SUMMERTIME- WHEN THE LIVIN’ WAS EASY… in Lawrenceville

Pool Evergreen Reflections Society Hill

Evergreens Reflected in Pool, Society Hill, Lawrenceville NJ

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that I moved to Lawrenceville in April of 2014.  For awhile, I lived in both places, but finally totally here.  You might not believe that I did not know that Society Hill had a swimming pool.  It took me awhile not only to discover this, including the fact that it is salt water.  But also to be free enough of moving tasks, helped by many splendid friends, finally, literally, to put toes into that healing water.

Admin Bldg Juniper Court Society Hill

Administration Building — Pool HIdden Behind This

After that delightful day, the pool became my refuge, –even immediately after work, not only on weekends. All tensions, any stiffness from time at the computer, even sadness, drained away.  These images only begin to convey the magic of this unexpected gift.

Pool 'My End; Society Hill

Evergreens at Pool, ‘My End’…

Now the Society Hill Pool is by no means Wild New Jersey.  However, on my very first leisurely afternoon with book there, I glanced up to see a great blue heron rowing majestically overhead, over my chair.  Its shadow floated along my being.  Talk about a blessing.

Determined Great Blue Heron by Brenda Jones

Determined Great Blue Heron by Brenda Jones

All summer, I was treated to frequent sail-by’s of vultures, my good-omen birds.  So graceful, you can usually tell time by them — rising with thermals around ten a.m.  As turkey vultures tip/fly, both sunlight and wing direction reveal silver highlights.  I am always delighted by vultures.

Turkey Vulture by Brenda Jones

Turkey Vulture by Brenda Jones

As autumn approached, other majestic birds or flocks of migrant creatures soared overhead.  Most of the time, I was alerted by shadows on the page.

Migrant Flight by Brenda Jones

MIgrant Flight by Brenda Jones — Common Mergansers (not at the pool)

Soon, I would meet friends at the pool, each with our books, all normally entirely too tense, unaccustomed to lounging.  We worked on lounging!  Coursing from one end to the other left all of the cares of the world behind.  Using my replaced hip so effortlessly never ceased to astound.

The water was always the right temperature, refreshing, its saltiness keeping us buoyant in body, mind and spirit.  There was no chlorine stench, nor that powdery chemical residue I always felt upon emerging from our pool on Braeburn Drive.

The water is almost as silky as Pine Barrens peat-water, but this doesn’t (temporarily) tint legs orange, as at Whitesbog or Lake Oswego.

Peat Waters of Lake Oswego, below Chatsworth, The Pine Barrens of New Jersey

Peat Waters of Lake Oswego, below Chatsworth, The Pine Barrens of New Jersey

It’s quiet at the pool.  Sun rises and sets behind tall evergreens.  It’s not exactly fragrant there, but the air smells extraordinarily fresh.

Autumn Day's Wild Farewell Juniper Court

A miracle.  Hard to remember, now, with the greensward outside coated again by ‘Royal Icing’, otherwise known as snowfall.

Dire Beauty -- Canal Point Greensward in Snow January 2015

Dire Beauty — Canal Point Greensward in Snow January 2015

And the rhododendrons clenched.

Clenched Rhododendrons at Absolute Zero, from inside

Clenched Rhododendrons at Absolute Zero, from inside

However, days are subtly lengthening.  Spring always returns.  And I will be able, anew, to read timelessly by the salt pool.

Meanwhile, indoors, spring’s geranium is budding:

Spring Geranium Blooming in the Time of Snows, January, 2015

Spring Geranium Blooming in the Time of Snows, January, 2015

THE JUNO CHRONICLES — The Blizzard of 2015

Snowed Ash Tree

Snowed Ash Tree, Jan. 27, 2015

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that I always feel, and often obey, a mandate imposed by my hero, Henry David Thoreau.: In natural situations, I resonate to the question, “What would Henry do?”  Of course, he’d journal the development of this storm.

So here goes, with no pretensions as to literary merit.

Yesterday (Tuesday, January 26th) driving home from D&R Greenway, I was puzzled to realize that — a mere two blocks from the red barn of the Pole Farm– I could NOT find that bright red barn.  An infinity of tiny whitenesses created snow fog worse than any white-out during ski trips to Zermatt.  Even more amazing, when close enough to see the barn, it HAD NO COLOR!

“Blowing and Drifting Snow”, –infamous in my Minnesota years, zwooshing across those prairies, absolutely obscuring the edges of major highways–, was alive and well and zwooshing along Cold Soil Road.  I am too aware of ditches on both sides of that narrow (seemingly unsalted, unsanded) roadway. The ditches had filled somehow.  Snow coursed, like fat white greedy hands, onto and beyond the so-called shoulder.

The snow reminded me of Royal Icing with which I had had to frost a wedding cake for a British cookbook at Tested Recipe Institute, 500 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan.  Royal Icing hardens irrevocably – and that’s exactly what the Cold Soil snow-icing seemed to have done.  With the wedding cake, [a fruit cake (!)], I had to go on and make roses.  With the Royal Icing of Cold Soil, I only had to make my halting, near-blinded way a few more blocks into Society Hill.

