TO SALEM AND CUMBERLAND COUNTIES

Maurice River Meander

Maurice River Meander

I don’t know about the rest of my NJWILDBEAUTY readers, but this one has had to cancel far more nature excursions than she’s taken in recent months.

Wild Weeds in Wild March Wind, Absecon Bay, Atlantic City

Wild Weeds in Wild March Wind, Absecon Bay, Atlantic City — What Greeted or Prevented Me, Most of This Year

With any luck, I’ll be down in Salem and Cumberland Counties, on the Delaware Bayshore, searching for spring above all, and birds — eagles everywhere — all day Sunday.

American Bald Eagle by Brenda Jones

American Bald Eagle by Brenda Jones

I’ll gather a few more scenes from other journeys, other seasons, to the wild and watery reaches of Salem and Cumberland.  With any luck, I’ll have new ones for you soon…

Salem Sail

Salem Sail

Salem Oak, Salem Town, Salem County

Salem Oak, Salem Town, Salem County

Lenni Lenape Grinding Tool in Greenwich, Salem County

Lenni Lenape Grinding Tool in Greenwich, Salem County

Alloways Creek near Hancock's Bridge, where British Massacred Sleeping Colonists in Hancock House

Alloways Creek near Hancock’s Bridge, where British Massacred Sleeping Colonists in Hancock House

Proud List of Tea Burners in Greenwich -- Our Own  Tea Party -- Descendants Still Live in Town

Proud List of Tea Burners in Greenwich — Our Own Tea Party — Descendants Still Live in Town

Majestic Facade, Historic Hancock House on Alloway Creek

Majestic Facade, Historic Hancock House on Alloway Creek

Alloway Creek in Peacetime

Alloway Creek in Peacetime

Bivalve Egret Lineup

Bivalve Egret Lineup

Bivalve Venerable/Vulnerable Building

Bivalve Venerable/Vulnerable Building

Conshohocken Specialty

Conshohocken Specialty

You can see, when we’re in Salem and Cumberland, driving down every road that says “NO EXIT”, for all roads lead to the Bay, “we are not in Kansas any more…”

Bateman's Live Crabs

Bateman’s Live Crabs

Delaware Bay Truck Painting

Delaware Bay Truck Painting

The reason these austere and pristine beauties, this historic sites, may still be experienced, is that humans work very hard to preserve them.  As NJWILDBEAUTY readers know, I spend the major portion of my life furthering preservation of New Jersey land.  Believe it or not, thought the Delaware Bay is very far from us, we are working very hard to preserve its waterways, marshes, meadows, farmlands and, above all [for me, and especially for our winged brethren], bird habitat.

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LET’S HEAR IT FOR SNOW!

A Graceful Bow

A Graceful Bow

A select group of friends and I have begun to admit the truth this winter — we love snow!  (You know who you are…)

Incredible Lightness of Being

Incredible Lightness of Being

We are going to miss the snow when she finally gathers her mantle and swooshes off-stage.

Bread Bits on Snow

Bread Bits on Snow

The more the Weather Channel tries to turn Mother Nature into the villain (so we don’t realize that it’s we ourselves who are turning the climate against us), the more we privately exult in her beauty and power.

Crested Twig - Snow wraps the vertical!

Crested Twig – Snow wraps the vertical!

I wrote to one of my Secret Snow Pals this week, as our Saturday snow seemed to fizzle out around 9 a.m., instead of intensifying, “I suddenly realize that a minute without show is a minute without life.”  His wordless comment was a priceless video of his son in his first hour upon skis, upon snow…

Snow Visitor

Snow Visitor

Another Snow Pal, all on her own today, began exulting about the forms of the trees, still revealed now.  She actually is photographing and sketching intensively before the return of their leaves, which she calls “blowsy”!  I love it.

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that I had an article, in the fullness of autumn, in US 1 (Business) Newspaper, about my impatience for winter to take its bow.  One of my main reasons is so that the sculptural qualities of each tree will be fully apparent.

Snow as Sculptor

Snow as Sculptor

O.K., I know snow can be dangerous.  So can fire.  They are elements in the most sacred sense — full of energy and bearing transformation.

When Ice Rules

When Ice Rules

As I have written elsewhere, including the Times of Trenton, on the importance of prolonged cold, the miracles it calls forth, if it weren’t for snow, I wouldn’t know about fox visits.

