Archive for February, 2010
How very odd, this Saturday morning, that I can find news of the Chilean earthquake only on Spanish channels. Terremoto, I understand - moving earth. Pericoloso - did I HEAR that, in the rapid-fire Spanish coming out of the ravaged town of Concepcion?
Mucho panico, I did hear and do understand. As well as the single words tsunami and Hawaii. But no one is speaking in any language of American Samoa.
There, my sister’s brother-in-law, Quinn Weitzel, serves as Bishop of Samoa. He and his people are still attempting to recover from the (seemingly unheralded?) 2009 tsunami. Quinn hasn’t been home to his Chicago family for the trip scheduled that week, not in all these months. My first thought was of Quinn and his people - for his heart belongs to all Samoans, not only to ‘parishioners’.
But even when I Google Samoa Tsanami Warning February 2010, I find one brief mention that a warning has been issued for Samoa, without a word re ‘measures’, followed by 10s of 1000s of ‘hits’ about their 2009 disaster.
And on television, what do I find? No earthquake, world reactions, no tsunami scenarios - except on Spanish channels, which have most appropriately given this entire day over to earthquake coverage.
At 8.8, this is s way beyond San Francisco in 1906: 7.8 to 8.25 in some reports. Furthermore, San Francisco’s main shock lasted but 42 seconds, originating off-shore. This one seems to be right in the center of now devastated Concepcion, lasting “90 segundos”.
Far worse, Chile’s nighttime terror registered at 8.8 on the Richter scale. In Spanish, I think I’m learning, this quake was 500 times stronger than Haiti’s. How can this be?
Many Chilean aftershocks, I learn in Spanish subtitles to Spanish speech, are 5.6 and 6.something - serious quakes in themselves - “felt and causing damage”. San Francisco’s aftershocks are not measured in the articles I’ve found so far.
But to what am I treated on television this Saturday morning, in quest of hard news:
leaping humans barely dressed in electric costumes, exhorting everyone to “Firm up those abs!”;
a man violently shoveling take-out food into a woman’s mouth;
cartoon characters blowing one another up; several very skinny women in several different immaculate kitchens, and a couple of men, one of them rotund, announcing what is very plain to see: “Now we’re going to saute these onions in olive oil.”
Never mind olive oil! What’s happening in the REAL WORLD?
The Weather Channel would rather talk about “shoveling out” and Vancouver.
Isn’t this supposed to be the Information Age?
For all our prattling about DIVERSITY, do we care so very little about people of other lands and languages?
And o, by the way, a glacier the size of Luxembourg fell into the sea yesterday, altering temperatures, salinity and currents. Could that have shocked this earthquake into being?
It is one p.m. I know no more in English. I have yet to discover what happened in Santiago.
Presidents past and future of Chile have spoken, but I cannot understand them. She appears grieved. He seems still to be running for office.
The Chilean ambassador, in Washington D.C. spends HIS time talking (in English) of how prepared Chile is for this sort of disaster. Consummate politician, covering…….. no evident compassion. No plans. No personal or party commitments. All he wants to convey is “We can handle this.”
Meanwhile, in all the films, on the Spanish channels, I have seen but a handful of officials on the scene attempting rescues, let alone protection. I did see, very early, apparent looters filling bags in the half-light, exchanging high-fives as they clumped through rubble.
There has been no President Obama reassuring these shattered people of Chile, let alone the about-to-be-shattered people of his Hawaii and Samoa, about our concern and compassion, prayers and support…
Foods from previous Indoor Winter Farm Market, Held at D&R Greenway Land Trust
ON FIRE by Susan Blubaugh
In every season, one of my favorite excursions is to wander over hills and through meadows and forests to lovely Lambertville. Part of the allure of this tiny town is its setting - on the hem of my beloved Delaware River. Hers is the bridge that I crossed to my new life, my free life, after the shattered marriage. In Lambertville, I was asked to give first poetry readings. In Lambertville lived one of my all-time favorite artists, Bernard Ungerleider - a New Jersey Delaware Valley Impressionist. In Lambertville is my all-time favorite framer, Hrefna Jonsdottor - who matched the wood of one frame to the striations in the cane being cut by the Hawaiian caneworker; who married the wood in another frame to the tiny islands once called Sandwich, now Hawaii, where I’d purchased the antique map. In Lambertville lived the realtor who sold my New Hope Condo, so that I could move to Provence, and then to Georgia.
Now, in Lambertville, are two of my all-time favorite galleries. Janet Hunt’s The Coryell Gallery at the Porkyard is a perennial lure when the art fever is upon me.
END OF THE DAY, Susan Blubaugh, Des Champs Gallery, Lambertville
The newer is des Champs Gallery, on the very selvedge of the shimmering fabric of our Delaware River. And, right now, upon its walls are featured the superb art works of Susan Blubaugh. Susan has been a D&R Greenway Artist of high degree. A friend and I recently happened upon this artist, as she was hanging her newest show - which NJ WILD readers can still drive over to see - February 29, 2010 being its last day.
