton, by Brenda Jones
‘Our’ Eagle Carries Nesting Material, by Brenda Jones, near Princeton’s Lake Carnegie
Male Harrier on Ice, Pole Farm, Brenda Jones
Brenda Jones Takes Winter’s Portrait, Mapleton Aqueduct Looking North
Lauren Curtis evokes a Winter Walk to accompany Robert Bly’s Snowfall in the Afternoon
Mary Leck’s Bubble Chorus
Featured in D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Water Exhibition
Opening Friday, February 6, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Free and Open to Public
Call 609-924-4646 to register
www.drgreenway.org for directions
All D&R Greenway Land Trust Art Exhibitions are chosen and installed to trigger appreciation of nature and preservation of land. The current one is called “Just Below the Surface” — Reflections on Water.
The public is invited on Friday, February 6, 5:30 to 7:30, to the Opening Reception at One Preservation Place, Princeton 08540. Call 609-924-4646 to reserve. [www.drgreenway.org for directions]
The exhibition features the stunning, unforgettable photography of Clem Fiori, Mary Leck, Susan Hockaday and Madelaine Shellaby. The art may be viewed on business days during business hours, until March 13.
Saving land means preserving the health and vigor of our waterways. Come see the majesterial works by Clem, Mary, Susan and Madelaine. You’ll never look at water the same way again!
February 19, 7 p.m., there will be an artists’ “Talk and Walk on Water”.
February 27, 5:30 p.m. will feature Poets on Water, Reading and Reception.
For all, please call D&R Greenway at 609-924-4646 to register.
Let the timelessness of these pieces of art echo the timelessness of your relationship. Foxfire Vintage Jewelry is a mecca for those in quest of beauty, value and the essence of yesteryear. Sandra Lisnak of Yardville, New Jersey, courageously followed her heart after her 2006 retirement from American Re-Insurance / Munich Re, America. She launched the on-line business, Foxfire Vintage Jewelry, which is pulling in responses from here and abroad.
Seeking to reward return customers in 2008, Ms. Lisnak offered a very well received Thanksgiving Sale. Delighted with its outcome, Ms. Lisnak now announces a Sweetheart Sale, from January 15 to February 15, for Foxfire jewelry “both costume and fine, and not limited to Valentine’s Day.”