Fox Prints in Snow Below my Study Window

Fox Prints in Snow Below my Study Window

One of the best-received of intense poems given me in the year 2000 has to do with a fox, “that long-legged adolescent, who came to my song, in a time of beach plums and first frost…   but now, it is snowing, and the ruddy one curls, half cat, half pup, about my calves, to lure me to the cave..”  (Cool Women, Volume I)

Fox Signature at 23 Juniper

Fox Signature at 23 Juniper

I don’t see the foxes of Juniper, but they leave their signature on snow.

Fox in Snow by Ray Yeager, Fine Art Photographer   (Ray Yeager Photography Blog)

Fox in Snow by Ray Yeager, Fine Art Photographer (Ray Yeager Photography Blog)

Ray Yeager, fine art photographer whose work stars and sells so frequently at D&R Greenway Land Trust art exhibitions, has a splendid photography blog.  Which see, and which follow.  Ray does see the foxes in snow and in the night, at Island Beach State Park.

Wounded Majesty at Height of Storm

Wounded Majesty at Height of Storm

Somehow, trees at Society Hill have been harmed by the use of erroneous chemicals.  This is one of my favorites — its top all contorted by the poison.  A suit is ongoing and useless.  I want them to have the convoluted parts of the trees in my back yard trimmed, so that the majestic ones may pour all of their energy into nourishing the healthy parts.  Snow really brings out the elegance and heartiness of the wounded trees.

Softness of Snow

Softness of Snow at 23 Juniper

Can you see why I don’t want this magical phenomenon to stop, let alone melt?!

Even the Rescuers are Beautiful in Snow

Even the Rescuers are Beautiful in Snow

Even the snow removal trucks take on beauty and majesty.

Study View in Snow

Study View in Snow

Who wouldn’t write, in a setting like this?

Snow-Crested Illegal Bird-feeder Holder

Snow-Crested Illegal Bird-feeder Holder

We’re not allowed to feed birds at Society Hill, the only drawback besides the chemically altered or killed trees.  This shepherd’s crook was left by the previous tenant.  The astounding lightness of this snow — caused by exceptionally low temperatures in air and on the ground — is practically tactile in this picture.

Shadow Play on Snow

Shadow Play on Snow

Snow is both artist and canvas.

The Goddess Statue in the Snow

The Goddess Statue in the Snow

My dear friend and fellow poet, Penelope Schott, gave me this deity from her garden on Canal Road, when she moved to Portland.  The Goddess seems to be calling forth first sun.

Avian Visitors

Avian Visitors, Night Visitors, on the Welcome Mat

I am so deprived of birds here that I had to take a picture of the tracks of one, in the soft snow on the back door, French door, welcome mat.

Neighbor Lad's Snowman After the Snow

Neighbor Lad’s Snowman After the Snow

I am privileged to watch my neighbors’ five-year-old being pulled on a little red sled, gathering downed limbs, to turn into arms on his snowman.

***

A new member of the Snow Fan Club has been added, due to these words — exactly, what the other members and I have said, we have to be clandestine about this passion for snow:

I have to confess I love snow too, though it’s more complicated now than it used to be. I drove into & out of Princeton both Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, and it was magical.
[ANYONE ELSE?  Snow Fans Anonymous….  cfe]
A Dear Friend and Fellow Poet sends this, after reading this blog, and says, Yes, why NOT add it to your blog:
So we add Robert Frost’s inescapable wry wisdom:
Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
to say that for destruction ice
is also great
and would suffice.
I think this poem says it all about humanity. Alas.

Searching for Spring – Ephemerals take Center Stage – US 1 Article on Springquest

First Flower of Spring --  Skunk Cabbage at Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve

First Flower of Spring —
Skunk Cabbage at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve

It’s a very interesting process, proposing, waiting for acceptance, and finally writing articles for newspapers in our region.  Waiting for answers and results is similar to waiting for spring, sometimes in a cold and snowy time.

First Spurt of Spring, Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve

First Spurt of Spring, Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know I recently had a story on trying to justify or find gifts in extreme cold turn into an op ed in the Times of Trenton.  You can search for this a few posts ago on this blog. On line, they used Brenda Jones’ superb photo of a fox scampering across Carnegie Lake.  In the Times itself, they used my unmet friend, Michael Mancuso’s, outstanding scene of people by a completely ice-clotted Delaware River. I owe this op-ed breakthrough to Michael, who said my feeble attempt to justify prolonged cold (it kills microbes that cause mange in foxes) deserved a Letter to the Editor to the Times.  He was right, only the Letters Editor chose to move it to Op Ed with images.

