Archive for June, 2010
Delaware River Catch at Washington Crossing
by Brenda Jones
Our beloved Delaware River has become our nation’s most endangered.
Note that the people who are calling drilling safe are the people who drill.
NJ WILD readers know I’ve been alerting since first days of Gulf Oil Spill that we are allowing the well-drillers to be the oil-measurers. Remember that the early amounts were around 5000? Remember my asking, “Do you believe that 5000?”
Brenda Jones Immortalizes Delaware River Beauty
An advocacy group has named the Upper Delaware River the nation’s most endangered.
American Rivers said the Upper Delaware is threatened by plans to drill for natural gas. Energy companies have leased thousands of acres of land in the Delaware watershed in hopes of tapping vast stores of gas in the Marcellus shale rock formation.
The drilling industry said fracking is safe.
The Delaware River Basin Commission announced last month it is drafting regulations for gas drilling in shale formations and will not approve any projects until the new rules are established.
Here is the lead paragraph that led me to this story I do not want to face — I have heard for months about the deceptive tactics used by the drilling industry to convince property owners to sign on. One more result of GREED. Mea culpa… Mea culpa… Mea maxima culpa…
An advocacy group has named the Upper Delaware River the nation’s most endangered. American Rivers said the Upper Delaware is threatened by plans to drill for natural gas. Energy companies have leased thousands of acres of land in the Delaware watershed in hopes of tapping vast stores of gas in the Marcellus shale rock formation.
Filed Under (Activism, Agriculture, Birds, Climate Change, Destruction, Disaster, Environment, Farm Markets, Farmers, Farmland, Farms, Global Climate Change, Local Food, Migration, Migratory Flocks, NJ WILD, Oceans, Pollution/Poisoning, Preservation, protection) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 26-06-2010
[Send funds to Tristate Bird Research and Rescue: http://www.tristatebird.org/
in Newark, Delaware, the bird-cleaning agency of choice over many years.]
Sy Montgomery’s newest book is Birdology - prescient….?
For years know I have cherished author Sy Montgomery for her priceless saga of swimming with dolphins — “Journey of the Pink Dolphins: An Amazon Quest.”
Sy with ‘The Good Good Pig,’ Christopher Hogwood
Quirky and original, deeply moved by wild creatures and domestic (including her chickens and the pig named Christopher Hogwood), impassioned about their beauty and their rights to life, I can never put her books down. With Sy’s newest, “Birdology”, I can’t take the book back to the library.
Not without recounting to NJ WILD readers some of the hard truths of which we must become and remain increasingly aware, and, yes militant, concerning the plight of birds at our hands. Even before greed, our addiction to oil, poured petroleum over the pristine feathers of nesting birds of the Gulf Coast, Sy was alerting us:
“In medieval times, biblical scholars imagined that Hell was a place with no birds.”
Rachel Carson had us face this, so very long ago. Now, again, we may anticipate silent springs beyond counting.
“Today, our kind seems determined to bring that Hell to earth… Today, one in eight bird species faces extinction because of human interference.”
“BirdLife International, a global partnership of conservation organizations, reports that one quarter of all American bird species have declined since 1970. In the last four decades, the populations of twenty of our most beloved common birds have more than halved in number. In Europe, nearly half of common birds are declining. ”
It is a question of habitat, as we know and ignore, decade after decade, even century upon century.
“Perhaps the biggest threat of all, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, is global climate change. And yet, … we rob their food, usurp their nests, murder their young, and render their already arduous, miraculous migrations impossible.”
And I must add, WE must add, now, the oil.
“Birds are as ordinary as they are mysterious; as powerful as they are fragile; so like us and so beguilingly Other.”
“Birds bring us the gifts of Thought and Memory, guided as they are by both intellect and instinct.”
“These winged creatures, crafted of air, have outlived their close kin, the dinosaurs. It is our duty and privilege to protect them.”
Think about the birds.
Think about the Gulf.
Think about their peril, both those who down there now, in the precarious process of raising nestlings, then fledglings. All of them, in the heartfelt words of Princeton Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and consummate unpredictable artist, Henry Horn, have a new theme song: “Tiptoe Through the Tarballs.”
Use these links to register your protests.
Sites: http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/gulfofmexico/ The Nature Conservancy
email@example.com Cornell Lab of Ornithology
http://www.nrdc.org/ Natural Resources Defense Council
http://www.defenders.org/ Defenders of Wildlife
Send funds to Tristate Bird Research and Rescue: http://www.tristatebird.org/
in Newark, Delaware, the bird-cleaning agency of choice over many years.
Cut back on driving, change lightbulbs, turn off lights and computers and assorted LED displays. Shop from local farmers at local farmers markets, so your meals do not require fossil fuels to arrive at your table. If you can move your company to turn off building lights at night - all of this to save electricity, cut down on use of fossil fuels, and also prevent misguiding migrant birds in [very soon] migrations, do so.
Sy Montgomery is a naturalist, author, documentary scriptwriter and radio commentator, who writes for children as well as adults. Some of her most engaging work is crafted where she lives, on a never-the-same-twice farm in New Hampshire. Yes, she travels the world, but Sy always comes home to the farm and its animals. Her life is living proof that one person makes a difference.
Sy with just one of her unexpected pets - Image from Internet
“Birds have been trying to educate me since I was a child,” says Sy. Let them educate you, dear NJ WILD readers.
Consider that we face a silent spring, perhaps perpetual silent spring and fall and summer, as migrants begin to move to the regions we have fouled with greed.
What difference are you prepared to make. Have you, then, begun?
Filed Under (Adventure, Birds, Brenda Jones, Forests, Henry David Thoreau, Indians, NJ WILD, Native Americans, Nature, New Jersey, Preservation, Sourland Mountains, Timelessness, Weather, Wildflowers, native species, stewardship, wild, wildness) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 21-06-2010
Richard Louv writes of the Last Child in the Woods. Yesterday, two friends and I became Grownups in the Woods… May we not be the last!
