WORDPRESS REPORT ON NJWILDBEAUTY READERSHIP IN ITS FIRST YEAR – THANK YOU ALL! – 27 COUNTRIES!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 33 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Heinz Refuge (PA) in Winter — Nature in Midst of Industrial Ruination

Yesterday, December 27th, brought new nature experiences to ‘The Intrepids’.  Bill Rawlyk, Jeanette Hooban and I zoomed down to the Heinz Refuge, below the Philadelphia Airport, in 45 minutes.  Armed with many layers of winter gear, we were amazed to discover not only sun but warmth, upon exiting the car.  Come discover with us, scene-by-scene, beginning inside the rather palatial Visitors Center.

Fox of the Region in Visitors Center Display

Fox of the Region in Visitors Center Display

The rainbow effect is from the plexiglas, which holds many effigies of nature’s creatures, of land and water, and sometimes both, which one might find while wandering Heinz Refuge.  Often, the three of us caught welcome whiffs of fox territorial markings, during our hours on the trail.

Welcome Sign Near Visitors' Center

Welcome Sign Near Visitors’ Center

Mica Rocks of Pennsylvania - We're not in New Jersey Any More...

Mica Rocks of Pennsylvania – We’re not in New Jersey Any More…

No Refuge from the Pipeline in Pennsylvania

No Refuge from the Pipeline in Pennsylvania

Pipeline -- Beware -- Everywhere we turned at this point...

Pipeline — Beware — Everywhere we turned at this point…

Pipeline -- No Escape

Pipeline — No Escape

Pipeline Warning -- well, you get the picture...

Pipeline Warning — well, you get the picture…

Riverine Still LIfe

Riverine Still LIfe

Mud Preserves Bird Heiroglyphics

Mud Preserves Bird Heiroglyphics

Reading the Tales of Heron Tracks

Reading the Tales of Heron Tracks

Low Tide at Heinz Refuge

Low Tide at Heinz Refuge

Bountiful Banks, Heinz Refuge

Bountiful Banks, Heinz Refuge

Winter's Wildflowers, Heinz Refuge

Winter’s Wildflowers, Heinz Refuge

Osprey Painting, LIfe-Size, along Boardwalk Across Impoundment

Osprey Painting, LIfe-Size, along Boardwalk Across Impoundment

Eagle Painting, Boardwalk

Eagle Painting, Boardwalk

We would be treated to an immature bald eagle, hunt-coasting over the impoundment, which of course generated flight in every duck on that water.

Male Shoveler on Impoundment

Male Shoveler on Impoundment

Ducks are quite wary here, perhaps because of constant noise of airplanes overhead, trains approaching and departing and hooting, and this day, frequent muffled nearby gunfire, for it is hunting season.  That shoveler is all alone, over to the right in the shadow of bare trees.

Ducks Sheltering in the lee of the shore -- shoveler males and females

Ducks Sheltering in the lee of the shore — shoveler males and females

Nests of Winter

Nests of Winter

Nest of Winter

Nest of Winter

Each Nest is that of a Different Species

Each Nest is that of a Different Species

We Decided we were 'Nesting', more than Birding this Day

We Decided we were ‘Nesting’, more than Birding this Day

Sculptural Tree, Eerily Resembling Andrew Wyeth Watercolor We Would See during our Afternoon at Brandywine River Museum

Sculptural Tree, Eerily Resembling Andrew Wyeth Watercolor We Would See during our Afternoon at Brandywine River Museum

Tidal Creek View South

Tidal Creek View South

Sign Describing Heinz Refuge

Sign Describing Heinz Refuge

Sign Inside Visitors Center -- Bountiful Sunshine this Day

Sign Inside Visitors Center — Bountiful Sunshine this Day

PROVENCAL CHRISTMAS EVE – My Story in Princeton Packet on Midnight Mass in Cannes

Provencal Creche and Evergreens on French Table back in Princeton

Provencal Creche and Evergreens on French Table back in Princeton

In Provence, the real Christmas

Sharing a special holiday ritual in France

DATE POSTED: Tuesday, December 23, 2014 11:17 PM EST  The Princeton Packet

By Carolyn Foote Edelmann

Provence to see the seasons round. “But, Carolyn, you’ll be lonely!” “You with your two years of college French!” “The French will never invite you into their homes.” And so forth.

I paid no attention, as I wasn’t going to the south of France to be invited into homes. All my life I had wanted to be a resident in what has always felt my real country. The country was my goal. And, as it turned out, the nay sayers were wrong.

