Archive for June, 2011
Filed Under (Animals of the Wild, D&R Canal & Towpath, Delaware Bayshores, Destruction, Environment, Migratory Flocks, NJ, NJ State Parks, Native Americans, Nature, Nature Writing, New Jersey Pine Barrens, Pennsylvania, Preservation, habitat, native species, wild) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 28-06-2011
THIS JUST IN: Steve Hiltner’s marvelous Sustainable Jazz Ensemble will be playing at Labyrinth Books every other Friday in July - July 1, 15, 29. Labyrinth is at 122 Nassau, and the music takes place downstairs. Steve’s inimitable humor assures us that “no virgin timbres are harvested for these performances.” Michael Redmond, Lifestyle and Time Off Editor of the Packet, urges, in his Packet Pick: “Be There or Be Square.” The time is 6:30, and BYO is o.k., says the Packet Pick.
On Another Note Altogether, Steve and I are in synch. I have his permission to use his Princeton Nature Notes posting on the beavers of Princeton:
Steve Hiltner, of Friends of Princeton Open Space, writes of a joyous beaver memory within a moonlit pond, hoping that such scenes “can serve as a bridge of kinship between people and nature.” Recently, that bridge was seriously shattered in our community.
I am fascinated to see results, when I Google, Princeton, Beavers, on electronic sites, showing that others are still disturbed that the lovely waters of Pettoranello Gardens proved fatal rather than life-sustaining to our Princeton beavers.
Steve maintains a charming blog, Princeton Nature Notes, which I have quoted here in the past. He officially linked to NJ WILD recently on the beaver tragedy.
Steve is also a superb musician - whose jazz last Friday graced Labyrinth Books, in their summer Friday jazz program. I so enjoyed it many Fridays last year - hearing jazz with friends surrounded by books — what could be better. Keep an eye on the Labyrinth web-site, to see when we can hear Steve’s jazz anew.
I was at the Brandywine Museum that night for Jamie Wyeth’s opening of his farm art. More to come on that after I download pictures from his father’s beloved Kuerner farm site, setting the tone for Jamie’s impeccably rendered farm creatures.
Here’s Steve’s wise reading of the beaver situation. Thanks for linking, Steve, to NJ WILD and to D&R Greenway, which shares your preservation mission in our region.
The killing of two beavers at Pettoranello Pond two weeks ago brought into the spotlight two sharply contrasting views of the animals. Beavers are adorable, and impressive in their craftsmanship. One of my most serene memories is watching a beaver swim peacefully across a moonlit pond. Their approach to living–find an auspicious spot, transform it to your needs, and make a living there–has parallels with ours, and so can serve as a bridge of kinship between people and nature.
Their inclination to change their surroundings, as in the sticks and mud they were using to obstruct water flow under this bridge, also triggers a distinctly negative view of beavers as nuisance animals. People get a pond just the way they want it, plant some pretty trees, and then a beaver comes along, changes the water level and starts eating the trees. That’s what was happening at Pettoranello Pond. Of course, if beavers are stigmatized for changing the environment, imagine what an animal community that could form and hold opinions would be thinking about us.
Beavers have been living in the canal and Lake Carnegie for a long time, and I had been wondering why they hadn’t made it up Mountain Brook to Mountain Lakes and Pettoranello Gardens. Now that they have, I’d expect more will come. My hope would be that some way could be found to accommodate the beavers while keeping the pond level stable and any valuable trees protected. There are devices that allow water through dams without the beavers being aware. In my opinion, the beavers would do Pettoranello Gardens at least one favor by thinning out its thick stands of alder along the water’s edge. If the beaver’s additions to the dam obstructed storm flow, then a spillway for heavy runoff could be dug somewhere along the bank. The pond already has a bypass upstream of it for storm surges.