Royal Icing Snow

Royal Icing Snow

Possibly the hardest part of the homeward journey turned out to be the attempt to back into my parking place, with all stripes and of course parking place numbers, covered.  The car’s a little crooked, but, at least, with four-wheel drive, whenever I do essay a journey, I can go safely frontwards.

Midnight Magic Snowstorm 1 2015

Midnight Tree, Snowflakes Catching the Flash]

Fast forward to morning, Tuesday, January 27.  In the night, emergency orders closed New Jersey roads. Snow didn’t look that perilous at various times in the night, but it’s done a grand job of coating everything.  We never had the wild winds.  Our office was supposed to open at noon, but an early call put that to rest for this day.

This is no Nor’easter — ‘my’ snow pours ceaselessly, angling sharply from southwest to northeast, often flat-out sideways.

Snow From Northwest Coats Tree Trunk

Snow From SOUTHWEST Coats Tree Trunk

I ‘screwed my courage to the sticking place” and proceeded to brush off my car and a neighbor’s, [probably the Samaritan who had done the same for my car, last week, anonymously.]  I could STAND on the accumulated snow.  That hasn’t happened since I was ten years old!  I had forgotten how snow dampens clothes — at first it doesn’t melt and you think it doesn’t matter…

Cold Rhododendrons

Cold Rhododendrons

Now the promised “blowing and drifting snow” has arrived with a vengeance.  (It’s around noon.)  At first, great thick swirls, like Isadora scarves, whirled from the roof.  It seemed as though a Giant on the roof had just drunk hot soup, breathing furious gusts out onto the gelid air.  The energy and curvaceousness of the puffs brought back a Renaissance mural at Rome’s Farnese Gallery.  There, a wind god puffed fat cheeks, and white billows scurried across the wall.

Mid=Blizzard

Mid=Blizzard

Then, out in the middle of the ‘greensward’ between my building and the one across the way, a disembodied curtain of snow zoomed across, blotting out the other buildings.  This was like the Nutcracker’s corps de ballet, impersonating not mere snowflakes, but a vertical blizzard, fast-forwarded.

Frosted Conifers, Mid-Storm

Frosted Conifers, Mid-Storm

Meanwhile, snow descends with the furious relentlessness that categorizes this storm named Juno. This is an ironic name, as I am deep in Masters and Commanders by Andrew Roberts.  You could call it a quadruple biography of the decision-makers of WWII.  This spectacular British biographer/historian has great respect for FDR, affection for and pride in Churchill yet sees ‘warts and all’, and clear eyes and wisdom regarding George Marshall and Alan Brooke.  Juno was one of code names for British beaches in Normandy.  On a later D Day, I visited Juno, touched by intimate bouquets, as though hand-made, carefully placed.  Ribbons of the French tricoleur blew in the sea wind, at sites where British and American soldiers had given their lives to save France and the free world.  Ribbons of snow efface everything here at my study window.

Farm Fresh Omelet, Farm-Raised Bacon, Lettuce from Live Lettuce Plant from Terhune Orchards

Farm Fresh Omelet, Farm-Raised Bacon, Lettuce from Live Lettuce Plant from Terhune Orchards

After a restorative lunch, I note the turkey vulture, tipping and soaring.  This may not be easy for him, as the ground is too cold to generate thermals which vultures require for lift.  He’s elegant, practiced, even graceful.  Pete Dunne, consummate birder, terms vultures “The Wind Masters”.  Pete taught me to appreciate them. This black and grey icon of the wild is very welcome in the totally motionless landscape out my windows.

Sun Like a Lightbulb

Sun Like a Lightbulb

I realize, suddenly, the snow has topped falling.

There is that strange sepulchral glow to the world that comes after storm, but before sun.

Sepulchral Glow

Sepulchral Glow

The other highlight of my day was the sudden gaggle of snow geese, heard before seen.  There is no other sound in the wild to equal their liquid mellifluous murmuring.  It is light years more wonderful than the barking of Canada geese, and thousands of times more rare.  I only encounter the snow geese chorale at ‘The Brig, in South Jersey.

These snow geese, about twenty, were nearly invisible in the impenetrable mass of minuscule flakes, if you could call them flakes. Their cluster (snow geese do not do ‘V’s’) was very determinedly flying sharply east from somewhere north.  I concluded that snow geese must have to gabble throughout their flights, whenever the element for whom they are named rules the day.  Must these black-and-white visitors from afar carry on like this, vocally, so that they do not lose each other, lose their way?

The most important New Year’s Eve of my life, when my century changed, took place at the Brig.  Hundreds, if not thousands, of snow geese blanketed Absecon Bay, the way real snow blankets everything today.  The setting sun of the 20th Century painted the bay water pink and rose and coral, and the snow geese with it.  My New Year’s Eve noisemakers were the liquidities of these birds. And now, for the first time (and I have lived in Princeton off and on since 1968), I hear that music in my back yard.

A mourning dove landed – then, the only sign of nearby life.  It looked anything but mournful, perky rather, even triumphant.