Take Christmas Eve. The year is 1987. As I walk across the crest of Observatoire Hill, high above Cannes, the night is bright, colder than I expected. The dark sky is nearly blinding, Vincent’s “Starry, Starry Night” seemed all around me, coming to more and more intense life.

I had been invited to my neighbors’ for that special time. They were a young and merry family in all seasons, from my first fall days on the hill, we had taken full and casual delight in one another’s company.

This night, I would not only share their Christmas Eve meal, we also would open presents together, beside their Christmas tree (or “sapin de Noel,”) quietly resplendent with its handmade ornaments. The boy and girl were fully a part of every aspect of those rituals.

The purpose of my presence was not only to share the sacredness of these home rituals. At a certain moment, we bundled ourselves warmly, and the father drove us all to Le Suquet, the old part of the Cannes the world connects mostly with movies. It’s a high and stony hill, from which watchmen peered over many centuries, especially during 800 years of Saracen invasions. Steep and rocky enough to be defended, high enough to light warning fires that could reach sentinels on the Iles de Lerin off-shore, without Le Suquet all those years, there might not be a Cannes.

A no-nonsense stone church crowns the rocky enclave of old Cannes. We walked from the velvet, nearly absolute darkness of these ancient towns into a nave of nearly blinding light. Votive candles flickered along both sides, leading our eyes to a wall-length “creche,” a Nativity scene created with terra cotta “santons” for which this region is famous.

These figures used to be created in the churches, until the Revolution. I don’t know why that ordeal meant no more santons and creches. But the clever French decided to create their own figures to honor Christmas in their homes. The irst post-Revolution santons were made of cookie dough.It had something to do with danger in people’s gathering in public places in those fiery times. This night, this church was one profoundly connected gathering.

There was a real wood stable, about as big as a breadbox. Mary and Joseph knelt by an empty manger. The requisite donkey and cow and other farm animals of baked clay were artfully placed to create a sense of waiting. Awaiting the birth of the child, outside the creche stable were the bread-maker, the garlic-braider, the aioli-maker, the lavender lady, the herdsman, the basket-weaver and so forth. Each more delightful than the last.

Along the creche hills moved a procession: tawny long-legged camels, their handlers, and, of course, the three kings and assorted servants. The proprietors of nearby Les Baux claim to be descended from the Balthazar of this pilgrimage. We know that stars directed the journey of the kings. They may well have been en route as Mary and Joseph found their way to Bethlehem. In the Cannes church, the reverent Kings were visible, lit and steadily nearing on some sort of motorized walkway. But, even though it was Christmas Eve, there wasn’t what my daughters called “the baby Jesus.”

That church was cavernous and deeply cold. My neighbors had warned me to dress as though for one of my daily hikes, with many layers. The pews were filled with people of all types, dressed in everything from full-length sable to the bleu of the laborer. Perfume mingled with incense. An eager though hushed restlessness stirred from front to back as the hour turned. I was reminded of suddenly riveted attention, as a bridal procession is about to begin.

Altar boys proudly swung censers, so that frankincense purled through the air. More clergy than I’d seen since the Vatican moved toward the altar. Music surrounded us, our seatmates singing carols in French, in Latin and Provencal.

The priests arrayed themselves, backs to the altar, facing the aisle. Suddenly, old Provence came to life before my very eyes. Villagers, garbed like the hand-made santons I’d owned since the early 1970s, walked where the clergy had been. The women’s thick quilted skirts belled out just like mine on the shelves at home. Each woman carried — like scepters, like jewels — objects identifying her role in the town. One held a bowl and a whisk; one a cluster of baguettes. One was adorned with a lei of braided fat white succulent garlic.

The women were followed by men. The shepherds wore long tobacco-brown cloaks, with an extra flap along the shoulders. And that night I learned why. The men carried live lambs over their shoulders, resting on those capes. The baker toted a handmade basket, full of his multi-shaped breads. Others held guns, so that the hunt might be blessed. Twosomes bore demijohns of wine, otherspaniers of grapes. Each and every living santon went to the clergy, knelt for the blessing, then took his or her very real offering off to the side, for “the baby Jesus.”

But even that was not the culmination. A cluster of townswomen moved as solemnly as brides, each carrying items of a baby’s layette — handmade, hand-decorated, proudly borne. Behind them walked a young man, carefully cradling the elbow of his even younger wife. In her arms was a baby. A real baby. “Le nouveau-ne” — the newborn — the most recent child of the town.