Directions and to see more of Susan’s work: http://www.deschampsgallery.com/Gallery/SusanBlubaugh/tabid/62/Default.aspx
7 Lambert Drive is just to your right before the old green bridge to New Hope. Solid and welcoming, des Champs rises above the glimmering waters, whose light not only inspired its cadre of superb artists, but also dapples the works the river and its nearby hillsides inspire.
Susan is “working larger these days”, say those who know. Others, in the same conversation add, “And looser.” I never needed Susan to work differently. But I must say, I am overwhelmed by the excellence of these new canvases, especially those of grazing cows on flatlands high above the river.
Lise des Champs is your gracious hostess. If you’re very lucky, you might even kayak with her, once the ice is out of our river. Kayaking being something I treasure on our canal - but have yet to try upon the Delaware. Lise has an unerring eye for excellence. Awe will be your companion, as you rise from floor to floor of her handsome gallery. And joy will accompany you home, as it has my friends, with your new art purchase snug in the back seat of the car.
Without being dogmatic, Lise and her artists do what they can to call attention to the wonders of nature in the Delaware Valley - implying on canvas after canvas the urgency of preserving New Jersey’s last open spaces, especially farmlands and waterways.
Give yourself a treat. Wander to Lambertville in the days remaining of this too-short month. Enjoy Susan Blubaugh’s masterpieces and the nature that catalyzed them. You won’t be sorry!
OLD SHADE TREES, Susan Blubaugh
D&R Greenway Tree Exhibition Artist, Clay Johnson, Immortalizes Urban Trees
“Each tree, each part of each tree, has its own particular destiny and its own special relationship to be fulfilled. We roam the world to find our relationships with these trees.”
George Nakashima, Woodworker, Bucks County
‘An Invitation to NJ WILD Readers: 2D&R Greenway Receptions:
Feb. 26, 5:30 - 7:30; March 19, 6 - 8. Free. Call 609-924-4646 to register.
NJ WILD readers know that the core of my being, attention, and productivity these days is preservation, especially of New Jersey land. Most of you also know that D&R Greenway Land Trust, has been saving and providing stewardship for open land, beginning at the edges of the D&R Canal and Towpath in 1989. We have 21 years under our collective belts, around 22 miles (Manhattan-sized) accomplished. Our motto could be, “Saving New Jersey - one acre at a time.”
Most of you also know that D&R Greenway creates sequential art exhibitions on changing nature themes, calling attention to the beauty of nature (especially in our beleaguered state) and the urgency of saving it. We invite you to partake of our newest exhibition,l “Living Among Giants: Seeing the Forest for the Trees.”
“Red Roots” by Clay Johnson
All are welcome at the Opening Artists’ Reception, Friday, February 26, from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. And our March 19 Poets’ Reception and Reading from 6 - 8 – when the most stellar poets of our region will be reading poems chosen by our Editor’/Hosts, Lois and Lee Harrod, on the subject of trees.
Trees found and lost. Trees remembered. Trees wished for. Trees imagined. Places where trees used to be. Farmers who grew and harvested Christmas trees. Fathers who cut down beloved trees — you get the picture.
Writing our poets, –spectacularly generous in response–, I naturally (pun intended) alluded to Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees”. When I lived in New Brunswick, my husband would detour us past Kilmer’s home, knowing even then how poems and poets mattered to me.
Writing our poets, I felt that no one who cherishes poetry and/or New Jersey could overlook this New Brunswick writer, whose poem was set to music long ago. To the D&R Greenway Poets, I frankly admitted, “Kilmer’s ‘Trees’ may not be deathless poetry. So, send me YOUR deathless poems.” And they have — I do not envy Lois and Lee the choosing.
But I do envy all who will be in the audience March 19, to enjoy their results, work of the highest and most stirring caliber, read by their legendary authors.
Both receptions are free - simply call 609-924-4646, so we may put you on the Rsvp list and order wine and savories appropriately.
Co-Curator, Maia Reim’s “Yellow Farmhouse, Yellow Willow“
In case you’ve not seen a Press Release, lately, here is what has been sent to the local media - from New York to Philadelphia and everything in-between and over into Bucks County. Together, we will keep an eye on the wonderful world of print journalism, while it lasts — take note of their response to this news:
For Immediate Release:
D&R Greenway Land Trust’s “Living Among Giants — Seeing the Forest for the Trees” art Exhibition, February 8 to March 19, Opening Reception: Friday, February 26, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.;
Poets’ Night: Friday, March 19, 6 – 8 p.m. call to register for receptions: 609-924-4646
Contact: Cedelmann@drgreenway.org, 609-924-4646 – X 131
Princeton, New Jersey: D&R Greenway Land Trust’s art exhibition, “Living Among Giants: Seeing the Forest for the Trees,” is available for viewing in their Marie L. Matthews Galleries from February 8 until March 19. Challenging viewers to consider the magnificent beauty of individual trees, and the importance of preserving them, the exhibit’s free Artists’ Reception will take place Friday, February 26, from 5:30–7:30 p.m. To register: 609-924-4646. Art is available on business hours, business days; call to check whether galleries have been rented on day of visit.
