Archive for May, 2010
Filed Under (Destruction, Disaster, Environment, Government, Henry David Thoreau, Literature, NJ WILD, Nature, Nature Writing, Oceans, Politicians, Pollution/Poisoning, Preservation, Solitude, Timelessness, Tranquillity, protection, wild) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 29-05-2010
The Actual Outermost House, beforfe 1978
Early NJ WILD readers know my deep honor for and gratitude to various nature writers. One of the first I celebrated when this blog began was Henry Beston. He spent a year observing Nature at her gentlest and her wildest, from what came to be called The Outermost House, on Cape Cod’s Nauset Beach. Since Cape Cod juts 30 miles out from the mainland, this is almost like spending winter on the high seas in some slight craft hewn of wood. “Warmth left the sea and winter came down with storms of gushing winds, and icy, pelting rain.” In his terrestrial craft, however, Beston kept a light for his Coast Guard pals, “I often made the patrols with the men of the station, for I liked to watch the beach by night… Living in outer nature,” he exults, keeps the senses clean. And living alone stirs a certain watchfulness.
Watch Henry did, seeing the seasons round as I did on my hill in Provence. And we are all the richer for his “watchfulness.”
It’s appropriate to turn back to Beston, while I begin re-reading Rachel Carson, as greed pours hundreds of thousands of barrels of literally crude oil into our sacred oceans, a process no one can seem to arrest. I often wonder, what would Henry say? What would Rachel do?
They are not here — we are… writing to political leaders and editors seems our only tool in our 21st-Century 3-Mile Island, our own Vesuvius.
Beston’s masterpiece first astonished when I spent summers nearby, in a tiny Chatham cottage on Nantucket Sound. My waves lapped where his roared. Though I walked the beach in all tides and lights and weathers, up to Harding’s Light and back, I never walked by night.
I am stunned, however, to discover that naturalists I revere do not know Beston, have not ‘heard’ the Great Wave at his hands, have not walked the night beach with his lifesaving friends, never shared Beston’s “cloud of terns” or “dust of stars” (phosphorescence.)
I re-read The Outermost House just now, preparatory to loaning it to one of those passionate and highly educated naturalists, before he sets out for a house on the Maine coast.
As with childhood’s re-experiencing of Gone With the Wind, every time I read The Outermost House, totally different facets are highlighted. This time, “House” grips me early on in the language of my other land, French. I had not remembered Henry’s electrifying phrase, written in an early journal of his own life mission:, “La nature, voila mon pays!” “Nature, voila! - my country.”
Nature is OUR country, and we are destroying it. First photographs of our globe from space showed it to be a blue jewel, the land we inhabit insignificant within that cerulean grandeur. It’s horrible enough that we systematically foul our ocean setting with vilest wastes. Now, ceaseless literally crude poisons explode into La Mer. (It is no accident that this sounds like ‘The Mother’ in French…)
Evening perusals of so called news reveal precious little on this literal tragedy of darkness when we were given light. Is it a mercy or a tragedy that we do not have Henry and Rachel and John Muir to use their diamond-bright, diamond-sharp pens to wake up the world?
Beston during the 1920’s, from the Henry Beston Society’s Web-site
When I stayed at Chatham, my daughters and I would make pilgrimage to the actual cottage of Henry’s year, over on Nauset Beach. The building was named to the National Register of Historic Places in dire 1968.
Tragically or fittingly, in the Blizzard of ‘78, [about which I wrote my first-ever Packet article, "Blizzards Change the Way we Live," published on the first year anniversary of that tempest, filling three pages], Beston’s Outermost House became one with the turbulent sea.
For most of us, living alone for a year, as did Thoreau (more or less) away from so-called society is a matter of courage. But Henry’s courage, like Rachel Carson’s, ran oceanically deep, surging in countless directions. One night, for example, Henry he slept outdoors. This I not only have never done — it never occurred to me in the Chatham years! Savor his experience:
“So came August to its close, ending its last day with a night so luminous and still that a mood came over me to sleep out on the open beach under the stars.” He describes a nook in the dunes, south “of my house… to this nook I went, shouldering my blankets sailorwise. In the star-shine, the hollow was darker than the immense and solitary beach; its floor still pleasantly warm from the overflow of day… The vague walls around me breathed a pleasant smell of sand.”
Outside in his ‘nook,’ Henry re-lives his Outermost Year:
“Because I had known this outer and secret world, and been able to live as I had, reverence and gratitude greater and deeper than ever possessed me, sweeping every emotion else aside. Space and silence an instant closed together over life.”
Still musing, Henry admonishes, “Live in Nature, and you will soon see that, for all its non-human rhythm, it is no cafe of pain… The economy of nature, its checks and balances, its measurements of competing life — all this is its great marvel, and has an ethic of its own.”
He concludes with timeless wisdom we are all to perilously ignoring:
“DO NO DISHONOUR TO THE EARTH, LEST YOU DISHONOR THE SPIRIT OF MAN. HOLD YOUR HANDS OUT OVER THE EARTH, AS OVER A FLAME.”
The reward for this honor and tending:
“To all who love her… [Nature] gives of her strength, sustaining them with her own measureless tremor of dark life.
Touch the earth.
Love the earth.
Honor the earth…
Rest your spirit in her solitary places.”
Where, NJ WILD READERS, in Wild Nature, have you rested your spirit, lately?”
Filed Under (Adventure, Agriculture, Birds, Brigantine Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, Butterflies, Climate Change, Farm Markets, Farmers, Farmland, Farms, Food, Forests, Garden State, Global Climate Change, Hamilton Trenton Bordentown Marsh, Harvest, Indians, Jersey Fresh, Lenni Lenapes, Local Food, Migration, Migratory Flocks, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Nature, New Jersey, New Jersey Pine Barrens, Oceans, Pine Barrens, Preservation, Solitude, Tranquillity, native species, rivers, trails) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 27-05-2010
What Prepared Birders Do at the Brig… cfe
UNEXPECTED BIRDING - TO HAVE ADVENTURES, GO WHERE ADVENTURES ARE…
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, FROM INTERNET - GIFT OF A TRAFFIC JAM
The plan, on a perfect May Friday, was to zip down to Island Beach for a day of hiking in dunes. I planned to nip across New Jersey on what had been a Lenni Lenape trail - from the sites of hunter months to summer sites of gathering.
From Route 295, almost empty, even quiet, Route 195 beckoned. The connection happens above my beloved Hamilton-Trenton-Bordentown Marsh. This wetland beckons, shimmering and simmering in the hot months, lushly green, freshwater yet tidal, right off 295. I made the big swoop, –that circle that can revel herons, above waters I have kayaked from Bordentown Beach up along Crosswicks Creek to Watson’s. But, instead of kayak currents, I plunged into a river of trucks long as houses, –dwarfing all cars, not only mine, and none of them moving. It was 7-something in the morning, and I was face-to-face with a Berlin Wall, a Great Wall, a Hadrian’s Wall of stopped vehicles. No Island Beach for me.
It took nearly a half hour to reach 195’s first exit, 206 South through Bordentown. Some powers beyond vision and sound had a different plan for me - back to the Brigantine (Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge near Smithville/Oceanville) for the third time in a week.
206 is never easy, least of all the Bordentown parts, which is why I never get on til Columbus when I KNOW I’m going birding. I nearly became a Buick sandwich between another house-sized truck and a series of smaller impetuous ones. The monster suddenly stopped right in the middle of 206, acrid smoke from his tires filling my car, as drivers behind me refused to let me out and around the obstruction. I was not in a good mood.