They, too, knelt at the front, between all the harvest offerings, flanked by the delicate layette. Mass was said and sung in the three languages. When the gospel came to “dans le temps de Cesar Auguste,” chills suffused me.

The mass concluded with exquisite timing. The incense boys turned and recessed toward the back of the church, followed by all those priests. Only the young parents and their amazingly silent infant walked carefully behind them. They all went over to the wall-sized creche. The priest who had said mass blessed the real infant in its mother’s arms. Then Father took something from the head altar boy — the Infant Jesus, “le nouveau-ne,” this one made of clay — as are all humans, come to think of it. Tower bells pealed, exactly as the terra cotta child was settled into its manger, lined with real straw provided by real shepherds.

Interestingly, the carol we sang then was “Un Flambeau, Jeanette, Isabella,” — “Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella.” We were each metaphorically carrying the torch of wonder to that cradle. My dear neighbor turned to me with a very special grin, her name being Jeanette.

Provencal Madonna and Roman Mosaic of Madonna, Provencal Doorways, on table back in Princeton

Provencal Madonna and Roman Mosaic of Madonna, Provencal Doorways, on table back in Princeton

Lawrenceville Fire Company, Perennial Gift to the Community

As NJWILDBEAUTY readers know, I have recently moved to Lawrenceville, to a peaceful community called Society Hill, tucked up and away from the tiny town, and named for the Society of Friends.  As in Quakers, who filled this region and served it well, back even before our Revolution.

On voting days, I can walk to our polls, in the Lawrenceville Fire Company’s building .  Station 23 it is, and 23 is the number of my house.  Good omen.  203 was my number at Canal Pointe, and 2003 all my high school years on Northwood Boulevard in Royal Oak Michigan.

It’s always festive when I vote in my new place, because it takes place among these true friends, those who protect our community by day and by night, who polish up their phenomenal trucks and other vehicles, and stand them, gleaming, outside as we arrive to cast our ballots.

I wasn’t even well on the most recent voting day.  I thought I might not even be able to utilize that phenomenal rite, for which our Founding Fathers, often deliberating here and near here, pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

Feeble as I felt, mid-morning I asked myself, for some reason, “well who are you, what defines you?”

One answer turned out to be that I write a blog about New Jersey and nature.  So I did that, that morning.

And what else am I, who else am I?

An American who votes.

So I went down to The Lawrenceville Fire Company and chose, among others, Bonnie Watson Coleman, whose splendid brother, Jay, is our vice president at D&R Greenway Land Trust, saving nature in New Jersey.

Who else am I?

A photographer.

So while I was down at the fire station, I took pictures.  Below is the Fire Company’s own picture.  I urge you to think of them now, at Christmastime.  Think how they leap into the fray, whenever flames appear — and how they advise us about such things as fire extinguishers and generously watering the Christmas tree. Think and get out your checkbook, and write them a thank you check.

Meanwhile, I think their vehicles look like Christmas.  Enjoy!

Lawrenceville Antique Fire EngineLawrenceville Fire Company
Mercer County Station 23
Address: 64 Phillips Ave, 08648
Phone: (609) 896-0972
“Protecting the North Since 1915”

Welcoming Doorway, Lawrenceville Fire Company

Welcoming Doorway, Lawrenceville Fire Company

A safe and honorable place to bring tattered flags

A safe and honorable place to bring tattered flags

We've come a long way with firefighting equipment

We’ve come a long way with firefighting equipment

Water rescue equipment

Water rescue equipment

Insignia of Honor

Insignia of Honor

Brush 23

Brush 23

The latest and the greatest...

The latest and the greatest…

How It Used To Be

How It Used To Be

Honorable Uniform, Ever at the Ready

Honorable Uniform, Ever at the Ready

Lawrencevillie Station 23

Lawrencevillie Station 23

Pride and Joy of the Crew

Pride and Joy of the Crew

Ready for Anything

Ready for Anything

RESCUE

RESCUE

Tools of the Trade

Tools of the Trade

Badge of Heroism

Badge of Heroism  re 9/11

The Power and The Glory

The Power and The Glory

God is in the Details

God is in the Details

This Simple Plaque Tells Their Story

Lawrenceville Fire Department 010

The first time I voted here, the department was called to a fire.  Here we all were, voting away, and there came the men, calmly hurrying, dashing into those uniforms we came to revere over and over during 9/11, climbing on to the polished trucks that had been all out on the sidewalk for us to admire.  Silently, surely, they whooshed away.