The luminous canvases of Manayunk / Philadelphia plein-air artist Clay Johnson are combined with the work of area photographers chosen by Maia Reim. Fine-art photographer and co-curator, Ms. Reim has laced together a broad range of photographic images both haunting and mysterious. Local artists include preservationist Clem Fiori, (whose works grace Kingston’s Eno Terra Restaurant, as well as D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center), Alice Grebanier, Mary Leck, Frank Magalhaes, Tasha O’Neill, Bennett Povlow, Maia Reim, Olga Sergyeyva, Igor Svibilsky and Barbara Warren.
New Jersey poets of the highest caliber are submitting work inspired by trees for the Poets’ Night Reading and Reception on March 19, from 6 to 8 p.m., to which the public is also invited. A complete list of poets will be released, once editor/hosts, Lee and Lois Marie Harrod have made their selections. Both events are free, but registration is requested. [www.drgreenway.org]
D&R Greenway has collected an impressive body of work for the tree exhibition, art that captures the inner soul of these giants in the form of captivating tree portraits. “Considered the oldest and largest living things,” observes D&R Greenway Curator Jack Koeppel, “trees are often overlooked and under-appreciated on their own merit. From earliest times, trees have helped make possible life on earth.” Koeppel adds, “I want visitors to see trees as individual living beings that teach us and lend their wisdom to our own lives.”
“I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.” Henry David Thoreau
“Each tree, each part of each tree, has its own particular destiny and its own special relationship to be fulfilled. We roam the world to find our relationships with these trees.” George Nakashima, Woodworker, Bucks County
“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts; they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.” Hermann Hesse, Wandering
CLAY JOHNSON: D&R Greenway’s Curator, Jack Koeppel, has chosen the paintings of Philadelphia artist Clay Johnson for “Living Among Giants — Seeing the Forest for the Trees.” Johnson is renowned for imposing plein-air paintings of regional subjects. An alumnus of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, his work is avidly sought by major individuals and corporations. Clay Johnson’s landscapes are represented in numerous private and public collections, including IBM, Standard & Poor’s, Price-Waterhouse, McGraw-Hill Publishing, Bell Atlantic, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and AIG Insurance, as well as The Glenmede Trust Company, Pepper Hamilton, LLP, and Drinker, Biddle & Reath, LLP. Of his approach to art, Johnson asserts, “I am not an objective reporter taking inventory of the natural world. ‘Free play of the imagination’ best describes my aim. Since observation is where it begins, it helps to start with great material”, such as the Schuylkill and Delaware River Valleys.
D&R Greenway Land Trust: One of New Jersey’s premier land preservation organizations, D&R Greenway Land Trust preserved 22 miles of land in our beleaguered state by their 20th Anniversary Year. Their restored circa-1900’s barn, the Johnson Education Center [JEC], increasingly fulfills its purpose as a vital venue for exhibitions, lectures, professional workshops, indoor farm markets and corporate retreats. An ever-expanding array of individuals and groups rents the JEC for seminars and retreats, ever expanding the reach of D&R Greenway artists and showcasing the importance of art to nature and nature to art. www.drgreenway.org
Clem Fiori: http://fioriworks.com/welcome.html
Frank Magalhaes: http://photogallery14.com/FrankMagalhaes/Frank_Magalhaes.htm
Tasha O’Neill: http://tashaphotography.com/
Olga Sergyeyva: http://www.photographyforever.com/OlgaSergyeyevaPhotogallery/
Maia Reim: Ms. Reim is a graphic designer in the publishing industry, Advertising Art Director at Princeton University Press since 1989. As a member of the Princeton Photography Club, she also has participated in numerous group shows. The Jonathan Krist Memorial Award at the Phillips Mill Annual Photography Exhibition was given to Ms. Reim in 2007. She was honored with a one woman show in the Small Gallery of Hopewell’s Fine Arts Photography Cooperative Gallery 14 in March of 2008. Her work is currently on view at the Jewish Center Gallery of Princeton.
Mary Leck: Mary Leck: Botanist / Photographer Mary Leck, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Biology, Rider
University: Mary Leck’s “River Dance,” an abstract of water flowing over plants, won the All Categories
Prize in the 2000 Wetlands of the World Photography Contest, used in the journal Science and
featured on a calendar cover. Half of her works sold from “Secret Universe”, –Dr. Leck’s first
solo exhibit of photography, at Ambré Studio, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In fall 2008, Ms. Leck
won this honor for her best-of-show picture in a 2006 Ambré exhibit. Dr. Leck is a Trustee of D&R Greenway Land Trust and Founder and moving spirit behind Friends for the Marsh and their annual Voices for the Marsh Photography exhibitions.
Alice Grebanier: Her work is currently featured at Grounds for Sculpture, in their Focus on Sculpture 2010 exhibition. A member of the Princeton Photography Club, her work has also been accepted for the Phillips’ Mill Gallery Exhibitions..
Barbara Warren: “I proceed in the classic way: I look until I see something that moves me and then construct a painting around that experience. Much of my work is done en plein ai.
NJ WILD readers know that my key hiking/birding/art companion, Janet Black, and I set out on Christmas Eve for old Cape May.