My Sister, Pathfinder, on Earlier Sourlands Walk cfe
Sunday’s weather forecast, as usual, had been dire. But two friends I had known well in the 1980’s, recently reconnected, and I boldly set out nonetheless for my favorite Sourlands hike. We decided to hike til the storms came down, –despite forbidding ‘heat indices’–, because we were hungry for forest time.
[Turn right off #518 in Hopewell, onto Greenwood Avenue by the Dana Building. Go steadily uphill, past Featherbed Lane, past metal guard-rail, past Mountain Church Road and turn right at sideways brown sign - Sourland Mountains Preserve. Space for about six cars. Head off up the road built to remove majestic boulders, to be ground to gravel for NJ roads... In case NJ WILD readers forgot why I'm 'in preservation.']
Sourlands’ Dappled Beauty cfe
Beauty was immediate, on every side. Trees towered. Light sprinkled into the far woods. A tiny stream whisper-trickled to our right. Suddenly, my first wood thrush song of the season poured out in flute trills that seemed to echo on all sides. Increasingly imperiled because deer devour our forest understory, and they are ground feeders, the song of the wood thrush stopped me in my hike-intensive tracks. I told my re-found companions, “This was Thoreau’s favorite bird sound.” We all understood why.
Carla, who had not been on this trail before, stopped, stunned. “It’s a green cathedral!,” she gasped in hushed tones. Karen, who also lives in Hopewell, hadn’t been there in a couple of years. She turned and turned like a child at the country fair.
In the woods, actually, nothing happened. That was the whole point. Carla, who both lives and works in and around sleepy Hopewell, nevertheless kept remarking on the silence, the immediate stillness. I did warn them, and NJ WILD readers — you, also, that, in hunting season, one only walks this trail on Sundays or bedecked in orange garments, because of hunters. I am grateful to the hunters. Their marksmanship in winter, thins the herds. Therefore, more than I ever remember in the Sourlands, I found the leaves of rare spring flowers. Meaning they hadn’t been munched into extinction. Because of the hunters, there are still thrushes. Not enough.
On either side of the trail spurted thin, bamboo-like tendrils of horsetail/silica. The wire-thin stems separate easily. I take this forest herb as a daily capsule to keep fingernails so crisp and tough that they can tighten screws. The horsetail plant is good for hair, also, in ways I forget. The Indians used a fistful of horsetail, one of the world’s oldest plants, to scour out their cooking vessels. The silica plant was their Brillo pad. One of the aspects of forest walks I most treasure is that there are whole sagas in a mere tuft of green…
Everywhere we found jack-in-the-pulpit’s leaf trinity. Its pulpit is ‘gone by’ — with the forest canopy fully leafed out. “Appropriate,” observed Carla, for a Sunday morning, –Fathers’ Day, as we would later recall. “Appropriate,” she repeated, “in this green cathedral.”
We found cushions of another ancient plant, ‘princess pine’, which is no pine at all but a moss from millennia ago. It seemed as though evergreen stars had fallen onto the forest floor. Tiny pink-beige seeds waved upon long thin pale stems, nearly obscuring the faery forest from which they sprang.
I turned us at the first trail to the right, because it circulates alongside a meandering stream. No signs reveal the name of that waterway. Even so, it is pure joy, especially on a day when the over-90’s are forecast. We were cool in dappled shade. Spills of sun lit the woods as golden mushrooms do after day-long gentle rains.
Ferns of many species leapt on one side, then the other. We were surrounded by the delicate (but to me misleadingly named) New York fern, Its fronds widen, then narrow, at both ends of the stem - unusual in fern reality. Next, we came upon a fatter, tougher fern whose name I do not know, which I rarely encounter, anywhere, not even in the Berkshires. Then hefty black-green Christmas ferns created an entire grove at our feet. Off trail, a generous glade of ferns rejoiced in sun so bright the ferns seemed yellow. One of the gifts of the old forest, though by no means virgin, of the Sourlands, is the profusion of plants of ancient times.
We could feel the solid, centering, strengthening energy of diabase boulders on all sides, some so tall that they dwarfed us. Some rocks presided, some loomed, some even smiled.
Rock that Smiles, Sourlands cfe
The fun part about taking the trail’s first fork is that one is, on a hot day, deep in wood-’coolth’. A bonus was that we were keeping company with a stream. Sometimes, one is actually in the stream, but for a spillway of convenient stones. Most are flat enough and stable enough for crossing. Elsewhere our ‘bridge’ was a low lattice of downed saplings, placed by the vigilant maintainers of these intriguing paths.
Brenda Jones’ Box Turtle from Plainsboro Preserve
We searched intently for turtles. Although I have found box turtles on Sourlands trails in the past, we had no amphibians this day. Box turtles are terrestrial, not requiring water as do most of their relatives. So if you find one, don’t take it to the water. The waterstrider ballet along the stream’s peaceful surface made up for turtle absence.
Blazes were new and bright and visible, unlike the time Karen Linder and I once headed over there for a winter hike, not realizing they’d had an ice storm in the Sourlands, so near. Unfortunately, blazes then were grey or silver at best. So is ice. Up at the top of the road of yesterday, Karen and I turned east, as had the sleet. We couldn’t find the blazes. Luckily, we can both navigate ‘by the seat of our pants’, ultimately finding our way back to the car without having to retrace our steps. Adventure is a key factor in nature excursions with friends.
Karin-of-yesterday remembered a long-ago picnic atop iconic boulders. I had to tell her that that trail had been closed for some years. Partly because of people’s not respecting the rocks — from climbing (forbidden at the info sign at entry: “NO BOULDERING” — new verb) to desecrating them with words. To our joy, when our stream trail curved back to the road that had permitted ‘graveling’, we found the path to the boulders open.
For a long while we sat upon them, they lay on them, allowing rock energy to infuse our entire beings, weary from disparate work weeks. Only at the end did I discover that we were surrounded by white spires of buds about to pop. Because of the splendid black and white photography of Sourlands resident Rachel Mackow, I figured those scepters had to be black cohosh. Only one had opened into flat petals, like tiny saucers of rich cream. Until yesterday, black cohosh blooms had been mystery, even myth to me. I thought they were given only to Rachel because she is such a sensitive photographer, so attuned to nature. But there we were, on the eve of the Solstice, three women reunited after far too long, set in a crown of cohosh.