Filed Under (Activism, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Brenda Jones, Destruction, Disaster, Environment, Government, Migration, Migratory Flocks, NJ WILD, Nature, Oceans, Politicians, Pollution/Poisoning, habitat, protection, water quality) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 24-06-2011
“So the idea from afar that only a few hundred birds really got badly oiled turns out to have been a false sense of security.” Cornell Lab of Ornithology Director, John Fitzpatrick
Black Skimmer Skimming - in Clean Water — Smithsonian
NJ WILD readers know how I fret over the fate of every wild creature, from the slain beavers of Princeton’s Pettoranello Gardens/Mountain Lakes ‘Preserve’, to all the winged beings harmed, starved, oiled, killed by the oils of the ceaseless volcano from the so-called Deepwater Horizon last year.
So many waterbirds and shorebirds were breeding, nesting, and/or feeding young, as that foul spewing continued and expanded, well, exPLOded in the normally fecund and to me always sacred waters of our Gulf.
Great Blue Heron Flies over Clean Lake Carnegie - Brenda Jones
You also know that my deepest alarm is that no experts from elsewhere showed up to solve and resolve. Not only did BP not know (or care) what to do. Our American government was powerless, able only to urge tourists to come by and tromp the oiled beaches for the sake of motel and restaurant owners. No one anywhere knew or knows how to resolve an oil disaster.
Any more than anyone anywhere knows what to do about quaked and flooded Fukushima nuclear plant in shattered northern Japan.
Remember the lies? Remember 500 barrels a day in the Gulf? Remember that I told you, watch and see how those numbers tiptoe upwards in the days, weeks and months ahead?
Remember whatever the Japanese were admitting? At best, at the beginning, the reactors were called compromised. The term melt was not part of their vocabulary in the early days. Somewhere there must be a school officials attend, teaching how to lie calmly to all who have the right to know. Teaching how to show up days or weeks later with band-aids for ruptures of the highest magnitude to the fabric of our world.
Last night, on CNN, I heard that there have been “melt-downs or melt-throughs” in three of the four reactors of Fukushima.
And where is that radiation going? Into our skies… Into our ocean — for there is really only ONE ocean. Into our fish and water mammals such as dolphins and whales. Turtles. Plankton. As the Gulf’s oil spewing destroyed everything from the most microscopic to behemoths of the deep.
No one knows. No one tells.
Roseate Spoonbill near Clean Water - from Internet
Here is the Cornell Ornithology Lab on the Gulf disaster, one year later. Even THEY are heedless enough to call those millions of barrels or gallons - what difference to the migrating and breeding birds? — a ’spill’…
Nonetheless, I’m glad there’s a Cornell Lab of Ornithology to address these issues and go to the trouble to have articles written and published on the peril of creatures in our time, especially birds.
However, as a subscriber to their Living Bird Magazine, I have watched this disaster played down in those glossy pages. We have no way of knowing the death toll of birds, let alone plankton and other nearly invisible but essential sea organisms. The red knots who feed on horseshoe crabs in New Jersey are down 5000 this year, when I believe there were only about 15,000 known individuals tallied last year. Did red knots migrate over the Gulf at a critical time, perishing either directly or from consuming poisoned foods?
Gradually, in this article below, realization of the deep inner costs, the hidden, the invisible, the untallyable seems to be seeping in, at least in the world of ornithologists.
Not, however, in the world of oil and business - our new golden calf. The altar upon whose slab we are all Abraham, raising the sword over our sons, Isaac…
Viewpoint: The Oil Spill, One Year Later
One year after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Cornell Lab of Ornithology director John Fitzpatrick discusses what we learned, and what we can take away from it.
Q: What is your reaction when you look back at footage of birds videotaped along the Gulf Coast by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s team during the oil spill?
(put quotes around that noun “spill”, everyone… cfe)
A: It hit me that this event took place at the mouth of one of the world’s mightiest rivers. What that river produces, down through the Mississippi Delta and out into the Gulf, is literally one of the world’s richest living systems.
