“Let us go, then, you and I,… while the evening is spread out against the sky…”

A travel album to Eliot’s Invitation: our answers set in New Jersey:

Sandy Hook Jim Kathleen Amon Spermaceti Cove Boardwalk Jan 2017

Dear Friends, Kathleen and Jim Amon, answered ‘Yes!’ to my “Let us go then,” at 20 or so degrees, upon New Jersey’s Sandy Hook, one recent January.

T.S. Eliot’s invitation was one of the richest moments of my entire college education. Looking back, I could say it became my life mantra:  “Let us go…”    [No, not “down certain half-deserted streets, although that became my way in post-college Manhattan years.]

Rock as Smiling Dolphin Sourlands 08 08

“Mr. Smiley-Face”, at the entry to a Sourlands Trail, off Greenwood Avenue in Hopewell, welcomes every visitor to his hushed green domain.

Moved to underappreciated New Jersey, for a husband’s career, I began to set out on Wordsworthian nature quests. “Get OUT there!,” I’d urge friends and relations. “Nature is EVERYWhere!” “New Jersey is BEAUTIFUL!” “Let her enrich you.” “Let us go…”

Ice Floes on River Lumberville General Store Jan. 2017

As I ended a long-ago poem, protesting the building of THE PUMP in our Delaware River, ultimately the river taught us: “I, who had been barrier, am bond.”

NJWILDBEAUTY is a printed version of my own constant invitations, from 1964 forward.. I’ve taken up this blog again, during our impossible situation, in which answering yes to “Let us go then, you and I” is forbidden. But Eliot’s call remains essential!

Autumn Crispness Canal and Delaware River near Prallsville Mills

Even at autumn’s culmination, our Delaware River and her nearby streams, tributaries and canals, beckon with unspoiled beauty.  Here, memory of late riverine light brightens this drenched day.

Even quarantined, our New Jersey remains a treasure trove. Let’s stroll together, you and I”, in memory and photographs upon these pages.

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December’s Oceanside Flycaster – Island Beach – one of New Jersey’s Unique Three Coasts!

Right now, we are experiencing a medical Battle of Britain. Normalcy has been suspended until the invading microbe is finally conquered. I suspect even Eliot would not have believed that following his stirring invitation could ever be banned.

Lake Oswego Pine Barrens Fourth of July

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

Proof of the altered meaning of my nature-quests is symbolized in this Island Beach window, looking East, as our Coast Guard monitored sailing vessels in distress.

This day, I moved my wondrous birding binoculars from the travel bag in the front hall closet, to locked French doors looking out on a very domestic natural landscape.

Coast Guard Watch Window Island Beach Nov 2015

View from the Coast Guard Watch Window, Island Beach, Rainy November Day

New Jersey’s still out there, everyone.

Beckoning with Eliot.

Remember her.

Save her.

Hike her anew!

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YEARNING… as house arrest continues… WHAT brings solace, WHAT brings light?

Yes, I know, France is suffering also. I keep thinking, were I anywhere else, would this be less stifling?

If I were still in my Cannes bedroom, the brightness of mimosa, thousands of miniature suns, would have been filling my green-shuttered window in February. When I needed to go to Antibes to the market, I’d drive right alongside the lapis-blue Mediterranean in winter. The hill towns of Provence, “La France Profonde“, beckoned on all sides. Mostly ignoring the Cote d’Azur, I was wrapped in blessed privacy everywhere I drove. And that lovely liquid language would be pouring, cascading over me, whenever I did put on my (probably very chic) mask and enter a village, were I ‘sheltering’ in France.

In our own country, the barrier island of Assateague and its protected sort-of-mainland isle, Chincoteague, are far removed from any sort of hurly burly in this season. These two remote settings, except in summer, attract more birds than horses. These are R-months, so the legendary oysters will be at peak. Read the sign, capturing the spirit of Assateague/Chincoteague, really at all times, but in this case after a dire hurricane. There’s something about a lighthouse, too, that steadies and comforts. This is the magnificent Fresnel lens of yesterday, blazoning safety far to sea in its time.

Fresnel Light from Assateague at Chincoteague Museum

A Pony's Life - Forever Feeding Assateague

Missing Infinity

The presence of the mysterious microbe should be what bothers me most in this dire time.