On the way down, we passed the ladder about which I had written a poem in other years, “Hauptman’s Ladder.” The egregious Lindbergh kidnapping had taken place so near to where we hiked. That baby had been born the same time as the man to whom I had been married, then next-door to the Morrows in Englewood. That tragedy had been woven all into Werner’s life, as his father moved into the baby’s room until Hauptman was supposedly identified as the criminal. Pops slept with his newborn son’s hand curled around his own, a Doberman at their sides, until the trial. The trial took place in also nearby Flemington.
Of course, this rudimentary ladder of today’s Sourlands Preserve couldn’t be that one, but its echoes remain. Only now, the massive tree against which it had always stood, the top of which the ladder came nowhere near, has been felled by one of our many violent storms. The rickety handmade weathered ladder lies on top of the downed trunk. In memory and imagination, that ladder is elsewhere for me.
Ladder and Birdhouse cfe
All-in-all, we were in the dense Sourlands Woods for 2 1/2 hours. Most of that time, we were absolutely alone on the trails. There was no sound but our footfalls and a cascade of flicker calls, the purr of red-bellied woodpecker, one complex veery cascade, and those heavenly wood thrush solos. Tragic to me was hearing not one ovenbird. Named for their oven-like nests in undergrowth, these elusive birds are far more often heard than seen: “Teacher, teacher, teacher!”, the bird books insist they cry out. No teacher was called yesterday. Meaning, there are still too many deer.
Doe With Fawn by real photographer - Brenda Jones
We couldn’t have taken this walk, were it not for preservation and stewardship.
Go, be a grownup in the woods!
Lake Carnegie Eagle On Way to Convocation — by Brenda Jones
An underutilized book in my much-reduced (because of November’s move) library is The Birder’s Dictionary. I quail before (pun intended) species names and bird calls, let alone definitions of tertiaries and lores. But I bought this book with every good intention to become a better birder.
Right on its cover, in ghostly letters, is that startling use of the word ‘bird’ as verb, meaning actively to go in search of birds, although they write simply, “to see”.
This is misleading, since one can bird for a very long time without actually seeing a bird - especially down at ‘the Brig’, South Jersey’s Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, if birders are birding at the wrong tide for their quarry.
Emptiness at ‘The Brig’ cfe
I picked this slim dictionary up at work recently, to read with my rather simplified lunch. To my delight, on page 56, they print the poetic, quasi-archaic, seemingly very British list of group names for flocks of birds.
For all the bird books I have ‘devoured’, some of these terms startle and most of them delight. May they do the same for you:
a bouquet of pheasants
a building of rooks
a cast of hawks
a charm of finches
a chattering of starlings
a congregation of plovers
a convocation of eagles
covey of quail or partridges (this one I seem always to have known)
a deceit of lapwings
the descent of woodpeckers
the dissimulation of birds
a dule of doves
an exaltation of larks (this one has always exalted me)
fall of woodcocks
flight of swallows (rather odd, as swallows also walk and especially perch, on wires)
gaggle of geese (long known)
a host of sparrows
a murder of crows (perhaps my favorite…)
mumuration of starlings
mustering of storks
an ostentation of peacocks (especially in full breeding plumage, especially at Grounds for Sculpture)
paddling of ducks (well, what else, but why not dabbling?)
a parliament of owls (O! can’t you see them, bewigged judges in the trees?)
a peep of chickens
a pitying of turtledoves
a rafter of turkeys
a siege of herons (a bit hard on herons, aren’t they?)
a spring of teal
a tidings of magpies
an unkindness of raven (influenced by Poe?)
a walk of snipe
a watch of nightingales
I should add that the place to find “a convocation of eagles” is not at the Brig, but in Salem and Cumberland Counties, especially in winter. It may well entail being outdoors at 20 degrees in 20 mile-an-hour winds. And the habits of eagles necessitate birders’ waiting for them until 10 or 10:30 a.m. — because eagles need thermals to rise from the warming ground, lift them to the skies, to their fishing grounds, and back and forth to their nets.
Eagle Carrying Nesting Material Brenda Jones
I long to know who made up these quaint terms, who agreed, and whether ornithological unions update and/or tamper with these phrases, as they do with birds’ fine names. (Let’s not even get STARTED on Baltimore Orioles!)
Oil on Hand and Fiddler Crab, Pass a Loutre, LA — “Out, out, damned spot…”
I suggest you think awhile on terms of clusters of birds. Think what is happening in the Gulf, which no president of company or country, no general, not even a shaman seems to know how to counter.
Oil Passes Booms Into Marshalands, LA - Greenpeace Photograph
Consider that we humans, with our slash-and-burn lives, our felling of rainforests, our despoiling of oceans and wetlands, could wipe out any need for names for groups of birds. Especially, right now, of cormorants.
Cormorant in Happier Times, in New Jersey waters, by Brenda Jones
We are deserving of the most dire of the group names: an unkindness of humans, a murder of humans, as bird health and numbers decline before our very helpless eyes.
Our Brother, the Pelican
I propose a new category - “A Desolation of Pelicans”
(from Star Ledger)
From dear friend, Tari Pantaleo, President of Kingston Greenways Association: newfangled phrases
Collective Nouns Illustrated
Back in March we teamed up with the Owl and Lion gallery and the West Port Book Festival, challenging you to illustrate your choice of collective noun from the All-Sorts.org index. We were thrilled with the response. Artists and illustrators from all round the world expressed their interest. The high quality of submissions meant that it was a tough job for our judges. You can see the winning entries below.
The winning entries have been screen printed by Isabelle Ting, and will be on display at the Owl & Lion Gallery from 15-27th June, 2010. You can purchase an artists’ book featuring all 15 illustrations as well as individual prints at A4 size.