I asked, “Do you do this every time we vote?”

Smiles all around.

That day and this healing day, of capturing their luminous equipment, I felt so very proud to be American.

THE GREAT CHOUCROUTE GARNIE CHALLENGE

Provencal Christmas Creche 2014

Provencal Christmas Creche 2014

Some of my NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that I lived the seasons round in Provence in 1987/88.  Around the time of my Thanksgiving birthday, all the excitement in the rues surrounding the Cannes Marche had to do with the Alsatian specialite, Choucroute Garnie.  Signs threaded the byways that circled the market, emblazoned, “LA CHOUCROUTE GARNIE EST ARRIVEE!!!”  (Choucroute means sauerkraut, and Garnie means garnished, as with meats.)

In the streets outside the market were imposing metal containers, in which the just-arrived sauerkraut with sausage masterpiece was enthroned and simmering.  In my halting French, with my midwestern-teacher’s accent, I managed to have the most interesting proprietor prepare a take-home container.  It was done with such pride, such ceremony, you’d have thought he was ladling with sterling onto heirloom china.  The proprietor steered me to the best local wine provider, also on that side-rue, so that they could give me the best Riesling to accompany his chef d’oeuvre.

At home, in my tiny, heatless Cannes apartment, I ladled out cabbage and sausages, carried it to the Provencal-quilt-covered table on my minuscule balcony.  I went back in for the Riesling and a wineglass.  I poured that nectar very slowly, watching it reflect the Mediterranean shimmering below.  It was warm on the November balcony.  A slight breeze ruffled the wild herbs from the garrigue which somehow thrived in my balcony window-boxes.  These wind-visits carried with them the essence of wild thyme and sage and rosemary, mingled with sea air.

I remember being surprised at how light the choucroute was, and that I liked the somewhat sweet wine that is its essential accompaniment.

In October, here, in 2014, I was suddenly overcome by choucroute nostalgia.  I called six brave friends, two of whom are our regions Ur-food-critics.  I told them, I have to do this.  I described the dish, which always loses everything in translation.  I said, “I’ve only tasted it once and made it never.  Would you come and eat it with me?”

Every single one said an eager yes.  One knew immediately, “I’ll bring rye bread.”  I’ve not been in Alsace so I’ve never asked why, but rye is the only acceptable bread with choucroute.  One agreed, bravely, to make a winemaker’s tart – specialty of the grape harvest in France.  It has a sweet crust, a custard filling, and is studded with what should be the ripest grapes of the current year.  We’re a little lacking in that particular ingredient.  The others volunteered to go to their favorite wine providers here, say “choucroute” and see what happened.

Heating the Riesling with the Spices and Herbs

Heating the Riesling with the Spices and Herbs

Sunday, December 14, was the day of the great choucroute challenge.  I’ve now dubbed my formidable friends, “La Confrerie de la Choucroute.”  (Not all my NJWILDBEAUTY adventures are outdoors…) My friends assembled promptly at 2:30, bearing their specialties.

The Table Awaits...

The Table Awaits…

We began with the sprightly German champagne from Trader Joe’s, Schloss Bieber.  With it, was served a hearty terrine from Brick Farm Market.  It was of pork and lamb — there wouldn’t have been lamb in the Alsatian version.  It was rosy and succulent, studded with fresh green pistachios.  Another dear friend had given me pickled fiddlehead ferns for my birthday, so we savored those instead of traditional gherkins and tiny pickled onions.

Brick Farm Terrine and Fiddlehead Ferns, taken by Faith Bahadurian

Brick Farm Terrine and Fiddlehead Ferns, taken by Faith Bahadurian

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, the choucroute simmered merrily.

Choucroute about to be put into oven

Choucroute about to be put into oven

It’s more of a technique than a recipe.  I’ll try to recreate it, because, with the help of the Pennsylvania Dutch Farm Market in Kingston/Kendall Park, this magnificent signature dish which absolutely defines that region can be successfully made in America.  And it’s not that hard.  Worrying about whether I might ruin it or not was far harder than just making it.

Buy meats at the PADFM — thick slab bacon, a ham hock, and knockwurst from the smoker right inside the front door.  Buy the plainest sausages (no apples, no chorizo, nothing trendy) — I bought sage and pork, and what I think they called brackwurst — it wasn’t white like the brafwurst I usually get there.  They were rough peasant sausages, and that is what’s called for.

