Archive for July, 2009
Idyllic Scene of Batsto Lake, at Batsto Village in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens
HAVEN ON EARTH
For no more than the idyllic mood lightly captured in this recent picture, I urge NJ WILD readers to experience historic Batsto Village. Fourth of July was an ideal time to visit this treasure of living history deep within New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. It was the perfect day to remember that the existence of this village, and the workers who lived and labored there, helped birth America.
Fourth of July Memento, with Bog Iron, Batsto Village
This former center of iron collection, of forging and skilled distribution-by-water is one of the reasons we have a free nation today. Bog iron, collected on all sides in that mysterious teak water, was transported to Batsto from the bogs; turned into pig iron (so-called because its initial shape resembled a sow); then transformed into cannonballs and wagon wheels, tools and bayonets.
Teakwater spills over Batsto Lake Dam, Near Sawmill
Skilled watermen of the Pines, rowing with muffled oars, by night, and despite ever-changing sand-shoaling rivers, –such as the Batsto and the Mullica–, then carried these essential items to the Delaware and Philadelphia. From there, this vital materiel reached and sustained George Washington and his beleaguered troops at Valley Forge.
Windows on the Past, Time’s Shadows
Many historians insist that without the forges of the Pinelands, and the skilled watermen of those remote reaches, we could not have won our freedom from King George’s tyrranies.
Sawn Log Sprouts New Life, Batsto Sawmill
Even on our most intense holidays, it is never crowded on what I call ‘The Pineroads’ - 206 South to Tabernacle; 532 East to Chatsworth; 563 South to Batsto on 542. The emptiness of those sand-hemmed, pine-crowned roadways is worthy of the journey, all by itself.
Last 4th of July Light Bathes Batsto Tower
Rare plants decorate the roadsides - from goat’s rue to various heaths. Cranberries ripen in sunken bogs, where white egrets, great and small, mince about, hunting for frogs. Early settlers thought those egrets were cranes, hence ‘crane-berries.’ Rare waterlilies shimmer along deep ditches. It’s not unusual to be blessed by red-tail shadow, or to watch a sharp-shinned hawk snare a songbird in shrubbery near homes of the Lees and the Haines of cranberry fame.
Old Post Office, General Store, Batsto
Farm Markets, such as Conte’s on 206 ‘at the circle’ and Russo’s in Tabernacle fill your car with true fragrances, nourish when you have reluctantly returned to so-called civilization. Russo’s even sells New Jersey wines, and the healthiest, most bountiful plants I’ve ever purchased.
The Batsto experience, however, may turn out to be your richest. That site offers far more than iron memories. Even though it’s empty now, Batsto is alive with its vibrant past. NJ WILD readers know how I love ‘time travel’ - crossing over into other centuries, –whether via the River Line Train to the Delaware River towns, or by my trusty car down to the Pines.
Venerable Batsto Barn, Fourth of July Sky
In Batsto, time stops. Noise is nonexistent - although the polar opposite was true in its heyday. Even sunlight is filtered. Barns are venerable. Mansions have no “Mc” before their name. In Batsto, people stroll. In Batsto, strangers smile.
Back of Joseph Wharton Mansion, Batsto Village, July 4, 2009
by Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Jasmine, one of New Jersey’s Lakota Wolves
consummate greeter and protector in her own preserve…
I have my own theory about the reasons for Palin’s abrupt departure. Had she remained in office, something will come to light so that she would share the fate of the previous governor of Illinois. We shall see.
Defenders of Wildlife feels it is the searchlight which they persistently/insistently shine upon Palin’s slaughters, which has hounded her from office. We shall see.
See UPDATE from Defenders of Wildlife on July 31, particularly thanking our enlightened Congressman Rush Holt, ever our partner in preserving and protecting nature.
As I always urge NJ WILD readers, use those hot links; write those senators and representatives; send in those letters to editors to save nature at all costs.
We are here to be stewards, not despoilers.
Ours is a representative government. Never forget that, in recent years, our historic rights and freedoms were nearly obliterated.
The Palin Effect is a lingering symptom of the disease called tyranny, to fight which evil our Founding Fathers and Mothers pledged their “lives, their fortunes and sacred honor.”
For their sakes, for our own, and especially for those who come after, we must use this freedom of speech to retain and even enhance America’s founding principles.
Vigilance is in order. Your voice is essential.
Join, support and answer hot links for advocacy groups: local and national chapters of Sierra, Audubon, Greenpeace, Defenders of Wildlife, and the like. Buttress your local non-profits, –such as D&R Greenway Land Trust, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, Friends of Princeton (or Montgomery or West Windsor) OPEN SPACE, Kingston Greenways, and others.