Somewhere after Columbus, however, cross as I was, sights that mean I am on my way to the Pinelands lifted my grouchy heart. A faded red barn presided above a broad, fresh-tilled field, –reminder of agronomy, promise of harvest. It could have been a canvas by Hopper or Homer (Winslow), that striated color testifying to time before Route 206.
Angling left onto Carranza Road, first drifts of sugar-sand softened the harsh edges of my journey. In Michigan, we’d have to drive all day to get to white sand alongside the road. I decided to save Russo’s Farm (for provisions) for the trip home, turning blessedly east (where the ocean is) onto 232.
My heart lifted, even though right at that moment, my sister was visiting a new kind of doctor - physiologic, electronic? — I can’t remember that strange term muddied by boundless concern. Her atrial fibrillation has returned. Can this new physician jump start my sister to normalcy? Will I ever again take Marilyn to Russo’s for morning’s hot donuts and a small crisp cup of cider?
My own heart lift, however, took place beside burgeoning chunks of thick dark New Jersey loam, turned perhaps yesterday, bursting with fertility. I’m not used to our soil’s being dark. This field is probably Russo’s, who sell foods they (and we, if we like) gather in rich surrounding farmland. I’m guessing Russo’s still knows the worth of manure, hence this color and heft. A sign warns, Tractors Next 3 Miles. My favorite kind of sign.
FRESH JERSEY ASPARAGUS, reads another hand-lettered sign. OUR OWN STRAWBERRIES. There is pride in the lettering and will be health in my feasting, later this weekend.
Sudden spurts of pink reveal laurel in the woodlands, at peak bloom — a good two weeks ahead of schedule. This is beautiful and not good. NJ WILD readers know why- catastrophic climate change can be so seductive. If the plants open before the pollinators are here, then what - for the plants? What for the insects? What for orchards, for cranberries about to spurt with flowers like stars? Will bee-visits coincide?
Pinewoods stretch on all sides. Their understory changes as abruptly as if a set designer with a straight-edge had measured and declared, “Just here and no farther” for the ferns. “Bring on the blueberries now.” “We need a laurel or two for contrast.”
My leaden heart lifts and lifts, in the pines. There may be no light I cherish more than earliest through ferns in pinewood. Abruptly blueberry shrubs glimmer throughout the depths. Those medium tall dazzlers at road’s edge are Black Jack Oaks, pugilistic leaves thrust at a scrimmed sky. It is supposed to be nearly 90 today, which is why I had headed for dune hikes. This sky, behind a warehouse full of communion veils, could go either way - sizzle or drizzle. We shall see. Sand and pines. Pines and sand. Paradise enow!
I don’t want my sister going to the electro-cardiologist. I want her on the seat beside me, binoculars at the ready, because she’s the one with the ‘hawk eyes’ and I’ll just keep pushing us forward to the Brig.
Am I running away or running toward? Or both? From too many people, too many interruptions, from a world where trucks can keep me from the ocean, for sure. To birds in migration, indeed. I pass a small sign next to a rustic building: CORPORATE CENTER! From a world where corporate centers are the rule, above all. To tranquillity in solitude. To beauty. To the wild. To a preserve that has brought me some of the most memorable nature encounters of my entire life - thanks to Republican Edwin B. Forsythe, wherever you are, and to New Jersey.
My very first Brigantine birds are ospreys, one on the feeding platform, one on the struts of the nest platform. Meaning that this pair is no on eggs, as most others are now at the Brig. Meaning, they may be immatures, ‘practicing’, as birders say. Almost every osprey platform at the Brig is occupied this year! On most, one partner is flat-to-invisible on the nest, the other vigilantly nearby, should any marauder appear and threaten those vital eggs.
My Osprey were Tranquil and Domestic - Brenda Jones’ is Enraged!
[As I will admit to a camouflaged cameraman many hours from now, "I think everyone else is the real birder. I'll have to go home, ask friends who ARE, what that eerie marsh sound could have been." Buzzy and booming, subtle, --almost heard, almost imagined. I've heard so few rails, few bitterns in my life -- it could have been one of these elusive miracles of this preserve...] The Brig is very forgiving to beginning birders.
Dunlin (’via Sharon’) From Internet
My sister would’ve liked this. I’m way out on the new Leeds Eco Trail. Its raised platform rises high and dry above glossy and fecund mud. On this jaunt, these gleaming mudflats are studded with dark feisty fiddler crabs. Tidal reaches probed by dunlins on all sides. Ruddy as turnstones on the back, black-bellied as the larger plovers I hope to find later, I’ve never been so aware of dunlins at Brig before. It is so easy to be distracted by rarities.
Saucy Cormorant, Brenda Jones
There is enough water for two comorants to play hide-and-seek, making me laugh out loud, all by myself. Now you see them, now you don’t. When I bring first-time birders down here, they are sure those black birds (half submerged so much of the time) are drowning!
Hieroglyphic ibis with scimitar beaks arrow over and over, without sound. The ibis cluster in iridescent flocks I cannot count. Their fluorescent greens, so visible in Cape May’s sandy setting last week, all but vanishing among springing marsh grasses.
Low Tide with Fiddler Crabs Carolyn Foote Edelmann
In a slender runnel, a natty semi-palmated plover slurps meal after meal. He constantly turns his pristine head, eyeing possible feasts-in-the-mud, with first one eye, then the other, as do robins. The plover’s snappy black ascot remains unbesmirched. To my right, amidst leftover tide are three possible godwits, but I didn’t know I was coming so I don’t have my Sibley! Nobody should ever go to the Brig without Sibley. [Mine is signed from the time we walked the Hamilton-Trenton-Bordentown Marsh in fall migration with David, as a fundraiser for D&R Greenway Land Trust.] It was pretty dog-eared even then, But Sibley’s s not doing me any good back at home by the computer.
Willets scream, “I’m the WILLET!, I’m the WILLET!” on every side. They fan grey wings, revealing black patent-like feathers in flight. Willets to every compass point, patently furious with all those ibis on the their traditional New Jersey marshland feeding ground.
At the end of my day, will I decide that the best part was driving more slowly than the tiger swallowtail butterfly? The whole palette is the sharp green of Ireland, a country I’ve yet to see. The sky remains hazed blue, with blowing and drifting clouds, thin-to-vanishing. Yellow mustard claims both sides of the roadways, beyond wire cages where turtles have laid eggs - most likely terrapin. On yellow flower spikes, black butterflies no larger than my thumbnail sip spring nourishment.
Turtle Egg Protection at Brig (inside car - didn’t open windows because of insects) cfe
Out of the car, discussing whether those tall dun-colored shorebirds could possibly be the godwits reported on our hotlines all week (I had seen the bar-tailed here last week - but didn’t know which godwit it was til I read NJ Audubon…), I discover what the Jersey Devil really is - the no-see-um, crowds and clouds and hordes of the almost invisible voracious critters. When I apologize for getting back in my car “because of the bugs,” the woman with the bird book almost smirks: “This isn’t buggy!”
Ah, here, now, along the dike road going due east, in a landscape almost void of gulls and/or terns, I am granted my rarity-wish-of-the-day - the black-bellied plover. Several of them pass in stately dance, imperious as monarchs consorting with the commoners, all their breeding plumage in finest array, intensity, as blinding as patent leather in sudden full sun.