Old as in sheltering and feeding Lenni Lenapes 10,000 years ago. Old as in welcoming whalers of Cape Cod in the 1600’s, some of which old New England seafaring names remain in the town today. Old as in still living by the seasons and the tides, as do so few places in our modern world.
This Christmas Eve, however, there was more of a certain season - i.e., Old Man Winter, than we might have preferred, had we known. We traveled there to escape commercial frenzy - that we achieved. We traveled there to hike and to bird — that was another story.
NJ WILD readers also know that I haven’t been able to insert many pictures since before that journey. Therefore, I may allow the pictures to speak, rather than words. These few, in this thin sun, were all we were granted.
The trip held other gifts, the kindness of strangers, gastronomic surprises of the remarkable seafood variety, magical fogs that somehow brought all that Victorian architecture to life as though back in its time- another story, also.
Here then, is Christmas Eve Cape May. Enjoy.
Jetty Motel Christmas
Winter Ocean and Cape May Light
Cold Shells, The Jetty
Gilded Grasses, Cape May Beach
Cape May Bird Observatory’s Hawk Watch Platform - Unshoveled, No Hawks
‘Rare Birds’ Takes on New Meaning: this was ‘It’!
Christmas Eve Last Light on Concrete Ship
Cape May Light from Beach near the Jetty
Christmas Eve Walk, Cape May
Christmas Eve Gifts Someone Had Arranged
Great Black-Backed and Other Gulls - Christmas Eve Congregation
Christmas Eve Church
‘Snice’ - Snow and Ice on Sand- Our Christmas Reality
Last Rays in The Shelter at The Jetty
Cape May Light from Hawk Watch Platform
Silent Night, Cape May
Christmas Eve Gifts - Waiting for Santa
One advantage of 21st-Century snowstorms, that seems the polar opposite (pun intended) of the snows of childhood, is that we are not, thereby, cut off from our friends. In fact, comparing snow experiences and snow images and memories, is bringing friends of all parts of my life nearer, since those first Nor’easters of November.
Joy Kreves - Valentine’s Snow
Joy Kreves is one of our D&R Greenway artists, a ceramicist, yes, but renowned for mastery in many media. Joy maintains a riveting blog and lively web-site, upon which her poetic gifts are as evident to me as her visual mastery. Joy gives me permission to use this, taken on The Day, needless to say. She laments that Valentine’s Day is past, which thereby seems to mean to her that I would not want to use this scene. On the contrary, I was with friends on Valentine’s Eve, two people of very different backgrounds, and yes, ages — who declared, frankly and adamantly, “For us, every day is Valentine’s Day.” The way it should be. And they’re not even poets…
So I thank Joy and yes, indeed, utilize her loving vista for NJ WILD - because Joy’s art most of the time is drawing attention to the urgency of saving nature, especially in our beleaguered state.
Enjoy Joy’s snowstorm tribute to our splendid Delaware River - which renders us the only state with three coasts — the Atlantic Ocean, to the east, to be sure; the Delaware River herself to the west; and the Delaware Bay - the most overlooked coast in our country, if you ask me!
Here is the work Joy is now turning out, with an eye toward her one-person show at Rider University this coming September. Joy is legendary for finding beauty, even majesty, in weeds, especially dandelions:
Dandelions and Twilight by Joy Kreves
In her life and in her art, Joy seeks out and celebrates the wild - often through some of Nature’s humblest offerings. Joy demonstrates that there is no class consciousness among the wildlings, nor should there be.
Ways to relish more of Joy’s wizardry, even with all this snow:
Wydner’s Meadow Winter, by artist Susan Blubaugh - of Des Champs Gallery, Lambertville
The Calm After the Storm
Before there were poets and naturalists ‘behind every shrub’, there were noticers of our natural world.
We well know, and I personally MISS, Henry David Thoreau - who self-described himself as “Inspector of Snowstorms.”
His dear friend, and later foe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, grew impatient with Henry for not having accomplished more in his brief lifetime, castigating the Snow Inspector for having been content to be “the leader of a huckleberry party.”
But Emerson, too, was a noticer. And it was his “Nature” essay which gave Concord neighbors and others permission to tolerate the drifter and dreamer in their midst.
From Emerson’s The Snow Storm
“Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of Storm.”
What did NJ WILD readers do, in your “tumultuous privacy of Storm”?
In another neighborhood, John Greenleaf Whittier took note of nature’s every mood and gift. I find it really sad that no one remembers Whittier these days.
But my mother, –for the few months in which she was (unbeknownst to me) expecting my baby sister–, would read poetry to me in our west-facing Lathrup, Michigan ‘colonial’ living room. Heads on one pillow, lowering sun lighting all her favorite books on the knotty pine bookshelves beyond us, Mother would read the work of all those people with the three long names.
Overall, Longfellow was my beloved. For him, I learned to read, well before school ever intruded upon my time with books.