[I’ll use a couple of Brenda’s photos in this blog, one of Anne Zeman’s beautiful hand, do not have access to Michael’s frozen Delaware, and the rest are mine during desperate springquests at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve below New Hope.]

Miracle of Skunk Cabbage at Bowman's

Miracle of First Skunk Cabbage. the Melter, at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve

What readers never see is all the proposals that are ignored, sometimes not even acknowledged.

Every once in awhile, an idea strikes home, as with Rich Rein and Recognizing Spring, published yesterday in US 1 Business Newspaper.  My response is parallel to finding first ferns at Bowman’s.

Desperate for Spring, Bowman's

Desperate for Spring, Bowman’s — 

Fern emergence at the fern trail, despite snow everywhere at Bowman’s, proves that spring is inevitable.

Winter Aconite, Hopewell

Winter Aconite, Hopewell — another very early spring miracle, The Midas Touch

Awhile ago, Rich Rein, Editor and FOUNDER of US 1 Business Newspaper, asked me, at his generous thank you party for their writers, for a piece on finding spring.  I agreed, of course.  Wrote it in the midst of consummate ice and snow, and secured my dear friend Anne Zeman’s images for Rich, in a potpourri of portraits of the tiniest, most elusive, most delicate spring blooms.

fern still life

You wait and you wait.  Then the answer is yes.  Then there’s uncertainty about timing, about images.  And then it comes out a week earlier than you’d expected, with only one of Anne’s pictures.

Beech Drops in a Beechwood at Bowman's, against Anne Zeman's lovely hand

Beech Drops in a Beechwood at Bowman’s, against Anne Zeman’s lovely hand

Instead of being a Field Guide to Early Spring, with all that delicate beauty Anne had captured so skillfully, the piece showed one barren scene of a tough skunk cabbage.

... of cabbages and kings, Bowman's

… of cabbages and kings, Bowman’s

Being a writer, especially a journalist, is like being a gambler,  And the money cannot matter.  You toss your ideas into the atmosphere, and they swirl about and create new patterns, often those you never expected.

Waterfall Swirls, Pidcodk Creek, Bowman's Hill Wildlife Preserve

Waterfall Swirls, Pidcodk Creek, Bowman’s Hill Wildlife Preserve

I’m thrilled that it came out yesterday, so I’ll block and copy for you, urging you to seek spring in your own neighborhood.  You can use the COMMENT feature on NJWILDBEAUTY to let me know how YOU know spring is indeed here.

Commencement of Marsh Marigold

Commencement of Marsh Marigold

One skunk cabbage does not a spring make!

Brave Skunk Cabbage in March, Bowman's

Brave Skunk Cabbage in March, Bowman’s

Reprinted from the March 18, 2015, issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper
Hail the Shy Harbingers of Spring
by Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Snow or no snow, chill or no chill, spring is inevitable. There’s no gainsaying the vernal equinox. Days lengthen. Ground thaws. Spring’s exquisite ephemerals (flowers that bloom only so long as the forest canopy is not leafed out) will soon be everywhere.
Bluebell Emergence, Bowman's

Bluebell Emergence, Bowman’s

One of the privileges of hanging out with naturalists is that they know where to find first signs of spring.

One of the disadvantages is that they know the names of everything, leaving you wondering if you’ll keep the difference between twinleaf and bloodroot this year.

Bloodroot and New Leaf Fall, Bowman's

Bloodroot and New Leaf Fall, Bowman’s

If you’re lucky enough to have naturalist/photographer friends, your lessons will be a merry marriage of art and science.

If not, you may use these images as a field guide to earliest ephemerals.

One of my favorite nature-questers is Anne Zeman of Kingston. Consummate birder and fine art photographer, she is one of the most alert to signs of changes of seasons. Recently, in a white world, we motored to Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve (just south of New Hope). We required a sighting of the truest, earliest spring herald — skunk cabbage. We know where this hideously named flower pierces ice, melting its way to light and first pollinators. The plants pungency attracts flies, thinking it’s carrion. Because it can achieve 60-degree “furnace” inside those waxen red/green leaves, skunk cabbage has been known to erupt in January.