That northern gulf is a paradise of creatures from the microscopic up to the size of a pelican and a Great Blue Heron. And we have to remember that the birds are only the thin outer edge that’s visible to us. Those images remind me of the myriad organisms and whole systems living underneath those birds. They are why the birds are there in the first place. All those organisms and systems were also affected by the oil.
Q: Now, one year later, what’s the understanding of how the birds were affected by the oil?
A: We feared a genuine catastrophe, and had the winds, tides, and storms conspired against those colonies of birds, it’s possible that we could have seen truly catastrophic mortality. We didn’t see that. Thousands of birds really did get heavily oiled, but for the most part the bird colonies actually did end up surviving and even producing young.
But what also emerged is that the oil did have really widespread impact at levels that are outside the human perception when we look at them from 500 yards away. It actually wasn’t until our crew returned from the field and looked very closely at the high-definition images that we realized that at the breeding colonies we filmed, almost all the young birds and a huge proportion of the adults had oil on them, even if small amounts. And we noted that a lot of the oil droplets were around their mouths, and even inside their beaks, so they obviously were ingesting it. The health effects of this cannot be measured.
So the idea from afar that only a few hundred birds really got badly oiled turns out to have been a false sense of security.
Tens of thousands of birds, perhaps more, were affected by this oil. The amount of energy they ended up having to expend preening that oil, and the reactions they had to having feathers that weren’t working right, mean that they were devoting an enormous amount of their summer to this nuisance. It must have affected their energy levels, and ultimately their ability to migrate and potentially their ability to even stay alive. So we actually can’t know for sure what the total mortality was from that event, measured over the whole year.
The question is how many additional problems can these populations endure and still persist through time? We take away habitat, we take away opportunities for breeding, we take away their food, and then we add oil spills. Just how much of this can these habitats and organisms take before the system itself collapses?
Q: The images shown on national news were mostly of heavily oiled birds. If the vast majority of birds weren’t affected to this degree, does that distort the impact that the oil had?
A: Our team also filmed heavily oiled birds, including very close-up images of several heavily oiled pelicans, suffering and struggling, and with huge dignity trying desperately to live. As scientists we try to think mainly about populations, not so much about individuals.
But quite frankly, looking right into the eye of a bird suffering from our mistake as much as those pelicans obviously were, makes all of us realize what we ought to owe these birds as individuals.
Q: What about that larger scale of populations and species? How is the world doing?
A: One thing we humans have to acknowledge at this point: There is no place on earth right now that is not affected by the presence of humans and the ecological impacts we have had on this planet. It does not stop there. We have to come to grips with the fact that we’ve imposed perturbations so big that our impact is now widely regarded as the sixth major extinction in the history of the planet. Before humans evolved, there were five major points when life on earth was challenged by extrinsic events, by chemical changes, or by impacts from asteroids and comets. Five different times, huge proportions of the species on earth suddenly disappeared.
The sixth major extinction is underway right now, and unlike the previous five, this one is caused by one of the species that lives on earth, namely us. Hundreds and hundreds of species are known to be gone because of our impact. The actual number is no doubt tens of thousands, because we didn’t even know them before they went extinct. We are causing significant ecological instability on this planet, and the question we must face is, how far is this going to go?
Are we going to come to grips with this at all? Could we actually begin to slow down our impact, and finally halt the impact? Shouldn’t we be doing everything we can—now—to achieve a position of balance in which we humans are living stably side-by-side with those natural systems and species that are left? There is no doubt that the world will be a more joyful place if we can do this.
Q: How do we do that?
A: Well, first we need to have every culture of the world recognize that this goal represents both a responsibility and an opportunity for us.
We need to embrace as a species the idea that we’re going to try to live side-by-side with the systems and the species that are left.
Secondly, as we move toward that vision, we need to be able to measure how we’re doing. And the amazing thing about birds is that they give us this opportunity.