Choucroute Meats on Royal Copenhagen, taken by Faith Bahadurian

Choucroute Meats on Royal Copenhagen, taken by Faith Bahadurian

Buy sauerkraut from the pickle-and-olive man — my recipe for eight called for three pounds, but that didn’t look like quite enough, so I did three and a half pounds.  I checked with him about rinsing the sauerkraut, which my American recipes required.  The French did not seem to get into that, but maybe they think everyone knows. I said, “I don’t want to ruin your wonderful sauerkraut,” as his (probably) grandson, with blonde hair yes in a Dutch boy cut was ladling my order.  “No!,” the elder insisted, “Rinse it!”

Choucroute with Spices

Choucroute with Spices – Dark Bits are Juniper Berries — essential item

I actually cooked the choucroute on Friday for three of the six hours it requires.  I just wanted part of it behind me.

Rinse cabbage and press to drain.

Saute four large yellow onions in bacon fat – I did this in large flat pan in oven with the slab bacon slices, so they rendered their fat and browned the onions.

Mix onions when golden but not dark, with cabbage.

Put layer of cabbage in bottom of crock pot or heavy casserole.

Put smoked ham hock in middle, and ring with knockwurst.  I should have had two of this hefty sausage, and could have used a larger ham hock.  But quantities are not the point here — marrying of flavors is all that matters.

Meanwhile, I was browning all the other sausages in bacon fat in a pan in the oven.  Then I cut those into chunks, but I had not cut knockwurst or ham hock.  I mixed the chunks with the rest of the sauerkraut and put that on top of the first layer and that ham hock and knockwurst.

The bacon slices were beautiful, like antique wood, wide and rich and dark.  I ringed the sauerkraut with them.

I couldn’t figure out, from any of the recipes, how the spices were going to infuse everything.  So I put them in the Riesling (for cooking I bought Ullrich Langguth Riesling from Trader Joe’s — “made from 100% very mature Riesling grapes — fruity, elegant, refreshing acidity” – says the label), in a saucepan and heated just to the simmer for about five minutes.  I poured that concoction immediately over the casserole.

My ingredients come from an array of recipes in French and in English — in effect, juniper berries are the heart of the matter.  I’ve just moved to Juniper Court, so this felt most appropriate.  Some recipes counted the berries and some measured.  You could say 2 tablespoons of juniper berries; 1 tablespoon each of whole black peppercorns and whole cloves or allspice.  Some recipes call for both – that might have been a bit much of that taste.  I put in 6 garlic cloves, cut very thin.  Cumin and coriander are usually part of this, and my new landlord, from India, tells me they help with digestion of meats.  For my recipe for 8, two tsps. ground coriander and two tsps. ground cumin were fine, not overpowering.  I bought those spices at Brick Farm Market, so they were very fresh.  I had inferior bay leaves — nothing equals Williams Sonoma bay leaf wreaths, and I don’t see them this year.  So I used six bay leaves.

This with a lid went into the crock pot on high until it boiled, and I don’t know how long that took; then on low until three hours had passed.  This went into the refrigerator when cool enough.

On Sunday, I took it out at noon and put it in the oven at 350 until it boiled, then on 225, until we reached the three-hour point.

Willm Riesling, from Faith Bahadurian, by Faith Bahadurian

Willm Riesling, from Faith Bahadurian, by Faith Bahadurian

One friend brought Willm Alsace Riesling Reserve, 2012, which was perfect; another brought Alsace Domaine Bott Freres Riesling 2010, which was also perfect.  Some Rieslings are fruitier than others.  I am no connoisseur, but they did blend and enhance with perfection that astonishing choucroute.  The other bottle of Riesling we did not open — it is Alsace Riesling Hugel.  All three wine purveyors were delighted to play the choucroute game.

Choucroute with Bacon

Choucroute with Bacon

If you want to read an expert on this, check out that marvelous chronicler, R.W. Apple, on his family’s choucroute traditions. I am no expert.  Pardon my inadequacies, as I even attempt to convey the savory, subtle, astonishingly light and digestible, beautifully melded dish that filled our plates.

Choucroute and Meats, Rye Bread, by Faith Bahadurian

Choucroute and Meats, Rye Bread, by Faith Bahadurian

Filled our plates twice, because everyone went back for seconds.  You couldn’t taste those spices individually — alchemy had occurred.

The meats had given over all their succulence to the whole, and yet were tasty and somehow almost airy – when I’d frankly expected heavy.  The choucroute gleamed and glistened, fairly leapt off the plate, after all those hours of cooking.  I couldn’t believe it.

