Archive for October, 2009
Tasha O’Neill upon Waln’s Mill Bridge
Bucolic Porch, Waln Mansion, Historic Walnford
Fleeting sun recently lured photographer, Tasha O’Neill, and me to Walnford Mill and Village. To the blue mill, not on the floss, but upon the Crosswicks (Creek). To the once bustling village on the other side of Allentown where a pacifist Philadelphia Quaker built his colonial empire, before our Revolutionary War.
Mr. Waln’s Mill is bright blue now, what Southerners and those of Celtic and Druidic persuasion call ‘haint blue’, (haunt blue), meant to keep evil spirits away. Named to the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic places, Richard Waln’s far-stretching farmlands preside at the banks of the Crosswicks, down which farm produce was ferried toward Bordentown’s confluence with the Delaware River, then to Europe and even Asia.
The Mill Race, Crosswicks Creek, Walnford
About a half hour’s drive east, this scene of peace holds gifts of history, architecture and nature. Strolling past the farm buildings and under spreading chestnut (yes!) and sycamore trees refreshes, as though we’d driven to Sturbridge or Williamsburg.
Barn Windows, Late Light, Walnford
For someone from Michigan (which became a state in 1837), entering Richard Waln’s 1773 mansion, –and the site of the 1734 gristmill, rebuilt 1872’s fire–, is a pearl of great price.
Evening Shadows, Walnford Stable
Mercer County residents (where I’ve resided mostly since 1968) can become insular. “Monmouth County…,” people hesitate, as I rave about Walnford, “doesn’t that have something to do with a race track?” Yes, indeed, in Freehold itself. Historic Walnford in Upper Freehold, is a Monmouth County Park. Yes, sleek horses of Lexington-calibre graze behind impeccable dark fences on all sides. The horse-and-carriage road that once ran right past that bucolic porch above still exists, bearing only fallen chestnuts last week, not of the imprints of vanished horseshoes.
Old Carriage Road, Walnford
Here is my Walnford article for the Packet Publications, –from the good old days when newspapers had space and paper for travel coverage–, to lure you to follow in Tasha’s and my foot(e)steps.
[These are my photographs - that of a tourist. Tasha's of course, will be fine art.] Walnford triggers creativity…
Tasha O’Neill at Work, Walnford
Historic Walnford Mill and Village
78 Walnford Road, Allentown, New Jersey, 609-259-6275
Every day is a history festival at Walnford mill and village, just east of Allentown, in Monmouth County. To walk through Walnford’s double-corn-crib entry into those expansive grounds is to inhabit other centuries. In the 1770’s, Walnford was launched by a very successful Quaker merchant. Manor, mill and outbuildings have since been impeccably restored. Edward and Joanne Mullen, –owners of Fairwinds Farm, a thoroughbred breeding center–, saw to it that this agrarian treasure was named to New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places, before donating Walnford to Monmouth County in 1985.
Tranquillity Base, Walnford: “the creek whispers…”
The site’s most startling feature is the color of its grist mill: called ‘haint blue’ in the American South. Residents of Devon, Cornwall and Brittany still choose this tone to repel evil spirits. This paint choice was no designer whim. It exactly matches a still visible periwinkle swipe on an upper mill wall, where a mid-19th century painter cleaned his brush. He was completing the 1873 replacement of the previous grist mill, which had burned.
‘Haint Blue’ Grist Mill, Walnford
Walnford’s stately home reminds visitors what ‘mansion’ really means. One is welcome to use a rocking chair upon its broad front porch, examine currents tiptoeing along the shimmering water. Crosswicks Creek once connected Walnford to Bordentown’s tidal Delaware, then Philadelphia and the world.
The creek now winks sleepily beyond rippled original windowpanes. No structural changes have been made since the 1700’s, (except to add heat light and plumbing.) This jewel in the crown of the Monmouth County Park system, if not the entire state of New Jersey, charges neither admission nor parking fee. The simplest route is 539 east of Allentown, then right on Walnford Road. (Web-site directions are currently contorted by detour.) Site interpreters are on post each day from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. On weekends, the wild blue mill grinds corn.