If you’d like to know more about collective nouns, check out Drew Neil’s Pecha Kucha talk on the subject.
When Rain Blessed
Once upon a time, rain was soft and welcome, –gift of summer’s days.
And not only good for farm crops and grass, rain brought especial joy to children.
I just discovered that I had forgotten gentle rain. I have been reading three 1970’s library books on Cape Cod, –where I summered during those years with teen-aged daughters. One memoirist muses, “It is beginning to rain lightly.” I was thoroughly startled. How long has it been since I experienced or even thought of ‘rain lightly’?
My mother would welcome “a good soaking rain”. It was good for our Victory garden, products of which she would can and pickle on steamy August days, usually rainy days. She even canned green beans, and most tomatoes. Dill in my house right now takes me right back to Lathrup pickle days. Rain was also good for Daddy’s ‘Creeping Bent’ grass, of which he was inordinately proud for some reason we girls could not fathom.
‘Rainy days’ for my little sister and me meant coloring, cutting out paper dolls, making scrapbooks from Mother’s shiny magazines. In gentle rain, we would do this out on the screened-in back porch. Rain was everywhere around; but we were safe, warm and dry. That small square porch was entirely surrounded by blue morning glories I’d planted from seeds. A special dappled light came through the petals even in hot sunshine. The twiney vines braided themselves along multicolored chain-stitched supports - the only crochet skill I ever mastered. To be out there together in the soft air, as rain sifted down all afternoon, around our little brick house and our sheltering porch, was simply magical.
Rainy day air was light on my child-skin. Our little round arms reached out for crayons and scissors, beyond sundress straps or pinafore ruffles, — summer ‘frocks’ our mother had sewed and ironed. I realize that we were dressed up a good deal of the time, even in rain. Even though nobody saw us.
Best of all was paddling outdoors in one-piece homemade bathing suits. We loved being barefoot in new puddles. We would squat a long time on solid tanned legs, studying patterns sketched by varying combinations of drops on shallow water. Barefoot, bare-torso’ed, bare-headed of course, that warm rain coursing along our toddler bodies like blessings. This could have been the grace they were always prating about in church, without explaining it once. Out in warm rain, we knew the state of grace.
Rainwater was actually good for our naturally curly hair. We’d save rain in fat low wooden slatted buckets out at the side of the house. The wood would swell tight with liquid, holding it for shampoos (in Castile soap) and rinses that made our hair curlier.
That rain was also good for Mother’s dark purple violets, hidden among heart-shaped leaves. Violet blossoms seemed snipped of silk. They would tremble in the softness of that rain. We thought the roses looked up gratefully, lifting pink throats to sip and sip what British storybooks called ‘a mizzle of rain.’
In rain, I used to love being up in Aunt Betty’s Toledo attic, when we were taking care of her four girls and a boy. I treasured rain’s song on her roof. Alone by the grey yet luminous attic window, I’d page and page through volumes we didn’t have at home. There was no library in our town nor school, so Aunt Betty’s was my only one. And I loved it best in rain. Its patter on her roof sounded like unsteady new kittens walking around upstairs in Lathrup, Michigan, while we were down in the living room, waiting for Daddy. I don’t remember an attic, in Michigan. At Aunt Betty’s I’d particularly love leafing through a long set of books we never saw elsewhere: “My Book House.”
This may have been the poetic influence I have never been able to trace, having majored in science in high school and college, –no time for the Romantic (in more than one sense.)
Childhood rain made a relaxing sound, a sleepy sound. I wasn’t a sleepy girl, so found this sensation odd and memorable. Childhood rain was soothing as lullabyes. Not menacing. Not run-for-your-lives. Rather, “Curl up here and read of new worlds.”
Now, we WOULD have to run outside, hurry the laundry off the summer lines, before it actually got wetter! But this was not a frantic task, and often a silly one. Pre-rain winds would wrap the (always only white) sheets around our young bodies, sometimes tripping us, while purple-black cumulo-nimbus clouds (learned for my Girl Scout weather badge) piled and piled in the west. Tripping onto sheet tails was bad, because Creeping Bent made long green stains under the pressure of a child’s unwitting foot.
Billowing in our arms, even partly dried sheets were redolent of wind across Lake Michigan, in Traverse City or Naubinway, our favorite places on earth. The hard part was then where to put the sheets indoors. The Lathrup house did have long ropes all along the most unfinished basement, but I can’t imagine that I could reach them. We had a drier the basement ofRoyal Oak.
Soft Separate Raindrops
Somehow, rain slowed our mother. She didn’t make us run around and finish everything in rain. We could even do things that didn’t HAVE to be done, –like making fudge in the steamy kitchen.
Soft rain meant dreamy times — sit on the window seat upstairs and imagine, while drops cascaded softly and almost as quiet as tinsel on Christmas trees. Gaze past mother’s bearded purple and lavender iris, toward the apple tree where we could sometimes read unseen.
The world became a shimmering place on the window seat in rain. On my narrow lap would be my fat favorite Evangeline –”dual language” - prose and poetry! but I only wanted Longfellow’s. “This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pine and the hemlock… the deep-voiced neighboring ocean…” (which I’d never seen.)
On the window-seat, I’d wish rain would continue until Daddy came home, as I wept over Evangeline’s lost love. I would yearn for the faraway country that belonged to Little Anne of France, determining to go there someday, never guessing I would manage even to live there.
No one else in Michigan had interest in “going overseas.” To everyone there, ‘overseas’ meant war, –Hitler, Mussolini and death. On the window seat in rain, there was no war. Everitt Allen, in his Cape Cod memoir, blurts, “Do not ask me which war, for all wars are the same.” Yes, and no. Not all wars have Hitler and Mussolini.