But, I am a  Sagittarian. We are the original “Don’t Fence Me In.” Let me stay home by myself and read and write and be glad of no phonecalls and remember adventures. But don’t give me orders, such as, “Shelter at Home!” I’m obeying. I’m resentful. What I require as antidote is the infinite.

New Jersey is blessed with watery infinities. Some fresh – and seemingly limitless, as the Delaware Bay:

Higbee Beach Late October Swim 2016 008

Jeanette Hooban swims Delaware Bay, Cape May, despite October, a couple of years ago/

Some New Jersey infinities are fresh water.

Come On In Bulls Island July 2017

Rose Mary Clancy wades Delaware River on Bull’s Island, across from Black Bass Inn.

Some salt.

The Old and The New Island Beach April 2016

Tracy Turner photographs magnificent Atlantic Ocean, warm wintry day, Island Beach

Infinity is implied at Fortescue and Reed’s Beach and Heislerville along the Delaware Bay

Shorebird Islet Fortescue

Shellbird Islet, Fortescue, Delaware Bay

Peaceful Barnegat Bay — as if no human had ever walked this way.

Land's End Barnegat Bay Island Beach April

Land’s End. Barnegat Bay: This is New Jersey! — on a peaceful day

Sometimes we seek infinity in snow.

sunbathing on sugar sand by Ray Yeager

Jeanette Hooban and I on snow on sand at Island Beach by Ray Yeager, Fine Art Photographer and key birding buddy!

Some, as ‘Brig’/Forsythe’, are dike-created, salinity-managed, to attract specific species.

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Snow Geese Undisturbed, The Brig in Normal Times – over a major impoundment

The D&R Canal is not limitless, but can feel that way when yours is the first paddle to disturb its waters on a Sunday summer evening.

First Kayak D&R Canal at Alexander Rd May 2015

Heading South from Alexander, 5 to 6:30 on a golden Sunday evening

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Fellowship and Solitude, Walking South along Island Beach Sands on a Winter’s Morning

Some seem limitless only when one is kayaking upon them (Barnegat Bay) as a thunderstorm approaches, with wild winds countering every forward stroke, as we stop seeking birds and this time, ourselves, seek shelter.

This is Barnegat  Bay on September 28, Jeanette’s Birthday. We went there – Bill Rawlyk, Mary Penney, and I, to celebrate Jeanette. At breakfast, in Lavallette, watching a mute television, we discovered that the major storm warning (“Gee, I wonder where that is…”) was all around us! “Well, so long as we are here!…” And spent the day in an infinitude of wind, sand and birds – who were playing in the Nor’easter! Merlins coasting as far east as they could, to the ocean (see flags); then zip-zooming back west, and returning. Migrating swallows were waltzing wildly to the east as we left the park.

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Island Beach Boardwalk to Destruction – Nor’easter-scoured, Dunes Conquered

Weeks upon weeks of house arrest make even a stroll along a beach seem dream.

Will we find infinity anew?

“WHERE DO YOU WISH YOU WERE QUARANTINED?”

Does anyone else play this game? Granted, it would never have entered my head until a few weeks ago.  (Is it ONLY weeks? Doesn’t it FEEL LIKE MONTHS?”)face mask image Amazon

The truest answer is that which first flies in – FRANCE.

Oddly enough, not Provence.  Although I actually lived there during a previous major life catastrophe, blessed by astonishingly tender and tending neighbors.

No, what I need is that mystical upper quadrant — Normandy/Brittany, – which segue back and forth sometimes, depending on wanderings of the sinuous Seine.

And not just any place even there: Avranches, most likely, with a clear view of beloved Mt. St. Michel –across its salt marshes, compact, sturdy lambs salting themselves as they munch verdant grasses.

Mt. St. MIchel with sheep Wallup

A part of my heart is always in Hawaii — Iao Valley on Maui, to be sure — but quarantine is rugged enough without my being reminded of its essential but bloody history.

No, the Hawaii haven I require is Hanalei Bay in Kauai. I could stand anything there!

Hanalei Bay Kauai

A disaster of this magnitude enforces practical thinking, as well as serious consults with the heart. Where was I ever most at home when I was NOT at home?

Chatham, Massachusetts, Cape Cod.

I long always for weathered grey, shingled cottages, adorned with simple, colorful wooden shutters that really work. For sleeping to the scent and coolness of salt tang, old-fashioned windows fluttering as we leave windows open all night long, onto Nantucket Sound. Sometimes, we could see both Nantucket and the Vineyard. Sometimes, although we were right on what seemed infinite, we could not see the Sound.