But this poem of Whittier’s, was my favorite of Mother’s evening reading times, as we waited for Daddy to make his way home from downtown Detroit. Oddly enough, after Marilyn was born, Mother never read poetry to me again. My sister doesn’t even remember her mentioning poems, let alone reading them. Those brief times on the sofa though, they were enough…
Sending the poem about, on the hem of our blizzards, I mourned to friends that “nobody reads snow poetry any more.” A particular treasure in my life, who prefers to play curmudgeon, quipped back. “Wrong, Carolyn. Nobody reads THIS snow poem any more. Poe was right. There are no long poems.”
My Michigan friend, from before both of our births, Bernadette Thibodeau, wrote of her own cherishing this poem at the hands of a gifted grade-school teacher. Bernie noted that her mother, also, loved and shared this poem with those two youngsters, in their Grosse Pointe home, on long winter nights.
If Whittier were alive today, he’d have a point-and-shoot, and none of these words would’ve found their way into print. We’d not have learned of buskins and caps, of cider mulling and apples somehow sizzling at the hearth. Above all, consider the tasks which were the lot of these young boys, and how they cherished their usefulness!
Brenda Jones gives us Whittier’s white-capped fenceposts
SNOWBOUND: A Winter Idyll
by John Greenleaf Whittier
The sun, that brief December day,
Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
And, darkly circled, gave at noon
A sadder light than waning moon.
Slow tracing down the thickening sky
Its mute and ominous prophecy,
A portent seeming less than threat,
It sank from sight before it set.
A chill no coat, however stout,
Of homespun stuff could quite shut out,
A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
The coming of the snow-storm told.
The wind blew east; we heard the roar
Of Ocean on his wintry shore,
And felt the strong pulse throbbing there
Beat with low rhythm our inland air.
Meanwhile we did our nightly chores,
Brought in the wood from out the doors,
Littered the stalls, and from the mows
Raked down the herd’s-grass for the cows;
Heard the horse whinnying for his corn;
And, sharply clashing horn on horn,
Impatient down the stanchion rows
The cattle shake their walnut bows;
While, peering from his early perch
Upon the scaffold’s pole of birch,
The cock his crested helmet bent
And down his querulous challenge sent.
Unwarmed by any sunset light
The gray day darkened into night,
A night made hoary with the swarm
And whirl-dance of the blinding storm,
As zigzag, wavering to and fro,
Crossed and recrossed the wingëd snow:
And ere the early bedtime came
The white drift piled the window-frame,
And through the glass the clothes-line posts
Looked in like tall and sheeted ghosts.
The old familiar sights of ours
Took marvellous shapes; strange domes and towers
Rose up where sty or corn-crib stood,
Or garden-wall, or belt of wood;
A smooth white mound the brush-pile showed,
A fenceless drift what once was road;
The bridle-post an old man sat
With loose-flung coat and high cocked hat;
The well-curb had a Chinese roof;
And even the long sweep, high aloof,
In its slant splendor, seemed to tell
Of Pisa’s leaning miracle.
A prompt, decisive man, no breath
Our father wasted: “Boys, a path!”
Well pleased (for when did farmer boy
Count such a summons less than joy?)
Our buskins on our feet we drew;
With mittened hands, and caps drawn low,
To guard our necks and ears from snow,
We cut the solid whiteness through.
And, where the drift was deepest, made
A tunnel walled and overlaid
With dazzling crystal: we had read
Of rare Aladdin’s wondrous cave,
And to our own his name we gave,
With many a wish the luck were ours
To test his lamp’s supernal powers.
We reached the barn with merry din,
And roused the prisoned brutes within.
The old horse thrust his long head out,
And grave with wonder gazed about;
The cock his lusty greeting said,
And forth his speckled harem led;
The oxen lashed their tails, and hooked,
And mild reproach of hunger looked;
The hornëd patriarch of the sheep,
Like Egypt’s Amun roused from sleep,
Shook his sage head with gesture mute,
And emphasized with stamp of foot.
All day the gusty north-wind bore
The loosening drift its breath before;
Low circling round its southern zone,
The sun through dazzling snow-mist shone.
No church-bell lent its Christian tone
To the savage air, no social smoke
Curled over woods of snow-hung oak.
A solitude made more intense
By dreary-voicëd elements,
The shrieking of the mindless wind,
The moaning tree-boughs swaying blind,
And on the glass the unmeaning beat
Of ghostly finger-tips of sleet.
Beyond the circle of our hearth
No welcome sound of toil or mirth
Unbound the spell, and testified
Of human life and thought outside.
We minded that the sharpest ear
The buried brooklet could not hear,
The music of whose liquid lip
Had been to us companionship,
And, in our lonely life, had grown
To have an almost human tone.
As night drew on, and, from the crest
Of wooded knolls that ridged the west,
The sun, a snow-blown traveller, sank
From sight beneath the smothering bank,
We piled, with care, our nightly stack
Of wood against the chimney-back, —
The oaken log, green, huge, and thick,
And on its top the stout back-stick;
The knotty forestick laid apart,
And filled between with curious art
The ragged brush; then, hovering near,
We watched the first red blaze appear,
Heard the sharp crackle, caught the gleam
On whitewashed wall and sagging beam,
Until the old, rude-furnished room
Burst, flower-like, into rosy bloom;
While radiant with a mimic flame
Outside the sparkling drift became,
And through the bare-boughed lilac-tree
Our own warm hearth seemed blazing free.
