HALLOWE’EN ~ SPOOKINESS WITHOUT COSTUMES

Bennington Historic Mansion, Dressed for Hallowe’en

Bennington Spectre late Oct. 2014 Williamstown trip

Perversely, I returned to the Berkshires for the Anniversary of Sandy-the-Hurricane, by any other name.  There I was marooned, two years ago, forfended by tree-strewn roadways, lacks of electricity and gasoline, and, frankly, long-continuing storm, from returning to Princeton.  Where, as it turns out, after, finally, a gruelling 10-hour drive, there was no power in the house here, yet again.  Somehow, I needed to re-experience Williamstown without a hurricane – which, yes, reached even there, darkening nearby North Adams.

SNor'easter Skies late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

View From Window of Cozy Corner Motel, Williamstown, toward Shrouded Berkshires

“Best-laid plans of mice and men, gang aft agley…”  The anniversary trip involved what seems to have been a six-day Nor’easter.  I remember when they used to be called 3-day blows.

Agandoned Factory Nor'easter October 2014 Williamstown 001

Faded Glory on Water Street, Williamstown

Oddly enough, though we did manage hikes and beaucoup art, and some sunlight, many of the pictures look worse, weather-wise, than I remember.  In fact, spooky.  What do you think?

Glory of Yesteryear late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

Glory of Yesteryear, Once-Essential Chimney, Williamstown

Factory Windows late Oct. 2014 Williamstown 002

Venerable Factory Windows

No Touchdowns Today Williams College Field in Nor'easter

No Touchdowns Today — Williams College Field in Nor’easter

Where Are The Players of Yesteryear late Oct. 2014 Williams College

Where Are The Players of Yesteryear — Williams College Field

Chef's Hat Breakfast Haven late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

Chef’s Hat Breakfast Refuge, Williamstown

Not About To Take Off Greylock and Williamstown airport

Not About to Take Off, Williamstown Airport and Mt. Greylock

We boldly ascended Mt. Greylock that afternoon, the peak that purportedly inspired Herman Melville, who lived near another flank of this mountain, to write Moby Dick.  I must confess, I could live near Greylock for any number of decades without writing anything about the sea, let alone a masterpiece…

Overlook Trail Greylock Summit late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

Overlook Trail, Mt. Greylock, Nor’easter Days

Greylock Summit Noreaster Days late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

Summit View, Greylock

Mt. Greylock Tower late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

Greylock Tower, Berkshires

Greylock Vista Noreaster late Oct. 2014 Williamstown

Weather Systems, Mt. Greylock Summit, Berkshires

Survivor late Oct. 2014 Williamstown Nor'easter Days

SURVIVOR – House of Noble Heritage, Williamstown

What Stories They Could Tell late Oct. 2014 Williamstown 003

What Stories These Windows Could Tell

Promise of Change late Oct. 2014 Williamstown0

Promise of Change, View From Cozy Corner Motel, Williamstown

Glowing Through the Storm Williamstown

Glowing Through The Storm — Cozy Corner View of Autumn and Tumultuous Brook

KAYAKING AUTUMN’S FINALE

October now.

latest ever kayaked November 23 — Will we get out on the water in the month about to be born?

Meanwhile, for NJWILDBEAUTY readers, here are sketch notes of Saturday’s kayaking, thanks to splendid Steve of Princeton Canoe and Kayak at Alexander Road.

Ilene Dube, who launched me as a blogger with NJWILD at the Packet, had suggested we try for it, weather permitting.  It did and we did.

Kayaking – Autumn Finale

Muted tones

Superb fellowship

Magnificent contrast of dark and light, gliding under the towpath and out into canal.

towpath ‘tunnel’ accentuated almost blinding effect of thousands of gold maple leaves, crisped and curled, newly afloat on bruise-dark water.  In all those perfectly designed points of all those leaves, bubbles of water seemed captured, set like jewels.  Crisp, gold, points     Soft round bubbles   Each bubble held its own rainbow     all accentuated under Alexander Road Bridge

Canal water serene, yet almost scowlingly dark

Brooding sky

1 fishermen, no fish    “What did you catch?”  “Nothing today.”