Drift of Ancient Princess Pine

Drift of Ancient Princess Pine

On our day, we were hindered by snow and ice. Anne and I could make it as far as the Civilian Conservation Corps stone bridge,. Despite serious hiking gear, we could not pass on to Azalea Trail or Violet Trail, let alone achieve the old pond where the skunk cabbage waits. Pidcock Creek chortled at these two nature-deprived humans, desperate for spring. But you can maneuver Bowman’s Trails now and find spring heralds of many hues and moods.

Pidcock Creek Bridge Built by Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression

Pidcock Creek Bridge Built by Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression

On the road leading down into Bowman’s from the parking lot, spicebush awaits. In “just spring,” or maybe even before ee cummings’ version of this season, petite blossoms the hue of key limes spurt, acting as spring signals even deep in the forest. Bowman’s has an identifying sign below this shrub by the roadway. Scrape a ruddy spicebush twig with a thumbnail, then inhale deeply . A pungent healing fragrance pierces your nostrils, that of benzoin, part of spicebush’s formal name.

Apotheosis of Spice Bush

Apotheosis of Spice Bush, Bowman’s

There is no more incontrovertible sign of spring than courting eagles. In Salem and Cumberland counties, near Turkey Point and along Stow Creek, particularly, American bald eagles begin courting in January. We can watch our `own’ eagles, soaring with straight-winged majesty over Carnegie Lake. If you’re lucky, you might even hear them caroling their surprisingly light songs of love. Princetonians can see eagles carrying enormous branches to restore their 2014 nest. By now, they are very likely performing nest exchanges, keeping new eggs warm. It’s even more important to eagles that Carnegie Lake thaw, for fish are the mainstay of their diet. If you’re very lucky, usually near the dam or the fishing bridge, you can marvel at an eagle’s shining meal deftly clenched in bright talons.

Juvenile American Bald Eagle with Fish by Brenda Jones

Juvenile American Bald Eagle with Fish by Brenda Jones

In Princeton, start your spring quest along our towpath. Spring Beauty will soon blanket its banks, — tiny, white and frail. They actually shiver as we may in the search. But when sun rays reach these silken blooms, they are teased open to reveal thinnest stripes of strawberry/pink. It’s as though someone painted them with a brush of only one hair. These bright accents serve as illuminated runways for pollinators, which is what spring is all about.

Phoebe by Brenda Jones

Phoebe by Brenda Jones  One of Spring’s Audible Heralds

A shy harbinger of spring will be early saxifrage. The marvelous name means `rockbreaker’. Fragile as it looks, saxifrage can force its way through stony soil, as over at Bowman’s Hill, as inevitably as skunk cabbage pierces ice.

Early Saxifrage Breaks Through

Early Saxifrage Breaks Through

Cut-leafed Toothwort, Bowman's

Cut-leafed Toothwort, Bowman’s

My candidate for the ephemeral with the ugliest name is cutleaf toothwort. This dainty one blankets the sharp edges of Bowman’s steep trail from their Twinleaf Shop, where one pays nominal admission. This trail has been newly strengthened, post-Sandy, so that it is easily negotiated, down to the site that will be awash in bluebells a month from now. Meanwhile, Dutchmen’s breeches, squirrel corn, and cutleaf toothwort keep the hiker occupied in early spring.

Plants with `wort’ in their name hearken back to the Old English. `Wort’ implies medicinal usage. Maybe this delicate beauty was useful for toothache. Wikipedia asserts, “the first part of the word denoting the complaint against which it might be specially efficacious.” Toothwort is pale, seemingly white, but in certain lights there is a roseate quality, and sometimes even a hint of lavender.

The most famous medicinal plant of early spring could well be hepatica. Obviously, in ancient times, anything with `hepatic’ in its name was significant for liver ailments. I find this a somewhat heavy association for one of the most delicate plants.

Hepaticas thrive at Bowman’s. You can read wall maps and hand maps, and inquire of wise volunteers in their Twin Leaf Shop, The miracle of this hepatica is that these fragile blossoms emerge first. Finding a swathe of hepatica poking through last autumn’s leaves always seems a mirage.