Our Cottage Was Only Slightly Larger than The Outermost House
Our Chatham cottage had but one floor, right on Nantucket Sound. Every rain there was rain on the roof. Every rain there was blessing, even the hurricane I determinedly stayed through because I wanted to feel one. Rain on the Sound formed a whole new landscape, –waves churned along that usually peaceful surface. Intricate drop designs would be scrawled one moment, effaced another. The Sound would become an enormous silvery canvas. After rain could come fogs, electric and alive. Returning sun would create round rainbows in every fogged square of the front door screen. Returning sun would bring back the rare birds - godwits and once a phalarope, the long-tailed jaeger down by the Light.
Nowadays, even a “30% chance of rain” triggers red alerts. What lies in wait for us now, instead of drifty dreamy days is downpours, lightning and thunder, “line storms.” A friend from New Jersey, who moved to a farm in the rural South, is building “a bunker” for storms. He tells me how many feet thick the concrete is, and how broad the sand shoveled in beyond that, to hide from weather.
Today’s rains tear up the lawn here above Canal Road. It’s a tough grass untended; not fragile, like Daddy’s, let alone vulnerable as violets. Huge black scrapes scar this grass, open all the way to the mud, like skinned knees. These wounds arrow down from house toward driveway. This is what happens in run-off, and there’s run-off in every rain. Rain-divots. Imagine what today’s rains would do to Mother’s violets!
Today I was supposed to take a friend for her first trip on the River Line Train. We planned to glide river town to river town all along my beloved Delaware River. But dire forecasts, –of thunder, lightning, downpours, flooding and “line storms”, whatever those may be–, caused us to cancel our plans. It’s beautiful now, but I don’t want to be in Camden, looking for Walt Whitman’s house, during a line storm.
Paddling in puddles came to an end when I was eleven. As I wrote in an early poem, “One day, clouds went both ways, fast!” That day, tornadoes exploded into Flint, Michigan, not far from us. They also ‘touched down’ in Port Huron, and Ontario, oddly south of Michigan, Canada south of the United States, wreaking untold damage - as bad as war newsreels we’d see before Saturday movies, and even bringing death.
How Lathrup skies looked, as this happened in Flint
Our father was so astounded, the next day he took us all on a tornado tour — ever the newsman. In a nearby neighborhood, my high school friend Marion’s neighbor’s house was shattered. Meanwhile, in Marion’s Mother’s garden, frail blue delphinium still stood upright.
After that, every rainstorm seemed fraught with thunder. (I was only afraid of thunder - loved lightning, and knew I was being irrational and it didn’t matter a whit. Lightning was beautiful. I still can’t stand loud noises.)
After that, every thunderstorm brought tornado warnings. We learned to spend time in the basement. This had never ever been the case, until ‘Flint’. In Lathrup, after that, to say ‘Flint’ meant ‘the tornado.’ Even as an eleven-year-old, I thought the Great Lakes might have changed temperature and/or volume, so that there was a greater contrast between the air and those broad waters, setting up long ragged tongues whirring out from the clouds, in a green-black world with its odd chemical smell. If there were a hell, it would smell like the world before tornadoes.
In all three Cape Cod books, not one of these journal-keepers mentions living through a hurricane. Although Everitt Allen describes a very old tumbledown house, for which “the first ravaging had been by hurricane, unprecedented for decades.” That might’ve been 1938’s that so demolished his New England and our Long Island here.
In our growing up, there weren’t hurricane seasons. There wasn’t even one a year. I remember ‘Hurricane Diane’s’ ravages during High School. A friend at the Detroit Times was named Diane. The newsmen mercilessly teased her — until she never wanted to hear the word ‘hurricane’ ever again. And we basically didn’t.
I never meant to long for the ‘good old days’.
However, one blessing of childhood was that rain was respite.
I yearn to return to the time of soft soaking rains.
Filed Under (Activism, Adventure, Agriculture, Destruction, Disaster, Environment, Farm Markets, Farmers, Farmland, Farms, Food, Garden State, Government, Harvest, Jersey Fresh, Local Food, NJ WILD, Oceans, Politicians, Pollution/Poisoning, The Seasons) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 11-06-2010
This quest is worth it, for your own sake and that of family. This is worth it for the farmers. It is so wrong that, in the Garden State, farmers are becoming an endangered species.
From the Good Earth Asparagus - NJ’s Stellar Food! Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Hunterdon County Barn - About 20 minutes west of Princeton
There has been an oddly detached response to my recent posts re searching for very fresh (morning-picked) local produce and other foods, honoring them in the kitchen, savoring at table.
Relatives and very dear friends write the equivalent of “It’s all very well for you…”
I am thoroughly fed up with being patronized for natural enthusiasms, for successful quests that link to what is best for Mother Earth.
This includes people telling me I’m too sensitive, all my life, really, but now especially about BP, failed government, worldwide peril, worldwide indifference to hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil gushing into our blue mantle.
OILED BOOT OF GREENPEACE WORKER, JOHN MOORE, GETTY IMAGES
Below is a site to which anyone can go, enter his or her zip code and find out where the CSA’s (yes, Community Supported Agriculture farms) where one can join and often not even join, yet still buy fresh healthy local often organic produce and other seasonal foods in one’s own back yard. I love Paris, but I’m not telling you to go to Paris for true gastronomy. I’m saying, go to the Internet and then go find those nearby farm and markets.
Salade de la marche, Carolyn Foote Edelmann
In little Kingston, minutes north of Princeton, minutes east of me, is a tiny market. Yes. The Kingston Farm Market. It’ll be open at least until Thanksgiving. I don’t take my camera there - you can trust me. Go there. Buy everything they tell you is local. And if you have to succumb, as I sometimes do, to lemons and limes, so be it.
In the interim, ask the proprietor, as I did, the difference among the eggs available on his shelves. Hear his proud answer, as he points to the carton I just opened for a thoroughly nourishing, satisfying lunch on all ronts, even aesthetic: “These are from my farm. It’s 8 miles from here. I say hello to every egg.”
The Hello Eggs have toasty brown shells. When you break them, fine upstanding yolks crown thick clear whites.
When you cook them, whether hard-’boiled’ or ’sunny side up’, the yolks are the richest red gold of anything this side of red gold. More gold than sunflowers, darker than marigolds. That means those hens are richly nourished.