The more we study birds, especially birds that are declining, the more we realize that they’re declining because of some specific things that we’re doing to the landscape. Amazingly enough, we can fix those things and, lo and behold, the birds come back! There are now dozens of great examples. The Kirtland’s Warbler, a bird that was reduced to a couple hundred birds in northern Michigan, is now numbering in the thousands because we discovered what was going wrong. (It lives in a habitat that needs to burn regularly, and it lives in a habitat in which cowbirds were overrunning it because of widespread agricultural practices.)
So we’ve recognized that we humans do have the capacity to jump in and start managing systems in a way that mimics what the natural system was doing. Once we do this, the birds rebound spectacularly. We do have options to actually improve landscapes, not just make them worse.
Q: But if you’re talking about extinctions of thousands of species, will you be able to find out in time what’s going wrong for all of them?
A: The great thing about birds is that they give us a chance to measure how we’re doing in keeping natural systems whole, and we can actually extend this idea to the entire planet.
Birds are so observable and easy to count, and everybody loves watching them, that we’re beginning to realize we can measure in real-time how we’re doing by asking people to report what they see to citizen-science projects on the Internet. Because birds are such sensitive indicators of the health of the environment, we have the opportunity, through watching birds, to measure our effects, to adjust our choices, to decrease the amount of damage we’re doing, and to watch the planet recover, system by system, as we learn the tricks.
So just getting people to watch, and count, and record natural things out their back window, and the idea that we can multiply this by millions across the world, means that we actually are moving toward a system in which we can measure, monitor, and adjust. We can in fact have a brand new relationship with the planet in which we’re using birds to adjust our behavior and make the place healthier.
This idea—that just by observing nature you can end up taking part in the reparations of the damage we’ve produced—is an enormously empowering and exciting opportunity for humankind and its relationship with the planet.
Q: Were citizen-science participants involved in monitoring birds after the oil spill?
A: Yes—and the key is that they were monitoring birds before the oil spill too. Every day people from around the world report their bird sightings to eBird.org, and this creates a real-time, continuously running record of the health of bird populations.
Gulf Coast birders had already been counting birds in their region, and by continuing to monitor birds during and after the spill, they’re helping provide a record to government agencies and BP to assess the damage.
Without the initial baseline data, we would not have been able to say what the effects of the spill were. Baseline data on wildlife is rare, and in this case, birds are giving us some of the best environmental indicators available.
Q: How does this tie in to your work at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology?
A: If there’s one basic thing that the Lab stands for it’s the idea that we have an opportunity to make a difference in how the world is going to be in a hundred, five hundred, a thousand years. The differences that we can make are brought about by the fact that as humans, we are fundamentally curious. We watch. We observe. That’s fundamentally what science is. We’re curious about how nature works, we’re curious about how it’s doing. And the more we look, the more we watch, the more we understand. The Lab is built around the idea that to fix systems, to rescue species, to bring back ecosystems, we need to understand how they work. And if we’re going to bring back things that are disappearing, we need to understand what went wrong.
We can actually figure out what’s going wrong, figure out what the human impact is, change the impact, and watch the system rebound. The Lab’s role in global conservation and biodiversity is to engage in science, to engage in close scrutiny about how nature works, but also to do that using hundreds of thousands of other people to help us.
And of course, birds are fun to watch at the same time. This means that we can even take in personal rewards on a daily basis as we contribute information to the broader good, which in turn creates entire continent-scale solutions.
Filed Under (Adventure, Animals of the Wild, Birds, Brenda Jones, Indians, Migration, Migratory Flocks, NJ, NJ WILD, Nature, New Jersey, Sourland Mountains, books, habitat, native species, protection, trails) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 21-06-2011
Wood Duck - Brenda Jones - Frequently Mentioned in Hopewell Valley Trail Guide ponds
NJ WILD readers are accustomed to my urging exploration, in search of the wild, the beautiful, adventure in our region. I recently was brought a thorough and beautifully written trail guide by Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space. I read and underline a few trail ‘chapters’ every night at supper. Virtual hikes…
Below, find Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space’s launch release. I requested it, once I started paging through this Guide to Walking Trails in the Hopewell Valley.