I turn north, driving more slowly than the great egret. It had one fish in its long gullet, then speared and swallowed another (still alive, swimming humps revealed all along the elegant white passageway), and then another. I never noticed smugness in an egret before.
Brenda’s Hunting Egret in Brig’s Primordial Ooze
I stop and call my sister, watching the coast and plunge of silent terns. Here among the yellowness of mustard are purple spurts of something in the pea family, and her favorite flower, fountains of egret-white daisies. She likes the new doctor, who has to give her such bad news. Of the two forms of atrial fibrillation, hers is the more dangerous. Another cardioversion (electrical intervention) is called for, and ablation (don’t ask! something to do with burning parts of the heart’s electrical system) may be down the road. He gives her pamphlets on her rarity, not the type we seek together or separately, and a web-site that is useful. He tells her, “Live your life with caution, but do not change it. I don’t want you living in fear.”
It is no accident that I hear this in the kingdom of the grasses and the tides. Everything at the Brig, even more obviously than at Island Beach, is cyclical, seasonal, tidal, changing. I have to believe that she, the ideal patient, will win through with the help of her two cardiologists. Two cardiologists?! Who wants even one?
Two more black-bellied plovers march into view, stopping all the cars along the dike road. They are frankly tremendous in their presence. I’d rather see plovers than doctors. So would she.
LOW TIDE AT THE BRIG FROM THE DIKE ROAD cfe
Eerie juxtaposition — Atlantic City in my rearview mirror, two egrets and a cormorant out the windshield.
Two ducks glide west along a fuller tide - imperious as the plovers. Eye stripes give the ducks a seductive look, appropriate, since they are in full breeding plumage. I guess canvasbacks, but darn it, where’s my Sibley? Who ever heard of sultry ducks?
A mourning cloak butterfly near me is so large, by comparison, that he blocks out a cormorant. Symphony in black. I find myself tempering my car’s speed to that of the ducks - I coast out in front, wait for them to swim into view, coast anew. There are worse ways to spend a day, to absorb medical news.
Brenda’s Raucous Heron - mine were still and hungry…
I think about how solitary great egrets seem to be. Where and when do they court and breed? As if to underscore my bafflement, one flies softly, slowly toward me, so low that its wings absolutely meet those of its watery twin, a softest kiss of wingtips.
Egret Vigil - Atlantic City Behind Him- cfe
Laughing gulls at the Brigantine are generally silent. My theory is that people don’t eat here, so these gulls have not learned screamingly to beg for hand-outs. Predation is mostly a silent task. The laughing gulls are comical, after the dignity of the oystercatcher, all alone in an impoundment. Both share vivid hues of black (like a brand new record in my father’s time) and white (freshest snow by moonlight) and red (an oystercatcher’s beak looks “like a ripe carrot stuck on a snowman”, says a cherished friend upon whose trail I happened in Cape May a week ago.) There, the resemblance ends - and, well, the laughing gull is more the color of a rotund Burgundy than a carrot, actually… The oystercatcher moves with deliberate grace. Laughing gulls, especially in twos, flitter along bustly as dowagers elbowing their ways to the best seats in church, a kind of righteous shiver to the shoulders in the passage. I wonder if laughing gulls gossip.
Whimbrel, From Internet
All of a sudden, I am treated to the best of the day — a pair of whimbrels to my left. On this final turn of the dike road, people tend to speed up. No one else saw the oystercatcher, which I discovered while seeking the mate of a lone osprey on the nest but upright and agitated, ‘arms’ up like the Winged Victory at the Louvre. No one even slowed where the whimbrels wait. I love those curved beaks- memories of our Chatham (Mass.) cottage all those heaven-summers.
Among white waterlilies, a mute swan sleeps. And it is over. I’ve strung out my dike tour so long as I can. Time to hit the pineroads home, if I’m to be back on dread highways before Rush Hour. On Old New York Road, laurels are everywhere — like lighthouses gleaming from nameless islands, across a trackless sea of evergreen blackness, at the dark of the moon. Rhododendrons rise in tiny yards, but there is no contest. Iris flutter in a light afternoon breeze.
I stop as I’d always meant to do to photograph the storied Mullica River at Green Bank. People actually live on this river, with high porches upon which some are sitting and reading at three in the afternoon on a May Friday, watching the glimmer. Do they sense hints of Revolutionary times when patriots rowed with muffled oars, taking products from Pine Barrens forges toward the Delaware River and George Washington and Valley Forge during dire winters? Where patriots trapped and boarded and captured British brig after brig, boldly advertising sale of ‘the stores’ in Philadelphia (those hotheads!) papers? Maybe. Maybe not.
Peaceful Mullica River, May 2010, Carolyn Foote Edelmann
I’ll take ‘my’ Brig, whose stores are rarities of the finest kind (name of a clipper ship I once knew way up in Maine) — wild and on the wing and as free as those patriots fought so we could be, we could remain…
Remember, always, none of these adventures could have taken place if New Jersey hadn’t preserved ‘The Brig’ and built and maintained those bays and impoundments!
Magnolias and Lilies cfe
AMONG THE LILIES, BRIG, MAY cfe
Filed Under (Amphibians, Animals of the Wild, Birds, D&R Canal & Towpath, Destruction, Forests, Indians, Lenni Lenapes, NJ, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Nature, New Jersey, Preservation, Solitude, Spring, The Seasons, Timelessness, Tranquillity, Trees, Wildflowers, invasive species, native species, protection, trails, wild) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 26-05-2010
It’s ‘unseasonably’ hot this morning, and I don’t have to be at work until 2. D&R Greenway is hosting an archaeology talk at D&R Greenway tonight, on the Lenni Lenapes and the Bonapartes-of-Bordentown, who lived above the Hamilton-Trenton-Bordentown Marsh. (Call 609-924-4646 to register for free 6:30 program: The Cultural History of the Marsh.
When I’m the food stylist for evening events, mornings take place at home, –at my speed, my priorities. Of course, I head straight to the Towpath [near #518 off Canal Road where I now live.] D&R Greenway began as a non-profit to save land near the D&R Canal and Towpath. Friends for the Marsh exists ‘under our umbrella’, and we’re featuring their juried photography exhibition this summer, on our circa-1900 barn walls. I walk this trail and ponder the miracles of hard-won preservation.
What literally strikes me first, as I clamber from the car and move onto the more or less authentic canal bridge, is the force of the sun. It sears like August sun in Provence. One of my Provence poems complains, “August strikes its flat sword blade”. One fled the sun of August in Provence, as though it were a vindictive sword wielded by a heedless barbarian. I feel this way in this light on this trail, even though I am awash in fragrances headier than those distilled from Provencal petals in Grasse over the hill from my villa.
I want to capture what was given on this morning’s hot towpath, before all so rudely ended.
A bower of berry blossoms - hence, heady, even dizzying scents on all sides
Fern groves; hefty skunk cabbage clusters in the hollow.
First swathes of bright yellow ‘flags’, wild iris, –very very native.
Mockingbird trills, –over and over and over again.
PHOEBE! PHOEBE! - this tiny bird shouting its name, and answered to my right and to my left.
Bullfrog bellows. Sometimes they call to mind Casals or Yo Yo Ma - but this is too earthy and flat-out territorial for classical reference.