Snow Rescuers Snowstorm 1 2015

Snow-Rescuers at Dusk

There is a sea of white on the ground, seafoam on all the clenched rhododendrons, foam and sea spray and god knows what else taking the place of sky.  All day, that sky resembled the solid fog that surrounds icebergs.  This I experienced from the deck of the SS France, which had embarked on the anniversary of the Titanic disaster, sailing that long-ago April of 1964

If Henry were here, he’d be chronicling numbers assiduously.  He would want you to know that all day the thermometer at the front door has ranged very few degrees above ten.  Late afternoon, and it has soared to eighteen.

Snow Removal Snowstorm 1 2015

Snowplows in Half-Light

This yard is so empty of life, because Society Hill residents are forbidden to feed the birds.

The mourning dove seems taken up residence for now, puffing itself to stay warm.  There is no nourishment for it nor for turkey vulture, anywhere around here.

One friend who lives at Society Hill tells me that she and a friend have seen a coyote right in the middle of their street, very nearby.  I have yet to find coyotes here nor in the Pole Farm, but I am always searching

Another friend has gone ski-birding twice this week.  Some of her miracles include kinglets — those golden-crowned and ruby-crowned living jewels who zip about on the ground, feeding with the dapper chickadees.  And, also at the Pole Farm, she was blessed with two female Northern harriers, and the most elusive and rare male, known as “the grey ghost.”

Although the snow has seemed to stop, swirls arrive, I guess from roofs.  The last burst itself was a grey ghost.

Dire Beauty, Mid-Storm

Dire Beauty, Mid-Storm

AFTER THE STORM

After the Snow Snowstorm 1 2015

Calm after Snowstorm 1 2015

SOMETIMES, BIRDERS STRIKE OUT – Intrepids in Quest of Sandhill Cranes

Jeanette Birding Near the Delaware & Raritan Canal

Jeanette Birding Near the Delaware & Raritan Canal

Friends had seen the cranes.  The SANDHILL cranes.  In nearby Franklin Township.

Friends had seen them two days in a row!

Jeanette Hooban (One of The Intrepids) and I have never seen a crane.

Now, admittedly, in the pictures sent by friends from cell phones, those birds didn’t look all that impressive. Rather dowdy, even dingy, lumpen, although on tall legs — they were not what Michelin (Guides to gastronomic shrines in France) calls “Worthy of the Journey.”

But then, we’d never seen a crane.

Well, except in (the film) Winged Migration, but sandhills are not the ones who starred in that epic.

So we devoted an overcast Sunday to going on a cranequest.

End of the Trail, Rose and Other Gardens of Colonial Park, NJ

End of the Trail, Rose and Other Gardens of Colonial Park, NJ

Odd back roads tumbled us out in one of the most nightmarish developments I had ever seen.  It was like those prophetic films, such as 2001, in which man irrevocably pays ultimate prices for progress.

Scraped earth, denuded of trees and even of crops, McMansion “TownHomes” everywhere, without a shrub, without even being alternated for privacy.  A moonscape, but I wouldn’t insult the moon.

Somewhere near what I mockingly called “an enclave”, and then it turns out that’s the name of that place, coupled with my treasured (nearby but by means visible) Delaware and Raritan Canal.

The road of the cranes was only slightly removed from destruction in the name of construction.

Cranes need slightly cropped ex-cornfields.

There was one.

As we drove along, Jeanette and I began to wonder if we’d even recognize a crane, if we came upon them.

She decided they MIGHT look something like great blue herons, and we well know those stately birds.

Heron Giving Voice Brenda Jones

GREAT BLUE HERON BY BRENDA JONES

So Jeanette drove with infinite patience, the patience of a brain surgeon, slowly down, then up, then down and up again, the road of the cranes.

There may be nothing emptier than cornrows where there ought to be birds.

Dark-eyedJunco-BaldpateMountain2-22-12DSC_3517

DARK-EYED JUNCO BY BRENDA JONES

Finally, we rejoiced to come upon, not in the corn, but in the natural weeds and scrub that bordered the croplands, some sparrows, a few juncoes, two mouning doves, all busily gleaning seeds flung down, not by a farmer on his tractor, but by the wind in the plants that belong on that field.

Song Sparrow from blind Brenda Jones

SONG SPARROW BY BRENDA JONES

So we drove away.

We thought we could find a back road along the backside of the cornfield.  Ha!  Everything up there belongs to those enclave developers.  And their hideosities are for sale “in the high $300,000s”, according to their industrial-strength sign, stuck in the bare earth.  A Mercedes turned into the Sales Office ahead of us, as we made our disbelieving way into this panorama of the future.

But Jeanette had stopped that car!  No, not to buy a condo.  To study a handsome, stately, piercingly gazing red-tailed hawk in a tree the developers had somehow overlooked.

With our magical optics, we could see the abruptly changed expression in that red-tail’s lemon-yellow eyes.  With a whoosh!, he was up and over, and o my! there was some forgotten grass on some lumpen ground.  The hawk ‘stooped’, (birder-language for zeroing on for the kill) and vanished behind a hummock.

red-tail lunch D&R Canal Princeton Brenda Jones

RED-TAILED HAWK BY BRENDA JONES

Jeanette said, impishly, “Shall we very slowly drive over there and watch it tear the prey from limb to limb?”

Listen, I’ll take any bird experience.

But before I could even nod, let alone verbalize, that hawk was back in the tree.

Raptorial fast food.