Fini!

Fini!

Americans frequently add tart apples, and that would be good.  I didn’t do so because I wanted to be authentic.

French, not only Alsatians, add steamed small potatoes, red bliss i would think, in this country.  I didn’t do that because I felt it would be too heavy.

These friends are not trenchermen, but wondrously supportive, even outrageous women, perfectly willing to take this chance together.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen them have seconds, come to think of it.

One of us brought the Alsatian winemaker’s tart, which was rustic and beautiful, and carried the theme through delightfully. However, American grapes can’t hold a candle to French, and don’t let anyone tell you they can.

Winemaker's Tart by Pat Tanner, Sugarplums by Faith Bahadurian, taken by Faith Bahadurian

Winemaker’s Tart by Pat Tanner, Sugarplums by Faith Bahadurian, taken by Faith Bahadurian

Faith Bahadurian, who has provided the actual dinner photos, brought sugarplums, which she had made herself!  I’ve never had, but only heard of, sugarplums.  Tiny, rich, dark, intriguing, even a little dangerous (cognac?), they were the perfect climax.  Now we all have ‘visions of sugarplums’.

Visions of... made by Faith Bahadurian, photographed by Faith Bahadurian

Visions of… made by Faith Bahadurian, photographed by Faith Bahadurian

Now imagine, since in Alsace they would have finished the meal with plumliwasser, kirsch, or eau de vie du poire, my visit to the industrial strength Vingo on Route 27, seeking these forms of finale…To their credit, though they clearly thought I was making this up, they checked their computers.  Lo, a young man ultimately arrived bearing a beautiful, jewel-like round and charming bottle:  Belle de Brillet — don’t you love it? – and belle she is.  Liqueur Originale.  Poire Williams au Cognac.  It is not firewater-clear, as is kirsch, as is eau de vie du poire.  It seems that Brillet has been crafting this elixir since 1850.  It is the color of the most luminous honey, only transparent.  I have little Swiss liqueur glasses, from my long-ago marriage. They were our centerpiece.  And they held the Belle de Brillet, to accompany our winemaker’s tart.

I still cannot get over the changes in the sausages, how they enhanced the cabbage.  I have to face it — choucroute is about one of my most cherished concepts — transformation.

And I’m here to tell you that every aspect of this, from light-bulb through phonecalls through research through talking with the sausage lady, the ham hock lady and the sauerkraut man, was a joy.  The cooking was so much easier than I thought, and the sharing paradise.

I didn’t take enough pictures as I was serving.  My guests did.  If they can send them in a form I can save and insert into NJWILDBEAUTY, I’ll do so.

Meanwhile, savor this with us in spirit, and go out and put together your own.  All of the chat rooms I read on this subject seem to imply you can’t go wrong.

HAGLEY MUSEUM AND GROUNDS, IDEAL FAMILY HOLIDAY DESTINATION

Who would think that a trip to an industrial shrine would be a quintessential Holiday journey, as well as a resplendent farewell to Autumn?  Let alone that seemingly endless beauty awaits in this shrine to the duPont’s black powder industry?

Autumn and Relic of Black Powder's Heyday

Autumn and Relic of Black Powder’s Heyday

I made two trips with friends to the Hagley Museum and Library, near Wilmington Delaware, in another November.  The vibrancy of Hagley resounds within me to this day.

Mellow Fruitfulness

Mellow Fruitfulness

I decided to work with these pictures as though hanging Hagley ornaments on a tree for NJWILDBEAUTY readers.  This treasure-site also possesses a fascinating gift shop, rich in items of surpassing beauty, as well as books and other sources of information on this part of America’s industrial heritage.

Hagley's Narrow-Guage Railroad to carry the black powder

Hagley’s Narrow-Guage Railroad to carry the black powder

French who fled the Revolution and its aftermath came to the banks of the Brandywine River, to generate uniformly milled powder for guns in our young nation.

Morning Light on Hagley Building

Morning Light on Hagley Building

I’m not going to tell the story, for they do it all so brilliantly there.

Essence of Hagley Power and Endurance

Essence of Hagley Power and Endurance

Industrial buildings and tools come to life with genial demonstrations.

Essential Water Wheel, bringing smooth-flowing Brandywine River to Mill the Powder

Essential Water Wheel, bringing smooth-flowing Brandywine River to Mill the Powder

Solidity of Hadley Construction

Solidity of Hadley Construction

If Locks Could Speak

If Locks Could Speak

Legacy of the Stonemasons

Legacy of the Stonemasons

The intricacy and beauty, to say nothing of profound durability of the stonework, astounds at every turn.  This would be a geologist’s paradise.