We’ll soon have the Guides at D&R Greenway Land Trust. Call me at 609-924-4646, Monday through Thursday, and I’ll let you know if they’re in. This is your Open Sesame to “thousands of acres of preserved open space” — free for the hiking, in the legendary next-door Sourland Mountains Region.
Baldpate Mountain View, by Brenda Jones
The Hopewell Valley is due west of us, over Route #518 or Carter Road into Hopewell, then up Greenwood Avenue to my favorite Sourlands Hike. Those ‘mountains’, to me, are a land of history and mystery, miraculously still green and rocky and vibrant, despite the 21st century’s ever-strangling rings of concrete.
The Guide celebrates the partnership of FOHVOS, Mercer County, Hopewell Township, Pennington Borough, Hopewell Borough, the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association and D&R Greenway Land Trust, where I work. Among them, some seventy miles of trails are open, blazed and maintained so that all of us may experience the wild.
Blue-winged Warbler, Baldpate, last week, by Brenda Jones
The point of preservation, however, in MY book, is not human need. It’s the essential habitat requirements of animal, vegetable and yes even mineral - those splendid, monumental Sourlands rocks! Sit upon some of those boulders, in the middle of a hike, and feel the sustenance and even electricity of the earth herself, buttressing you and thanking you for your appreciation.
My Sister, Marilyn Weitzel, Being Sacajawea, Sourlands - cfe
For birds, above all migrant songbirds, these contiguous preserved acres provide meat, drink, sanctuary and flyways. Legendary Sourlands naturalist, Hannah Suthers, bands ‘passerines’ during spring and fall migration, checking their health as well as their numbers. She began counting migrating birds on horseback along Featherbed Lane. Thanks to Hannah, proof exists of the importance of preserved open land to thousands of winged creatures alone, especially on journeys and often for breeding and successful raising of young.
Essence of Hopewell Valley’s Sourlands cfe
What this splendid book, with handsome color photographs of Hopewell Valley scenes, and stunning nature drawings by Heather Lovett, sings to me is, “Whose woods these are, I think I know…” (Robert Frost, of course - this is virtual Frost country.) Whose woods these are, are YOURS.
Come claim your woods and mountains, through these 19 numbered, illustrated, mapped and memorable pages!
Fox Kit at Baldpate last week, by Brenda Jones
Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space
P.O. Box 395
Pennington, NJ 08534
For immediate release
Contact: Patricia Sziber, Executive Director
(609)730-1560 – office
(609)203-4720 – cell
Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space Trail Guide Published
Just in time for National Trails Day, which was celebrated on June 4th this year, Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FoHVOS) has produced a Guide to Walking Trails in the Hopewell Valley. The 28-page booklet features locations, maps and descriptions of 19 trails open to the public for hiking and enjoyment of nature. Design and printing of the guide was made possible by a generous donation from Pennington residents Jim and Rhonda Vinson, long-time advocates of open space preservation and walking trails for residents in our region.
Mr. Vinson suggested the guide to the Friends in January and FoHVOS Vice President Tom Ogren took the lead on the project. He recruited Hopewell Township resident Mahlon Lovett, Director of Multimedia Design in Princeton University’s Office of Communication, for layout and design. One of the first steps was to decide on a format that would accommodate all of the graphics and descriptive information that would help people locate and enjoy the trails. In addition to the trail maps, the 10- by 7.5-inch booklet includes street locations of the trail heads, trail length and GPS coordinates for the parking areas, plus photos and artwork.
The guide includes seven trails on preserves owned by FoHVOS, as well as those owned or managed by Mercer County, D&R Greenway Land Trust, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, the State of New Jersey and Hopewell Borough—approximately 70 miles of trails in all. Most of the trails provide opportunities for relatively easy walking; the trails on Baldpate Mountain offer a longer and more challenging hike.