Not one turtle

Not a fish ring nor leap

No flowers anywhere

The frail mauve of sedum everywhere last time has been diluted by time and the season — somewhere between lavender fields past their prime and ashes of old fire on New England hearth

Bittersweet’s red/gold ornaments dangle from canalside trees, so that we can kayak through their tendrils

Tiny wind-driven wavelets hither and yon, what New Englanders call “williwaws”

Suddenly, the ‘bright-eyed’ Ilene spots a deer, lying down, peacefully, in canalside grasses, big dark eyes like chestnuts for the roasting.  It makes a strange sound as she paddles nearer.  “Do deer sneeze?”

Odd ominous taxicab-yellow curved pipes on either side of the deer, right alongside the canal — on their sides are letters spelling PETROLEUM

GOOD silent (!) canoeists glide by, skilled as Indians

so many people out on towpath, on foot, on bikes    many wave and smile with such connection as we paddle by

pure silence

peace

occluded sky paints surface of the slate-colored water

now well south of Alexander — nothing human but our craft and paddles

so beautiful out here, my companion murmurs, I just want to stay forever, curl up, sleep on the water, wake to this

my kayak bumps over something hard and soft at once     I laugh and say, “I’m glad we don’t have alligators here…”    (which were everywhere during my Savannah year, and everyone warned me, “Don’t go near the water!”

maple leaves look cut by very sharp scissors from very substantial gold foils

beside my prow, a rosary of bubbles — fish?  turtle?

no birds

Ilene, former Princeton Packet Editor, is a specialist in art in her current writing.  This entire afternoon, we’ve been gliding through Impressionism

hope not final kayak of 2014…

OWL THOUGHTS — 6 p.m. POLE FARM OCTOBER

Great Horned Owl by Brenda Jones

Great Horned Owl by Brenda Jones

(with honor to splendid poet, Joy Harjo)

 

OWL THOUGHTS

 

she heard some owls

who were distant and peremptory

and would not be gainsaid

 

she was searching

for the harrier

a fox

sight or sound of coyote

(though scat would do)

the black bear of last Monday

 

it was dusk

sun swallowed

only tatters

of a pewter sky

 

owl murmurs

filled forests

as light

had washed the sky

 

Carolyn Foote Edelmann

October 16, 2014

RARITIES IN RAIN — ISLAND BEACH IN NOR’EASTER

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that I run to nature every chance I get.  Here is a (mostly) photo essay on being at Island Beach in a Nor’easter none of us realized was our fate.

It was a day of beauty, drama, and rarities.  But, above all, of fellowship, as Mary Penney’s picture of Jeanette Hooban and Bill Rawlyk attests.

Fellowship in Nor'easter by Mary Penney

Fellowship in Nor’easter by Mary Penney

This was taken at storm height on the Atlantic side, where we could barely stand some of the time.  However, above our heads, merlins headed over and over toward the highest waves, where wind was wildest.  These aerodynamic masters made abrupt U-turns over buffeted waves, then allowed themselves to be flung back across this exquisite barrier island.

The merlins were neither feeding nor forming for migration.  They were playing.  So were we!

Flags Whipping at Entry to Island Beach  Noreaster full blast

Flags Whipping at Entry to Island Beach == Noreaster full blast

Another title for this image is “O, Say Can You See?”  We could

(1) see tattered Old Glory;

(2) see increasingly occluded skies;

(3) see hundreds of swallows filling those skies;

4) barely see through our glasses or salt-coated optics, in fact barely see through our eyes.

Looking out rain-soaked car window to three friends heading out through tallest dunes at road's end

Looking out rain-soaked car window to three friends heading out through tallest dunes at road’s end

Two of the three are barely visible on either side of one of the warning posts.

GPS shows road's end at land's end

GPS shows road’s end at land’s end

I am a collector of land’s ends, and this is one of my favorites.

When you walk through these dunes on a normal day, Barnegat Light presides across its turbulent inlet, far in the distance.  Not this day!

Friends Return from Land's End Walk

Friends Return from Land’s End Walk

 

Heading Nor'east in the Nor'easter, toward the Atlantic with reputed ten-foot waves

Heading Nor’east in the Nor’easter, toward the Atlantic with reputed ten-foot waves

 

Note that boardwalk ends abruptly, having been chewed by Sandy.  All three of my friends righted Nor’easter-downed poles that mark the route of the proposed completion of boardwalk.