Typical Chatham Cottage

I’ve lived many a Chatham summer, in sun of course; and I most especially treasured the liveliness of their legendary fogs. Once, I remained right on Nantucket Sound in our tiny cottage, through and after a hurricane.

Chatham is the PLACE to endure, even to ENJOY stormy weather.

Chatham Light Storm-blown Flag jpg

Now, granted, I can’t take the girls out to Henry Beston’s OUTERMOST HOUSE any more. It was blown away, quite literally, –all but its bronze sign designating it of national historic value–, in the Blizzard of ’78.  But I’d have that book WITH me in quarantine.

Henry Beston's Outermost House on Nauset Beach

Given a little warning, I’d have a ‘Last Supper’ at Impudent Oyster of joyous memories over the years.  Sometimes, I’d even have nothing BUT oysters for the entire meal!

Rainy Day Haven Impudent Oyster Chatham Bars Ave

We used to go to Chatham Fisheries, brilliantly managed by Willard Nickerson, a.k.a. The Codfather, about whom I was privileged to write a lengthy adulatory article for the (late lamented) Cape Cod Compass. It has another name and different food now, but I still would have stocked up there, before lockdown.

Chatham Pier Fish Market SignIt’s always so peaceful over at the fisheries. Seals are new attractions. I must steal a line from “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” to do justice to this scene:

“…and peace comes dropping slow.”

Serenity Chatham Fish Pier

My larder-stocking would’ve had to include Marion’s Pie Shop, still present, providing the sweet and the savory. Owned by the same people as in the 70’s, this place always renewed and refreshed our family despite whatever slings and arrows of outrageous fate…  Berry pies were outstanding – but the most unexpectedly best was clam pie!

Marion's Pie Shop

Carolyn Yoder and Jeanette Hooban and Janet Black honor my passion for this idyllic spot. So these are recent pictures, except for the Internet one of Beston’s House.

Chatham Beach and Tennis Club

Candy ManorChatham Pottery

Nature The True Impressionist Cottage South Chatham

Last sunrise of a recent Chatham stay.

Farewell Fire at Cottage

Last fire…

Last Light First Sunset Taylor's Pond Cottage South Chatham

Last sunset.

My dear friends and I are clinging to the reassuring French phrase, “A la prochaine foi.”

Until the next time…

‘God willin’ an’ the crick don’t rise’, our ‘prochaine fois‘ will be in Wellfleet, its dates moved to September.

Meanwhile, both Chatham memory and promise cushion harsh realities of our 21st-century quarantine.

SPRING POEMS SPRING TO MIND

 

The spring poems came, not exactly ‘on little cat feet’, but rather forcefully,

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beginning, of course with

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

 

then skipped, of course, to e.e. cummings

[in Just-]

in Just-
spring          when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman
whistles          far          and wee
and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
spring
when the world is puddle-wonderful …
But, as we exist in a time almost beyond description,
my Muse insists upon lines of another tenor, altogether:

 

lilac-flowers-starting-to-bloom

The Waste Land

By T. S. Eliot

                                  FOR EZRA POUND
IL MIGLIOR FABBRO

              I. The Burial of the Dead
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

then I am back in childhood, mourning with Whitman, for the president he cherished,

who was my hero from first printed encounters,

who prefigured another presidential hero I would have to mourn:

 

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d

 

When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,

And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,

I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

 

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,

Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,

And thought of him I love.

 

O powerful western fallen star!

O shades of night—O moody, tearful night!

O great star disappear’d—O the black murk that hides the star!

O cruel hands that hold me powerless—O helpless soul of me!

O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul.

 

In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash’d palings,

Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,

With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,

With every leaf a miracle—and from this bush in the dooryard,

With delicate-color’d blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,

A sprig with its flower I break.

 

In the swamp in secluded recesses,

A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.

Solitary the thrush,

The hermit withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,

Sings by himself a song.

HermitThrush63

 

 

“These Are the Times that Try Men’s Souls…” — but we have been tried before…

Yearning for dignity and honor; …courage andinspiration; seeking nobility, even altruism; eloquence and fervency in the cause of true freedom, I return to David McCullough’s magisterial biography of John Adams.

