TRUE LEADERSHIP: America, in all her challenges, TRULY THE BEAUTIFUL

NJWILDBEAUTY was founded to celebrate our bountiful Garden-and-River-and-Ocean-and-Forest-and-HISTORY State. For a thousand reasons now, I may turn NJWB over to true patriotism. –To a time when leaders turned around the most desperate situations, with grins that banished shadows.  A time when leaders were not only followed, but emulated.

Our Heroes FDR Library

I was born in to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency. He felt like another father to children. And Eleanor was right there at his side on all of his causes and many of her own, –such as being kind and generous to black people; such as writing her My Day Column every day but a few after his death – to teach, to comfort, to lead the nation. Such as founding Arthurdale in a region of abject poverty, giving people not only homes but pride and new self worth.

FDR Library Mosaic

Franklin was born in the Hyde Park home above. His adult bedroom window (from whose bed he could not rise without strong assistance because of polio) is below:

Springwood FDR's Bedroom Window

On the grounds of Springwood, FDR learned to cherish the seasons and the trees. When he created the CCC, much of their nation-wide work, in addition to giving men money for their families, had to do with planting trees beyond counting.

Eleanor's Haven Hyde Park

Partway through his tenure, when the two of them forged a strong Home Front formidable against impossible odds, such as lingering Great Depression and really Two World Wars, he gave Eleanor nearby land where she could build a wood-crafting center to employ Hyde Park people; and where she ultimately would prefer to sleep, to live, away from the iron-fisted rule of Franklin’s Mother, Sara.

Eleanor's Cutting Garden Her Pride and Joy Val Kill Spring 2015

Eleanor’s Cutting Garden – one of her greatest Val Kill delights was the cutting and arranging of flowers from these beds. She had a special sink, beside which Eleanor would arrange flowers for legendary visitors, heads of state of other nations. Throughout WWII, she saw to it that the Victory Garden for foods she’d had planted at the White House inspired the nation to grow their own food so that farmed produce could nourish our starving allies.

Looking Back on Val Kill Spring 2015

Val Kill, Eleanor wrote, “is where I used to find myself and grow.  At Val Kill, I emerged as an individual.” In its simple, home rooms, she would host world dignitaries such as Winston Churchill, Marshal Tito, Haile Selassie, and Jawaharlal Nehru.  Democratic Party politicians came seeking her advice and support, including presidential candidates Adlai Stevenson and John F. Kennedy. At the end of her life, Eleanor was known as “First Lady of the World.”

Churchill at FDR Library May 2015

“Never in the course of human events has so much been owed by so many by so few.” (Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill on Britain’s pilots after surviving the Blitz.)

Election nights took place at Springwood – Sara’s impeccable lawns studded with fervid journalists, throughout the unprecedented four terms. When FDR would announce for office or spend election-night vigils, he would come and go from this train station, down the hill, next to the Hudson River.

RIP FDR Springwood Rose Garden May 2015

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was not only a statesman born to lead, but also a Hudson River Squire. Trees upon the Springwood land tied this American aristocrat to the land.

Eleanor’s love of flowers manifests in Springwood’s Rose Garden throughout three seasons, surrounding the grave none of us ever expected to see!

 

Accordionist weeps playing Goin Home FDR Funeral

 

 

4th of JULY: OUR NJ ~ LIBERTY’S CRADLE

New Jersey is a trove of history mattering more to me than any other — Revolutionary above all:

Centennial Flag1 1776 1876 Flag

President George Washington’s Triumphal Return to Trenton, Scene of Pivotal First Victories   – N.C. Wyeth

Washington visits Trenton N.C. Wyeth

The Fourth of July is approaching, reminding me that New Jersey is a treasure trove of history more significant to me than any other.

Our General

general-george-washington

“Throughout the Revolutionary War, there were many clashes between the Americans and British within the colony of New Jersey. In total, there were 296 engagements that occurred within New Jersey, more clashes than occurred in any other colony during the war.”

the-spirit-of-76-drummer flute flag

Scenes such as this took place in the middle of heroism and death, on routes we (usually) travel many days a week.