Pre-Thanksgiving Farmers’ Market Run (Trenton) Carolyn Foote Edelmann
That means YOU will be. In all seasons - for Trenton’s Farm Market is open on weekends in winter, and this is some of their offerings of beauty and health.
This quest is worth it, for your own sake and that of family. This is worth it for the farmers. It is so wrong that, in the Garden State, farmers are becoming an endangered species.
how to find Community Supported Agriculture near you from Jersey Sierran
Some sample projects in New Jersey:
CSA: If you visit www.localharvest.org/
csa/ and enter your zip code, you will be
rewarded with a list of local farms that
will contract to provide fresh
and often organic vegetables to you every week.
Besides supporting your local urban
farm, you will enjoy fresh tastes.
Actually, that’s fairly simplistic. Nobility alone isn’t enough of a reason to change your shopping and eating habits. Hedonism plays its part. And energy — I have twice the energy and resilience in the seasons when, at least for 2/3 of my food, I have talked to, even shaken hands with, the person who planted or hatched or milked or aged or harvested or carried to market or sold, or all of the above, the savory produce of our GARDEN STATE.
Yes. New Jersey. The one with all the oil tanks. There are still gardens. There are still farms. They are still producing. Go to them.
Remember, when there were those vegetable scandals when people were dying from produce, New Jersey’s local farms, farmers and farm products were not involved. Ours are healthy. Families still plant and harvest and sell.
Reward them. Reward yourselves.
Eat Garden State.
Dear NJ WILD Readers - I was dared to mail this to Sarah Palin, and I did… your nature writer…
OILED GANNET, John Gardner, Reuters
Oiled Crab at Mouth of Mississippi River
HOW IT USED TO BE - PRISTINE WATERBIRDS OF TED CROSS, FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHER
DEAR SARAH PALIN,
I understand it’s all my fault
–this Gulf oil disaster, I mean–
not only all that fire
bodies catapulted into air
soon likely shark bait
but also this volcano of oil
into our blue mantle
Sarah, you say
I did this
all of this and more
now some six weeks ago
with no end in sight
and no businessman
politician not even a general
let alone you, Sarah Palin,
knows how to stop
this tornado of oil
it’s also my fault, the oiled birds
pristine as Josephine
in her Empire gown
frail white silk
adorned with gold
though not quite bees
dark eyes snapping
as she becomes increasingly encased
in ‘my’ oil
more abruptly than all those mastodons
in La Brea’s tar pits
now slender cormorants
who, everyone is sure, are drowning
as they swim along
neck barely afloat
no one realizing
the genius of cormorants
who can fly/swim 30 miles an hour
when they are not oiled
about the mpg of my car
my old car
for the ownership of which
I am quite guilty
for the replacement of which
I have no means
must wave both wings
after every dive
to dry them
so that they may
dive and dive again
–no wave strong enough
to shake off ceaseless poison weight
it’s my fault, the reddish egrets
you know his own epitaph
written by photographer Ted Cross
for his own recent death
describing his multi-faceted self
on the Other Side
“still searching for the perfect photograph
of the reddish egret”
Ted did not have in mind
this soiled oiled specimen
to lift newly leaden
legs wings and feet
out of Gulf mud muck and oil
it’s all my fault
and not because I use the wrong lightbulbs
in a couple of fixtures
nor because I do turn on the heat.
inside, in winter, sometimes
although I’ve been doing without air
conditioning so far this troubled year
it’s my fault
because I am an “extreme environmentalist”
because I think there should never be any more
drilling for oil in our country
because I deplore petrotyrrany
the privatization of profits
socialization of poverty
because I think we should start with the auto companies
well, what do you expect, Sarah?
I grew up in Detroit
I’ve never seen a wolf in the wild
as you do and deplore
these beings you condemn to bloody deaths
I would embrace
nor have I encountered
a single polar bear
let alone a starving female trying to find food
for her new brood
attempting to swim with them
toward vanishing ice floes
but that’s o.k. with you
it makes the hunting
it’s my fault, Sarah
for I am quite literally
a tree hugger
I believe that greed should end
America return to her original nobility
where people pledged lives
remember sacred honor?
— ah, well, probably not, Sarah
I believe we are our Planet’s
Sarah – who are you?
Carolyn Foote Edelmann
OILED REDDISH EGRET - TED’ CROSS’S EPITAPH BIRD
COAST GUARD PHOTOGRAPHER PATRICK KELLEY
“This is not an environmental disaster, and I will say that again and again.”
- Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) speaking about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Tasha, thanks for signing the petition setting Congressman Don Young straight for his outrageous statement minimizing the impact of the Gulf Oil Spill.
So far, more than 24,000 of you have added your voice to the petition! Now we’ve set a new goal of getting 50,000 signers – we’ll deliver your comments directly to Mr. Young.
But we need your help! Please forward this email to five of your friends right now and encourage them to sign the petition so we can send a deafening message to Congressman Young, rejecting his outrageous protection of Big Oil. You can also share the petition on Facebook or Twitter.
Thanks for your support,
DCCC Executive Director
Yup, you read that correctly.
In an outrageous quote worthy of Sarah Palin’s Facebook page, Republican Congressman Don Young of Alaska, who happens to be one of Big Oil’s best friends in Congress, actually said this with a straight face.
This is exactly the sort of Big Oil cheerleading mentality that ‘Drill Baby Drill’ Palin and now her fellow Republican from Alaska are continuing to push, even as oil continues poisoning the Gulf. While Congressman Young might not understand the definition of “environmental” or “disaster,” you and I certainly do and we need to hold him accountable.
Set Congressman Don Young Straight. Sign our petition calling on him to stop defending Big Oil and support clean energy legislation in Congress.
In the hours since we launched our petition denouncing Don Young’s outrageous comment, already more than 20,000 of you have added your voice. Now we’ve set a goal of getting 50,000 signers and delivering your comments directly to Mr. Young.
Let’s send a deafening message to Congressman Young that we reject his outrageous protection of Big Oil and it’s time to get serious about supporting President Obama and Speaker Pelosi’s agenda for a clean energy future.
