RECUPERANT’S POEM — P.T. yet again…

Foot(e)bridge to Bull’s Island from Lumberville, Pennsylvania, in another season:

Table View Black Bass Autumn 2010

NJWILDBEAUTY readers must be wondering at my long silence in this blog.  Normally one of my most gratifying creative outlets, ==and a major part of my mission to urge people to pay attention to Nature, enjoy her, and save her–, doing a blog has been the farthest thing from my mind since February 18.

That day, a meniscus (right knee; we have four – what is the plural – menisci?) tore for no obvious reason.  Pain sharp as the venomous bite of a striking snake zoomed up and down my right leg, which then refused to work.  My chiropractor and my co-writer friend, Pat Tanner, had to meet me at my car at his office and my home, near Pat’s, to pry me out.  Or I’d be there still!

A meniscus has very little blood flow — therefore, it is prone to tearing, and not prone to healing.

***

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Barnegat Bay – Birding by Kayak – Heaven on Earth

In 2011, I set foot(e) into physical therapy with Princeton Orthopaedics, to return to the world and especially to kayaking, after my brilliant hip replacement with Doctor Thomas Gutowski.  My physical therapist – which process I have since insisted is as important as the surgery — was the perfectly named John Walker.  He’s the miracle worker, who took me kayaking upon Lake Carnegie four months after the surgery.

John knew that Dr. Gutowski had asked my surgical goal – (did you know there was such a thing?–) at our first meeting.  Dr. G did not laugh when I immediately announced, “To return to the kayak.”  In fact, he discussed my paddling preferences, later inserting a kayaker’s hip.

John Walker then strengthened all those long-underutilized muscles around the new joint — through three lengthy weekly sessions for a very long time.   One spring day, I confessed, most shamefacedly, that I’d planned to kayak that weekend, but had been afraid to do it alone.

[I, who do everything alone, like move to Manhattan straight from my convent school; like managing a Test Kitchen at 21 years old at the corner of forty-second and third; liuke move to Provence so I could spend my fiftieth birthday on my balcony overlooking the Mediterranean.]  But I couldn’t face LEAVING the kayak alone, no matter how blissful my paddle may have been.

Confession led to John’s saying, “That’s because we’re to do it together.”  And we did.

There wasn’t a soul on that lake, that still April evening.  We paddled through a Tiffany landscape complete with mountains (Watchungs?) I had never seen from the towpath.

As sunset approached, a great blue heron marched toward us at the forest edge.  That normally vigilant bird was not the least disturbed by our presence, since kayakers are part of the water.

Brenda Jones — Disturbed Great Blue Heron — Trenton Marsh

***

Never, however, did I consider entering those physical therapy doors again.

Guess what — we have to heal this meniscus tear and prevent any in the other three.  I have been returned to John to work on hamstrings and glutes.  I protested this week, “Those strange names are not part of my upbringing.  I don’t want glutes!”

“Carolyn,” John explained, in his traditional avuncular manner, “You HAVE to have glutes.  Especially for hiking…”

OK.  So now I don’t even have time for yoga.  Just glutes, hamstrings and core.

I’m sharing my newly relevant protest poem from five years ago.

Yes, it’s a blessing to be back in John’s capable hands.  He and my wondrous Hopewell chiropractor, Brandon Osborne, chronicle and celebrate improvements I am too dense to perceive.  Progress is being made.  But those rooms and those contortions used to seem like being kidnapped to go on the road with a circus!

With their vigilant approval, I was back on the alluring foot(e)bridge over the Delaware to Bull’s Island twice last weekend. Pileateds and phoebes announced spring.

Next foot(e)prints – The Sourlands Trail off Greenwood Avenue.