“Pretty pretty me!” “Pretty pretty me” - the sweet narcissism of the yellow warbler.
Two fragrances now - honeysuckle vying with berries, –too much sweetness, really, until I long for a whiff of fox, of skunk, of something rank decaying into the trail.
But I find myself flinching every time I move out of treeshadow into sunglare. Now, I remember hot Memorial Days, even in Michigan, definitely in Princeton. Even so, there is a suffocating inescapable quality to this sultriness, even so early, that thrusts me right into the subject of catastrophic climate change - something NJ WILD readers might suspect I came out on the trail to forget.
Spring is at its zenith. Summer, that predator, is literally at my throat.
Everything is that too-green that it will stay until the first coppery glints of woodbine and poison ivy remind, “Don’t worry. Fall is coming!”
At first, others on the Towpath are captivated by the miracle of running through this tunnel of blossoms. Their gaze meets mine, even the men whispering in passing. Then, as heat takes over, runners flash past without greeting. “Ha!,” I think, bitterly, “fitness is more important than fellowship.”
But my soundlessness and timelessness are short-lived.
I become aware of frenzied traffic, hurtling like missiles along the road that used to be Tranquillity Central. Then, the sound I hate above all others, back-up beeps of trucks. I don’t know where I am, because the green and blossoms are so thick here — so I don’t know how to avoid these trucks, which clatter, clang and growl frontwards and shriek backwards, while the hard-hatted men who tend them shout above their own cacophony. Overhead, first one helicopter. Then another.
I turn, pick up the pace, head back to the bridge. Damn! I probably can’t ever hike this part of the trail again.
It holds everything I flee - what NJ WILD readers have heard me decry over and over, DESTRUCTION in the name of CONSTRUCTION.
Others turn, also. We’re a human traffic jam fleeing human traffic.
The only blessing is a birdsong I almost know but haven’t heard yet in 2010 — and then I see it in silhouette, right over my head. As I focus my ‘glass’ upon the unknown soloist, orange and black that out-Princeton Princeton flash in the hot white light. First Baltimore Oriole.
Worthy of the journey…
Equal of the Eastern towhee who blessed my departure for work yesterday morning. I want to see Nature as the victor…
Can she be, with us in the equation?
Filed Under (ART, Adventure, Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve, Bucks County, Delaware River, Farm Markets, Fishing, Food, Local Food, NJ WILD, Nature, Pennsylvania, Spring, Timelessness, Tranquillity, rivers, trails) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 20-05-2010
Having given an art opening for two hundred or more at D&R Greenway Land Trust last evening, I waken ready to roam.
All week, I’ve not only had this major reception ‘on my plate’, quite literally. I’ve also been absolutely alone with all phone calls. My office mate is on a long journey, her back-up down with asthma. You get the picture. Long before 9, I was in the car, not knowing why nor where. Knowing only that I had to be untethered.
Perhaps this morning’s was the oddest reason for a breakfast choice that I have ever known. Headed toward my cherished Delaware (River), I’d thought Lambertville was the breakfast-site-of choice. However, the radio filled my car with the flower song from Lakme, Sutherland above all. Followed by my ‘Ur’ duet - that from the Pearl Fishers. So long as it cascaded around me, no WAY could I stop to eat, not even at the Full Moon. Onward and upward I drove, on the New Jersey side, along the River, (the ONLY river…), as the voices of Warren and Bjoerling swirled as they had in my twenties. Then, I lived on Kellogg’s K, in order to afford Obstructed View Seats at the Old Met. There, I met (pun intended) Tebaldi as Traviata, Siepi as the Don (Giovanni), Warren and Bjoerling over and over until Leonard literally died on that well-worn stage. I was not in attendance, but I had heard him that very week. And now, that voice was stilled forever. Until May 15, in the 21st Century, when Warren and Bjoerling swept me north along the Delaware River, to an unexpected feast.
All the electricity of last night’s art reception still swirled about me, but I had to keep driving, north, through small but not forgotten villages of this state I have come to call my own. Except that my geographical center is not a state, but a Valley, the Delaware Valley.
The villages were sleepy, still, as I was not. Other drivers seemed captured by the morning’s scintillation. They were all driving a good ten miles below the speed limit - how amazing in the 21st Century! And even more astonishing, I didn’t care - I was glad they were doing the car equivalent of sauntering - about which I wrote for NJ WILD readers when this blog first began.
Sun on spring leaves had that special glint of light when there’s a river near. I drove green tunnels all a-glimmer, green upon green, and under that the black glisten of rocks that winter garlands with white ice.
No one else is on so many stretches of my runaway drive! So color dominates. There is a sudden eruption (are there slow ones?) of pink and mauve and magenta, and I realize it is the season of wild phlox. Tall, stately yet dainty, the clusters resemble innocent prom girls, when voluptuousness was the farthest thing from those pristine minds, when dresses were sewn by tender mothers from fabrics with names like dimity. Shy, the way we were, these blooms, nodding, like Asian women behind coquettish fans, hiding in spring shadows. The prom-flower maidens are suddenly stirred by river winds - as we were by currents of the future.
Pearl Fisher majesty ends. I am in Stocton, New Jersey. The town of “There’s a small hotel, with a wishing well,” which song I heard at midnight on a May night when I’d voted at dawn to DUMP THE PUMP, then hustled into Manhattan to share a musical with a Michigan friend. And what song was the center-piece of that production, but ‘There’s a Small Hotel.” Written at the Stockton Inn, beside a wishing well I knew in my other life, with my once splendid husband. And when I heard that song on the bridge in the middle of the Delaware River heading home to Bucks County, I knew our referendum had won. What I didn’t know was that it was non-binding. Our opponents were laughing up their sleeves, knowing what I could not foresee — that the Pump would be built that year when I ran away to Provence. That all the land owned by lawyers and judges and chemists and utilities insiders would suddenly pass its perk tests and be worth thousands if not millions. That Bucks County would be profaned. That McMansions would rise on all sides in that rustic, rural Paradise. That my few years in Bucks County would prove to have been its apex, lost forever.
Probably that battle, that loss, fuels me even now. I will never get over the perfidy of all politicians save Peter Kostmayer, –who did win, whose position papers, speeches and release I wrote, who did name as much of our beloved Delaware as could possibly qualify, as WILD AND SCENIC. Without whom, we wouldn’t have all those shad fishermen and shad festivals up and down her banks in the 21st century. So wall was not exactly lost. But Bucks County will never be the same.
Stockton is fully alive this early. River light blinds me, though I cannot quite see the river. Only after I park do I realize I am before “one of my favorite things” — as though this town could have heard me singing: a Farmers’ Market! Tiny triangle flags in simple primary colors strain at their moorings in this morning’s gale. Hand chalked lists of today’s specialties inform me that the quaint wine shop next door proffers wine tastings at noon. Well, that ’s a long way off. Imagine shopping for local sustainable produce (and, I learn, for fish, for shellfish, for chocolates, for lavender, for cheeses, for grass-fed beef, for quiches and cookies and muffins and pies, for dried herbs and glass gardens (nearly succumbed to this) and baguettes and bacon, and on and on and on, to the tune of a country fiddler. I have to go back, in a produce mood, do justice to the Stockton Farmers’ Market.