Add your voice to the fight today.
DCCC Executive Director
Interesting to me that ‘Vogel’ means either bird or flight or fly… in German…
Filed Under (Adventure, Agriculture, Delaware River, Farm Markets, Farmers, Farmland, Farms, Food, Garden State, Harvest, Jersey Fresh, Local Food, NJ WILD) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 04-06-2010
This post will hold more images than words, on the heels of multiple visits to nearby farm markets.
My favorite line in any farm market ever, in any land, happened in Kingston, New Jersey, last week. I stopped for milk, lemons and limes - the produce I needed being admittedly neither local nor likely sustainable. I was out of those exotics, and will use any excuse to stop at that charming market right on Kingston’s main street, Route 27, minutes from home.
Seeing three different cartons of eggs, I asked the avuncular man behind the counter, “What is the difference among the eggs?”
With the pride of a new father, the proprietor pointed to the set directly ahead of me. “They’re from our farm… eight miles from here. (talk about low carbon footprint - I LOVE it!)… He continued with the line I’ll never forget: “I say ‘hello’ to every egg.” Needless to say, I bought his own eggs, along with their divine fresh-ground, ground-to-request peanut butter, and some sturdy intricate bread from a woman whose children named her bakery, “Nice Buns.”
On Friday, I took a friend over to Stockton and its farm market, detouring on our rolling-farm-hill journey home into Sergeantsville. There, with the help of a woman who could star in a Fellini film, I was coached through fresh meat purchases at Maresca’s. They’re not open every day, and they don’t take credit cards. But on Friday and Saturday, at least, and maybe more, but never on Sunday, you can come home, as I did, with fresh homemade sausages right out of Europe. I chose a very American ham steak that looks sp succulent. Just opening the package, my home will be blessed with the the sweet/sharp fragrance of the inside of this shop that has been there since 1943.
Others knew just what to buy, unlike moi. A man ordered t-bones, then filets, from Emil - everyone else knows the name of the surviving brother. Emil –quickly, deftly, proudly as any meat man in Provence or on the back streets of Paris–, cut the meats to his requirements. The spirit in this shop felt as though smiles were flitting about, from ceiling to floor and back, like butterflies. Delightful murals of rural scenes warmed my virtual-farmer heart. A handsome painting behind the cash register could take its place on Antiques Road Show. Leaving, we all wish one another the heartiest“Bon Appetit!”
I have already started preparing foods from treasures brought back from my farmland sojourns. I’ll ‘adjust’ those pictures and add them. So you can see what bounty exists so very near each of us, in this indeed GARDEN State.
Spaghetti from Italy via Trenton Farmers Market, Greek Olive Oil, Trader Joe’s
Greenhouse Tomatoes - Pine Barrens Greenhouse, Russo’s, Tabernacle
En route to Stockton-on-the-Delaware, we were blessed to rumble over the Sergeantsville Covered Bridge. On all sides, peonies were bursting with health, seeming encouraging omens to my passenger who had just come from her first check-up after a lumpectomy. Siloed farms erupted like exclamation marks on brown paper, ploughed fields. In certain lights, we could watch the ripening of winter wheat - more golden in afternoon light than just that very morning. In other contours, we discovered sharp green sprouts of newest corn. O, Lord, please let it be real, not genetically destroyed…
Another farm market up Route 519 held superb dairy products, hefty meats, homemade chicken pot pie, beef pot pie and shepherd’s pie, as well as gourmet items such as smoky paprika and ‘Sexy Olives.’ This one, new to me, is called Highland Co. Gourmet Market - 908-996-3362. In its farm fields grazed the long-haired strawberry blonde cattle of the Highland breed. It wouldn’t take much to convince me that their cows are wooly mammoths.
Highland Calf, Highland Co. Gourmet Market of Route #519
When I eat, part of the savor is not only the basic ingredients. I bring home the “Hello egg” man and the ‘wooly mammoth’ boy and the lady who makes almond cupcakes with honeysuckle on their frosting. Provence taught me this, in 1987 and 88, and it’s been a long time turning into the norm in the garden state that we get to talk to the people who raise the food. A sacred exchange.
Preserve our farms, and farmlands, NJ WILD readers!
Market Spaghetti, Served
Avocadoes from Kingston Farm Market, fresh oregano from friend’s garden, aged Reggiano, Sea Salt, with Joseph Wechsberg’s “Blue Trout and Black Truffles” - neither of which appears in this feast, but stay tuned…
Our rides to and from these nearby New Jersey markets are worthy journeys just in themselves…
Sergeantsville Springtime, Preserved Land and Waterway
763 Sergeantsville Rd
Sergeantsville, NJ 08557
(Anne Packard’s View)
by Catherine Lynne Edelmann, at 16, at PDS, from photography by Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Be forewarned. This is not a typical NJ WILD post.
What I would write to the next classmate who urges me to return to Michigan or Indiana to a REUNION. NO WAY!
This weekend, people are surging into Princeton from the four corners of the earth, really, to celebrate their fellowship, their brilliant education, to remember the past and co-create the future.
This weekend, I am thinking of my daughters, stolen by a destructive cult, thanks to Catherine’s Princeton classmate, in the 1980’s. I am thinking of Diane, forever AGAINST everything for which that guru stood, bravely stepping into the fire for her beloved sister, in 1987, and being snared. This is the norm in cults.
Parents are often even snared. Having lived in this crucible, I have helped other parents avoid being snared. Helped others whose daughters were taken. Helped them to cult deprogrammers who healed their children and prevented their own incarceration.
But my daughters have never chosen deprogramming. My daughters, brilliant graduates, honors graduates, of Princeton and Smith, have been taught to turn from all family and friends who disapproved of the cult.
My daughter is not here this weekend for her Reunion. I don’t know what crazy costume her class chose. I don’t see her in the P-Rade, with my other daughter at my side. I don’t go with them to Harvard or the Sorbonne, either, where they shone.