Because were there in the presence of his majesty, and there was no way we were leaving before he did, we then treated to a cloud of juncoes, flaring white petticoats.  And then, lo, bluebirds beyond counting!  They were so brightly blue and that almost-robin red, for they are cousins, and even the females so vivid, we decided they were halfway to indigo buntings.

BluebirdColdSoilRd3-10-12DSC_4449

BLUEBIRD IN WINTER BY BRENDA JONES

The aforesaid developers had put in a scraggly array of rather meagre trees.  I hope they did it in early fall, not in November.  But these trees did not look grounded.

And across the road, near the raptor feast site, an array of handsome, tall trees lay scattered, dirt balls facing the road and the $300,000+ mchouses.  They looked like toys abandoned by a petulant toddler. They did not look like they are going to survive January blasts and worse, without having been put in the ground in plenty of time to establish strong roots.  Even so, the few scraggly trees were fine for the bluebirds, who merrily filled them, like bright Christmas ornaments, then float-coasted down to the ground for seeds or whatever. There surely aren’t any insects or worms about in this vile weather we’ve been enduring.

Not only that, a merry mockingbird crowned the tree like an angel, then flew to the top of one of the mcroofs.

Mockingbird at Sunset in Winter

MOCKINGBIRD PUFFED BY WINTER COLD  BY BRENDA JONES

Just then, ‘our’ red-tail took off in a zoom, rising effortlessly toward something we hadn’t noticed.  God forbid a field or a habitat should be left to the mice and the voles and the butterflies and the bees and foxes and maybe even a coyote or two, and some skunks, some raccoons.  Trails, even, so the people can get out of those “little houses made of Ticky Tack” which Pete Seeger so scorned, Seeger-the-prophet.

Untitled

FOX OF ISLAND BEACH, IN DAYLIGHT, BY RAY YEAGER

(what SHOULD be happening in the fields of Franklin Park)

No, there isn’t a field.  Well, yes there IS, actually.

A playing field.

With towering bleachers and blinding shiny metal poles taller then anything in the enclave, each one studded with equally blinding shiny metal hooded lights, that will ruin the nights of the people who attempt to sleep in the enclave.  Who have no idea how blinding such lights can be in the dark, nor how loudly players and fans will carry on under those lights…

Well, the hawk was nothing if not an opportunist.  No tree in New Jersey that I’ve ever seen is as tall as those lightning-blinding metal poles.  Straight to the top he flew, master of all he surveyed.  No prey would be missed by this master.

Jeanette and I went on over to the Colonial Park Rose Garden, to see what it’s like for roses in winter.

Entrance Rose Garden Colonial Park January 2015

ROY ANDRES DE GOOT MEMORIAL ROSE GARDEN

Unusual.  Strangely beautiful.  Gripping sometimes, especially among fragrant herbs, some still green:Winter Green  Roses at Rose Garden Colonial Park January 2015

Winterberry Bounty Rose Garden Colonial Park January 2015

WINTERBERRY BOUNTY

Julia Child Roses in Winter Rose Garden Colonial Park January 2015

THIS ONE’S FOR FOOD WRITERS PAT TANNER AND FAITH BAHADURIAN AND POET BETTY LIES —

MY CO-JULIA-FANS

Roses in Winter Rose Garden Colonial Park January 2015

THE LONG VIEW

But for this preservationist, who spends the majority of her time trying to convince people to appreciate and save natural New Jersey, it was winter in my heart.

Sure-footed mammal tracks Rose Garden Colonial Park January 2015

SURE-FOOTED MAMMAL IN HERB GARDEN – PROBABLY SKUNK

Opossum Track Rose Garden Colonial Park January 2015

DETERMINED OPOSSUM

When I beg you to do whatever you can to save wild New Jersey, on land and on water and in the air, I am NOT KIDDING!  Even though D&R Greenway has managed to save around 19,000 acres, folks, it is not enough.

We didn’t find cranes.

Our fear is that, next year at the time when their inner navigational systems compel them to that cornfield, it will have more $300,000+ dwellings and poor pitiful trees, and no nutrients for cranes!

January Stroll: Fleecydale Road, Carversville, PA

Despite glowering skies and spitting snow, fellow birder/photographer Anne Zeman and I set out across the Delaware this gelid day.  Our first goal was a superb meal at the Carversville Inn.  Our expectations were, if anything, surpassed, as we celebrated her birthday.  Pull up their menu and order anything on it — especially the Diver Scallop wrapped in apple-smoked bacon, the Paillard of Salmon coated in minutely crushed almonds, the Mushroom Ragout, the Bisque of Seafood, the salad of darkest greens and burnished golden beets with piquant goat cheese that must be aged…

Carversville Inn, Decorated for Christmas

Carversville Inn, Decorated for Christmas

Carversville is a town that time forgot.  NJWILDBEAUTY readers know my passion for time travel, and this is some of the best there is.

Carversville Home

Carversville Home

Carversville’s Post Office is also the domain of one of our region’s most legendary caterers, Max Hansen.

Max Hansen's Timeless Sign

Max Hansen’s Timeless Sign

Inside the P.O., there is a charming modern interpretation of Van Gogh’s Postman.  The original is at the new Barnes in Philadelphia.  The P.O. Postman may be in the back room, depending on how much other art is on display in this unique setting.  Ask for it!  You can also buy splendid lavender products from Carousel Farm near Doylestown.