 

Compass Grass Draws Nor'easter Circles on the drenched sand

Compass Grass Draws Nor’easter Circles on the drenched sand

 

Artemesia - the Dune-Saver

Artemesia – the Dune-Saver

Seeds for this plant purportedly first arrived upon the sands of our country, having been carried in holds of clipper ships.  When ships foundered, boards floated ashore, carrying artemesia.  That was the Cape Cod story in ’70’s.

 

What Naturalists do in Nor'easters

What Naturalists do in Nor’easters

 

Survival Tactics

 

Nor'easter-whipped spume

 Spume, Wind-Driven, Rolls Down the Beach

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Contemplation of the Infinite

Contemplation of the Infinite

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Scant Protection at Extreme Northeast, Island Beach

Scant Protection at Extreme Northeast, Island Beach

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Boardwalk to Barnegat Bayside

Boardwalk to Barnegat Bayside

 

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No Personal Watercraft

No Personal Watercraft

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Barnegat Bay in Nor'easter

Barnegat Bay in Nor’easter

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Beach Access Reality

Beach Access Denied — Since Sandy

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Hunkered Down, Atlantic Side

Hunkered Down, Atlantic Side

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Bayberry Autumn, Atlantic Side

Bayberry Autumn, Atlantic Side

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Wild Rose Hips, Atlantic Side

Wild Rose Hips, Atlantic Side

 

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Hudsonia Grove, Atlantic Side

Hudsonia Grove, Atlantic Side

This is a very rare natural native beach plant that will have tiny yellow flowers in spring.  It is thriving in this storm.

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'Gimme Shelter' - Interpretive Center, Atlantic Side

‘Gimme Shelter’ – Interpretive Center, Atlantic Side

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Alone With the Storm

Alone With the Storm

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No Vehicles Past This Point

No Vehicles Past This Point

 

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Nor'easter Intrepids

The Intrepids

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As you can see, Island Beach, “The Natural”, New Jersey’s true “Jersey Strong”, is perfectly designed to withstand storms.

Sometimes, humans are, too.

Swallows Play in the Nor'easter

Swallows Play in the Nor’easter

My camera is not powerful enough to point out all those tree swallows.  But they were everywhere in the air, like pepper on a roast.

Remember that barrier beaches were meant to be barriers, not dwelling-places!

This preserve was saved by farsighted people, after the Great Depression wrote ‘fini’ to major resort development.

Preserve every bit of open New Jersey space.  Our future, and that of the planet, depends upon open space.

A QUESTION OF VALLEYS

Delaware River image 1 green hills

Delaware River Valley

A QUESTION OF VALLEYS

Throughout most of Robert Macfarlane’s books on old ways and wild places, I’m right there with him. But I part ways with this adventuresome author, –quite literally–, when he speaks of the capacity of valleys to “shock our thoughts.” Macfarlane’s idea of a valley involves “cresting a ridge,” and “significant dropping away of the ground” at his feet.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone 1

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

It surprises me to disagree with this powerful, experienced, eloquent writer. I’ve ‘journeyed’ with him for weeks now, learning not only amazing trails in Scotland and Ireland mostly, but also a string of new vocabulary words to equal my year in Provence. I honor Macfarlane and yet I beg to differ as to the meaning and effect of valleys.

Goat Hill View of Delaware River Valley Brenda Jones

Goat Hill Preserve View of Delaware looking north, by Brenda Jones

The last thing that comes to my mind concerning valleys is edges or crests.
I do rejoice in his emphasis on valleys’ capacity. What would be my valley words?
wide / broad
deep / profound
often wooded,
comforting
welcoming
enveloping
gentling
soothing
often blessed by waterfalls
laved by streams, sometimes invisible, even inaudible.
silence except for birdsong, and/or breezes in treetops
secluded
subtle
places of solitude
rich in grandeur

Materhorn reflected

Materhorn Valley

I feel wrapped by every valley I revisit in memory.

Hopewell Valley Paintking by Joe Kaziemierczyk

Hopewell Valley from St. Michaels Preserve

by Joe Kazimierczyk

Macfarlane’s “edge-dropping-off” phenomenon was the harsh reality in Provence’s Gorge du Verdon. I drove it, –rather well, actually–, but there was no welcoming atmosphere, such as suffuses me in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge.