What set America apart, before the Revolution, was our wild stretches, our untrammeled lands. Edward Abbey knew that a tyrant, –from within or without–, could destroy our liberty by closing parks.
Whether national or state, county or town, in wild spaces people discover their true selves, their full selves.
In the open, with NATURE, people recharge, restore and THINK. All of which our government, –federal and many complicit states–, steadily/deliberately discouraged over recent years.
Reclaim your voice, your parks, defend your creatures.
No matter why Palin leaves, support those who defend our wild places.
Remember: “All that it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” [Edmund Burke]
Your wild advocate, Carolyn
Niki Richardson who cherishes, even feeds the Lakota Wolves, sends this news on the heels of NJ WILD’s post re Jasmine and her brethren:
UPDATE July 31 from Defenders of Wildlife:
In the two days since I last wrote you…
Even with this phenomenal momentum, we’re in for a tough fight in the days and weeks ahead. Fortunately, we have some great allies in our efforts to save wolves and other wildlife from aerial gunning — allies like your representative, Rep. Rush Holt , and you.
to captialize on this amazing momentum and build even more vital support for the PAW Act.
Today, representatives are headed to their home districts for the August congressional recess, and senators will return home at the end of next week. But even while Congress is out of session, Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund will continue our fight to end Alaska’s awful aerial wolf-killing programs and prevent this terrible practice from spreading to other states.
This from Defenders of Wildlife earlier in July - which triggered this post:
Dear Carolyn,Today, Congressman George Miller (CA) will re-introduce the Protect America’s Wildlife (PAW) Act — federal legislation to end Alaska’s barbaric aerial wolf-killing programs and prevent the slaughter from spreading to other states. And, for the first time ever, the bill will also be introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA), joined by Senator Ben Cardin (MD).Just three days ago, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin blasted Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund’s efforts to save wolves in her resignation speech.
With your help, we’ve put aerial gunning in the national spotlight and built momentum to stop it. Now we need your support to seize this moment and fight to end these awful wolf-killing programs…
Thanks to your efforts, the PAW Act already has more than 90 original cosponsors in the House of Representatives! To educate Members of Congress and their staff, this week we’re launching a powerful new ad using a photograph from the March aerial wolf slaughter of 84 wolves near the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve — gruesome evidence of the brutality of Alaska’s aerial wolf-killing programs.
Just wanted to make sure you are aware that Senator Feinstein and Rep. Miller introduced the PAW Act yesterday to stop aerial hunting. The act is S.1971 The Protect America’s Wildlife Act. Info is on Defenders website.
I CAN’T WRITE ANYTHING NEW.
I CAN ONLY MOURN THE VANDALIZED TOWPATH AND CANAL AT MAPLETON,
GRIEVE OFFICIAL SILENCE.
Martha Weintraub’s Approaching Storm
Metaphor for dangers to D&R Canal and Towpath, averted by timely preservation
NJ WILD readers know that, one year ago, I was given a mandate by Ilene Dube, Packet Time Off Editor, to pull out all the stops in your nature blog, urging preservation and stewardship of land in general and of New Jersey Land in particular.
Martha Weintraub’s approaching storm above symbolizes what lay in store for the D&R Canal and Towpath, had neighbors, –including D&R Greenway–, not stepped in to preserve that historic site and connecting land.
[Martha Weintraub's superb exhibition of still lives in the guise of Old Masters is a Must See! at Hopewell's Gallery 14 right now, on weekends from 12 to 5. Images!: www.photogallery14.com/]
NJ WILD readers also know that I spend my days at D&R Greenway Land Trust, turning every talent to events that encourage land preservation. We mount nature-themed art exhibitions to demonstrate the importance of art to nature and nature to art. Our days and nights include rich variety to that end: hosting young photographers and other visual artists in our Olivia Rainbow Student Gallery; welcoming visitors and renters of our circa 1900’s barn, –from educators to attorneys, financiers to Certified Master Gardeners. We bring in scientists and chefs, politicians and artists, philanthopists and fundraisers, birders such as David Allen Sibley and Charles Leck, as well as bat experts of Bat Conservation International, to speak to D&R Greenway guests upon subjects tied with the precise nature theme of each exhibition. We featured stellar Princeton Nurseryman, Bill Flemer and his Bluegrass Band, Riverside, to entice dancers at spring’s Down to Earth Ball. In our Hoop House, which Bill helped construct, we are raising native species of plants to be restored to lands we protect. D&R Greenway doesn’t have members. Our Executive Director, Linda Mead, considers all donors, patrons and landowners as our friends. No matter what we’re doing, D&R Greenway’s thrust is always, SAVE MORE LAND. [www.drgreenway.org]
Certain art exhibitions include a Poets’ Reception. The word goes out, –not limited to New Jersey Poets–, that editors will select among their submissions, always to amplify our preservation and stewardship message. Our barn walls seem to exhale to include these generous and talented writers. As a poet, it brings great joy to welcome long-time friends and new faces and voices, whose strong poems serve preservation as they read in our circa-1900 barn Gallery.