Sun dazzles, so that I am stopped literally in my tracks, at THE tracks of the Delaware and Belvidere Railroad. Of course, it was ultimately gulped by the omnivorous Pennsylvania Railroad. Which is why I somehow overlooked this precious journey opportunity - from Trenton to Easton, awash throughout with the ‘belle-vedere’ — beautiful viewings — which gave this train its name.
A Sicilian restaurant mis-spells its signature fish, which I am sure will be succulent and unforgettable nonetheless, were I to be here in the fish hour, which I shall not.
My quest is Miel’s - the quirky restaurant where I shall feast on crispy/fluffy corn fritters and hearty sausage patties. Miel’s has presided at this simple corner since I lived in New Hope for most of the ‘eighties. It was the brain-child of feisty women, and I swear the same ones are still here, turning out the identical home cooking specialties, which were exotic in the eighties. They had roast turkey and stuffing, also meat loaf and mashed potatoes, every night of every season, back in those stupid years of la nouvelle cuisine….
What I love about Miel’s, in addition to its feisty women and hearty real food! - is their mismatched plates, cups, glasses, and the like - as though out of an Ohio great aunt’s kitchen. On the walls now is an historian’s dream of Shad Festival posters. It looks as though the shad itself has gone somewhat out of favor. Cats appear. Buildings are honored. The river’s scarce. The funniest is words - “To Shad or Not to Shad?”, “Shad Now or Later?”. My favorite is a standing shad, in a red convertible, with a white scarf, a la Lindbergh or Isadora, take your pick. This year’s was so clotted with information as to be nearly illegible, non-informational for all those words, and the shad a ghost of its former self. I lived in New Hope when we all, on both sides of the Delaware, celebrated the historic return of the fish that McPhee insists saved our army, its general, and created our nation, that First Fish…
But I’m not here for fish. I don’t even need the menu. Bring me those corn fritters, that unlikely raspberry mayonnaise, the sturdy homemade sausage patties. Ply me with water full of ice, as I wish the Arctic still could be, for my cherished polar bears. Bring me coffee that stops me in full flow of description and memory with its hearty redolence.
Beside me rises an iconic hand-made quilt, featuring panels of other times, exhorting guests to choose the MOST DELICIOUS HAMBURGER EVER @ 25cents, or TRY OUR BLUE PLATE SPECIAL
We don’t have blue plates. Glasses are striped with Depression-era hues of orange and brass and chartreuse. Blue willow is the oval holding my sizzling sausage patties. My crunchy yet gossamer corn fritters, studded with real corn kernels, rest on a pink version of faux-Spode flowers of simplistic Crayola colors. A sturdy crock holds heftily-seeded raspberry jam, so thick it does not move as I tip the pot to see what treasure it holds. In my daily life, in a more sophisticated venue, everyone’s health is so compromised that I can never find seed-filled jams and preserves any more. A tinier pure white ‘petit pot’ holds butter I will not need.
Waitresses exult, “Great!”, “Fantastic!”, as dazzled customers finally make food choices. In all this time, I haven’t been called a guy, nor subjected to overhearing narratives studded with the useless and to me thoroughly discouraging word, “LIKE”! True, one woman speaks of financing, financiers, her desk, the Internet. But she is the only one, in her hammering cadence, to interject these remnants of the bottom-line work world into my Stockton retreat.
Someone asks the waitress about all the pictures on the menu, high schoolers of various eras, seemingly especially the 60’s. “Everyone who works here,” the questioner is told.
In the bathroom are murals of the wooded hills through which I drove to reach this true restaurant - for the phrase in France came after their Revolution, when chefs without aristocrats were driven to prepare soup for anyone, referring to these sites and those meals as something that restored: hence “RESTAURANTS”.
A French opera brought me to Stockton this day. I will not go on to Frenchtown, erroneously named for a Swiss - they couldn’t tell the difference.
I will, instead, seek out Bowman’s Wildflower Preserve, see if the yellow lady’s slipper is anywhere to be found.
And forever thank Bjoerling and Warren, for luring me north to Stockton on this limpid Saturday morning!
Filed Under (Activism, Birds, Climate Change, Destruction, Disaster, Environment, Global Climate Change, Government, Migration, Migratory Flocks, NJ WILD, Oceans, Politicians, Pollution/Poisoning, Preservation, protection, stewardship) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 15-05-2010
“Some say the world will end in fire. Some say ice.”
What if the world is to end in oil and ash…?
Is anyone else stunned that no one in business, politics or the military knows how to end the volcano of oil?
Does it occur to anyone that those who cannot solve this tragedy are those who are measuring the purported output?
WHAT BP CANNOT REMEDY AND FOR WHAT OUR GOVERNMENT IS BEING BLAMED:
WHAT WE ARE LOSING:
Black Skimmers - Currently Further Endangered because of oil spill in the Gulf
Do all NJ WILD readers know that the root meaning of ‘disaster’ is TORN FROM THE STARS?
This is literally the fate of migrating shorebirds in our country at this time, yet another toll we pay for unmitigated greed.
WRITE our President - tell him no more oil drilling off any coast of NORTH or SOUTH America — these birds need safe and pristine trajectories to and from their breeding grounds! Humans need to return to being stewards, not despoilers!
As I remind NJ WILD readers over and over, “All that it takes for evil to happen is for good people to do nothing.” Write, e-mail, call, make signs, march, protest - the fate, not only of the birds, but of our planet itself, is literally in YOUR HANDS.
What I am NOT seeing in the news that comes my way is WHAT is this oil explosion in the Gulf off our coast doing to the Gulf Stream - which surges in a figure-8 pattern all the way to Europe and back, keeping countries far north of us in temperate climes?
If temperature migrates in the Gulf Stream, doesn’t oil? What is happening not only to my cherished birds, but to all aquatic life, in and/or near the Gulf Stream, in Louisiana and all the way to Britain and Scandinavia and back?
This is the crucial time of spring migration. What creatures cannot make it to their breeding grounds because they have been soaked in oil, have ingested oil? Who has these answers?
Please answer me, NJ WILD readers - for I have many irons in many fires of preservation, and not much time to watch/read news alerts, as a consequence. It can come down to watch the news or write to you…
BP, of course, downplays the enormous quantity of oil that is destroying shrimp and crayfish and God knows what other fishing in our sacred Gulf, for who knows how long. Remember Tom Lehrer’s satire songs - “vunz ze rockets are up, who cares vehr zey come down, zat’s not my department, says Verner von Braun…”
It is true that BP would have us conclude that Zis is not BP’s department. There is truth in this. For this horror is OUR department. What are we doing to call attention to these realities? To the despoilation of the waters that compose most of our Planet?
From the Internet:
To date, BP is officially on record as stating the Deepwater debacle is releasing about 5,000 barrels of oil per day into the Gulf of Mexico. But wait, it’s not that bad.
According to British Petroleum CEO Tony Hayward, it’s only a drop in the bucket. “”The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume,” he states in a moment of far-reaching clarity.
Birders eNews Alert May 4, 2010 - founded by the late Ted Cross, whose pristine Waterbirds graced the walls of D&R Greenway’s headquarters just last month.
Crisis in the Gulf The tragedy of the loss of human life as a result of the explosion of a British Petroleum oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana is now also threatening to become one of the worst environmental disasters in American history.
Seabirds are particularly vulnerable and oil-soaked birds are beginning to wash up on coastal beaches. Important Bird Areas (IBAs) on the Gulf Coast are threatened by the oil that continues to spew into the Gulf at an alarming rate.
