Archive for May, 2009
You know those weeks when absolutely everything goes awry? Personally, professionally, familialy? When fondest hopes are dashed and messages go awry and information critically needed cannot be obtained? When people you cherish are also being buffeted, –like my sister, like the friends of my sister, like too many of the Cool Women Poets?
I’ve had MORE than ENOUGH of this in May. This morning I was going to be a good girl and work at my desk. My HOME desk. What the French so brilliantly call la paperasserie! It helps me bear the task to call it that, and also to put all the paperwork in a basket covered with a linen towel embroidered in vivid colors, “A Kiss from France.”
But then the mowers came, as I settled to my task. Louder than bulldozers, zooming around below my Canal Pointe windows. And we all know, after the mowing comes the weed-whacking. This usually happens on Tuesday when I am at work at D&R Greenway Land Trust. This is Friday.
I frankly fled. First to get gas for my very old car named Sylvana — she had that name for three years before I found out that is the Goddess of the Woods. And I wasn’t this woods person when I bought and named her.
Then to the Mercer County Library, to try to find some nature books. I feel really STUPID that I cannot find the nature books. This morning when I asked where they are, the o please I hate cliches, blonde woman at the desk said, “The WHAT?” Long-time NJ WILD readers remember my going through this — with, yes, a very dark brunette pierced every WHICH way–, at Borders when we began. Both of them looked blank at the request for nature. At the Library, –remembering Borders all too well–, I feebly tried, again: “Edward Abbey? Aldo Leopold? Barry Lopez? Terry Tempest Williams? Henry David Thoreau?”
She couldn’t WAIT to get me to the reference librarians. That had a bit of a rocky start, but ended with my asking, “Well, do you have a New Jersey section?” Brightness, even delight. Willingness to go in search of my Abbey books, having ordered some of the others.
And what did I find in the New Jersey sanctuary? Stories of South Jersey! Records of West Jersey when we were plural. Records of the New Jersey Proprietors and their Land. So many books that I had to walk down the handicapped ramp because I couldn’t see over them to descend the concrete steps. Enough to keep me busy until July — hurrah.
Once a man who had fallen in love with me confessed, at the outset, not his love (which I by no means suspected!) but the fact that “I have too many books.” If I hadn’t already been captivated, without realizing it, that would’ve done it. Of course, there’s no such THING as too many books!
Elated, and because I was so far south already, I zipped over to the Trenton Farmers’ Market. Alight with new strawberries, aisles awash in bedding plants and flowering cascades overhead, studded with sturdy New Jersey (of course! that’s NJ FRESH CENTRAL!) asparagus, I was in heaven.
Home-ground peanut butter. Country ham from Pulaski meats, and homemade pickles — the crispest ever. Hearty vivid veggie burgers at Cartlidges and just-made sirloin patties all set to freeze. Pork chops with the bone in — which my friend, food-writer/restaurant critic Faith Bahadurian will applaud. And which I may even discover to be flavorful, which no pork has been since they turned it into ‘white meat’. Feel the scorn in me as I write that line!
The Amish have purchased this venerable meat site. Their soft voices and quaint clothes added a measure of down home that hadn’t been present at Trenton Farmers’ Market before.
Everything was stunningly inexpensive, and it’s only 11 miles from my door. I drive 11 miles round trip each day to and from D&R Greenway. I have a collage on my desk of little receipts - the two meat stops, for all their bounty, under $20 each; enormous milk and enormous plain yogurt at Halo Farms for $3 total; the splendid olives, the kneel-down-and-worship olives from And Everything Nice (273-4573) also $3.
I didn’t make my journey for economy. Rather to interact with real people who grow and prepare and/or import, as it turns out, some items, with LOVE. But that soul-healing excursion, those lively conversations that brought back inner and outer smiles, also turned out to be financially blessed and blessing.
I used all my sustainable bags, even though they all kept wanting to give me plastic and paper. I chatted with growers, as with the blushing strawberries. We used to take our daughters to that market when they were little, to meet the tomato man and the cauliflower lady, and yes to see where peanut butter comes from.
But I have a confession to make. I weakened at the end. There is a woman known for her cheeses, her olive oils, and yes, her olives. I can’t find olives of Nice, let alone Nyons or Opio or Aix anywhere any more. She had French green olives with lemon. I succumbed. The container was a mere $3, stunningly reasonable, as with everything that morning.