This refuge has been preserved through State and Monmouth County Farmland Preservation Programs. Timelessness is the order of the day, partly due to its setting in the 1098-acre regional Crosswicks Creek Park. Ironically, the watercourse itself ended two centuries of water-borne commerce and the use of the mill. In the late 19th century, severe silting gradually hampered, then stopped navigation and mill wheels throughout inland New Jersey.
Last Greens of Summer, Walnford
Walnford is impeccably tended, excluding disorder, dust and rust. Ice house and smoke house are clean as a whistle. The potting shed looks utilized. A generous photographic record speaks history in a building to the north of the corn crib. The former dairy barn is used for teaching. Picnic tables beyond counting await under towering trees.
Towering Sycamore, Walnford
The gravel apron before Walnford’s 1879 carriage house is raked to Zen-garden standards. Inside shadows gradually reveal a commanding carriage, drawn even in early days by the region’s highest stepping steeds. Horses of differing spirits were chosen for different excursions.
Horsewoman Sarah Waln’s journal reads: “A fine ride – The $1000 horse, Empire, — fastest trotter and one of the gayest horses that has been in Freehold this winter.” Behind the imposing sled, draped with a thick and vivid carriage robe, rests a gleaming sidesaddle, –pommel polished by the sure hand of Sarah in her hurtling rides. Tack hanging on paddock partitions is burnished and elaborately tooled, marrying beauty and practicality, as has Walnford itself since its founding.
Walnford Cattle Barn
The handsome Quaker-built manor, begun in 1773, remained in the Waln family for five generations, –over 250 years. Grace and balance prevail, in rooms retaining their original floor plans and floor boards. Honeyed random-width pine is downcurved with wear before each fireplace, evoking centuries of foot traffic bearing logs. Square dark hand-made bricks may have been shipped to Walnford from the Trenton Marsh, –not far away, also at the hem of Crosswicks Creek. Gleaming iron firebacks reveal German mottoes, reminding that the original inhabitants were loyal to the crown, proud of Hessian soldiers, who are also honored in striding andirons.
Slide Down My Cellar Door, Walnford Manor
Monmouth County’s largest home at the time of the Revolution, Walnford had been constructed as the country retreat for the merchant’s family. Richard Waln soon used his rural property as a production source. Flour ground at the mill, feed grown in far-reaching fields, cloth spun from wool of Walnford flocks, pork in the form of smoked hams and bacon, traveled to the Bordentown confluence of the Crosswicks and Delaware. These vital stores were then shipped to the family wharf in Philadelphia and on to Spain, Portugal, Asia and the Caribbean.
As a Quaker, Richard Waln took no part in the slave trade, being one of the first to speak out against it evils. When the Colonies rose in rebellion against George III, Richard’s loyalty to the crown impelled the family to cross the Atlantic, far from the mill village which would ultimately employ and house fifty people. Some conclude that the 1770’s move up-creek was triggered by Richard’s determination to remove his wife and six children from Philadelphia, hotbed of revolutionary fervor, as Tom Paine was writing incendiary pamphlets in nearby Bordentown.
Poison Ivy, Midas-touched, Walnford
The manor’s broad front hall was planned for commerce. Guests who ‘passed muster’ might have been invited to tea in the front parlor. The honored few would have been guests in generous bedrooms, to which visitors are now guided up a staircase made for lordly descents. Portraits of Waln matriarchs and patriarchs grace grey-white walls. One painting, of the first Sarah’s husband, ‘goes missing’. It has not been reproduced. All china and porcelain was actually used by the family. Stately original wallpaper has been matched and installed.
After the war, Richard’s son, Nicholas, would purchase five nearby farms, increasing landholdings to over 1300 acres. In the 1800’s, lumber would come to Wanlford’s new saw mill. Soon, however, changes in milling and farming practices would bring hard times to the agrarian village. Sarah Waln and her daughter Sarah Waln Hendrickson could crisply manage the family homestead; but neither could reverse Walnford’s declining fortunes. Childless, since her husband had died after seventeen months of marriage, not even Sarah’s prodigious energy could turn economic tides. In a controversial bequest reminiscent of that of certain local families in the 20th Century, Sarah left Walnford to farm manager, John Wilson, in lieu of unpaid wages. Richard Waln Meirs and his wife, Anne, then purchased the family farm from John Wilson, who remained working on the estate until the early 1915 or so. Nowhere in Walnford literature is it mentioned that John Wilson was black.