"Come and Set a Spell"

“Come and Set a Spell”

Despite it’s being January 16, when we entered the Inn for our superb repast, there were two men, without coats, intensely conversing on these appealing benches.

Inside the old grocery, the new Max center, you’ll find very helpful people.  They simply know they are serving excellence, eager to assist you in your culinary needs and desires.  I was in quest of dessert for a Sunday Stroll ‘n’ Sup here, and was able to buy half a Key Lime Pie.  It’s gorgeous.

Max had strolled into the Carversville Inn, just as we were finishing our flourless chocolate creation with homemade dark caramel sauce.  He is renowned for everything gastronomic at the Michener Museum of Doylestown, and frequently for Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve’s “Black Tie and Muck Boots” Gala, held when the bluebells turn fields and stream banks to floral oceans.

Fleecydale Road Sign

Fleecydale Road Sign

We began to stroll Fleecydale Road, somewhat like Lombard Street in San Francisco, as the sign above attests.  For reasons never explained, it has been officially closed for years.  We met people out for January strolls, of many different ages and accents, one even with a cane who put us photographers to shame, pace-wise.  All were grinning ear-to-ear, gracious to these strangers.

HIstoric Carversville Sign -- We strolled between mill ruins and spring houses, and near the 1830 home of Mr. Carver.

HIstoric Carversville Sign — We strolled between mill ruins and spring houses, and near the 1830 home of Mr. Carver.

Bucolic Fleecydale Scene

Bucolic Fleecydale Scene

Fleecydale Road is one of America’s corniches.  Having lived in Provence in 1987 and 88, I have had my share of corniches: moyenne, haute and I forget the other one, inferieure?  Princess Grace starred in To Catch a Thief, zooming along corniches in a dashing convertible, with the dangerous, handsome cat burglar.  She also died in a crash on one, which is all too common in the hills of Provence.  Trying to describe the circuitous roads that surrounded me, that were my only way to and from anywhere, I’d tell my family, “It’s as though someone dumped a plate of cooked spaghetti from on high, waited for it to solidify, then told you to drive the strands.”

Anne Zeman and I, out for nature, out for air, out fully to experience January as her birthday year unfolded, walked America’s, or shall I say, one of Pennsylvania’s, corniches.  The curves are gentler on foot, and beauty and history more accessible and apparent.  All along we were serenaded by the creek – is it the Perkiomen?

Equally accessible are the shocks of this 21st Century — stunning reality of the dread PIPELINE (this one proudly claimed by a Texas firm), when you come upon them at eye level, in the midst of beauty.

I showed NJWILDBEAUTY readers the horror of PIPELINE pipes at Heinz “Refuge” (there is NO REFUGE from PIPELINES) down near the Philadelphia Airport a few weeks ago.  Many months ago, I showed you the ones on either side of the D&R Canal and Towpath, a STATE PARK, our DRINKING WATER — south of Alexander Street in Princeton.  They’re along the Great Road in Princeton, near some of our finest schools, teaching the leaders of tomorrow.  They’re on roads between tiny Lawrenceville and tiny Pennington, in the midst of farm fields, near residences of Cherry Hill, Cherry Valley — nowhere is safe.

In the midst of bucolic beauty, we came to these:

PIPELINE!  Coming soon to a neighborhood near you...

PIPELINE! Coming soon to a neighborhood near you…

TEXAS PIPELINE - Texas doesn't care what habitat it destroys, what beauty it ruins for all time, let alone what it does to the health of people who've lived here since the early 1800s...

TEXAS PIPELINE – Texas doesn’t care what habitat it destroys, what beauty it ruins for all time, let alone what it does to the health of people who’ve lived here since the early 1800s…

See what the PIPELINE abuts and scars.  Walk with us:

The Long and Winding Road called Fleecydale

The Long and Winding Road called Fleecydale

HISTORY IS AT RISK HERE, AT THE HANDS OF PIPELINE MOGULS

HISTORY IS AT RISK HERE, AT THE HANDS OF PIPELINE MOGULS

A MAGNIFICENT CREEK IS AT RISK HERE, WHICH FLOWS STRAIGHT DOWN THROUGH FORMIDABLE ROCKS TO THE DELAWARE RIVER AND THE SEA

A MAGNIFICENT CREEK IS AT RISK HERE, WHICH FLOWS STRAIGHT DOWN THROUGH FORMIDABLE ROCKS TO THE DELAWARE RIVER AND THE SEA

AND WONDERFUL NEIGHBORS WITH EXQUISITE TASTE, WHO THOUGHT THEY'D FOUND SANCTUARY ON FLEECYDALE ROAD

AND WONDERFUL NEIGHBORS WITH EXQUISITE TASTE, WHO THOUGHT THEY’D FOUND SANCTUARY ON FLEECYDALE ROAD

"Baby, It's Cold..."

“Baby, It’s Cold…”

If Ice Could Speak, or Sing...

If Ice Could Speak, or Sing…  This is the beginning of an Aria

Determination:  Anne Zeman and Ice of  Fleecydale - Ice Fleece...