Clarke House, Princeton, Scene of Washington’s January 3, 1777 Victory

Clarke House Princeton Battlefield

John Adams and the Flag our Founders Brought Forth

john-adams-and-the-american-flag

Legends such as John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington were Stockton visitors at Morven in the heart of Princeton:

Morven Springtime, Princeton

Without the informed wisdom and measureless courage of our Founders here, in Philadelphia, and upon nearby battlefields, we would not have achieved that 13-star flag.

William Trent House Trenton 1719

The William Trent house, near unto the confluence of the Assunpink and the Delaware River, exists today, marking the site of those two most crucial victories of our history.

Trenton dates back at least to June 3, 1719, when mention was made of a constable being appointed for Trenton while the area was still part of Hunterdon County.

Lawrenceville School Vintage image internet,jpg

Lawrenceville was founded as Maidenhead in 1697, as part of Burlington County in the colony of West Jersey. In 1714, the village became a part of Hunterdon County. In 1798, the New Jersey Legislature legally incorporated the Township of Maidenhead.

Because Michigan was only founded in 1837, I am always deeply stirred by such early dates on New Jersey towns. I have to admit that dates on local signs, however overlook something significant:  The Lenni Lenape Native Americans were the earliest identifiable inhabitants of the Princeton area.

Lenape male

Washington Crossing Delaware painting Emanuel Leutze

And most thrilling of all is that our Delaware River, recently named River of the Year 2020 by American Rivers, could really have a subtitle: RIVER OF INDEPENDENCE.

View from D&R Greenway’s Goat Hill Preserve, where General Washington examined the river before crossing to Trenton.

Heat Haze Goat Hill December

Not only its crossing for the Christmas battle(s) of Trenton, but even the colonists’ successful defense of its mere tributary, –the Assunpink, IN Trenton, were so significant that we would not have a country without ‘Del’.

We the People from Internet orig

 

80 YEARS AGO NOW

mont-saint-michel-Street Scene from below

Beloved France was falling. In a handful of days, Charles de Gaulle would speak to his conquered people. But there is no recording of his first speech on that historic tragedy.

Mt. St. Michel cloister

 

Mt. St. Michel Statue St. Michael Spire

On 18 June 1940, as the French government prepared to sign an armistice with the Nazi invaders, General Charles de Gaulle broadcast on the BBC to France.

Rommel at Mt. St. Michel vonklugeaumonstmichel

That first broadcast was not recorded – so he repeated a similar speech on 22 June. This recording is of that broadcast on the BBC.

hitler triumphant at tour Eiffel June 1940

DeGaulle’s second speech translates:

The French government, after having asked for an armistice, now knows the conditions dictated by the enemy.

Swastika on Arc de Triomphe

The result of these conditions would be the complete demobilisation of the French land, sea, and air forces, the surrender of our weapons and the total occupation of French territory. The French government would come under German and Italian tutelage.

It may therefore be said that this armistice would not only be a capitulation, but that it would also reduce the country to slavery. Now, a great many Frenchmen refuse to accept either capitulation or slavery, for reasons which are called: honour, common sense, and the higher interests of the country.

I say honour, for France has undertaken not to lay down arms save in agreement with her allies. As long as the allies continue the war, her government has no right to surrender to the enemy.

The Polish, Norwegian, Belgian, Netherlands, and Luxemburg governments, though driven from their territories, have thus interpreted their duty. I say common sense, for it is absurd to consider the struggle as lost. True, we have suffered a major defeat. We lost the battle of France through a faulty military system, mistakes in the conduct of operations, and the defeatist spirit shown by the government during recent battles.

But we still have a vast empire, our fleet is intact, and we possess large sums in gold. We still have allies, who possess immense resources and who dominate the seas. We still have the gigantic potentialities of American industry. The same war conditions which caused us to be beaten by 5,000 planes and 6,000 tanks can tomorrow bring victory by means of 20,000 tanks and 20,000 planes.

I say the higher interests of the country, for this is not a Franco-German war to be decided by a single battle. This is a world war. No one can foresee whether the neutral countries of today will not be at war tomorrow, or whether Germany’s allies will always remain her allies. If the powers of freedom ultimately triumph over those of servitude, what will be the fate of a France which has submitted to the enemy?