Gorges du Verdon Valley 1

Gorge du Verdon, Provence, France

 

Even studded with trees and tumbled with rocks, the valleys I’ve hiked and kayaked have been hushed.

Delaware River Kayaking at Bulls Island

Kayaking the Delaware River North from Bull’s Island

I seek valleys as antidotes to our harsh world, this arena of bustle, noise and harm

Maroon Bells storm

Maroon Bells Valley, which I’ve known only on skis

In the depths of valleys, light trickles in like sunrays pouring from distant cumulus clouds. It’s something about light juxtaposed with darkness, and its effect on me is uplift, otherwise known as hope.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone with rainbow

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone With Rainbow

Valleys cradle life: In certain seasons, in certain valleys, salmon splash and writhe en route to natal sites. Eggs will be released in pristine pools, above glistening pebbles, in soundless eddies of whatever waterway blesses that valley.

Oregon Columbia River Gorge from Cascade Locks

Columbia River Gorge, May 2014, by Carolyn Foote Edelmann

Remoteness and stillness are essential for this recurring miracle. Along their way, creatures from ospreys to eagles to bears, and God knows how many microbes, will have been nourished, while the sapping away of salmon essence nourishes towering trees.

Indian fishing for spring chinook in Oregon Des Chutes and White River trip, May 2014 006

Indian Fishing The Old Ways, Des Chutes River, near Columbia

Oregon 2014 by Carolyn Foote Edelmann

Some valleys, such as the Columbia and its tributaries, belong to the Indians, their ancient ways and skills.

Tying the Net Spring Chinook Run along Oregon Des Chutes and White River trip, May 2014 010

Tying the Net, Des Chutes River

Oregon, 2014 by Carolyn Foote Edelmann

“Valley” has a somewhat different meaning in our Hopewell Valle, our Delaware River Valley. Here, ‘the Valley’ is something to be protected at all costs, both land and water. At D&R Greenway we have worked day and night, since 1989, –protesting, writing, negotiating, funding, pondering, discussing, acting, publicizing, celebrating, even literally building trails and weeding, then planting the natives of the Delaware Valley. We create art and science events to call attention to the urgency of preserving these valleys and their sacred waterways, in perpetuity. We were founded to save waters and lands of the Delaware & Raritan Canal. We’re now in seven counties, including the lands and waters of the sacred Delaware Bay, guarding the watershed, of that essential River, and the sea to which she journeys.

Table View Black Bass Autumn 2010

View of Delaware Valley from Table at Black Bass Inn

by Carolyn Foote Edelmann

In the 1980’s, a broad array of people from New Jersey and Pennsylvania fought and lost the battle to prevent “The Pump” from removing 200 million gallons a day from our tidal river. We did succeed in lowering the amount of water taken daily, to cool a nuclear plant on the Susquehanna. It is hard to hold full gratitude and pride for a partial victory. But the Delaware, creator of this valley, thrives because of those efforts. Some of its reaches have been officially named “wild and scenic.” Some of its reaches welcome the holy shad each April, on their run to their natal territories.

Delaware's Watery Beauty, Spring

Peaceful Delaware River Spring from Bull’s Island

by Carolyn Foote Edelmann

Once, hiking in bathing suits and bare feet, my family climbed down a Jamaican valley, accompanied by a blithe waterfall. At the bottom, we sat for timeless time, in the salt sea, blessed by the freshwater falls. That startling juxtaposition remains rare. That Jamaica valley recedes into mythic time. But the blending of salt and fresh takes place each day in our Delaware, all the way up to Trenton. One spring, a whale demonstrated this reality by coming so far after shad in the spring that it could be seen at the Scenic Observatory on Route 295 adjacent to Trenton.

East Point  The Beckoning   Delaware Bay

Delaware Bay at East Point Light

Fall 2014, by Carolyn Foote Edelmann

The valleys of memory take many forms. For me, none involves “shock”. Macfarlane is a phenomenal writer, and taking virtual hikes with him enriches my days and nights. Valleys are not, however, about edges dropping away below my feet. Valleys are refuge; valleys are home.

Materhorn Valley image evening

How the Materhorn Valley Shelters at Night

when you’re staying/skiing in Zermatt

Long ago, I fell in love with Robert Frost’s description of woods as “lovely, dark and deep.” Valleys are the true possessors of that description.