The timing of the spill could not be worse. Many birds are nesting on Gulf Coast beaches. Both parents and offspring could be threatened if the oil reaches shore.
Among the species for which there is considerable concern are the brown pelican, reddish egret, American oystercatcher, black skimmer, and the least tern.
Least Tern, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Furthermore, wind and weather could push the oil into marshes and wetlands near the coast which are the breeding grounds for many waterfowl species.
Greg Downing’s American Oystercatcher - oil-endangered anew
In addition, millions of migratory songbirds are currently flying across the Gulf from their winter homes in Central and South America.
Prothonotary Warbler by B. L. Sullivan - oil endangers its return to our shores
After their long flights across the water, these birds stop off in the coastal areas impacted by the oil spill.
George Fenwick, president of the American Bird Conservancy, stated, “This spill spells disaster for birds in the region and beyond. We could be mourning the worst environmental disaster in recent U.S. history.” Fenwick continued, “This spill tells us we cannot take our coastline for granted. A reassessment of our approach to offshore drilling is required. We must stop playing Russian roulette with the future of our environment.”
BIRDERS UNITED, NJ WILD READERS REMEMBER, was founded by magnificent Princeton bird photographer/author, Ted Cross, to save habitat for his beloved birds, especially those who are the subject of his splendid new book, WATERBIRDS. D&R Greenway Land Trust of Princeton had more visitors for the Ted Cross masterpieces on our 1900’s barn walls than any nature exhibit in the Johnson Education Center to date. Consider the toll of those thousands of gallons of oil per day upon his pristine, dramatic waterbirds, in full breeding plumage, in the full throes of migration!
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NEWS ALERT that came to me (Carolyn Foote Edelmann) via e-mail are political ramifications of oil spill and responses:
Gulf oil spill reaches deep into election year
WASHINGTON - The oil spill is reaching far beyond the Gulf Coast and deep into American politics in an important election year. It’s calling into question President Obama’s proposal to open new offshore areas to oil drilling.
It’s complicating already difficult efforts to pass a controversial bill aimed at curbing climate change. It’s also all but certain to become a major issue in many of this fall’s campaigns for control of Congress.
Yet as the spill pushes the needle of public opinion toward the anti-offshore-drilling position - taking some politicians with it - longer-term politics and policy remain tempered by the fact that much of America’s future domestic oil and natural gas reserves are out there in deep water, and a majority of Americans still want to tap them.
At the center of the political equation, Obama wants to await the results of a 30-day review of the spill before deciding how to proceed on offshore drilling, though his Interior Department announced Thursday that it would delay drilling off Virginia’s coast indefinitely. It had been expected to begin as soon as next year.
Some Democrats in Congress echo Obama’s wait-and-see approach.
“We’re all going to back off from offshore drilling until we get a better handle of how to make it safe,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.).
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) added, “From a political standpoint, I think the president’s response and no-new-drilling-until-we-find-out makes sense.”
Others won’t wait.
Moveon.org, a liberal group, called the spill a wake-up call and launched an ad urging Obama to “reinstate the ban on new offshore drilling.”
Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.), whose state economy relies on tourists visiting its beaches, said any proposal to open more offshore sites for drilling was “dead on arrival.”
Countering Nelson, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D., La.) worried openly that a backlash against drilling would threaten a crucial resource.
“They’ve drilled a thousand wells in the gulf, and all have been drilled safely and with no disruptions,” she said. “I don’t believe we should shut down an industry because we had one incident. When an airliner falls out of the sky, do we ground all planes forever?”
Republicans haven’t been chanting “drill, baby, drill” since the spill, but few of them in Congress have turned against offshore drilling. Still, the spill might make it more difficult to forge the kind of Senate coalition necessary to pass legislation that would curb the burning of fossil fuels to counter climate change.
The problem: Sponsors included new offshore drilling in the bill to attract more votes, but environmentalists say the spill will create pressure to do the opposite.
“Tell your senators today that you will not let them sacrifice the oceans in the name of climate change,” says a Web posting from the environmental group Oceana.
Including offshore drilling in the climate bill may cost more votes than it gains.
“The tragedy drives home the need to do away with dirty fuels,” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), one of several senators who said they would vote against the legislation if it allows expanded drilling.
Whether it’s part of that legislation or not, oil and gas production from offshore drilling remains a key part of the country’s energy future. The Gulf of Mexico helps the United States reduce its reliance on imported oil. Production there is projected to peak at 1.88 million barrels a day in 2013, the government says. The U.S. consumes about 21 million barrels of oil per day, more than half of it imported.
WHERE I, CAROLYN, your NJ WILD creator, part company with the President who promised to honor and attend to science - who has, in my experience, ever since, sold out:
“The bottom line is this,” Obama said March 31 when he announced his support for expanding offshore drilling. “Given our energy needs, in order to sustain economic growth and produce jobs . . . we are going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel even as we ramp up production of new sources of renewable homegrown energy.”
Reaction fluctuates from state to state: more opposition in beach-conscious Florida and California, more support in oil-industry Texas and Louisiana.
The spill clearly will affect congressional campaigns for the Nov. 2 elections, when control of the House and Senate is up for grabs.
Republicans have worked to label the spill “Obama’s Katrina,” hoping he and his Democratic Party will be blamed for not containing the damage faster, much as former President George W. Bush was blamed for a slow federal response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
SO THEY BLAME OUR PRESIDENT, NOT BRITISH PETROLEUM, AND, GOD FORBID, GREED ITSELF! cfe
Democrats countered with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee citing the spill in a mass e-mail in an attempt to portray Republicans as friends of big oil.
Oil and Birds Don’t Mix
Written by Dave Mehlman
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues to occupy front and center of our environmental headlines. I expect that, unfortunately, soon we will see some of the more iconic images that tend to come out of these crises: that of oil-soaked birds (most of which will be cleaned and, hopefully, released).
In many aspects, though no such oil spill can occur in a “good place,” the Gulf is a particularly bad one for a major oil spill from a bird-centric point of view. There are two primary reasons why the Gulf Coast is important for bird conservation:
- It is a zone of immense importance for the migration of North America’s birds, with an enormous percentage of individuals and species migrating through or across the region twice per year (see our feature on the Gulf Coast as a top 10 birding spot); and
- The wetlands and islands of the Gulf harbor large populations of the nation’s breeding and wintering waterbirds, shorebirds and waterfowl.
In the first case, the northern coast of the Gulf — from the Florida panhandle west to approximately Galveston, Texas — is an extremely important migratory stopover point during spring and fall migration.
In spring, the barrier islands and coastal habitats are the very first habitats that migrating birds encounter after leaving the night before on their long overwater flights north. Under certain weather conditions during the peak of migration, this region is famed for its migratory “fallouts,” when hundreds or thousands of birds can be literally underfoot.
Some of the continent’s legendary migration hotspots, such as Dauphin Island and Fort Morgan, Alabama; the islands of the Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi and Florida; Grand Isle, Louisiana; and High Island, Texas, are in this zone and are right in the current or predicted path of the oil slick.
The timing of the spill also could not have been worse, since it occurred just after the typical peak of the spring migration in the first two weeks of April.
Having said this, my personal opinion is that the majority of these migratory birds (warblers, vireos, thrushes, tanagers, buntings, grosbeaks, etc.) will be slightly affected, if at all, by the spill:
- They migrate overwater, so would not likely come into direct contact with the oil.