Patriots' Flag Chestnut Neck Revolutionary War Monument Winter 2017

“We live, my dear soul, in an age of trial. What will be the consequence, I know not.”      John Adams writing to Abigail, 1774

Abigail Adams Portrait from Internet

Abigail’s brilliant letters inspired and reinforced her far-away husband, providing all that this plain man of Massachusetts required to champion liberty in The City of Brotherly Love.

“Fame without honor, “ in her view, “would be like a faint meteor, gliding through the sky, shedding only faint light.”

 

 

 

 

 

In modern-day New Castle, Delaware, the British flag and the Stars and Stripes fly side-by-side.  In Philadelphia, in 1770’s, the Union Jack represented the enemy. Hessians were marching and British men-of-war sailing, intending to surround and conquer New York.

Essence of New Castle July 2017

Newtown, Pennsylvania, Re-enactors bring back the spirit of 1776IMG_1086

But in The City of Brotherly Love, subjects were transforming themselves into citizens.

The men who would accomplish were not heroes because of its outcome. They brought heroism with them.

1 24-Star Flag

Listen to David McCullough: “John Adams was, as many could attest, a great-hearted, persevering man of uncommon ability and force. He had a brilliant mind. He was honest and everyone knew it. Emphatically independent by nature, hard-working, frugal — he was anything but cold or laconic.” [As auslanders perceived men of New England.]

John Adams Birthplace –  Quincy, Massachusetts

john-adams-birthplace-quincy-massachusetts-historic-landmark-museum-144411127

John Adams was a second cousin of the ardent Boston patriot, Samuel Adams. But the legendary Dr. Benjamin Rush would assert, “John is of another species of character. He sees the whole of a subject at a glance; and is equally fearless of men and of the consequences of bold assertion.”

Hitching Post Newtown 09

John would need every aspect of these qualities as he exhorted the representatives of the thirteen original colonies.

Long May She Wave Newtown 09

“John Adams had recognized at an early age that happiness came not from fame and fortune, but from [in his own words] ‘an habitual contempt of them.'”

John Adams

“What, in another time and society might have been taken as platitudes about public service, were to both John and Abigail Adams a lifelong creed.”

Thirteen-star flag on winter’s day at Chestnut Neck, New Jersey – Battle lost to the British, and the town never restored13 Star Flag Chestnut Neck Revolutionary War Monument Winter 2017

“At Harvard, John, to his surprise, discovered a love of books and study such as he had never known. ‘I read forever,’ he would remember happily… In an age when men took particular pride in the breadth of their reading, he became one of the most voracious readers of any. Having discovered books at Harvard, he was seldom ever to be without one for the rest of his days.”

The ideas and the language John absorbed at Harvard are echoed in his very insistence upon “Independency”, his own speeches and writings, including the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence. And his never-failing support of Thomas Jefferson in his fevered authorship of the most important doctrine in our land.

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Adams held no illusions about what lay ahead, in July, 1776, Philadelphia: “The object is great which we have in view. And we must expect a great expense of blood to obtain it. But we should always remember that a free constitution of civil government cannot be purchased too dear a price. There is nothing on this side of Jerusalem of equal importance to mankind.”

john-adams-29

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

 

That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

 

adams-free-press

 

DREAMING CAPE MAY

A virtual voyage for all of you – to the tip of the Garden State – my refuge…

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If I could be anywhere, right now — anywhere in New Jersey…  I NEED her oceans!

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Cape May is a place I have treasured in solitudes, in all seasons and weathers except hurricane. This isolate point seems made for those who must, for example, flee holidays. Now, when there is something ENORMOUS to flee, we cannot leave wherever we are.

Skimmers Return Cape May Beach low light

For many, birds are the main reason to drive to the end of our state. Dawn delights include the return of the skimmers, from wherever they spend their nights.

Sunrise Sunset Oct. 2016 002

When Jeanette Hooban found us a cottage near the sea, Carolyn Yoder, she and I, could walk to dawn.

Sunrise Sunset Oct. 2016 004

How Cape May dwellings look when the dawn greets them.

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How the ocean’s night gifts look as you walk to breakfast.

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Where you eat breakfast, tucked in a dune.

Hawk Watch Easter

Why we’re here.

Higbee Beach Late October Swim 2016 007

Jeanette, in October, where she must be!

I fell in, watching her. First time I birdwatched through water.

Higbee Beach Late October Swim 2016 008

Jeanette in ecstasy, Carolyn Yoder and I sharing her delight.

 

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