Determination: Anne Zeman and Ice of Fleecydale –           Ice Fleece…

Just-Fallen Beech Leaves

Just-Fallen Beech Leaves

Berries and Ice in Fleeting Sun

Berries and Ice in Fleeting Sun

New Growth in Winter

New Growth in Winter

Oak and Lichen

Oak and Lichen

Outbuilding of Yesteryear

Outbuilding of Yesteryear

Sandy Remnants -- yes, very serious damage here, far west of and far above the Delaware River

Sandy Remnants — yes, very serious damage here, far west of and far above the Delaware River

Fallen Monarch -- Sandy Victim

Fallen Monarch — Sandy Victim

Not how close together those tree rings are.  One would need a micrometer to measure its growth.  Slow-growing trees are the strongest.  Ash is legendary for slow maturation, and it used to be the only wood for baseball bats.  This once towering majesty is still imposing, no match for Hurricane Sandy.

Strong Reflections - very unusual in a fast-flowing creek

Strong Reflections – very unusual in a fast-flowing creek

Last light on a venerable outbuilding

Last light on a venerable outbuilding

Determined Woodpecker - Probably a Red-bellied

Determined Woodpecker – Probably a Red-bellied

Pleased Photographer, Anne Zeman, as Fleecydale Stroll Ends

Pleased Photographer, Anne Zeman, as Fleecydale Stroll Ends

Road Sign, Fleecydale Road and Old Carversville Road, PA

Road Sign, Fleecydale Road and Old Carversville Road, PA

Whatever you can do, wherever you live, put the brakes on these PIPELINE PROMOTERS.

Remember that splendid son, “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land.”

It is not the PIPELINE PROMOTERS’ land.

They MUST be STOPPED!

DEEP FREEZE BIRDING — BRIGANTINE in QUEST of SNOWY OWL Jan. 2015

The ranks are swelling, of intrepid birders, willing to go out in all weathers to find winged miracles.

Tomorrow morning, despite near-zero temperatures lately, Jeanette Hooban and I will set out on the trail of sandhill cranes in Somerset County.  Somewhere near Mettlers Lane, past the Rose Garden, at the north end of Canal Road and beyond.  Neither of us has ever seen a crane.  Stay tuned…

Thursday, an uncharacteristic day off, Mary Wood, Cathy Cullinan and I left Lawrenceville at 8 a.m., for the Bakery in Smithville, then the birds of the Brig — especially the newly reported snowy owl.

The Bakery, Smithville, New Jersey, off route 9, just before the turn to the Brigantine/Forsythe Refuge at Oceanville

The Bakery, Smithville, New Jersey, off route 9, just before the turn to the Brigantine/Forsythe Refuge at Oceanville

Glowing Interior, Bounty of Healthy Real Local Food, at the Bakery, Smithville, NJ

Glowing Interior, Bounty of Healthy Real Local Food, at the Bakery, Smithville, NJ

Hearty Birder's Breakfast, The Bakery, Smithville

Hearty Birder’s Breakfast, The Bakery, Smithville

Old Mill, without the Mill Wheel, Smithville

Old Mill, without the Mill Wheel, Smithville

Sinuosities - virtually the only open water, The Brig, January 8, 2015

Sinuosities – virtually the only open water, The Brig, January 8, 2015

Horseshoe Crab and New Snow, January 8 2015

Horseshoe Crab and New Snow, January 8 2015

Frozen Geese, Heads Tucked In so No White nor Black shows, Atlantic City in the Background

Frozen Geese, Heads Tucked In so No White nor Black shows, Atlantic City in the Background

Miserable Great Egrets -- January Deep Freeze, Brigantine, January 8, 2015

Miserable Great Egrets — January Deep Freeze, Brigantine, January 8, 2015

There Has to Be a Snowy Out there, Somewhere!

There Has to Be a Snowy Out there, Somewhere!

There IS a Snowy Owl in this Expanse, tucked underneath turf, the same size as every snow clump

There IS a Snowy Owl in this Expanse, tucked underneath turf, the same size as every snow clump

YES, we DID find the SNOWY.  No, my camera will not show it to you.  But this is the landscape in which we seek them, and the whiteness they require.

Fox Tracks in New Snow, Brigantine/Forsythe, January 8, 2015

Fox Tracks in New Snow, Brigantine/Forsythe, January 8, 2015

FROZEN BIRDERS:  There has to be a snowy out here someplace!

Frozen Birders  Can That Be the Snowy Jan 8 2015

Persimmons on High, Await Hungry Birds near the Experimental Pond

Persimmons on High, Await Hungry Birds near the Experimental Pond

OK, now I set the scenes in which we hunted, so to speak, for the snowy owl and other rarities.

That snowy, in Cathy Cullinan’s splendid picture, is no larger than my little fingernail.  It was parallel to the bank on the northeast corner of the dike road, breast not visible, so we don’t know whether it had the black distinctive marks of the female, or the mostly white feathers of the male.  It was as miserable as we were, out of the car, in that fierce southwest wind that daunted even those Canada geese.  It did not change position, in all the time we spent in its presence.  Occasionally we were more or less aware of the golden eyes, but I would NOT say we saw it actually blink.  Yes, it was worth the entire trip, to honor the presence of this new visitor.