- They predominantly use shrubs, trees, vines, and other terrestrial vegetation, which would be secondarily affected by the spill.
- Finally, we are now well past the peak of migration, so the total number of individual birds potentially exposed is diminishing daily. That’s the good news.
I think, however, that the prognosis is not good for the breeding and wintering waterbirds, shorebirds and waterfowl, although at least most of the wintering individuals had left by the time the spill occurred:
- Virtually all of the characteristic bird species of the Gulf Coast are associated with marine or estuarine environments for feeding, resting, or nesting. These include the Brown Pelican; herons and egrets; Royal, Sandwich, and Least Terns; Black Skimmer; Snowy Plover; and many more.
- Most of these birds nest on low islands with little vegetation (a great example is the Chandeleur Islands, Louisiana) and so will be unable to avoid becoming fouled with oil themselves or their eggs or chicks.
- Most of these species also feed on fish in the Gulf waters, so will become tarred with oil the first time they feed. If oil gets into coastal marshes, critically important habitat for species such as Seaside Sparrow will also be damaged or destroyed.
The outlook for these birds is not good. The effects of this spill will be felt for quite a while, unless it is fixed very soon.
The Gulf of Mexico coast is one of our most important “bird regions” in the country. The Conservancy has dedicated numerous resources over the years to protect this region and its birds, including work done through the Migratory Bird Program’s Gulf Wings project and that done by our Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas programs. However, I am saddened that this importance had to be highlighted in such a spectacular and negative way.
Filed Under (Adventure, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Cape May, Delaware Bayshores, Environment, Farmland, NJ WILD, Nature, New Jersey, New Jersey Pine Barrens, Pine Barrens, Preservation, Solitude, Spring, The Seasons, Timelessness, Tom Brown, Tracker School, Tracking, native species, protection, trails, wild) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 12-05-2010
New Jersey at Her Best - Miracle Birds, Crayola Morning
Miracle Bird of Cape May - Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher by Mike Crewe
In the midst of unpacking from my Cape May runaway weekend, I read one of my birding hotlines - and yes, I was there, Saturday morning, at Hidden Valley, near Higbee Beach, as this amazing flycatcher with its impossibly long train of elegant feathers, worked a ploughed field the way harriers work grasslands, quartering, back and forth, high among cedars, weaving in and out of its relatives, the kingbirds, who were dwarfed by comparison. A true miracle, never expected - was this the reason I had had to flee to Cape May?
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in Flight, from Internet
Or was it the prothonotary warbler contending with the sun in blinding yellow circularity, surpassing the sun in song, facing dawn, at 7 a.m.? Or, instead, the indigo bunting, heard not seen, until kind fellow (unknown - that’s the joy of this fellowship) birders shortened their scope so I could see the song emerge from that open beak, that treasure house of pink and gold among all that blue?
Bob Zaremba’s Indigo Bunting is even more vivid than mine -
which seemed, blotched with white, to be transitioning to full breeding plumage…
Well, ‘my’ indigo bunting was singing, face-on. The friendly birders who let me peer through their scope gave me the gift of the inside of the bunting’s mouth in song, as pink and gold as the finest work on the Ponte Vecchio of Florence, Italy, in my first-ever trip to Europe in 1964. Only this pink/gold treasure was auditory as well as visual. I shall never forget it.
Indigo Bunting from the side, Singing - from the Internet
My hot-lines didn’t carry on about the other Crayola birds that morning - from this bluest of blues (which I had only seen once, arriving at Tom Brown’s Tracker School in Asbury New Jersey in 1983 in a cornfield) to the vivid crimson/scarlet and black orchard oriole that practically blinded me with its hues as it nearly deafened me with its song.
But, looking back at the entire weekend, much of which will be chronicled here with other images, the stunning scene remains not the rarest (the flycatcher) but that 7 a.m. burst of of sun in the guise of a bird - the prothonotary warbler I could see with my own plain eyes.
B. L. Sullivan’s sure hand, eye and lens brings us my sunburst warbler…
These are the joys of adventuring. Of going off alone, no idea why, some idea where, to where Adventure waits. And then waiting. Not needing a guidebook or a guide. Only attentiveness and attunement. And patience - only I didn’t require much of that in Cape May last weekend.
Here’s what Laurie Larsen sent about the flycatcher — copy it and read it for yourself. And go, set yourself up for adventure!
See the CMBO blog http://cmboviewfromthecape.blogspot.com/ for details of today’s Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, at Hidden Valley in Cape May. Laurie Larson
How to report NJ bird sightings: http://www.njbrc.net/reportto.html
But there was another bird, in those magical 20 minutes at Hidden Valley on Saturday Morning, all alone, except for a birder in shorts (not a good idea with deer ticks, poison ivy and thorns on all sides) and a red jacket (also not a good idea - birders ideally would wear camouflage, which I refuse for peace reasons - but at least muted tones, hats with beaks to hide our eyes from birds who would see us as raptors…). It was the man in the red jacket and shorts who insisted we’d see the flycatcher any minute now, who recognized the song of the indigo bunting, and identified the repeated music of the next bird in my Crayola Morning - the bright red deep-throated music of the orchard oriole:
Orchard Oriole from Internet
Orchard Oriole in Full View, full-throated Song — from Internet
NJ Wild readers know my constant tune, my leitmotif — that it is ESSENTIAL that we preserve sites such as Hidden Valley and Higbee Beach and whatever swathes of wild forest and grasslands we can, so that these magical creatures can migrate north in the spring and south in the autumn, to feed, to breed, to live anew, to sing, to light up the skies like melted crayons, for a solitary birder alongside a ploughed field near the Delaware Bayshores in the 21st Century.
WHY PRESERVE - THIS PLOUGHED FIELD HELD ALL MIRACLES OF MY CRAYOLA MORNING
Filed Under (Animals of the Wild, Delaware River, Destruction, Environment, Fishing, Garden State, NJ, NJ WILD, New Jersey, Politicians, Pollution/Poisoning, Preservation, Restoration, Spring, The Seasons, protection, rivers) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 09-05-2010
Dear NJ WILD Readers,
I followed our beloved Delaware to its Bay this weekend, running away from home, running to birds, at Cape May and at the Brigantine. Pix to follow, and story.
Meanwhile, if you tire of my urging that we save the STATE, save the PLANET, one acre, one creek and/or river at a time, there WAS a time when the Delaware was too dirty, too ruined, to abused to carry shad. I lived in New Hope and worked for Peter Kostmayer’s re-election, Peter who labored heroically to save our river. Peter, who had as much of it as he could named officially WILD AND SCENIC, once he was successfully back in office.
While I lived in New Hope (1981 - 1987), the Shad Festival was born, celebrating the return of the creatures McPhee calls First Fish (because they may have saved our Revolutionary soldiers over in Pennsylvania during those dire winters before we began to win a battle here and a battle there, at Valley Forge…)
Isn’t this a miracle? THIS is WHY it makes SENSE to take STANDS for our lands and our waters. What are YOU saving this week?
OUTDOORS: ‘Best fishing in years’
for Shad on Big D
Filed Under (Adventure, Birds, Migration, Migratory Flocks, NJ, NJ WILD, Nature, New Jersey, Oceans, Solitude, Timelessness, Tranquillity, Wildflowers, native species, raptors, trails, wild) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 03-05-2010
Sand Along ‘The Hook’ Carolyn Foote Edelmann
NJ WILD readers know, my favorite past-time is taking friends to NJ Nature — especially to places they have never seen, despite having lived here for decades beyond counting. Yesterday, I experienced the joy of opening the book of Sandy Hook to dear friend, Tasha O’Neill. It’s her birthday-time, so this was in honor of that milestone. My further motivation was to cross a bridge with her into to a year of newness.