Now, in US 1 Newspaper’s Summer Fiction/Poetry issue, available on-line at www.princetoninfo.com, a poet new to me shares her apt evocation of shock over discovering destruction in the name of progress.
Mary DeLia, in this tight web of lines, achieves all I try daily to convey on the dangers of development, the urgency of saving open space.
I have Mary’s permission, as well as Rich Rein’s, –courageous founder of US 1Business Newspaper–, to share this vital poem with NJ WILD readers.
Thank you for permission to bring this to NJ WILD, Mary. Your message requires no enhancement!
- by Mary DeLia
That is what the sign said.
I stood there and I scratched my head.
I simply didn’t understand
Why they would call this vacant land.
The sign said that they needed to sell
(Even though they didn’t word it well).
I knew that they would clear the land
Pave it over to be used by man.
… “Vacant Land”…
I counted 10 species of butterflies,
One hundred species of wild birds,
A dozens different kinds of wildflowers,
Including one I haven’t seen in 20 years.
Some kind of raptor circled the sky,
Something in my heart understood his cry.
His home is full of fox and deer,
And hundreds of sounds that I love to hear.
That is what the sign said.
I stood there and I shook my head.
I wished that they could understand
This is so much more than vacant land.
What I saw was a golden field
With a trickling stream, it all looked so real.
A quiet oasis, full of grace.
So much more than empty space.
… “Vacant land”…
I counted 10 laden pick-up trucks,
A dozen men in business suits,
A builder, surveyor, and contractor,
And one horrifying bulldozer.
In the end there would be 50 stores,
With enough parking for 200 cars.
They make their profit without concern.
But at least now the sign makes sense.
I thought they meant how things used to be,
But, no, it was a prophesy,
Self-fulfilling and on-demand.
Now it really is vacant land.
That is what the sign said.
Now I stand here and hang my head.
I couldn’t make them understand.
Forevermore it will be
That is what the sign says.
“a quiet oasis, full of grace” preserved D&R Canal, Alexander Road, by Brenda Jones
–D&R Canal, where D&R Greenway began its conservation mission in our state
DOES NO ONE CARE?
John and Margee Harper’s Gift to Towpath Strollers — Vandalized
The Packet Cares - Page One Story Friday, July 31
DEP has number to call: 1-877-WARN-DEP is the telephone number to report suspicious activity or vandalism — Dispatch for NJ State Park Police.
1) The Packet is preparing a report on the rampage at Mapleton - to appear in Friday’s paper.
2) There is a possibility of creating a Bench Replacement and Emplacement Fund - pursuant to NJ WILD readers’ request, on blog and in private.
3) I am beginning to see that those who remain silent in the face of this desecration, –when their words and actions could alter this reality for the better–, beginning to realize that the silent are the real vandals.
4) Remember - “All that it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” Edmund Burke
Today at sunrise, I was out on the D&R Towpath. NJ WILD Readers and others have been writing me of their own outrage at this violent destruction of memorial benches, of the information display, and [I have now learned], picnic tables at the Mapleton entry to the D&R Canal State Park. The People’s Park.
Wrenched and Shattered Information ‘Kiosk’
I remained stunned that someone would wreak such damage upon this stretch of history, this enclave of pristine nature, to say nothing of upon this STATE PARK.
Who, exactly, is the intended victim - Nature, the D&R Canal and Towpath, the State Park, the families who love to picnic here? All of the above?
Picnic Table Reduced to a Cross - Mapleton Entry to D&R Canal State Park
My personal reactions seem seems to have affected my camera. It performed poorly today, and I apologize. These insufficient images today will stand for words.
New Jersey’s Golgotha:
Wood from Shattered Picnic Tables Afloat in Millstone and Duckweed
The violence that made it possible to shatter and pry the hefty wood from those concrete tables was this morning’s new shock. Who has such rage? Who and what caused it? Who can sustain furious violence from kiosk to table to table to flinging wood to striding from one bench to another and wrenching each apart?