Honour, common sense, and the interests of the country require that all free Frenchmen, wherever they be, should continue the fight as best they may.

It is therefore necessary to group the largest possible French force wherever this can be done. Everything which can be collected by way of French military elements and potentialities for armaments production must be organised wherever such elements exist.

I, General de Gaulle, am undertaking this national task here in England.

I call upon all French servicemen of the land, sea, and air forces; I call upon French engineers and skilled armaments workers who are on British soil, or have the means of getting here, to come and join me.

I call upon the leaders, together with all soldiers, sailors, and airmen of the French land, sea, and air forces, wherever they may now be, to get in touch with me.

I call upon all Frenchmen who want to remain free to listen to my voice and follow me.

Long live free France in honour and independence!

Hitler's Army March through Arc de Triomphe June 1940

 

Normandy – America’s Finest Day

d day typical image of Normandy beach town in peacetime

Typical Normandy Beach Town in Peacetime

In a world where violence is confused with law-enforcement, it helps to remember that tomorrow was D-Day.

Utah and Omaha were our Normandy beaches; Gold, Juno and Sword, the Brits’. Our ‘boys’ had barely been off the farm, let alone out of their home states, when they listened to General Eisenhower’s launch words in June, 1944:

DDay_Eisenhower-gives-Invasion-order_National-Archives

The weather had not cooperated, and Ike had to ‘bite the bullet’. Although troops had already boarded their brilliant new amphibious landing craft, he would have to postpone the landing until the sixth of June.  Imagine that our soldiers spent a day and a night sealed in on tossing seas, before the command to sail was given

I never see this scene without wondering how many of these very special beings lived to see another sunrise.

Normandy Invasion probably Capra cbs news

This iconic image is probably the inspired work of heroic Frank Capa, who is not credited in the series D-Day Images vouchsafed by the Internet source.

Only 30 years old on June 6, 1944, this talented photographer  shot 106 classic photographs, at great risk to his own ‘limb and life’.  Too soon, an assistant’s darkroom error deprived us of most of them.

Heroism was the norm that day.D Day soldiers on beach allthatsinteresting

Another norm on Utah and Omaha beaches was each G.I. Joe’s fierce concern for and protection of, his wounded buddies.

D Day Statue G I and fallen comrade blisstravelinc

Heroism itself is immortalized in this statue.

No heroism surpassed this G.I. paratrooper, entangled by his chute’s guy-wires, upon the steeple of this tiny, sturdy church in the heart of St.-Mere-Eglise.

D Day St. Mere Eglise paratrooper on tower

The French later commissioned this statue for their church. I seem to remember that this statue moves convincingly with the sea wind. In 1944, the soldier played dead all the literal live-long day, escaping only under cover of darkness.

D Day Painting color

The image source revealed no artist for this painting – appropriate, really.

Many a soldier was rendered anonymous during these crucial landings.

What’s haunting me in this century is how proud we were of our men.

How determined they were! How effectively “The Greatest Generation” made their way through Nazi-studded town after Nazi-studded town, restoring freedom to the French, to the world.

How long has it been since people in embattled countries wrote songs about us: “Over There / Over There…”  “The Yanks are coming! The Yanks are coming!”
D Day face St. Mere Eglise Paratrooper

I believe this is a dramatic close-up of the paratrooper trapped on the St.-Mere-Eglise church steeple.

 “D-Day at Utah began at 01:30, when the first of the airborne units arrived, tasked with securing the key crossroads at Sainte-Mère-Église

Now, not only  French cemeteries, but also French art, reveal how our soldiers were perceived and are remembered. August 15, 1944, as the Battle of Provence unfurled, our soldiers were so welcomed – almost like a family reunion. The soldiers gave out k-rations, chocolate and gum to boys and girls whose country had been relinquished/conquered in June of 1940. Provencal children named our boys, “Les Chewings“.

There’s a human story here, in 1976. Diane and Catherine and their Swiss father and I were swiftly exiting an German bunker that still loomed above Omaha Beach – site of greatest casualties. The girls were very uncomfortable in that grey grim structure, which reeked of former occupants.