FoHVOS President John Jackson remarked, “The trail guide would not have been possible without the hard work and contributions of so many people, whose enthusiasm for the project has resulted in this beautiful booklet. We want to thank the New Jersey Trails Association, D&R Greenway and the GIS Center for the maps and many of the trail descriptions. Special thanks are due to Simcha Rudolph who customized the maps and Chris Berry who verified much of the location information. We also thank Heather Lovett for her wonderful artwork and, especially, Jim and Rhonda Vinson for their inspiration and generosity…and their faith in FoHVOS to carry the project through.”
The Guide to the Walking Trails in the Hopewell Valley will be available at all three municipal buildings in the Hopewell Valley, public libraries and other locations. Residents may also request a copy by sending an e-mail with their name and mailing address and “Trail Guide” in the subject line to email@example.com.
Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space President John Jackson (left) presented the first copy of the group’s Guide to Walking Trails in the Hopewell Valley to project sponsors Rhonda and Jim Vinson at the entrance to Curlis Lake Woods near Pennington.OH
Filed Under (Adventure, Agriculture, Climate Change, Delaware River, Farmland, Farms, Food, Forests, Migratory Flocks, NJ, NJ WILD, New Jersey, New Jersey Pine Barrens, Pine Barrens, Solitude, Timelessness, Wildflowers, rivers) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 17-06-2011
NJ WILD readers may remember this from the ‘dog days’ of last August. As we endure triple-digit heat days in JUNE, no less (while politicians debate the reality of Catastrophic Climate Change, I find myself newly compelled to seek out dappled roadways.
We, in Princeton and near, are blessed with places where shadows caress windshields and shiny metal hoods of vehicles. Sometimes, we can even drive where trees hold hands over our cars. On Pinelands roads, we may enjoy shadowed beauty and solitude even on Fourth of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day and the like.
Come DAPPLE with me!
In this summer of drought, when enormous swathes of corn have turned the color of camels on either side of Route 518 West of Princeton, I have had to develop a new modus operandi for driving. To evade that broiler-sun, I have come deliberately to tool along, up hill and down dale, on the outskirts of towns, and through the middle of small ones, as far as possible from highways, let alone anything named ’super’. I have to go in search of dappled roads.
This searing summer, I have been taught that shade is far more important than elapsed driving time.
When I endured 1988’s Provencal August, I wrote a poem beginning, “the sun strikes its flat sword blade…” I never before knew sun as enemy. As a child, my parents would sing, “Rain, rain, go away. Little Carolyn wants to play.” And this was perennially true. Now I feel I should do penance for this wish — now I find myself singing, “Sun, sun, go away.”
Day after day, “severe thunderstorms forecast”. Night after night, I carry my too-heavy new watering can around the rudimentary garden outside my new apartment on a wooded hill. Sometimes my parched plants cry out for me to repeat this procedure in mornings before work. People near my Canal Road dwelling have been saying, “We to live in a valley, a valley where it always rains on either side of us.” The ground outside is hard as concrete. Water from the golden can skids off the soil like mercury, like a garden snake, hurrying elsewhere, not sinking into roots.
I’ve had to find ways to escape the searing sun. I drive the dappled roads.
Blue Hills Above the Delaware from Hunterdon County
One of my all-time favorite books is William Least Heat Moon’s Blue Highways. I turn to it over and over, like Thoreau and Beston, Leopold and Abbey. W.L.H.M. took off in a van on the day he lost both wife and job, traveling the blue highways of our land, the ones without ’super’. He sought out cafes, measuring them by the number of photo calendars they displayed near their cash register. He brought to life each bossy waitress, each curmudgeonly fellow traveler at a stool at his side at the counter. Moon was not on a gastronomic quest, as I often am. Rather in search of humans, real people, what we used to call Americans before a certain recent president made ME ashamed to BE one… That simple travelogue held its place on best-seller lists for months. That basic journey sustained me in many a challenging ordeal of life.