Our American Indians, such as Black Elk, proclaimed, “We are all connected.” I need to face the truth that this act is not separate. This is our own malady, as well, not only that of the ‘perpetrator’. Yes, our park is wounded — and with it, our very human nature.
I only became aware of this cruciform shape when I downloaded the damage pictures at home. This was taken at the edge of Lake Carnegie, within inches of sacrificed picnic tables:
The Editor/Publisher of the Times of Trenton, Brian Malone, would have given this attack a story, had he been able to ascertain answers from any officials. Maybe reactions from the public will light fires of attention: Readers, will you “screw your courage to the sticking place?” Will YOU Respond - comment below, and/or write LTE’s to the Packet, Town Topics, Times of Trenton and US 1?
Shattered Glass in Wrenched Door of Info Display
Irony: ENJOY THE BENCH: Remains of Harper Bench
Inner words rang as I strode the Towpath this morning:
Vandals’ Revenge - Battered Picnic Tables, Mapleton Entry to D&R Canal State Park
Out on the trail in the half-light, I came upon artists Charles and Lucy McVicker, who’d been painting en plein air at D&R Greenway all week for our next art exhibit. The Towpath’s destruction was the polar opposite of D&R Greenway’s restored meadow– awash in purple love grass, piqued by daisies, bounded by towering conifers. Chuck and Lucy and I comiserated with one another, aware of futilities. They had come to witness because of NJ WILD. But neither when they first read of this, and not out on the Towpath together, did any of us understand…
Where the Back Used to Be - Vandalized Towpath Bench
An editor called this destruction meaningless. I wrote back, so unwilling to face this reality:
“To the person who did this, the destruction has meaning.”
Normal Peace of D&R Canal and Towpath at Mapleton Fishing Bridge & Aqueduct
I am haunted by and borrowing from the last scene of Death of a Salesman:
“ATTENTION MUST BE PAID!”
What will you do?
Scene That Is No More — Vanished Bench Above Lake Carnegie
This idyllic scene, which led off last year’s NJ WILD post praising the joys of sauntering, no longer exists.
Yesterday, around 7 p.m., I set off upon my D&R Canal and Towpath walk, near Mapleton’s Fishing Bridge. I was jarred to discover that the display case to my right, –carefully filled by park officials with information from history to tick-borne disease–, had been shattered. It’s ‘door’ askew, shards of glass still rested in the bottom of the case.
I shuddered, baffled. My feet would not obey me, as I thunked across the canal bridge.
Once on the trail, a peaceful fisherman at the lake, then a fishing couple intent upon canal waters , began to weave their healing spell. There was comfort in spurts of golden jewel weed, taller milkweed in transition. I remembered that I take this path to discover what paints nature has added to her canvas in my absence.
But then I was beside the bench you see above. Instead of presiding above that extraordinary view, –all solid, sturdy and welcoming-, the back of bench had been wrenched away. Support posts had become jagged edges, their interiors blood red. The posts themselves had become Munch’s “Scream!” It was as hard to believe as someone driving the wrong way toward you on a one-way road.
A Towpath bench usually displays a handsome plaque. Tender words memorialize someone, to whom nature in general and this view in particular, had been central in life.
As NJ WILD readers can see from last autumn’s photograph, these benches were solid. The people to whom they were dedicated seemed to live on through them, offering comfort and contemplation to passers-by of all ages and conditions.
The jagged uprights were a message - but from whom, about what? Who could be that angry?
Typical Princeton Scene — Only Nobody Realizes It!
by Tasha O Neill, Photographer
Today held victory for me, triumph over fear. I usually give fear short shrift, and have never known it kayaking. But it dogged my steps as I drove to the Turning Basin this Sunday morning.
Kayaking, as NJ WILD readers know, is my joy of joys, the canal my forever haven.
Peace of the D&R Canal, by Tasha O’Neill
However, last autumn in Frenchtown, two curbs lurked; but I saw only one. Rushing to open the car for friends, I stubbed my right foot on the second curb. It shot me through the air as though from a cannon. Landing on my face, my left arm folded under me. Later, my left hip and leg would prove compromised. My left eye immediately blackened and swelled so that I could not open it for days. I would long for a pirate patch. A huge bump on my left forehead rose at once, what was called ‘a goose egg’ in childhood.
Young people suddenly were climbing down from a tall white truck. They bore a clean white towel and gauze and tape; a magazine and duct tape from which they fashoned an arm splint; they gave me all their ice in a zip-lock bag. Out of nowhere, this emergency medicine squad had appeared, out for a lark on their day off. They worked like a troupe of dancers, knowing everything to do and where and when. Including when and how to stand me up, settle me onto the back seat of my own car. My three agnostic friends reminisce to this very day about the Angels of Frenchtown.