I parceled out 4 for lunch. And yes, I was too ravenous to photograph it. O! Olives of France. Tiny, with stones still in, silken, rich, even buttery - is that an oxymoron? Kneel-down-and-worship olives. And no, they are not local.
Can NJ WILD forgive me?
Seeing my dear friend, Penelope Schott, formerly of Rocky Hill and of Griggstown, finding something more interesting than Mt. St. Helens this week, I ask NJ WILD readers and myself, “Who am I to call NJ WILD?”
Actually, I claim that right because I’ve made the Pine Barrens my own. Because I’m in love with sugar sand and bayberry, pygmy pines and curly grass fern. Because people try to scare me about the Jersey Devil when I’m down there wandering around, getting lost on purpose, alone - and by George! I silence them when I insist, “I WANT to meet him!”
Bordentown resident, Joseph Bonaparte, [--Brother of Napoleon, former King of Spain and of Naples, star of an NJN special I couldn't get on my Comcast and I don't know why --] Joseph saw the Jersey Devil in the 1800’s and wrote of it to friends and colleagues abroad. What’s good enough for Joseph is good enough for me. I’m WAITING…
I call NJ WILD because everyone at D&R Greenway works so hard to preserve open space, beginning 20 years ago with the Towpath, morphing over into the Sourlands, and now racking up 1900 acres at a clip in Salem County. Because it’s taken us 20 years to save 20 miles, and we’re full speed AHEAD! And now we’re providing stewardship, which involves removing invasives. Now we’re growing native species in our hoop house to restore the forest primeval… with deer fencing… Come see The Edward T. Cone Grove…
When I worked in Corporate America, people thought it WILD of me to hike the towpath alone. The D&R Canal and Towpath. The Towpath you can’t get into Princeton from College Road East without crossing.
I praise NJ WILD and no one can stop me.
However, this is what my cherished friend and fellow Cool Woman Poet, Penelope Schott, who now lives in Oregon, was doing a week after her mother’s funeral - doin’ the what comes naturally out west… o dear now THAT’s WILD!
Mt. St. Helens is in the background… But to this quirkily original and passionate woman, something is more important than that famous mount.
What’s WILD to you?
Dear NJ WILD Readers,
I choose this picture, which I took above D&R Greenway Land Trust, where I work, to illustrate this gratifying letter just in from our Representative, Rush Holt. He is our steady partner in preservation in our own state. But, never provincial, Rush sees and saves ‘the big picture’.
Rush is gratifyingly faithful in answering every preservation hot link message I send. [Even though I usually begin by saying, "Rush, I know I don't need to urge you in these matters, especially concerning our environment, about which you are always so strongly vigilant!"]
See what Rush has to say about leading the charge to overturn toxic and destructive leases passed by the Bush Administration in frantic last hours.
You know I’m eager to prove to NJ WILD readers that one person DOES make a difference — one legislator, one user of hot links!
This is why I consistently urge NJ WILD readers to join the e-notification processes for every group that fights your battles - beginning with Audubon and Sierra, Defenders of Wildlife and the like — locally and nationally; surging along to save salmon, save manatees, save polar bears, save whales and above all PRESERVE LAND, as with D&R Greenway Land Trust.
Without Rush Holt, our New Jersey would be far less green, far more Impervious Surface Central!
Wherever you live, find your environmental champions, from legislators to non-profits, and do whatever it takes, by e-mail, letter, phone call and dollars to support their urgent missions.
Thank you, Rush! A very grateful Carolyn…
(bolds obviously mine!)
Thank you for contacting me to inform me of your opposition to oil and gas leasing in Utah’s Red Rocks Wilderness. I appreciate hearing from you.
I share your opposition to drilling in Utah’s Red Rock wilderness. Utah’s Colorado Plateau holds some of this nation’s most cherished, publicly-owned wild landscapes and unique ecosystems.
On December 19, 2008, despite widespread opposition of the public, environmental groups and Members of Congress, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) began auctioning mineral extraction rights on more than 110,000 acres of sensitive public lands. More than half of the land placed on auction by BLM would have been protected by the America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (H.R. 1919), legislation I supported in the 110th Congress that did not become law.
The auction was the result of six new land-use management plans finalized by the Bush administration in November 2008. The parcels of unspoiled public land that were available for lease are close to a variety of environmental treasures including Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Dinosaur National Monument, Desolation Canyon on the Green River, the remote Book Cliffs, and the archaeologically-rich Nine Mile Canyon.