Round-leafed hepatica and the other flowers that bloom until the forest canopy leafs out, work their spring magic, year upon year, wherever humans are wise enough to preserve the habitat they require.

Emergent Dutchman's Britches

Emergent Dutchman’s Britches

Take yourself to the towpath, to Bowman’s, to the Abbott Marshlands, the Pole Farm in Lawrenceville (off Cold Soil Road), the Institute Woods, the Griggstown Grasslands.

False Hellebore Extravaganza, Bowman's

False Hellebore Extravaganza, Bowman’s

Meanwhile, you will be assisted in your quest by Anne Zeman’s splendid photographs, in her upcoming book on the wildflowers of New Jersey.

Edelmann, a poet and naturalist, is also community relations associate with D&R Greenway Land Trust. She writes and photographs for the nature blog, njwildbeauty.wordpress.com

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‘La Confrerie du Cassoulet’ – Friends Gather to Re-create the South of France

Sweet Dessert Wine for Cassoulet Supper -- Muscat de Beaumes de Venise

Sweet Dessert Wine for Cassoulet Supper — Muscat de Beaumes de Venise

 

Intrepid friends are willing to share in the traditional cassoulet of the South of France.  Betty Lies brought green olive tapenade for appetizer, and Carolyn Yoder poured Pol Roger.  Valerie Meluskey marinated ripe cantaloupe in a light yet complex vinaigrette.  Pat Tanner crafted jewel-like citron tartes topped with citron knots.  Faith Bahadurian brought le vin typique pour cassoulet, Madiran.  Fay Lachmann found ‘the black wine of Cahors,’ which Werner and I had been served over and over in the South of France, to accompany their regional specialty, in 1978.  The wines were spectacular, including the classic dessert wine, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise with our tartes.

Casspi;et Beams that generated La Confrerie du Cassoulet

Casspi;et Beams that generated La Confrerie du Cassoulet

It all started with a packet of beans.  Faith Bahadurian, Ur-Food-Writer and good friend of long standing, well knows my passion for the south of France.  She therefore ordered a package of Rancho Gordo Cassoulet beans, secretly hoping I would take the bait. I immediately invited the group of dear friends, who, –as Des Confreres du Choucroute–, gathered here to see if those simple ingredients of pork and saucisson and sauerkraut, plus some very special Rieslings, could be alchemized into a memorable meal.  Indeed they could.  So the group returned for the cassoulet of Languedoc.

Cassoulet Bean Broth Ingredients

Cassoulet Bean Broth Ingredients

Other people are homesick for America when they leave, even to kissing the ground upon return.  I have always been the other way ’round.  As the S.S. France lowered our American car onto the quai of Le Havre in 1964, I knew my very American feet were walking upon the earth of my real home.  I did not fully realize yet about regional cuisine.  I also had no IDEA how very different the South of France is from everywhere else, especially Paris.  And I had barely heard of Languedoc.

The S.S. France, my first Magic Carpet to my True Home

The S.S. France, my first Magic Carpet to my True Home

Nothing has ever changed my total connection to La Belle France.  I managed to live in Provence, (Cannes, near Vallauris, on l’Observatoire Hill) from 1987 to 1988.  I don’t think I had cassoulet on that journey.  Rather, when Werner and I, with the Friends of the Art Museum (Princeton) spent more than two weeks in Romanesque France (often more Roman than Romanesque!) in 1978, we were honored with cassoulet in auberge after auberge.  The places we stayed rolled out their regional specialties for Princetonians, and cassoulet was their favorite and mine.

Cassoulet Broth

Cassoulet Broth

I used to make this dish often when I lived on Braeburn off Snowden, in my early Princeton years.  My husband often cooked lamb and duck, out in the Weber grill.  I would save and freeze leftovers, to serve at supper parties, using elegant slender flageolets verts seches (dried beans, the icy green of celadon, which were easily available in the days before globalization.) However, as this cassoulet sequel to choucroute took form, I discovered that one cannot find those special slender forceful little pale green beans any more.  Faith to the rescue:  Rancho Gordo’s flageolets blancs (white) worked well, and held their shape during the three hours of cooking.

Cassoulet Beans Await Broth

Cassoulet Beans Await Broth

I took pictures all along, in this process, for this dinner planned three months ago.  I’ll share them with you, to give you a sense of our night.