However, as NJWILDBEAUTY readers know, I cannot photograph most birds with this camera.  And the miracles that were ours that day remain only in our hearts and memories.  Here they are, not necessarily in order of appearance.

Great egrets / Canada geese / buffleheads / hooded mergansers / tundra swans / snow geese / great blue herons / a peregrine, imperious upon an evergreen bough across the Gull Pond / gulls, including one very late great black-backed gull / no crows / no brant / the snowy owl / snow geese / one very late female red-winged blackbird / we don’t know whether salt marsh sharp-tailed sparrows – but tiny birds gleaning sides on and immediately off the dike roads / ring-necked ducks / mallards / blue jay / flock of robins / American bald eagles everywhere – including over ABSECON BAY! – but not intense, not fiercely fishing — I would say playing, kettles of eagles, relaxed, merry, sure of themselves   one immature who may be the electronically monitored nearby youngster named Nacote / no bluebirds / no Northern pintails / no shovelers

Well, you see, the Brig was mostly frozen.  Cathy, –tne burgeoning birder of our trio, who has hawk eyes, eagle eyes, snowy-owl eyes now — described what we were seeing:  “It’s as though the tide froze, and somehow went out, and everything collapsed.”  Huge plates of ice, zigging and zagging, careened, juxtaposed, oddly blued by the pale sky, were everywhere.  Barely any open water for birds, and inescapable winds.  Temperatures in the teens.

Harriers were on all sides, probably all females — possibly one ‘grey ghost’ male, but we can’t be sure — now THEY were intense, intent, hunting madly over the grasses, ‘great display’ over and over, white rump spots almost blinding.

The egrets looked the most miserable, the eagles most insouciant.

Cathy revealed that the snowy was the first owl she’d ever seen out of captivity:  “Nothing like starting at the top of the line!:

I really hand it to Mary and Cathy, out of the warm car, scanning every snow lump, trying to find that snowy or freeze in the attempt. Mary set up the scope with frozen fingers, over and over that day.

We spent most of the day there, very very slowly making our way along the dike road and between impoundments and the Bay.  Beauty everywhere, birds or no birds.  Wildness prevailed.

Nature’s kingdom, and we mere courtiers.

Remember, the Brig/Forsythe is a preserve, a national one.  All preserves are sacred, and all need your constant donations to non-profits, your constant vigilance and letters to senators and representatives and especially in OUR state, the Governor — so that these wild reaches continue to welcome and sustain wild creatures in this Anthropocene era of ours, hurtling toward the Sixth Extinction.

Go to the Brig.  Let her creatures inspire you.  Do what you can, every single day, for their preservation and that of their crucial habitat in all seasons.

SANDY HOOK, Imperiled, Defended by Michele Byers, of NJ Conservation Foundation

View from Hawk Watch Platform, North Beach

Wild View from Hawk Watch Platform, North Beach, Sandy Hook

Tell the National Park Service to restore, not destroy, the maritime forest at Sandy Hook! Letters can be sent to the Office of the Superintendent, Gateway National Recreation Area, 210 New York Ave., Staten Island, N.Y., 10305.

Jeanette Hooban in quest of migrant warblers, Lifesaving Station of Sandy Hook in Background

Jeanette Hooban in quest of migrant warblers, Lifesaving Station of Sandy Hook in Background — A priceless segment of Sandy Hook’s Maritime Forest

NJWILDBEAUTY readers well know my passion for the wild in general, for New Jersey’s in particular, especially the Brigantine Wildlife Refute, beloved Island Beach (see NJWB on Island Beach in Nor’easter) and cherished Sandy Hook, also covered well in NJWB.)

The geniuses who are all aquiver to destroy our sacred NJ Wild coastline, want to turn parts of of the priceless Sandy Hook bird sanctuary over to buildings, often impossibly inflated into a term I personally despise, “Infrastructure.”

Michele Byers has the knowledge, experience and clout to fight these destroyers in the name of developers.  Do likewise, READERS.  

Comment on Michele’s blogs and write your congressmen and women.  

Sandy Hook is essential to birds — it is the Atlantic Flyway.  It’s required in spring and fall for migration, and other seasons for breeding and nesting, as in the so very imperiled piping plover.

Nothing mus happen to impinge upon any inch of Sandy Hook’s vital habitat.  Not now.  Not ever!

Determined Jeanette finds two female harriers doing last hunting over the grasses on the ocean side

Determined Jeanette finds two female harriers doing last hunting over the grasses on the ocean side

O yes, and by the way, the developers’ plans for oil ports and the like will very likely harm humans.

Somehow, even the fate of humans matters naught to those who would impinge upon our sanctuaries.

Note their clever warping or the English language, these destroyer/developers:  “resiliency project.”

Especially note that the machines are more important than birds, habitat or humans.

Read Michele, and line up behind her!

Carolyn

Last Light, Early November

Last Light, Early November, Pristine Reaches of Sandy Hook

By Michele S. Byers, Executive Director, New Jersey Conservation Foundation

It’s been two years since Superstorm Sandy. Up and down the coast, ceremonies marked the state’s progress in rebuilding homes, businesses and infrastructure destroyed by Sandy – and increasing our capacity to weather future storms.