‘Cranes of Sandy Hook’ - Bridge to Newness cfe
Sandy Hook did not disappoint. First, it shimmered on our horizon, as we feasted on seafood at Bahr’s Restaurant. Fishing boats and fishermen arrived and departed, many garbed in those deep yellow or orange waterproof overalls which set apart the lobstermen of Maine. All too soon, Tasha will be on the Maine coast for the summer. Meanwhile, this landlubber must continue day-long excursions to encounter saltwater, salt tang.
The surreal new bridge filled some Bahr’s windows, as pile-drivers created their own anvil chorus during part of our immersion in oysters, then scallops and soft-shell crabs.
Bahr’s Seafood, across from Sandy Hook cfe
Bahr’s Essentials, Across from Sandy Hook cfe
Then off, over the wild bridge to the true wild — nature pruned only by seawinds, air-borne salt, and time. Yes, there is the military presence. I have scant patience with that anywhere, and here among the dunes their batteries are just that - they batter my aesthetic consciousness, batter my soul. But even batteries look good in sharp coastal light, and Tasha, Gallery 14 fine art photographer, may have captured their abstractions in her long wide heavy but magical lens.
Home is the Fisherman — Bahr’s Docks cfe
A walk out on the boards into Spermaceti Cove yielded her first osprey of the season. It was low-coasting like a harrier, then float-landing upon its last-year nest. What it bore was not food but nest-material, plentiful in the salt marsh. Evidence of strong full-moon tides was painted everywhere in that meander-landscape. The austere lines of the boardwalk created a perfect foil to all that circularity and dampness.
Tide Signatures, Spermaceti Cove, Sandy Hook cfe
We marveled, as always, at prickly pear cactus among a profusion of soft pinky-white blossoms (shad bush? beach plum? I do not know my shrubs). Above these native succulents, ruddy poison ivy shivered and glistened in harsh wind.
Lifesavers’ Station cfe
We circled the lifesavers’ headquarters — weathered since that profession was founded in this country, along New Jersey coasts. We forged into the wind, through too-shallow dunes, to the ocean - eerily silent as lowering tide tugged waves away from us. I shuddered at the sight of an obese woman, on this April day, in this near-gale, sunburnt, standing, talking on her cell phone, back to the ocean. This was right up there with the friend who allowed her cellphone to shatter the tranquillity of Ringing Rocks Park last week. Sunbathers were everywhere, admittedly bundled. Oblivious, it seemed, to avian riches awaiting at the hawk platform at the north end of Sandy Hook.
Yesterday’s Gale — cfe
We took the Fishermen’s Trail for awhile, where, I knew, oystercatchers awaited. Nesting oystercatchers! But, word on my birding hot line from Scott Barnes that morning had revealed over 1000 raptors flying over ‘the Hook’ the day before, fully engaged in spring migration. Asking Tasha if she wanted to go into the lifesaving building and museum, which is fascinating, she answered swiftly, “I want to see birds!”
Fishermen’s Trail, leading to Hawk Watch Platform cfe
So, we trekked right up to the platform, where a generous counter was already trying to keep up with the sharp-shins and Cooper’s (hawks) and Merlins (falcons) zooming overhead, over the Verrazano Narrows, right toward Wall Street, misty upon the horizon. The determined speed of these migrating miracles was a recurring surprise throughout the rest of our bird-blessed afternoon. Zippy tree sparrows coalesced overhead. A mockingbird serenaded, invisibly, as did a feisty Carolina wren. Mike pointed out an American kestrel arrowing past, then turned the scope on nesting female osprey, vigilant males near enough that we could frequently ‘capture’ “two in one glass.” One osprey nest was on a chimney. That osprey battled a too-interested local immature red-tailed hawk, –too near, too near, he made that clear. Mike barely had time to add to his already hefty list of raptors, before he calmly noted an immature American bald eagle right overhead.
Brenda Jones’ American Bald Eagle Flying Straight — [ours was immature]
Soon Tasha and I were delighted to see Scott Barnes hurrying up the trail - having been tethered to a desk for one entire, probably interminable, hour on this scintillating day. Hearing the two men report on their own bird-blessings and those of Pete Bacinski, the other expert on ‘The Hook’, it became clear that it would be hard for either to tear himself away before sundown.
They taught us that they can tell migrants from locals because the migrants are in such a hurry — they don’t even pause (as birds are said to do at Cape May, at East Point Lighthouse) to consider the water, but plunge on north.
Pristine Waters of Sandy Hook cfe
We were part of something sacred yesterday, Tasha and I. We were within a river of birds. And two splendid ‘captains’ were at the helm of our understanding, –expanding, expanding, seeming to call forth wonders just by their intense attention.
Do the same, NJ WILD readers. You won’t regret it.
Filed Under (Activism, Animals of the Wild, Brenda Jones, Delaware Bayshores, Delaware River, Destruction, Environment, Fishing, Government, Native Americans, Oceans, Politicians, Pollution/Poisoning, protection) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 01-05-2010
AND YOU WONDER WHY I TAKE OBAMA TO TASK FOR APPROVING OIL DRILLING OFF OUR COASTS
The catastrophic explosion that caused an oil spill from a BP offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico has reached the shoreline early Friday morning. The leak is currently releasing 5,000 barrels of oil per day, and efforts to manage the spill with controlled burning, dispersal and plugging the leak were unsuccessful Thursday. This oil spill is on track to become the worst oil spill in history, surpassing the damage done by the Exxon Valdez tanker that spilled 11 million gallons of oil into the ecologically sensitive Prince William Sound in 1989. Unlike the Exxon Valdez tragedy, in which a tanker held a finite capacity of oil, BP’s rig is tapped into an underwater oil well and could pump more oil into the ocean indefinitely until the leak is plugged.
NJ Wild readers know that I belong to a salmon e-mail list, which alerts me to harm being done to salmon, salmon rivers, salmon people in the west. Here’s my replacement for their form letter, in their recent alert.
Save Our Wild Salmon: http://www.wildsalmon.org/
Ask them to put you on their list. Use their hot links.
Write your senators, your congressmen, and, above all your president. Tell him you expect him to return to the person who riveted the world during his campaign.
I have known politicians who did not, do not sell out. Tell him to rejoin those ranks.
The first clue, President Obama, that you were not to keep your promise to return science to its natural position of prominence and eminence was your heedlessness re salmon and the salmon people.
I should not have been shocked by your mad decision to hunt for oil off our coasts, our aquatic nurseries, the cradle of our planet. the salmon’s plight had warned me.
Come back to yourself, to your vision, leadership and integrity.
STAND UP for WHAT IS RIGHT, starting with salmon.
Oiled krill will kill whales, and oil wipe out shorebirds on shore and in adjacent wetlands, and seep up our
tidal rivers, such as our beloved Delaware.
Brenda Jones’ Scene of Delaware River Fisherman and Healthy Catch at Washington’s Crossing
fish we won’t be able to catch and/or eat as greed befouls, be-oils our sacred coastlines!
Carolyn Foote Edelmann