Browning the Bones for the Cassoulet Broth

Browning the Bones for the Cassoulet Broth

Some of us at the table had been to the South of France together, some more than once.  Again, however, without the peasant dish that is cassoulet.

Confit du Canarad, browned, Ready for Assemblage

Confit du Canarad, browned, Ready for Assemblage

Although everyone didn’t know everyone today, there was a sense of reunion and strong fellowship.  France has that effect..

Maigret du Canard, Duck Breast, Ready for Assemblage

Maigret du Canard, Duck Breast, Ready for Assemblage

Browned Shoulder of Lamb Cubes, ready for Assemblage   o, yes, with generosities of garlic!

Browned Shoulder of Lamb Cubes, ready for Assemblage o, yes, with generosities of garlic!

Cassoulet Pork Belly -- my First!

Cassoulet Pork Belly — my First!

Browning the Pork Chop and the Duck Breast

Browning the Pork Chop and the Duck Breast

Deglazing the Bone Pan

Deglazing the Bone Pan

Meats Ready for Assemblage

Meats Ready for Assemblage

Ready for the Broth

Ready for the Broth  Trader Joe’s Spectacular Tomatoes even in March, and Fresh Thyme

Overnight-soaked Cassoulet Beans Have Absorbed all the Water!

Overnight-soaked Cassoulet Beans Have Absorbed all the Water!

Forgive the out-of-focus picture here. I was so amazed at the enlargement and engorgement of the beans, that I wasn’t using the right setting on the camera.

Beans, Bones, Tomatoes, Herbs

Beans, Bones, Tomatoes, Herbs

The famous beans were mixed with the ultimate broth, along with sauteed carrot and onion chunks, more garlic (in addition to that which was cooked with the lamb chunks), and sauteed tiny pancetta bits.  Also the (very ugly) pork belly, cut into smaller pieces because it seemed tough.  Those hearty hefty Trader Joe tomatoes and his fresh rosemary and thyme branches, went into the beans, although I never remember tomatoes in cassoulet.  The recipe called for chicken broth and a half bottle of a wine from the south of France good for cooking and appropriate to the dish: La Ferme Julien (typical Daudet goat on label) was suggested by one of the helpful wine experts at Trader Joe’s  This assemblage went into the refrigerator in one container.  All the meats, including those gorgeous crisp duck legs, purportedly confit, went into another, also with La Ferme Julien wine as marinade.  Into the refrigerator with it all until this morning.

In case you’re getting impatient, here is the resulting creation – before its oven time and crumbing:

Cassoulet Ingredients

Cassoulet Ingredients

This morning, half the brothed refrigerated beans went into the crock of the crock pot.  Then all the meats, including the duck legs.  Then the rest of the beans.  Sprigs of thyme and of rosemary were introduced at each layer.  I put the crock pot on high at noon, and after an hour nothing had happened.  So into the oven at 350 in the crock pot crock with its lid went this assemblage for the prescribed three hours.

First Beans into Crock

First Beans into Crock

Starting at one p.m., crumbs were generously used to cover the top layer of beans.  A thin ‘fil’ (thread) of olive oil was laced back and forth over the crumbs.  Then into the oven again.  One can do this crumb crisping (I ended up broiling it after 45 minutes) three times or more.  Three was enough.

La Cassoulet avec crumbs (Panko)

La Cassoulet avec crumbs (Panko)

You may wonder why I say ‘purported’ confit.  In France, confit du canard ou confit d’oie (goose) is cooked in fat and sold in the cooking fat.  French recipes for cassoulet specify ‘un pot du grasse cu confit’.  Ha!  There wasn’t a speck of duck fat in this actually very lovely confit — only the handsome, succulent legs.  We made do with olive oil.

Ready for Guests

Ready for Guests

Valerie's Glorious Melon Vinaigrette with Pomegranate Seeds

Valerie’s Glorious Melon Vinaigrette with Pomegranate Seeds

Pat Tanner's Exquisite Citron Tarte with Citron Knots!

Pat Tanner’s Exquisite Citron Tarte with Citron Knots!

As with our experiment with choucroute, for all the splendors of this night, the best part was our fellowship.