I try to fill my Reunion Weekends, year after year, with wild nature. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.
In my job, at D&R Greenway Land Trust, I always meet either my childrens’ friends, or their parents, or both. Sometimes I meet their teachers. Thursday, their beloved baby-sitter all those Braeburn years walked in the door, to a tearful reunion - and I had to tell her what had happened to her cherished charges.
In that position, welcoming every visitor, I never know what heartbreak for me surges in with every opening of our handsome barn doors. I cannot avoid the past. I cannot rewrite it. I cannot succumb to this oceanic grief. Because, if I do, then their guru wins.
Yet friends from high school and college ask me to return to those reunions. How could I? “Real people” spend a great deal of time talking about their children and grandchildren. I have some, but I have never met them. I don’t even know how to spell their names. I don’t know exactly where they live. THEY don’t know my sister’s heart collapses into failure and arrythymia over and over again. They don’t know that they could lose Aunt Marilyn. They don’t know that the other Catherine, my great-niece, is graduating with straight A’s, part of the National Honor Society, beautiful beyond belief, thin and elegant, savvy and sweet - and that she’s chosen Kenyon College so she can weave her writing brilliance into her scientific achievements. That I am sending my sister’s Catherine books on Rachel Carson and E. O Wilson for graduation, others who weave words and science to change the world.
I go on welcoming, smiling. I do this because my loyalty to Mother Nature is paramount. At D&R Greenway, daughters or NO daughters, every day, every moment preserves more land in our beleaguered state, turns aside developers, one acre at a time!
I could not return to Michigan or Indiana. I would have to ask unanswerable questions.
Above all, I would ask high school and college classmates, what was your Holocaust Moment? And what did you do about it?
For me, I went home with my Manhattan roommates for Thanksgiving Dinner, 1959. Fresh from the convent school, –on the heels of the high school founded by the infamous (but we didn’t know that) Father Charles E. Coughlin. It was an odd Thanksgiving, in the Bronx, with the most unexpected foods, including gefeltefish, which I don’t yet know how to spell, a Thanksgiving that began with soup with odd dumplings in it.
Luckily, I did not ask my roommates that night, there, the question burning in my throat and heart. When the grandmother stirred the fish dumplings into the chicken broth, her sleeve fell back. Black signs were incised upon her wrist. What on earth?!
Back in our apartment, so near where West Side Story was soon to be filmed, I hazarded the query that has burned ever since. “Why did your grandmother write those numbers on her arm?”
Nobody in that apartment could believe I had never heard of the Holocaust. Let alone the Inquisition. What else of my lifetime of memorization had been a lie, a cover-up, a travesty, a tragedy? All my years of study seemed suddenly wasted. I have never stopped trying to make up for them.
What, I would ask my classmates, did YOU do when you learned about the Holocaust? Let alone, the Inquisition?
I have asked that of my entire college class, begging me to come to a significant reunion. Not one answered.
Father Coughlin, for all his flaws, was a genius. I worked for him for two entire years, every single weekend, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Often, he would have one of his priests take my receptionist job, call me to his palatial, even Arthurian, (although his table was not round) dining room. There for the first time I tasted amazing and memorable foods — garlic, fresh figs, pork roast. There, I learned that people had cooks. There, I never knew why he would have this tabula rasa at his side for hours.
Years later, in a New Age workshop in the south, asked “Who was your mentor?”, my first thought was, “I never even heard that word.” Then, I heard, deep in my heart ears and soul, “Father Coughlin.”:
That man urged businessmen to come in for communion, — never mind the whole mass. “Take Christ into downtown Detroit.” That man believed in living the faith, not just hearing about it in epistle or the gospel for a few weekend moments. That man taught metaphysics to kindergarteners.
I don’t know what he taught me. I didn’t know he was prejudiced against the Jews who would become my roommates, my best friends, even my son-in-law, for a few brief years of Diane’s then-happy marriage.
What I remember most about Father Coughlin, besides the fact that he wasn’t the least bit scary, [but then I didn't know anything about his global fame or infamy]– was that the word ‘education’ came from the root words e-ducare, meaning ‘to lead out of’, as in out of darkness, as in out of ignorance.
With what did he infuse me, all those long Sundays and Saturdays when I sat in on his meetings and took notes he never read? Was he somehow trying to make up for my tabula rasa state, based not only on imperfect, uneducated teachers, but also on libraries shackled by the INDEX? Was he trying to make up for the education I would never have, because our parents had been taught that if we didn’t go to Catholic schools, not only we but they, would go to Hell?
I don’t know. No one asked me. I didn’t realize what a privilege Father Coughlin was.
I now see, Father Coughlin was the only intellectual in my Michigan life. I never even heard the word until I started hanging out with Columbia Students in my West Side Story New York 1959/60/61 life.
What did he infuse?
And worse, did I ever thank him?
He allowed me to have English in my 1961 Shrine of the Little Flower wedding ceremony, so that my Jewish roommates and Protestant aunts and uncles could understand what was going on.
Those were the years when we could not attend my mother’s relatives’ weddings because they took place in Protestant churches. When we couldn’t sing “Away in a Manger” at Christmas, because it was written by a Protestant.
My Sister’s Granddaughter, Catherine, right, with her teacher, Awards Night,
High School Grad, Illinois, [by Lisa Weitzel]
Meanwhile, here I am, mother but not mother, who spent her life teaching those girls by word, deed and organic garden. Who lived, yes, with their father, the belief that “from those to whom much has been given, much is required.” Who took those girls to Merwick as toddlers, because, in their bright hand-sewn dresses and long Swiss blonde hair, touchable as no one else in Merwick residents’ lives, they could get the menu choices s out of the deaf and the mute and the blind.
Unable to reminisce with them. Unable to enjoy their honors, let alone their life progress. Unable to call them up when Memorial Day proves absolutely impossible.
And this darkness that substitutes for life? This schooling that masquerades as education? This ravenousness for knowledge that never goes away?
What of that?
Let alone the reality that I may never hug my daughters, nor turn in joy or sorrow to their arms.