They were also NOT happy NOT to be in Manhattan on the Fourth of July. Their PDS friends were gathering all along the Hudson that day, to celebrate with the TALL SHIPS. Clipper ships of many nations filled that River Hudson for the Bicentennial Fourth, and our girls were not there.

I’d heard just about enough. This came to me: “Please consider that, if it had not been for blood spilled upon these sands, there would be no bicentennial for us.”

Werner produced our four paperback copies of Cornelius Ryan’s The Longest Day. My husband and I I sat on the warm sand, picking up where d each had left off the night before.

The Longest Day Cornelius Ryan vintage cover

The girls settled down to begin their reading. Their backs rested against a towering rusted hulk from D-Day, 1944.

O, the last line of the song of our soldiers is, “…and they won’t be back, til it’s over, over there…”

 

 

 

 

 

“I MUST go down to the SEAS again, the lonely SEA and the SKY…” Part II…

Tumultuous or calm, I am shattered by the duration of sea-less time demanded of me

by Corona.

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John Masefield’s longing for “a warm wind, the west wind” had to do, not with just any sea and sky, but that which surrounds his West Country, Britain’s Cornwall. Some waves striking and foaming upon Cornish slatey rocks have touched no land since leaving America’s east coast. Some of the sea that mattered to Masefield (and me) is the Bay of Tintagel, in which Arthur’s summer palace lived in flawlessly defended (by black rock and sea) splendor.

But the sea and sky I miss most in this Lockdown Life is American’s own ‘land’s end’ – Cape May and Cape May Point. 

I not only miss the Atlantic and the Delaware Bay – I miss the gentle shrubby conduits we take,  toward both birding and swimming in season. These two scenes are Cape May’s Higbee Beach. In the warming time, this peaceful area is dominated by “morning flight”: Vociferous hordes of birds return to, and sometimes collapse upon these pristine sands, exhausted. They have just crossed our twelve-mile-wide Delaware Bay, in their challenging migration journeys from wintering grounds. To catch the flight phenomenon, best to be at Higbee before dawn. All will be over by nine a.m. or so, at this particular site.  But everywhere at “The Point” is bird-rich now, right now…

Cut Throuth to the Beach Cape May)

People migrate, also, upon the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. Birders take these trips, not necessarily involving vehicles, in order to lift magnificent optics to follow pelagic birds.  They’ll turn right ’round in Lewes and return, watching every wing.

The everyday word for pelagics, – ‘seabirds’-is somewhat misleading. Under this term, \even gulls would generate enthusiasm.  ‘Pelagic’ denotes birds that spend significant portions of life on the open ocean, rarely venturing to land except to breed. (And sometimes in storms, when birders are the ones migrating to Cape May, alerted by hot lines/Twitter, and the like.) The albatross may be the most famous pelagic, partly, also, because of a poem, Coleridge’s dramatic “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”

Shearwaters, petrels, frigatebirds and fulmars are undisputed members of this tribe. 

Cape May-Lewes Ferry

I am not pelagic! I have no excuse for my need for saltwater settings.  Growing up in Michigan, I became accustomed to our literally Great Lakes. Both Michigan and Superior seem oceanic — in extent, power and danger.      I have to admit a a few quibbles here, though, along the lines of salinity and tides.

Skimmers Return Cape May Beach low light

Black skimmers are not pelagic. They nest on offshore sandy isles near Cape May. One of the treats of Cape May dawnings is the return of these magical creatures from The Great Wherever.        Angling in, in droves, these flocks stun birders and non-birders alike with their numbers and their beauty.

Skimmers live up to their name and are most easily seen in Absecon Bay off ‘The Brig’/Forsythe near Smithville, NJ.       It’s like watching a winged corps de ballet                   –choreographed by Balanchine–, as they sink with drama and grace toward the water that is their stage and dining room.

That bright red lower mandible slices the surface. It is so sensitive, it can sense nourishment that then flows right on into all that openness. There is nothing more appropriate to Memorial Day or the Fourth or Labor day than skimmers’ combos of red bills, indigo waters, the whitest of clouds above echoing every sweep of brightness adorning these winged acrobats!