Thoreau Upon the Merrimack — POEM

Kayak Prow and D&R Canal in Summer

Kayak Prow and D&R Canal in Summer

Thoreau Upon the Merrimack

it’s 3 p.m. and a Friday

I’m stroking with urgency

within my sleek kayak

upon the placid waters

of the Delaware & Raritan Canal

***

they let us out early on Fridays

from profane corporate halls

to honor summer weekends

but I honor Henry Thoreau

***

who counted the day lost

when he did not spend several hours

outdoors

sometimes taking to his canoe

for day after endless northern days

***

I envy him both boat and brother

time, and strong arms for rowing

upriver all the way

from Concord to Concord

***

but most of all, I covet

his finding a “foundation

of an Indian wigwam

— perfect circle, burnt stones

bones of small animals

arrowhead flakes

— here, there, the Indians

must have fished”

***

in my life at its best

I row with Thoreau

BRIGANTINE WILDLIFE REFUGE — WHEN ICE RULES

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that my favorite haven in all of New Jersey is the Brigantine Wildlife Refuge, in the Pine Barrens, eerily slightly above Atlantic City.  Those of you who followed NJWILD, during all the years before the Packet abruptly ended their blogs, have seen ‘The Brig’, a.k.a. The Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, in all weathers.  Well, almost all:

OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER -- frozen impoundments at the Brig

OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER — frozen impoundments at the Brig

By this time, I figure everyone knows we go down there for the birds.  I nearly titled this post, “What birds?”  First of all because this Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge is frozen to such a degree that there is barely any open water.  In order to feed, most birds require water.

Runnel and Frozen Mud from Leeds Eco Trail

Runnel and Frozen Mud from Leeds Eco Trail

Low Tide, Leeds Eco-Trail

Low Tide, Leeds Eco-Trail

Nature as Sculptor, Leeds Eco-Trail

Nature as Sculptor, Leeds Eco-Trail

We had to be really bundled up out there, with a fierce wind out of the southwest.  Masefield was wrong.  It’s not “a warm wind, the west wind, full of birds’ cries”…

Bundled for March Winds, Lois and Lee Harrod, Leeds Eco-Trail

Bundled for March Winds, Lois and Lee Harrod, Leeds Eco-Trail

Fellow Cool Woman Poet, Lois Harrod, and her husband, Lee, both professors at The College of New Jersey, have been turned into avid birders by their very young, very advanced grandson, Will.  You can see how geared up we had to be, to be OUT there.  I nominate Lois and Lee now, to join Jeanette Hooban, Bill Rawlyk, and Mary Penney — The Intrepids.

Absedon Bay Frozen, Atlantic City on the Horizon

Absedon Bay Frozen, Atlantic City on the Horizon

Which is more unreal – a saltwater bay, The Absecon, frozen, or Atlantic City hovering there.  Lee Harrod yesterday and Rose Mary Clancy today, Lee in situ and Rosemary seeing this picture, pronounced Atlantic City “Oz.”

Wild Weeds in Wild March Wind, Absecon Bay, Atlantic City

Wild Weeds in Wild March Wind, Absecon Bay, Atlantic City

O, yes, birds.  Did we see any birds?  Indeed — they are the true Intrepids.  Ducks are in full breeding plumage now, and carrying on accordingly.  Some sort of natural magic sees to it that fertilization doesn’t take place until it’s o.k for eggs to form and be deposited soon. In the interim, the male ducks have never been more splendid.

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that my camera doesn’t do birds.  Here’s one — the least snazzy of all we saw.  This is the indigenous black duck, with his glorious red-orange legs, preening and prancing on the frozen impoundment, to the evident indifference of females.  What is sad, for the black duck males, is that their females prefer vivid mallards.  In this way, this natural way, we could see the end of black ducks in our time.  Meanwhile, he’s bravely doing the best he can.

Black Duck in Full Breeding Plumage, Waiting

Black Duck in Full Breeding Plumage, Waiting

Black and Blue -- Ducks and Ice

Black and Blue — Ducks and Ice

The black duck flock is huddled against the far shore, very typical behavior.  It is also all too typical for this camera to ignore the birds.  I threw OUT the lovely snap of the two mute swans, orange beaks gleaming.  They’re too far away — reduced practically to gulls.  I’m not insulting those noble swans by releasing that image.  You should know, however, that we saw a number of mutes; four handsome tundra swans, with their black beaks and yellow lores; and three trumpeter swans, two majestic ones in flight over an inlet that led toward Absecon Bay.  There’s nothing to equal the stately rowing of trumpeters on the wing.  No, they did not trumpet.  Maybe they were too cold.  And too far, for sure, for my camera.  But stunning.