“Where ya goin’?,” a fellow feeder asked William L.H. Moon. “Dunno,” he truthfully answered. His interrogator grinned: “Can’t get lost then.”
When I travel the dappled roads, it doesn’t matter if I get lost. On the dappled highways, still green and feathery above, the smokey wash of shadow alters both my car’s blinding finish and my own dessicated mood.
Provence didn’t have shadows. I never realized shade was essential. The most important description of any Inn was “terrace ombragee”. Until I sat at on those shaded terraces, surrounded by white linen and heavy silver and Provencal specialties beneath leather-leaved plane trees, (our sycamores) I didn’t know how priceless is shade. In Provence, I tried and failed to remember a favorite poem, “Glory be to God for Dappled Things.”
This summer, I learn the value of shadows in our own country. Without linen, without silver, sans cuisine.
When you travel ombragee’d roadways, you’ll either be pretty much alone, as in the Pine Barrens. Or you’ll be surrounded by people in a pretty good mood, soothed as shade comes and goes, as the road rises and falls, as trees create sanctuaries of silence.
Dappled roads don’t just funnel one - dappled roads lead somewhere.
As to rivers - the Wading, the Delaware. As to forests — Wharton, Brendan Byrne. As to mountains, so they say, as in Sourlands. Past a funny old road house, beloved of locals. Alongside farmstands, “cucumbers, 50 cents each”. “Our own fresh eggs.”
As you drive along dappled roads in South Jersey, you can check on the blueberry crop, the busy-ness of rented bees among tiny white cranberry blossoms. If you ‘dapple’ West, you’ll study the state of the sorghum crop, and puzzle as to whether corn tassels out later, the closer you get to the Delaware River (my theory. In this year of the drought, the later-tasseling corn is faring better.)
I’d far rather know how the sorghum’s doing, than the latest catastrophe of some celebrity of entertainment or politics (it is becoming more and more difficult to tell the difference.) I can stop thinking, for a few hours, about the perilous migratory journeys of all our New Jersey birds headed toward and over the Gulf.
When you choose dappled roads, even in town, as in Princeton, you’ll pass homes and graveyards of any number of signers of the Declaration of Independence, as well as the imposing residence of the current governor. Signs exult, “Tree City”. Oxymoronic, to be sure, but I’m grateful for every monarch of old, waving leafily, dreamily above my sheltering car.
When you drive shadowed south Jersey roadways, you course along beside pristine sugar sand. Here and there will be spurts of blinding ferns despite apparent lack of water. This year, you’ll read Smokey Bear signs with exclamation points after the single word “WILDFIRE!”, where fire danger used to be listed as low, medium or high. When you drive shadowed roadways west, you see gleaming silos like cathedrals in the distance. White horses and black-and-white cattle stand so peacefully, lessons in tranquillity. Red barns and redder farmhouses rise like exclamation points in the surrounding text of crops. You’ll clunk over a white covered bridge (as in Sergeantsville).
If I’m lucky, I can take dappled roads BOTH into and out of Sergeantsville, coming and going from my shadow-quest.
Shade will bless you as you pass any number of Washington’s Headquarters, perhaps pondering the fate of America without those stony shrines and their plain but brilliant occupant during the 1770’s and 80’s…
The edges of dappled roads could have been embroidered. This morning, bright sturdy chicory lined my path all the way to Stockton, like blue French knots embroidered by impeccable seamstresses. Here and there, a brook would keep me company, its quiet gleam no match for the bonniness of chicory. Behind the blue ‘knots’, entire fields of white lace, –yes, Queen Anne’s, short and tough yet delicate–, nodded in the half breeze.
An entire field of sunflowers, right west of here on #518, caused homesickness for France, for Arles, for Vincent, sane or mad, but no better chronicler of roadside flowers in the history of art.