It’s very easy to be distracted by skimmers, even from breakfast at  Cape May.

Luminosity

The above is my favorite walk in all seasons , from the Jetty to Cape May Light. You DO have to be better versed in tides, however, than this Michigander. You do NOT want to arrive at the Light, lofted above Cape May point, only to turn around and find your trail is under the ocean you so require.

Oyster Catcher at Barnegat

Wondrous nature photographer Brenda Jones found this American oystercatcher at Barnegat Light, not far from Cape May. That habitat includes rocks, which oystercathcers require in order to find their eponymous food, which they open so much more easily than we can!

If you ‘hit’ Cape May Jetty-to-Light sand at the right tide, right about now, you will hear wild whistling of territorial oystercatchers. Do they EVER mean BUSINESS! They’re mating now, so seriously seeking sandy sites for their eggs, nests that can withstand not only storms and increasingly wild winds, but also the ever-increasing ravages of sea-level rise.

It delights me not only to study this glorious creature Brenda brings us, but also to absorb the near-indigo Atlantic Ocean behind him. I know from trying to find harlequin ducks at Old Barney, how very deep and ferocious these waters can be, how treacherous (for humans) these rocks.

red throated tloon from Internet glamour_iandavies

This time of year, also, if you’re very lucky, at Cape May and elsewhere, –including Island Beach waters and those of Sandy Hook–, you may discover the red-throated loon.  This image comes from a jaunt to ‘the Hook’ on a frigid January jaunt. Would you guess that his throat in breeding plumage is the hue of a Chateau Margaux swirled in a flawless crystal ballon?  A very good year, of course…

The sea is far more essential this time of year to the horseshoe crab than it is to yours truly. This ancient relative of spiders (!) surges onto Delaware Bay beaches at high tide(s) of May, each female laying, in one season, as many as 88,000 eggs. Rich in the most nourishing fats, these eggs fuel  non-stop Arctic flights for so-endangered red knots, ruddy turnstones, the more bountiful semi-palmated sandpipers and lively, scurrying sanderlings.

Horseshoe Crab shell

This horseshoe crab’s meat likely nourished laughing, herring and ring-billed gulls, gathering (at high tide) now, –as I am not–, along our Delaware Bay.

Drifter

Another reason I require the ocean, at all times, –and never MORE than NOW!–, is its flotsam and jetsam. [Don’t ask which is which.] Each item on this tide-packed sand has stories to tell.

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Both ocean and bay are consummate ‘stylists’! (At 20, I was a food stylist in Manhattan for the finest photographers, immortalizing General ‘Foods’ products.)    I never attained these heights — credit Mother Nature and Neptune.

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I like ‘reading’ the tide’s signatures, like sentences, like arabesques, in among these left-behind shells and stones. The pristine nature of beaches now is a real triumph.

Note this real ‘sugar sand’, which still blesses many Cape May beaches. In some places, of course, along our coasts, where Sandy had its way with us, the Army Corps of Engineers has brought in replacement sand. It is dredge sand, –a hideous color–, so thick in texture it guarantees blisters for the barefoot.

Higbee Beach Late October Swim 2016 008

You’ve seen this before — I wouldn’t be in the salt waters that surround Cape May this early in the season. But when Jeanette Hooban deliberately swam at Higbee Beach on our Hallowe’en Trip, I was exultantly watching her (in shorts and t-shirt), standing very near.  Deceptively tiny waves swept sand right out from under both feet and lo! I fell backwards onto the bottom.  Eyes wide, I stared delightedly at perfect sky right through my cherished Atlantic Ocean.

My ocean felt WONderful!

 

It’s something about limitlessness.

It’s something about beauty.

Definitely about the daily plethora of surprises.

Let John ‘take it’:

Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

 

Proud American Heritage of Bordentown

Tiny Bordentown, New Jersey, is very responsible for the birth of our Country — This village was the only place where Thomas Paine ever owned a home. George Washington has insisted that, without Paine’s writings, the vaunted ‘Spirit of ’76’ would never have come to fruition. What this brave man called ‘Common Sense’, was, frankly, seditious.

Because of the words of this Bordentown resident, we can be proud of our country.