At Walnford, except for corn-grinding demonstrations, silence, not commerce, now reigns. The mill presides with queenliness above its gentle mill race. Cricket songs vie with kingfisher rattle. The creek whispers beyond its scrim of ignited leaves and autumn asters. We could have stepped into a Constable painting, lacking only the cow in the water. The mill’s unused water gate, gaping at the mill race, reminds of the Tower of London.
“reminds of the Tower of London”
Every 21st-Century weekend, the blue mill springs to life, filling the air with thunderous sound, and the mill’s cavernous spaces with golden cornmeal dust. In the mill Historic Walnford cornmeal is available for $1 per bag, sporting a handsome mill wheel icon. The honor system serves as cashier. As we purchased ours, the almost forgotten sound of a sudden summer rain thudded along the mill roof, splashed along rigorously swept floors. We picked up membership forms for SPOOM – The Society for the Preservation of Old Mills: www.spoom.org — $21.00.
River Birch Speaks, Beside the Crosswicks
Rod MacIver, fine watercolorist and editor of the on-line journal, “Heron Dance”, created this painting of a wolf in snow, who could be mourning this latest tragedy, as do I. How can our government, our politicians slaughter in our name?
Wolves are the weavers of wildness.
Without wolves, nationally, the phrase “Wilderness Areas” is a tragic joke.
Without wolves, in our beleaguered New Jersey, NJ WILD will be forever oxymoron.
As I have done, in the Princeton University Chapel, and at the Dodge Poetry Festival, and at St. John the Divine, with the Paul Winter Consort, I want to howl with this wolf in the snow, mourning this latest tragedy:
Can anyone tell me how this can be? Bush is gone but his cruelties remain?
Please use this hot link to register your outrage at this destruction of our brothers, the wolves, so essential to Yellowstone, to Earth itself!
Carolyn Foote Edelmann of NJ WILD
I remain absolutely FURIOUS that wolf slaughter can happen on President Obama’s watch.
Nonetheless, there is something good about polar bears at the end of this. EVEN SO, write your congresspersons, senators, and new president, responding to wolf murder.
© Copyright 2009, Defenders of Wildlife
Defenders of Wildlife can be contacted at:
1130 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
POLAR BEAR NEWS:
Dear Carolyn Foote,
I have some very exciting news to share with you.
Yielding to pressure from conservationists, including more than 50,000 NRDC Members and online activists, the Obama Administration has just announced that it will support an upgrade in international protection for polar bears.
This is extremely important, because if the world agrees to increase the polar bear’s protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), it would help end trophy hunting and stop the global trade in polar bear body parts.
Please take a moment to celebrate this announcement with me, because it would never have happened without the activism of NRDC supporters like you!
And let’s give credit where credit is due: I encourage you to send a message right now to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar — to thank him for doing the right thing for the sake of polar bear survival.
But please don’t think this battle is over.
Between now and March 2010, when the next CITES treaty talks take place, we will have to expand our campaign to make sure that other key nations line up with America’s pro-polar-bear position.
So much is at stake: hundreds of polar bears are still being hunted as trophies, and their body parts traded, each year. Canada, which is home to two-thirds of the world’s polar bears and includes some of the world’s most important polar bear habitat, still allows both trophy hunting and commercial trade.
If the polar bear is to survive, we must end these destructive practices by upgrading polar bear protection under CITES.
Around the world, NRDC has been taking a leading role on this issue. Our team recently traveled to Geneva to discuss polar bear conservation with the CITES Standing Committee, and also reached out to allies in Norway, Russia and the European Union as we build international momentum for increasing protection.
Over the next few months I’ll be writing to you again with news and updates — and asking you to take action to help protect polar bears from trophy hunting and trafficking.
But make no mistake: the Obama Administration’s endorsement of tougher polar bear protection was absolutely critical, and I don’t believe it would have happened without more than 50,000 NRDC Members and online activists making your voices heard — loud and clear.