Power Source

Power Source

The mansion sings of three centuries on three levels.and in its gardens.

Hagley's Mansion, which replicates three centuries of duPont inhabitation

Hagley’s Mansion, which replicates three centuries of duPont inhabitation

Hagley Mansion Garlanded For Christmas as it would have been in the time of the duPonts

Hagley Mansion Garlanded For Christmas as it would have been in the time of the duPonts

Oak Leaf Hydrangea at Peak, Hagley Garden

Oak Leaf Hydrangea at Peak, Hagley Garden

Hagley Pumpkins in late light

Hagley Pumpkins in late light

Mansion and November Skies

Mansion and November Skies

Hagley's Restored Garden in November

Hagley’s Restored Garden in November

View from the Mansion, Carefully Sited on Hill to be Far from (frequent) Black Powder Explosions

View from the Mansion, Carefully Sited on Hill to be Far from (frequent) Black Powder Explosions

Brandywine Bridge

Brandywine Bridge

Brandywine Falls

Brandywine Falls

Typical Handsome Hagley Structure

Typical Handsome Hagley Structure

Built for the Ages

Built for the Ages

Late Light on Black Powder Building

Late Light on Black Powder Building

Majestic Structure, Quintessential River

Majestic Structure, Quintessential River

Tracks of Yesteryear

Tracks of Yesteryear

Still Handsome After All These Years

Still Handsome After All These Years

Venerable Wall, Black Powder Building

Venerable Wall, Black Powder Building

Fall and the River

Fall and the River

Just Fallen Oak Leaves

Just Fallen Oak Leaves

Industrial Nobility

Industrial Nobility

One Leaf of Majestic Tree -- I think Sycamore

One Leaf of Majestic Tree — I think Sycamore

Hurtling Brandywine, Impermeable Black Powder Building

Hurtling Brandywine, Impermeable Black Powder Building

Yesterday's Power

Yesterday’s Power

Stone In the Service of Black Powder -- reminding me of an altar...

Stone In the Service of Black Powder — reminding me of an altar…

Stone Masterpiece

Stone Masterpiece

Stone Mondrian

Stone Mondrian

Stone Wall with Moss and Fresh-fallen Leaves

Stone Wall with Moss and Fresh-fallen Leaves

Majestic Wall

Majestic Wall

The Past Speaks

The Past Speaks

Yellow Boxcar of Narrow-Gauge Railway

Yellow Boxcar of Narrow-Gauge Railway

The excursion is best when you take their bus to the top and stroll down, with leisure unknown to the men who ground the black powder, so essential to our young nation.

Strolling Hagley

Strolling Hagley

Hagley Entry Building with Wreath

Hagley Entry Building with Wreath

 Hagley is worthy of the journey for the serene privilege of strolling along the Brandywine alone.

Brandywine Serenity

Brandywine Serenity

November Rose and Brandywine

November Rose and Brandywine

Hagley Wreath in the Style of the DuPonts

Hagley Wreath in the Style of the DuPonts

 

Hagley is located in Greenville, Delaware 19807, about four miles from downtown Wilmington, 30 minutes south of Philadelphia, 90 minutes north of Baltimore, and two hours south of New York City.

GPS Addresses

Museum: 200 Hagley Creek Road, Wilmington, DE 19807

(Please note that many GPS devices and Map Quest will guide you to Hagley’s administrative entrance rather than the museum entrance.  If you find yourself approaching Hagley’s entrance and you go over a speed bump, you’re in the wrong place!  See below for directions from the administrative entrance to the museum entrance.)

Click here for directions to the Museum via Google Maps.

Library, Soda House, and Administration buildings: 298 Buck Road, Wilmington, DE 19807. Click here for directions to the Hagley Library, Soda House, and Administration buildings

Driving Directions to Museum

From the North: Take I-95 South to exit 8B (Rt. 202 Concord Pike/Wilmington); follow approximately one mile to DE RT 141; turn LEFT onto 141 South; at the second light, you must turn RIGHT to stay on 141 South, follow for approximately 2 miles; at the bottom of a long hill, you must turn RIGHT again to stay on 141 South; after crossing bridge watch for Hagley entrance sign on right; make a sharp RIGHT at Hagley sign onto Old Barley Mill Road; the museum entrance is at the bottom of the hill on the LEFT.