The crane and pendent trammels showed,
The Turks’ heads on the andirons glowed;
While childish fancy, prompt to tell
The meaning of the miracle,
Whispered the old rhyme: “Under the tree,
When fire outdoors burns merrily,
There the witches are making tea.”
The moon above the eastern wood
Shone at its full; the hill-range stood
Transfigured in the silver flood,
Its blown snows flashing cold and keen,
Dead white, save where some sharp ravine
Took shadow, or the sombre green
Of hemlocks turned to pitchy black
Against the whiteness at their back.
For such a world and such a night
Most fitting that unwarming light,
Which only seemed where’er it fell
To make the coldness visible.
Shut in from all the world without,
We sat the clean-winged hearth about,
Content to let the north-wind roar
In baffled rage at pane and door,
While the red logs before us beat
The frost-line back with tropic heat;
And ever, when a louder blast
Shook beam and rafter as it passed,
The merrier up its roaring draught
The great throat of the chimney laughed;
The house-dog on his paws outspread
Laid to the fire his drowsy head,
The cat’s dark silhouette on the wall
A couchant tiger’s seemed to fall;
And, for the winter fireside meet,
Between the andirons’ straddling feet,
The mug of cider simmered slow,
The apples sputtered in a row,
And, close at hand, the basket stood
With nuts from brown October’s wood.
What matter how the night behaved?
What matter how the north-wind raved?
Blow high, blow low, not all its snow
Could quench our hearth-fire’s ruddy glow.
O Time and Change! — with hair as gray
As was my sire’s that winter day,
How strange it seems with so much gone,
Of life and love, to still live on!
Ah, brother! only I and thou
Are left of all that circle now, —
The dear home faces whereupon
That fitful firelight paled and shone.
Henceforward, listen as we will,
The voices of that hearth are still;
Look where we may, the wide earth o’er,
Those lighted faces smile no more.
We tread the paths their feet have worn,
We sit beneath their orchard trees,
We hear, like them, the hum of bees
And rustle of the bladed corn;
We turn the pages that they read,
Their written words we linger o’er.
But in the sun they cast no shade,
No voice is heard, no sign is made,
No step is on the conscious floor!
Yet love will dream, and Faith will trust
(Since He who knows our need is just),
That somehow, somewhere, meet we must.
Alas for him who never sees
The stars shine through his cypress-trees!
Who, hopeless, lays his dead away,
Nor looks to see the breaking day
Across the mournful marbles play!
Who hath not learned, in hours of faith,
The truth to flesh and sense unknown,
That Life is ever lord of Death,
And Love can never lose its own!
John Greenleaf Whittier
Tari Pantaleo, President of Kingston Greenways, Captures Snow-Dressed Spruces
of Plainsboro, in the heart of New Jersey in the wild heart of the storm
When I sent this note, -from our Princeton regional weather service-, to Chicago and Springfield Illinois relatives, they wrote that they’d never seen this phrase in all their years. And we all know, flying in and out of O’Hare in all seasons, what weather they have witnessed:
AN EXPLOSIVELY DEVELOPING NOR/EASTER WILL BRING HEAVY SNOW TO MUCH OF OUR AREA TODAY AND THIS EVENING… WITH BLIZZARD CONDITIONS EXPECTED FOR MANY AREAS.
Added to this warning, read at work late Tuesday, was the fact that “Travel will become extremely dangerous to impossible.” I’ve never read that either.
Two snowstorms have come and gone. Now snow is everywhere, especially south of us. People who don’t “believe” in global warming are probably laughing out loud. But they’ll sing another tune, as scientists increasingly remind that one of the signatures of catastrophic climate change is increasing frequency and SEVERITY of storms. Our storms bear the autograph of emissions — carbon dioxide, yes, and the even more malicious methane. Greed is the genesis of our storms.
Every “Winter Wallop” now is not a snowstorm, but an emissions storm.
Brenda Jones - Laden - Out in the Heart of the Storm
All weekend and since, I have been devouring books by Gretel Ehrlich - This Cold Heaven, set in Greenland’s compromised ice; and The Future of Ice, in which she has been assigned to go searching for winter while it still exists. Rider University Botanist and D&R Greenway Trustee, and above all friend and hiking buddy, Mary Leck, set me on this icy track.
The books do not qualify for escape reading. Ehrlich does, however remind and re-remind that getting hotter will make some places colder. All that ice in the ocean not only raises waters. It also, and significantly lowers temperatures. I felt pretty foolish not to have figured that out, as our snows swirled to blinding.
One mystifying factor for me was that the snow was more like fog, like air rendered visible. I wrote that the snow sifts like the last flour in a sieve, like dust, like Wondra flour. Gretel Ehrlich calls it drifting ash. It seemed as though we were being bombarded by bee-bees rather than flakes. She called it tiny ball bearings.
Whatever happened to those pretty white designs that lingered on our childhood mittens for a moment or two before dissolving forever? Ehrlich refers to the fact that flakes in hard storms are abraded. That is not the normal form of snow. It falls differently, blinds more significantly, packs differently, melts more sluggishly. So even that odd flakelessness is a sign of accelerating peril for polar bears, walrus, seals, narwhals, to say nothing of Inuits, island dwellers, seaside cities, and oh, yes, the very Gulf Stream itself.