Ben Franklin is said to have quipped, “We must hang together, or we will hang separately.” All of our Founding Fathers (and Mothers – especially Abigail) “pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honour”to bring a free American into being.

1 1776 1876 Flag

What Thomas dared to write, unfortunately, rings true in these times:

Winter Shadows Tom Paine Corner
My favorite Paine quote, after “times that try men’s souls” is “I’d rather see my horse Button eating the grass of Bordentown … than see all the pomp and show of Europe,” Paine wrote from London in a 1789 letter to a friend.
This mural of other times gives you a sense of lovely Bordentown as Paine might have treasured it.
Bordentown Mural wide view
The mural is beside the venerable Quaker Meeting House.
Quaker Meeting House BordentownThe past remains present in Bordentown. We can renew our pride in our country there, and in the courageous band who brought us into being.
Bordentown Peach Mousse Iris
Now, one of the town’s treasures is it’s legendary iris blooms, iris festival. These scintillating flowers are probably at peak right now, as the festival is always Mother’s Day Weekend.
Bordentown Franklin Carr Iris Hybridizer plaque
Franklin Carr is responsible for bounteous beauty. His memorial garden is off Farnsworth Avenue, high above the storied Delaware River. In the same setting is a Point Breeze Garden, displaying plants that were at the exquisite estate of that name, home of Joseph Bonaparte, former King of Spain and of Naples; and his nephew/son-in-law Charles Lucien Bonaparte, naturalist/ornithologist who discovered and named New Jersey species in the broad and fruitful marsh below the mansion.
Joseph-Bonaparte
Joseph Bonaparte’s happiest years were his seventeen in Bordentown.
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Missing ‘the Little Things’

Virtually nothing prepared me for the reality of now – nature herself effectively closed  because of a worldwide virus.

‘Brig’/Forsythe — After Hurricane Sandy

Sandy Blockades Brigantine

No matter what “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” swirled about me in New Jersey, its shores and coasts and sands and paths, –especially wooded ways — would restore the Carolyn Soul.  No longer.

Bridge from Winter to Winter Bowman's 09

Yes, I yearn again to be absolutely surrounded by New Jersey Nature.

plainsboro-preserve snow scene from Internet

Season does not matter. Nor place – The above is Plainsboro Preserve.

As Corona-Captivity lengthens and expands, however, it is the little things I crave:

The Sacred Eggs Fortescue Horseshoe Crabs Mem. Day 2017

Possibly the littlest to be relinquished this year are tiny eggs of horseshoe crabs. Our Delaware Bayshore is soon to be peppered with tinctures of life. Not only essential to the future of horseshoe crabs,  –so-endangered red knots and ruddy turnstones must ingest sufficient crab egg nutrition not only to make it to the Arctic, but also to breed and lay eggs whose contents ultimately will sprout wings and fly. The full moon of May is Horseshoe-Landing Time. Essential sanctions and strictures will prevent my being witness.

I seem to need Pine Barrens ‘little things’ above all:

jerseys-jewels-chatsworthjpg

Jersey’s Jewels, Sugar Sand, Chatsworth

NJWILDBEAUTY readers well know how I cherish every cranberry, –whether burgeoning on the vine, being harvested by traditional methods, or somehow surviving –ripe as rubies– alongside Pine Barrens’ fruitful bogs.

cranberries-on-the-vine-chatsworth

Cranberries on the Vine, Chatsworth

(Cranberries, at least, need not observe social distancing.)

I miss every boardwalk.

Exquisite Barnegat Bay Island Beach April

lands-end-island-beach-dec

Our Land’s End — Below This is Barnegat Inlet, with ‘Old Barney’ Lighthouse on the Other Side

I miss cut-throughs and being out in wild weather.

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Storm at Sea, Cape May

But, most of all, I miss the little things.

 

Transformation of mood has become the burden of memory.

 

 

 

“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.

perfect-balance-oceanside-flycaster-island-beach-dec

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.

snow-geese-on-the-wing-brigantine-with-carolyn-yoder-january-2015

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

fellowship-and-solitude-island-beach-1-1-17

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.

boardwalk-to-destruction-ib-cfe

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?

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