From the South: Take I-95 North to Delaware exit 5B (Newport) onto DE RT 141; follow north for 7 miles;  cross through large intersection of RT 141 and RT 100; take next LEFT onto Old Barley Mill Road; the museum entrance is at the bottom of the hill on the LEFT.

If you miss the turn onto Old Barley Mill Road and cross a large bridge and find yourself at the entrance to the DuPont Experimental Station, turn RIGHT at the light, cross an iron truss bridge, turn RIGHT again and follow the river to Hagley’s entrance.

From East (Wilmington): Take RT 52/12th Street NORTH; stay RIGHT when crossing over I-95; 12th Street turns into Pennsylvania Avenue; continue for two miles to Rising Sun Lane, turn RIGHT; at bottom of hill (at River) turn LEFT on to Main Street; follow the river to Hagley’s entrance (about ½ mile)

From West (Longwood Gardens):  Exit Longwood Gardens onto Rt 1 North; follow about ½ mile to Rt 52 S/Kennett Pike, turn RIGHT onto Rt 52; follow 9 miles to Breck’s Lane, turn LEFT onto Brecks Lane; follow to bottom of the hill (the river), turn LEFT onto Main Street; follow river about ½ mile to Hagley’s entrance.

From Library/Administrative Entrance to Museum Entrance: Exit straight out gates and follow to first traffic light (Rt 100), turn LEFT; follow to next traffic light (Rt 141) turn LEFT;  take NEXT LEFT onto Old Barley Mill Road; follow to bottom of the hill; Hagley’s entrance will be on the LEFT.

TRUE FRIENDS – Poem re Henry David Thoreau; Bird List from the Marsh

Sleepy Snowy Owl by Ray Yeager

Sleepy Snowy Owl by Ray Yeager

It’s lovely to think, had I lived in Concord, I might have strolled with Henry round his pond, met the creatures who enlivened his Walden days and nights.

This is a new poem, triggered by my umpteenth reading of Walden.  What a treat it is to plaster and build fires and fish and stride with Henry, far from the hurly burly and gossip he decries, while all the world seems to be swarming into and through malls…

REMEMBER PARTRIDGES?

Henry, in his Walden haven,

called partridges

“my hens and chickens”

praising serene eyes

— open yet filled

“with wisdom clarified by experience”

trusting

in his outstretched human hand

insisting partridge eyes

were “not born when the bird was”

but are “coeval with sky”

Henry hearkens

to partridge “mewings”

the “whinnerrings”

of raccoons

consorts with otter

“big as a small boy”

heading for a summer spring

–cooler than his pond

Henry is ringed and ringed

by the maternal woodcock

pretending broken wing

then leg

if we could follow his instructions:

“You only need sit still

long enough.”

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

December 6, 2014

It’s interesting, in this time of gifts and cards, to attempt to define true friendship.

Right now, true friendship is conveyed by people I slightly know and barely ever see.  Ray Yeager, who sends his newest snowy owl, frisking fox, from Holgate, from Island Beach.

FRisky Fox of Island Beach, early December 2014, by Ray Yeager

Frisky Fox of Island Beach, early December 2014, by Ray Yeager

And Warren Liebensperger, “Godfather of the Marsh,” who called last night with the current bird list from the (Hamilton Trenton Bordentown) Abbott Marshlands:

mute swans

Canada geese

wood ducks

green-winged teal

American black ducks

mallards

northern pintails

northern shovelers

gadwall

American wigeon (this used to be spelled with a ‘d’ and always looks wrong to me)

hooded mergansers

marsh hawk

sharp-shinned

Cooper’s hawk

bald eagle

a lot of coots!

Most of these birds were to the right as you walk into the Abbott Marshlands off Sewell Avenue. According to Warren, there was “nothing in Spring Lake.”  The lake never looked right all summer and fall, choked with insect-riddled yellowing leaves.  I wonder if its ph has changed or what that makes it inhospitable to winter waterfowl.

Warren then, clearly disappointed by the emptiness of the lake, gave me his (near-Marsh) yard bird list:

flickers

robins

marsh wrens, which “they like to call winter wren”

kinglets, mostly golden-crowned

chickadees

cowbirds

white-breasted nuthatch

downy woodpecker

hairy woodpecker

American crows

of course, the juncoes are here

THANK YOU, PROFOUNDLY, RAY AND WARREN, for our friendship, and yours, with the wild creatures.