I want you to know that I led 57 of my colleagues in writing a letter to then President-Elect Barack Obama’s Department of the Interior Transition Team advising the incoming Secretary of the Interior to rescind the December 19, 2008 lease sales. Our letter also asked that the Department of the Interior redraft the land-use management plans to forbid additional leasing on these lands. I have attached a copy of my letter for your review.
You may know that one of the first actions of President Obama’s Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, was to overturn these leases. I will continue to work with the President to protect and preserve our environment for future generations.
Again, thank your for contacting me. I look forward to hearing from you again about this and other issues.
Member of Congress
NJ WILD readers know that I work for D&R Greenway Land Trust - our 20th Birthday Year, preserving scarce land in New Jersey, our most populous state.
This picture says it all: WHY SAVE LAND! What do you think is left of the wild above our beloved D&R Canal and Towpath!
NJ WILD readers are accustomed to my insisting that we pay attention to the beauties of nature right in our own backyards. Yes, indeed, right in much maligned New Jersey.
As my sister is at O’Hare at this moment, preparing to fly into one of NJ’s prettiest days ever, Brenda Jones promised to send me nature scenes to help transcend the waiting. Here are Brenda’s backyard gifts. May they bless each of you in your own waiting.
Remember, your key to nature miracles is what I call the Seventh Sense: ATTENTION!
Female Goldfinch in Full Breeding Plumage by Brenda Jones
We sometimes call humans ‘happy campers’. This is a happy feeder!
PROOF OF SPRING - RHUBARB PREPARED TO WELCOME MY SISTER FROM CHICAGO
My Chicago sister has come and gone, and we spent every possible moment outdoors –from Rogers Refuge at sundown, seconds below my Canal Pointe Apartment, to Sandy Hook and a new journey along stunning Navesink River Road. The highlight of our journey returned us to the Pine Barrens’ magnificent Brigantine/Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, where my sister ‘met’ life birds such as black skimmers skimming and black-bellied plovers in full breeding plumage.
We returned to Princeton come upon our rarest bird - THE LITTLE BLUE HERON - finishing his early evening meal at the edge of the canal below Quaker Bridge Road near Wegman’s!
Little Blue Heron as seen along D&R Canal & Towpath, near Princeton
Black-bellied Plover as seen at Brigantine, photographed at Cape May
My sister experienced not only “life birds”, but also “life weeds” — coralline field sorrel in salty atmospheres; golden Hudsonia alongside sandy Pine Barrens roads; and eye-popping yellow flags/wild iris at Rogers Refuge and all along the Towpath.
Her rhubarb experience? We were so busy “naturing” that we barely had time for dessert until last night. Thanks to Ilene Dube, my Packet Editor who insisted on NJ WILD, we added one chunked red pear to the meltingly tangy rhubarb compote. This brought welcome color accents, returning the uncooked hue of rhubarb that might remind some people of dynamite sticks! — and marvelous texture contrasts. We couldn’t BELIEVE our tastebuds. Those rhubarb stalks came from a colleagues Bucks County Farm, the red pear from Wegman’s. My sister couldn’t remember when she had last tasted rhubarb. It would seem no rhubar experience for her had been this irresistible. Local, Sustainable — what matters more?
Here’s the original piece:
NJ WILD Readers have borne with me through a relentless and often fruitless search for spring 2009. Tonight, I loaded pictures from those quests onto my computer. The final images answer the spring question, without question:
If there’s rhubarb, it must be spring!
My sister is coming over from Illinois on Wednesday. Barbara Simmons, D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Director of Programs and Partnerships, brought me the perfect welcome gift — rhubarb from Barbara’s Country Garden, in Solebury, above New Hope.
Beautiful Bucks County, where I lived for pivotal 1980’s years, there really becoming a poet. Where I found and bought rhubarb filling the back of a station wagon, at my Lambertville bank! First rhubarb from a human (as opposed to a store.) First rhubarb for my first spring in the town of hope…
This week, I brought Barbara’s ruddy gift home to my Princeton kitchen, to cook up a treat for my sister.
A little rhubarb, a little water, a little sugar and one cinnamon stick. The briefest simmering until the chunks nearly disappeared. For Marilyn’s first dessert on this spring quest, we will relish rhubarb compote with the best ice cream I can find.
Enjoy the beauty. Find rhubarb.
Rhubarb fits into NJ WILD because it’s little more than a weed.
Like dandelion greens,
like fiddlehead ferns –
something briefly with us in these lengthening days
something to act as tonic
proving that winter is finally, finally gone!