[To say nothing of perils to humans. "Top of the food chain", remember, means we are linked to all the rest, as Chief Joseph declared so many decades ago. Not only polar bears are canaries in our coal mine -- WE are. When those canaries perished in the minders' cages, sometimes the workers could escape. Not always. At these rates of self-catalyzed, self-accelerated extinction, all that will remain will be the coal.]
The Gulf Stream is not just a pretty river of a different color, flowing through the sea so Hemingway can catch another tarpon. As the Gulf Stream is increasingly diluted by melting ice caps/glaciers, its temperature is being changed. Which means its direction will change, as it moves according to warmth and cold - until now, protecting western Europe and the United Kingdom from the real temperatures of their latitudes. Which means the Gulf Stream, –powered by its ancient interchanges of seasonal warmth, seasonal coolth–, is being changed in height/depth, in direction, in speed, meanwhile changing air currents above and around it. In other words, altering the lifestyles of storms.
Altering the Gulf Stream alters the direction from which our storms come, as well as where they manifest. Have you noticed all those blizzards in the South? Are you hearing, as I am, from friends in Idaho (”No snow since December”), in Vermont (”We have green grass.”)? Friends in Hillsborough were just told not to join their northern New England friends for the annual ski trip - “No snow.”
I grow discouraged with always, always trying to take stands for nature in general, and our Garden State in particular.
I feel like nothing but a voice crying OF the wilderness, with wilderness itself less and less attainable.
I become the boy with naught but a finger to insert into the dike’s crack.
My words feel less visible and less impactful than those warning fabrics fluttering on frail wires, upon suburban lawns, alerting that landscapers (landSCRAPERS) have applied yet another poison.
Then I read something such as Gretel Ehrlich’s culminating paragraph:
“EVERY CONVERSATION WE CAN HAVE ABOUT THE BEAUTY AND VIGOR OF THE WORLD AND THE DAMAGE BEING DONE TO IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT.”
What are YOU doing about catastrophic climate change?
And we go on, together…
Artists ‘Sit’ Gallery Saturdays and Sundays, 12 - 5 p.m.
Tasha’ONeill Graciously ‘Receives’ Guests at Distillations Opening
Once upon a time, a time before these apocalyptic snowstorms, fine-art photographer and dear friend, Tasha O’Neill, and I, wandered the rocky and forested Ken Lockwood Gorge.
Beloved of trout fishermen, you could convince most people that the gorgeous Gorge (could not resist!) is the best of Colorado. Hardly anyone believes even my mere photos of its stone-sharp, fern-softened, trout-blessed reaches. Let alone that this haven exists just beyond Clinton, in our very own New Jersey.
Tasha trained her artist’s eye and that cooperative lens upon startling autumn reflections. In all my trips, I’ve never seen that water more pristine — unlikely headwaters of the north branch of the Raritan River.
Without computer altering, a richness of abstractions emerged, which she has printed, framed and named “Distillations.” Gallery 14’s walls will take on the essence of wild New Jersey on Friday night, when autumn blooms in Hopewell.
Come revel in the ‘gold rush’ our Tasha mined up in the Gorge. As well as the roseate collection she discovered the very next day in our own Barbara Smoyer Park off Herrontown and Snowden in Princeton.
Pay any price (the reception is free); bear any burden to be at Gallery 14 between 6 and 9 p.m. Remember a time when Mother Nature, instead of whiteouts and storm surges, cooperated powerfully with this remarkable Princeton photographer.
To see the full array, go to the Gallery 14 web-site [http://www.photogallery14.com/]
The way to see her Distillations so you’ll never forget them, and meet the artist, is to make pilgrimage to Gallery 14.
Gallery 14 Tasha O’Neill Opening Friday, February 12, 6 – 9 p.m.
Artists ‘Sit’ Gallery Saturdays and Sundays, 12 - 5 p.m.
and by appointment
14 Mercer Street, Hopewell, New Jersey 08525
My passion with photography started in 1997. My first love was photographing close-ups of flowers and butterflies. Now, I coax interest out of everyday scenes. I seek moments of juxtaposition, of hard with soft, fire near ice. I catch shadows, reflections in water, buildings within other buildings, ‘distortions’ seen through liquid or glass.
I used film for many years, but when the first digital Canon SLR came out I was hooked. It became my partner in creativity, granting instant feedback. The Canon and the computer led to new experimentation.
I now edit both through the lens and on the screen. But my artistic emphasis remains focused on those pivotal moments just before releasing the shutter.
Exhibit 2010, February 12 - March 14,
It is morning after the snowfall that was blizzard for most of the East Coast, especially south. The forest outside my Canal Road windows looks menacing, against a sky more Prussian than blue. Pre-dawn snow emanates a sharp, even shrill blue like the ion light on my fake sunlamp. A blue that won’t turn off unless I unplug the contraption that’s s’posed to make up for no sun in these rooms.