Blessed by leaf-flicker, I am far from matters troublous. Weaving through Washington-shrines, I either forget the nightly news, or set it firmly in perspective. Taking the shady roads, I also manage to avoid most who exhibit road rage, although there was one harsh driver at the gas station at dawn for whom the attendant apologized three times. “He is not nice, that one…”
Dappled roads are nice. Good for the soul. Gateways to the beauties of New Jersey of which so many are absolutely unaware, and even the best of us can tend to forget, in hurly burly or in drought.
On dappled roads, embroidered roadways, weekend errands don’t even feel like tasks.
Find the Photographer - Anne Zeman - at her task…
Filed Under (Activism, Animals of the Wild, Destruction, Disaster, Environment, Government, NJ WILD, Nature, Oceans, Politicians, Preservation, protection, water quality, wildness) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 12-06-2011
NJ WILD readers know that my sympathies are with all animals of the wild, by no means limited to New Jersey. You are accustomed to my urging you to pay attention to and support your local land trusts/preservationists, such as D&R Greenway (where I work), Kingston Greenways, Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands (restoring legendary Princeton Nurseries habitat and buildings in Kingston), Friends of Princeton Open Space and Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed.
Defenders of Wildlife, on the national level, so often speaks what I would urge. Here they focus on the subject about which you’ve so often read in these virtual pages: my horror that the world continues to term that volcano of oil in our sacred ocean, ‘a spill’, and its effects upon the turtles.
Sea turtle deaths, see below, are more than three times the annual average!
Our government, basically, has sat on its hands, allowing BP “business as usual”, while turtles perish and fishermen and shrimpers lose their multi-generational livelihoods, and the sea withers.
Now this, from Defenders of Wildlife. What will you do about it?
“All that it takes for evil to happen is for good people to do nothing…”
Double Trouble for Sea Turtles
Last year’s devastating Deepwater Horizon disaster was a serious blow for sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. But the catastrophe for the sea turtles hasn’t ended yet.
Already this year, more than 340 dead sea turtles have washed ashore on the Gulf Coast — more than three times the annual average — and the death toll is likely to be much higher. Signs point to shrimp fishing as a likely cause for the spike in deaths — perhaps combined with the lingering effects of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Yet the government has not taken action to save these animals struggling to survive. Defenders and our conservation partners have launched a lifesaving lawsuit to protect sea turtles, but federal officials need to hear from you.
Take action now: Urge the National Marine Fisheries Service to enforce lifesaving protections for threatened and endangered sea turtles in the Gulf.
Filed Under (Agriculture, Bucks County, Farmers, Farmland, Farms, Garden State, Harvest, Jersey Fresh, Local Food, Nature, Nature Writing, New Jersey, New Jersey Pine Barrens, Oceans) by Carolyn Foote Edelmann on 07-06-2011
EXCURSION TO THE BARRENS
I like to watch old farms wake up
ground fog furling within the turned furrows
as dew-drenched tendrils of some new crop
lift toward dawn
three solid horses bumble
along the split-rail fence
one rusting tractor pulsing
at the field’s hem
just over the horizon
the invisible ocean
paints white wisps
all along the Pinelands’
blank blue canvas
as gulls intensely circle
this tractor driver’s
frayed straw hat
from rotund ex-school buses
long green rows suddenly peppered
by their vivid headgear
as they bend and bend again
to sever Jersey’s bright asparagus
some of which I’ll buy
just up ahead
at the unattended farm stand
slipping folded dollars
into the ‘Honor Box’
before driving so reluctantly
away from this region called ‘Barren’
where people and harvests
still move to seasons and tides
CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN
This old farm is Hobler Park, Great Road and 518, Blawenburg
That at the top is a Bucks County Barn
I work in Robert Wood Johnson’s working barn, D&R Greenway Land Trust off Rosedale Road in Princeton
Johnson Education Center, D&R Greenway Land Trust
Bill Rawlyk (Hunterdon County) Farm Blueberries in
D&R Greenway’s Pergola, Summer 2009
There is NO SUCH THING as TOO MANY FARMS!
SAVE GARDEN STATE FARMLAND!