But one ill-advised proposal in particular is being advanced in the name of “resiliency.” The National Park Service’s Sandy Hook Unit proposes to build a large maintenance facility in the midst of a heavily wooded section of Gateway National Recreation Area on Sandy Hook.

The National Park Service is calling it a “resiliency” project, since it would move vehicles and equipment to higher ground and reduce the risk of their being damaged in future floods. But the wooded site is the worst possible location!

The six-mile-long Sandy Hook peninsula is a critical stop along the Atlantic Flyway for millions of migrating birds. In addition to tidal wetlands and dune habitats, it contains significant maritime forest, characterized by fruiting trees and bushes like American holly, hackberry, black gum, bayberry, sassafras, beach plum, red cedar, serviceberry, poison ivy and Virginia creeper.

(Yes, READERS, Poison Ivy — high in fats essential for the multi-thousand-mile migratory journeys of everything from the smallest warbler to the most menacing, seemingly formidable raptor.  Bayberry, ditto.  Next step after Sandy Hook, –assuming the developer-destroyers have appropriated all the natural species that feed those avian voyagers–, is Wall Street and Manhattan.  Not a lot of nourishment there. cfe)

Almost all of New Jersey’s maritime forests have been wiped out by development, leaving only a few places for migrating woodland birds to rest and refuel. You can count these forests on one hand – Sandy Hook, Island Beach State Park, Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, and western Cape May.

Just as New Jersey’s beaches are filled to capacity by humans on hot summer days, these scarce maritime forests are filled to capacity as birds hopscotch along the coastline during their spring and fall migrations.

Migrating birds travel thousands of miles from their wintering grounds in the south to their summer breeding grounds in the north, and back again, using the Atlantic coast as their map. Insects, spiders and especially fruits growing in maritime forests are essential to their ability to survive the rigors of migration.

There’s already not enough forest habitat to support the birds during their migration,” says Dr. Emile DeVito, New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s staff biologist. “If you take away more maritime forest, birds will die – it’s as simple as that. There’s no substitute for this forest; there’s no other place for them to go.”

Birders have counted 348 bird species at Sandy Hook. About 100 species are forest birds, and some are in serious decline. Among the rare woodland birds that have been spotted at Sandy Hook are golden-winged warblers, Bicknell’s thrushes and saw-whet owls.

When you think about it, the maritime forest at Sandy Hook was actually created by birds to supply their exact needs, DeVito pointed out. “It’s a spit of sand in the ocean, and virtually every woody forest plant arrived there as seeds dispersed by bird droppings,” he said.

Although the area of Sandy Hook being eyed for a maintenance facility contains a few derelict buildings, it is dominated by forests of fruiting trees, vines and shrubs. Rather than looking to destroy this Garden of Eden for migrating birds, the National Park Service should tear down the abandoned buildings and plant more trees to re-create an unbroken forest. This would also make the forest more resilient to future storms.

Protecting and restoring Sandy Hook’s maritime forest should be a National Park Service priority, given its mission: “The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.”

Yes, there’s a need protect trucks and equipment. But the National Park Service can and should find an alternative location outside the maritime forest in one of the many derelict sites on Sandy Hook or on nearby high ground in Monmouth County.

The National Park Service is now preparing an environmental assessment that should be released in the spring. Let’s hope that those in charge realize the irreplaceable value of Sandy Hook’s maritime forest, for both wildlife habitat and coastal resiliency. Because of Sandy Hook’s geography, a single tree in its forest is a hundred times more important to birds – if not a thousand! – than an identical tree in the middle of Pennsylvania.

Tell the National Park Service to restore, not destroy, the maritime forest at Sandy Hook! Letters can be sent to the Office of the Superintendent, Gateway National Recreation Area, 210 New York Ave., Staten Island, N.Y., 10305.

And to learn more about preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at info@njconservation.org.

BUT WILD, poem inspired by wild rice at Abbott Marshlands

For New Year’s Eve, no images, but words

Long ago, my editor at the Packet, and now my dear friend, Ilene Dube, insisted I become a blogger for them.

It was to focus on nature, especially of New Jersey.

But Ilene insisted that those blogs include my poetry.

As co-founder of Princeton’s storied Cool Women Poets, how could I refuse.

Here is one that was always a favorite at our jazz-like readings, in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Oregon — “But Wild”.

Of course, this theme was crucial to my Packet blog, and remains so now.

This poem was inspired by experiencing wild rice, 10 to 12 feet tall, which it achieves in one season, at the Abbott Marshlands, with Mary Leck, botanist extraoridinare, who, with her husband (ornithologist extraordinaire) Charlie Leck, put that Marsh on the map, internationally.

BUT WILD

I seek a canoe

birch bark

still on the silk shore

of some broad Minnesota lake

in autumn

spice on the air

red-gold bittersweet twining

high among lakeside pines

water more green than blue

stiff/supple grasses parting

as we nose our silent way

to that center to which ancestors were led

by Grandfather Sky/Grandmother Moon

we make no sound

in whisper water

every clump of grass

bending in seasonal submission

my paddle enters the lake

noiseless as the sharpest knife

as my partner thrashes grasses

they bend to right/to left

filling his sweet lap

then our entire canoe

with brown black heads of rices

that have never been anything

but wild

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

August 24, 2001