So give yourself credit, and send a note of thanks to Ken Salazar, too, for standing up for polar bears. Tomorrow, the fight continues, but for today you and I have something to celebrate!
Maxine Kumin & Joyce Carol Oates
Filed Under (Adventure, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Brenda Jones, D&R Canal & Towpath, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, Harvest, Indians, Lenni Lenapes, NJ State Parks, Nature, Nature Writing, New Jersey, Poetry, Solitude, The Seasons, Timelessness, Tranquillity, trails, wild) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 16-10-2009
Black-Crowned Night Heron: Brenda Jones
Not only humans harvest in autumn. All along the D&R Canal and Towpath and deep within the Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown Marsh, birds harvest to fuel up for their impossible journeys. Red-winged blackbirds vie with similarly migrating Lenni Lenapes within the Marsh, for towering stands of bountiful wild rice. Seeing Marsh rice in full ripeness called forth “But Wild.”
RED WING BATTLES GREAT BLLUE HERON: Brenda Jones
I seek a canoe
still on the silk shore
of some broad Minnesota lake
spice on the air
red-gold bittersweet twining
high among lakeside pines
water more green than blue
stiff/supple grasses parting
as we nose our silent way
to that center to which ancestors were led
by Grandfather Sky/Grandmother Moon
we make no sound
in whisper water
every clump of grass
bending in seasonal submission
my paddle enters the lake
noiseless as the sharpest knife
as my partner thrashes grasses
they bend to right/to left
filling his sweet lap
then our entire canoe
with brown black heads of rices
that have never been anything
CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN
August 24, 2001
Cool Women Poetry Anthology
The Heron Hour in the Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown Marsh
Great Blue Heron, Giving Voice: Brenda Jones
Here’s a D&R Canal poem — sent to CA literary contest, figuring they don’t have autumn, and it worked smiles…
on the trail between two waters
horses tread gingerly
around each misted curve
I catch the faintest whiff
of burnished saddles
and I am back with daughters
hardhats in the ring
a frail sun slips
lighting billows of ground-fog
along the fresh-turned fields
oak leaves have crisped here
and the woodbine’s turned
it is the hour herons rendezvous
but not tonight
I shall go home
slice autumn’s first tart apple
CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN
The GalleySail Review
[D&R Canal Towpath, north of 518, toward Griggstown]
Green Heron, D&R Canal and Towpath, Brenda Jones
(Cedar Ridge Preserve, Hunterdon County, New Jersey)
“grove and glade”
“thicket and copse”
“hummocks and vanished hummock sedge”
following the ardent preservationist
we threaded Cedar Ridge
in morning mist
and spitting rain
savoring his redolent phrases
when out of the mist
strolled autumn’s hunter
– sharp bow at his waist
– arrows like semaphores
– jacket, cap and leggings
thick with camouflage
aflutter like moths
with each stride, he rippled
breaking up his silhouette
so he could bring home the deer
when 75 hunters
rebuilt the stone wall
– dividing property from property
– ‘30s field from ‘70s
our guide had urged,
“Release your inner mason”
sinuous and gleaming
beneath tall boundary trees
their stone wall led us
from meadow to thicket
black web, hunter-spun
it links as it separates
“mature forest” from “early successional”
weaving all of us forward
– toward owl haunt and refuge of turtle
all hands blessed the monarch
of that remote glen:
the ancient oak silvery
in October spurts of light
coiled roots sheltering
mushrooms soft as feathers
our hunter faded to shadow
exultant in good works
– vernal pools dug
– the building of bridges
– invasives untangled
– rough rocks settled
into that masterful fence
above all, the thinning of herds
that devour both cedar and ridge
in our New Jersey
that bow at his waist
moved at its own pace
as though Robin himself
strode with us that day
through Hunterdon’s greenwood
CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN
For Lucy Graves McVicker’s “Fragile Connections”
October 3, 2009
Dedicated to all the organizations throughout the United States who preserve open lands, preserving habitat for creatures of the air land and water, and for retore our souls.