These friends tease that, all the way home, I kept asking, “But what is the point?” Frankly, I’m still asking. But last September, inside, I was thinking, “When can I kayak?” Read the rest of this entry »
July Fourth Flag and Bog Iron at Batsto
by Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Fourth of July resonates with me long before and long after the actual date. It is such a privilege to live in New Jersey, where, experts insist, 75% of the significant battles of the Revolution took place.
Starting with, of course, the two battles of Trenton and the one battle of Princeton, as 1776 turned into 1777, — our first real victories.
Many modern histories reveal that the vaunted “Spirit of ‘76″ is highly overrated: not only regular citizens, but the very soldiers, wanted this whole mess over so they could go back to farms, harvests and families. And who could blame our ‘ragtag and bobtail army’, shoeless in snow; subsisting on shad and fatback, dodging bullets and Hessians.
It was a near thing, war in the 1770’s. By no means everyone trusted General Washington to put everything right. In-depth biographies of our Founding Fathers reveal that the General and his cohorts, –especially John, Tom and Ben–, felt that the flickering spirit of Revolution might well have been extinguished, were it not for Thomas Paine of nearby Bordentown.
I spent this early July morning wandering pre-Revolutionary Bordentown with fellow poet, Betty Lies, cameras in hand. That’ll be another story. A highlight of each history quest along those crooked red brick sidewalks is the corner where Thomas Paine owned the only house of his life. There and in nearby taverns, he joined fiery Revolutionary discussions. In that simple dwelling on that quiet corner, Paine penned diatribes and polemics that stiffened the spines of colonists against the tyrannical George.
Another Bordentown highlight is finding Tom Paine’s statue, at the end of a leafy street, near a handsome overlook of the confluence of the Crosswicks Creek with the expansive, history-rich Delaware River. In Tom’s bronze hand is one of his seminal books. On the bronze ‘ground’, –its title in raised letters, open flat to elements–, rests “The Rights of Man.” Without this man’s pen and courage, without those pages, we might not have a country.
Also, as I write repeatedly, without bog iron from New Jersey’s Pine Barrens, –which coalesces over time in tannic waters–, having been rowed to Pinelands forges to be catalyzed into ‘pig iron’ for wagon wheels and cannon balls, we might well be British subjects to this day. Read the rest of this entry »
red sun white egrets blue herons!
Leeds Point, Pine Barrens, New Jersey: Tools of the Crabbers’ Trade
True Independence for me is a trip to New Jersey’s Pine Barrens.
In and around the minuscule villages of Smithville, Oceanville and Leeds Point;
and all along the empty forested Pineroads leading to these idyllic places,
people still live by the seasons and the tides.
When the fast pace of our region proves “weary, flat, stale and unprofitable” - unprofitable to my soul! — I must head down to Tabernacle and Chatsworth, to Lake Oswego and the Wharton Forest.
Lake Oswego’s Shimmering Solitude
Despite Construction/Destruction Vehicle, Determined Wren Builds Nest — Brenda Jones
As Independence Day approaches, I can think of no writer in American letters more Independent than Edward Abbey, ostensibly of the West, but decrying nature’s perils throughout our nation.
When I become too enraged - [as last week when 'they' cut down October Glory Maples, scions of our Flemer Nursery Family, on Canal Pointe Boulevard, in order to create hideous ingress and egress to an even MORE hideous / superfluous "Type A Office Building"]- I turn to “Cactus Ed” Abbey, to stiffen my spine.
Rather than giving up before so-called progress, Abbey’s curmudgeonry sends me back to saving land in our New Jersey with new vigor. D&R Greenway Land Trust receives a recharged Arts & Education Associate. Releases and grant applications become more energized, and, it seems, more effective. And NJ WILD readers can enjoy classic Abbeyisms anew:
In 1987, Abbey erupts like a Roman candle over “the domination and industrialization of Nature, the natural world,” giving this as his reason for having penned his seminal novel of preservation, The Monkeywrench Gang. Over and over, the author explains, evidently to simpletons, why the book was written: “It is fundamentally concerned with the domination of human nature by our excessive, uncontrolled and inhuman technology.” And Ed was tethered neither to computers nor cell phones.
Abbey zaps an Editor/Critic: “The Monkeywrench Gang is a novel, a work of fiction, and — I like to think– a work of art! It would be naive to read it as a tract, as a program for action or a manifesto. The book is a comedy, with a happy ending. It was written to entertain; to inspire tears and laughter; to amuse my friends and to aggravate our enemies.” Read the rest of this entry »