Brenda Jones captures verticals and horizontals splayed along new snow.
Nor’easter snow remains pasted all along the verticals, curves, slants and branches of trees studding this new landscape. Conical hats with folded tips lift above pine needles, tufts high as the Phrygian caps of the French Revolution, –only white, not red. Other snow on the evergreens is clotted, quite seriously anemic. Ironically, white pines are the darkest entities in this sun-starved woods.
Ever since 5 a.m., –since I’m not in Cumberland County getting ready for ‘my’ eagles–, I’ve been reading C.L. Rawlins’ poetic description of gathering snow samples in the West’s Wind River Range. His next line, after I finish these snow notes, is, “The snow has a frigid blue as we head on in.” The book is “Sky’s Witness”, ordered through the Princeton Public Library, provided by Firestone Library.
Now the Prussian sky has paled, turning both deciduous trees and conifers to obsidian. Ground snow continues to glow eerily, as though something is decaying under there. Or, on a happier note, reminding me of special effects at childhood’s “Ice Capades”, –blue-black light shining on ice dancers until their costumes nearly ignited, reflected in glossy ice.
If I were in Cumberland County right now, I’d be out on Turkey Point’s wind-strafed reaches, with the staunch Karen Johnson, –daunted by neither wind nor weather. One year, on the Turkey Point footbridge, no one could use scopes because winds caused the bridge to writhe. We actually became dizzy, trying to bird through unsteady lenses.
If I’d been down there today, we’d have gathered in half-light, half-recognizing fellow bird trekkers of other years. There’d be that pre-dawn murmuring, softer than ever today because coming through face-masks and mufflers. We’d be trying to tiptoe despite thick boots and thicker socks. Above all, before sunrise, we would all be listening. If we were very lucky, various owls would be carrying on, bemoaning loss of darkness as I mourn loss of light.
The electricity of that pre-dawn fellowship is an unexpected gift of the birding obsession. Everyone hushed yet excited. Attuned ‘to the nth degree’. Binoculars at the ready, for the lifting of the light.
Especially in January and February, there is fullness to to the emptiness of the Point, that no amount of side-by-side cars and more arriving all the time can dilute. There is quiet rejoicing as the first fleck of sun-flame appears over the marsh. Then, blessing of blessings, that first brush of wing-shadow. When Pete Dunne is along, he is always particularly exultant at the sight of the first of his favorites - the Northern harriers.
When it comes to harriers, nobody appreciates them like Pete. Nobody captures them like Brenda Jones.
Ah, but no birds for us today.
I return to C.L. Rawlins to ‘drown my sorrow’ in his words and adventures. “I climb and look around,” he reveals. “It is enough.”
Writing of one of his “Snow Rangers,” Rawlins announces, “He craved the elemental rest of ice and storms.” Again, this writer I had not known, puts his finger right on what I’m missing this weekend — even beyond birds. I am longing for the elemental…
Watching a so-called storm from inside modern glass windows just doesn’t do it.
“Up here,” exults Rawlins, “I am free to notice details.” That’s another piece of that for which I yearn — to be surrounded by those who notice details. If I never hear “WHAT heron?” again, it’ll be too soon.
“In severe weather,” Rawlins lectures, “wilderness starts just outside your skin. If you have good clothing [he means what we now call 'gear'], then that is your house, and it goes with you wherever you go.”
I love everything about eagle weekend, starting with packing my wind-pruf Polarfleece (copyright) and Gore-Tex (ditto), breatheable everything, and of course down.
“In deep cold,” (Rawlins again), “you must guard your heat, guard your water.”
He doesn’t say what I’ve been taught: to hydrate every half hour: “If you’re thirsty, it’s too late.” “Hydration is more important in winter.” “The first symptom of dehydration is fuzzy thinking.” “In winter, fuzzy thinking kills.” In summer, “Cotton kills.” “Cotton - hypothermia-Central.”
As he back-country skis, Rawlins describes the landscape I have come to love along the Delaware Bayshore. “Easy stuff comes hard out here.”
Exactly. Every so often, more often than not, it’s essential to be OUT THERE. Why? Not only because it’s there. Because it’s WILD there. And to test ourselves against its thereness, find out if we’re up to it. And, oh, yes, there may be eagles.
But here, despite ceaseless haranguing by Weather Channel’s adrenaline-junkies — we had not a blizzard but a snowfall.
Blizzards blow relentlessly sideways for hours.
Blizzards destroy visibility.
Blizzards have certain specific wind-speed, but I don’t even need number in order to know, we didn’t have one.
We had a snowfall. Soft and lazy though lengthy. By no means deep — five or six inches on my Canal Road hill. Airy, ephemeral in the shoveling.
It wasn’t a disaster. It was snow. It was winter. This is winter. Get used to it.
Now, Millville, where I should be awake and writing bird words, is reported to have received 22 official inches.
Cape May, where I frankly YEARNED to be to watch the storm, had 100,000 people without power last night.
The Weather Channel pundit, bouncy and blonde, announced this statistic with foxy glee, adding the line I’ll never get over… “Gee, I hope they get that turned around in time for the Super Bowl.”