Ready to Roam – Young Monarch on the ‘Eve’ of Migration
Making the World Safe for Butterflies - the Kate Gorrie Butterfly House
at the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association
Two Allisons are naturalists with the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association. Educated and experienced in the wild and wildness, they can identify the age of butterflies inside Kate Gorrie Butterfly House: “Third generation, all they want to do is mate. Fourth generation, LEAVE!” This Monarch, above, a fourth-year, is electrifyingly ready to roam. [http://www.thewatershed.org/]
I was blessed to be at the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association last weekend to hike to the Hobbit Tree with author, Sophie Glovier; photographer, Bentley Dresdner, of “Walk the Trails in and Around Princeton”. This compact guidebook to 16 trails upon preserved land, features the Hobbit Tree, to which we headed on a blustery, overcast morning.
There was an Allison at both the head and the tail of our trail queue, –each a naturalist, each brimful of energy and enthusiasm.
A few nights before our trek, one of the Allisons had harvested the wine-red berries of trailside autumn olive trees. A vigorous (seemingly malevolent) invasive species, seeds inside those berries can leap from sprout to tree in one summer. With no natural enemies to compete, autumn olives out nourish themselves, outgrow and therefore shade grasses and flowers that belong in our meadows. Including those wildflowers which shelter and sustain butterflies.
Eating the berries, and/or making a tart and gemlike jam of them and discarding the berries, as Allison did, keeps that many bird-fertilized seeds from germination.
People of all ages were on that walk, and all were full of questions. The Allisons had answers for most, manifesting eagerness to find answers for the others (mostly mushrooms, in this rainy summer).
At the end of our journey, sharp autumn sun welcomed us out of the woods and into a meadow studded with dark purple New York asters and gold-glimmering goldenrod. The fulness of these two species sent the two Allisons into rapture. “Asters and goldenrod!,” they exclaimed, like teens over a rock star. “What does that mean?”, they asked us - and we had no idea beyond beauty. “Monarch migration!”
New York Aster and Goldenrod
Kate’s Welcome Sign
Kate Gorrie’s Memorial Butterfly House and Sky
So they took us into the Kate Gorrie Butterfly House, identifying winged miracles large and small. They amazed us with the age/interest connection among the monarchs. Out came a butterfly net, supple and soft, yet right out of a cartoon or a caricature. With a deft twist of her young wrist, Allison 1 (who had headed the walk) scooped the most energetic orange and black butterfly from the ceiling into its pale folds.
Current Residents List
Alison 2 (tail of the walk, the jam-maker) had pen, paper and near-weightless tags ready. The tag would go onto a non-primary wing, where it wouldn’t interfere with flight. Its number and the fact that ‘our’ monarch was male - identified by two pheromone dark spots on certain wings, would be noted, and the date of release. It was as hushed as first communion in Kate’s memorial shrine.
At D&R Greenway Land Trust, I am blessed to work with Meg Gorrie, Kate’s mother. Volunteers Meg and Tom both contribute so much to nature at D&R Greenway and at the Stony Brook. Their daughter, Kate, a Hun student fascinated with nature, perished in a car driven by a friend, who had swerved to avoid a deer.
Kate’s Trail for us and the Butterfly House for the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, keep Kate’s memory and her passion for nature alive among family, friends and strangers, to this day and beyond. New life takes place because of the death of young Kate.
Statue, Child with Butterfly, in Bee Balm
Appropriately reverent, the Hobbit-quest group followed the two Alisons outside. The pictures tell all but the end of the story.
Departure was completely up to our orange and black hero. He’d spent four years in that house, and yet, right after the final picture, up up and away! DUE SOUTH. Toward Mexico. Unerringly. With amazing energy, considering that butterflies don’t like cold, are known to consider the 70’s cold. It was barely 70. Yet instinct was fully operant. Kate’s monarch is on his way.
NJ WILD readers know that I ‘get on my high horse’ about preservation, stewardship, gardens with insect-friendly plants, native species, non-poisonous realms, (and you haven’t even heard me on genetically modified corn which contains a chemical that destroys the intestinal systems of caterpillars. Remember, this monarch was a caterpillar.
My theory is that all this GURD, all these intestinal problems, acid reflux and the rest, which never existed in my childhood, is the result of human manipulations of natural systems.
I’m on that ‘high horse’ for the sake of the monarchs. What will YOU do to make the world safe for butterflies?