Red-Tail, Immature, Digesting Lunch, atop a tree to the right after Jenn's Trail

Red-Tail, Immature, Digesting Lunch, atop a tree to the right after Jenn’s Trail

This is a test.  Can you find that bird?  You can see that snow still clots most trees down there, a day and a half after that terrible storm.  We found the bird because so many birders were out of their cars (rare any day at the Brig, but especially in this weather), huge lenses in hand.

As we took our time along the dike road, we were treated to saucy pintails, imposing hooded mergansers, silly bobbing buffleheads, ring-necked gulls. either three female harriers, or one female three times, a sharp-shinned hawk back at the entry, angle-zipping low alongside the woods, all those swans, no snow geese, some Canada geese, mallards and black ducks and that’s about it.  No snowy owls when the ground’s that frozen — mice and voles being inaccessible.  The ever-present gift of female northern harriers thrilled throughout the day.

Wild Rabbits' Journey, near Leeds Eco-Trail

Wild Rabbits’ Journey, near Leeds Eco-Trail

Human Journey, Leeds Eco-Trail

Human Journey, Leeds Eco-Trail

Love, Peace and Memory --Leeds Eco-Trail

Love, Peace and Memory –Leeds Eco-Trail

Sinuosities, Frozen Impoundment

Sinuosities, Frozen Impoundment

Scarce Open Water -- bad for birds

Scarce Open Water — bad for birds

Two-Way Vista

Two-Way Vista

Wild Weeds, Wild Wind

Wild Weeds, Wild Wind

Cezanne Palette

Cezanne Palette

Bluestem Glory

Bluestem Glory

Frozen Impoundment, Looking Back West

Frozen Impoundment, Looking Back West

Wild Tracks

Wild Tracks

Pine Barrens Vista Brigantine March

Pine Barrens landscape, which incredible beauty was ours for 2/3 of Saturday’s journey.

Beneath this magnificence is a 17-trillion-gallon aquifer.  Once New Jersey knew enough to prevent the legendary Wharton’s draining it to fill his pockets and water Philadelphia.  Our jewel in the crown, Pine Barrens peatwater filled Pine Barrens white cedar casques, when they were not filled with Pine Barrens cranberries to stave off scurvy.  This healthy water lasted for three-year whaling voyages.  It is beyond price, and the Pine Barrens Preservation Commission was formed to protect it and the noble pines and oaks and understory above.

Now an egregious act, the stacking of the Pine Barrens Commission, stand to permit a PIPELINE in this INTERNATIONAL BIOSPHERE PRESERVE.  Government “of the people, by the people and for the people” has been banished from New Jersey.

Wherever you are, in person, by letter, on social media, on links to Audubon, Sierra, NJ Conservation Foundation, wherever — do all in your power to keep poisonous pipelines our of New Jersey.

Nowhere is this more important than in the Pine Barrens.

Water may prove a more priceless resource than oil in the climate-destroyed years that are our fate at this time.

Even preserved land is not immune to PIPELINES.

STOP THEM!

 

“TOUJOURS ZERO” POEM

 1 a snow branch burden 2011

 TOUJOURS ZERO

 surely my thermometer

has broken

registering “toujours zero”

only the humidity meter

moving

it’s two-thousand-fifteen

in the state of New Jersey

too near Route 95’s corridor

magnet for absolute zero

even at these temperatures

a new river runs through

my snow-glazed backyard

porch lights reveal

snow/rain/sleet/ice/fog

all at the same time

no matter how far above or below

zero

even the railing’s iced

leading to my car

whose doors are frozen shut

I do not want these ‘snow days’

belong at my work desk

saving this planet

that’s going to hell in a handbasket

smug commentators joking

about ‘warming’

that grave misnomer

for the catastrophe

that hath New Jersey by the throat

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

March 2, 2105

Moccasin Snow Depth Front Door

Moccasin Snow Depth Front Door

1 a snow depth front door 2011

Snow Depth at Front Door

Blizzard and Fenced Holly

Blizzard and Fenced Holly Canal Road 2014

Deer in Blizzard Front Yard Canal Road

Deer in Blizzard Front Yard Canal Road

Clearing After Blizzard

Clearing After Blizzard, Canal Road