But I do not take back my discomfiture over all those months, following those strange directions:

***

JUXTAPOSITIONS

 

in this

room full of premature blossoms

I perform exercises

on the heels of ‘total hip replacement’

 

March sun suffuses whiteness

that one day should be pears

as I am handed stretching bands,

assorted weights, one bolster

and a ball

 

here, serious playthings promise

flexibility, stamina, gait

— and possibly– kayaking

 

relentlessness conspires

with absolute lack of privacy

throughout my fitness attempts

 

outside, blossoms yearn

for pollinators’ essential arrivals

 

inside, –completing yet another

“two sets of thirty”–

I perceive flowery profusion

through a tall bright curve

of ivory spinal column

 

vertebrae and blossoms

my new reality

 

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

 

***

Dappled Sourlands Trail, off Greenwood Avenue, Hopewell

Dappled Sourlands

 

 

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SUN-SEEKING, Literal and Metaphorical

Is it November, –or is it THIS November–, that renders sun a memory?

What images, what journeys hold light so crucial to me, ever more essential, every day?

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Autumn Along the Stony Brook, 2016, November

 

Key birding buddy, Mary Wood, and I ‘hiked the day down,’ –mostly wordlessly, often birdlessly–, after the election.  November surprised us with remnant vividness.

Walk with us.  Climb with us.

 

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Birding Platform Over the Wetlands

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Map – Charles Rogers Refuge – off Alexander, near Princeton Canoe and Kayak Rentals

 

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Likely Birds – Red-wing Heaven in Springtime

 

We owe this lovely restoration to Winnie (Hughes) and Fred Spar, and Tom Poole.  I know Winnie through U.S. 1 Poets, and Fred and Tom through D&R Greenway Land Trust, where I work.

Finding these images on this gloomy day reminds that all that matters in my life is preservation, — of nature, of beauty, of wild spaces.

Oh, yes, and freedom.  For the wildlings and for us.

Winnie and Fred, in their fine new signs, give honor to legendary birder, quintessential birdwalk leader, Lou Beck, of Washington Crossing Audubon.

We all give credit to everyone who reaches out, through whatever non-profits, to save the wild while we can.  Thoreau was right, you know:  “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”

 

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Restored Wetlands — Note Return of the Cattails, and Purple Martin House and Gourds

 

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“September, we’ll remember…”

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Upside-Down is Better than Right-Side Up

 

 

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Finale, Rogers Refuge and the Stony Brook

 

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“From Both Sides Now”

 

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November Tapestry in the Stony Brook

Memories of this refuge especially include green herons.  Not this day, not this season — but often.  Sometimes, kayaking nearby, one spots green herons mincing along the banks of the (D&R, of course) canal, then lofting up into Refuge trees.

 

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Green Heron by Brenda Jones

 

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Spring Species, Rogers Refuge

 

Spring brings not only winged miracles. This refuge is yellow-flag and blue-flag Central in May.  Wild iris of the most vivid hues, The Rogers is worthy of a journey for ‘flags’ alone.

 

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Blue Flags from Versicolor on Interniet

 

Invasive species had driven out cattails essential to territorializing red-winged blackbirds.

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Male Redwinged Blackbird, Territorializing, by Brenda Jones

Seemingly inescapable phragmites, — bush-tailed grasses beloved of decorators–, are too frail to support the weight of males, ruffling scarlet epaulets, vocalizing welcome to females and banishment to rivals, in these woods and wetlands.

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Phragmites Height from Internet

Restoration, a key facet of preservation, is visible in the final scene of Mary’s and my November walk.

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Late Light in the Cattails

Home Is the Wanderer, Home from the Hills

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View From Florence Griswold House

NJWILDBEAUTY Readers know that Betty Lies arranged an artquest for us to the Connecticut town of Old Lyme.  Here, as you learned some posts ago, significant American artists of the Tonalist School boarded with Florence Griswold, turning out misty, moody, dreamy scenes of the bucolic surroundings of that stately home and town.  Others came along, electrified by the French Barbizon School’s approach to landscape, which had been (scornfully, by an art critic) christened “Impressionism”, with a nasty nod to Monet’s “Impression: Sunrise.” 

Neither school was a School.  Each evolved naturally, inspired by nature, in the days before ‘development’, which to me has always been a euphemism for ‘destruction.’

Our plan had been to drive up on Friday; stay in a nearby B&B; on Saturday, find the Museum that the Griswold home has now become;to  spend ‘the shank of the day’ with the artwork in frames and on walls, doors and panels of Miss Florence’s guests.  An adjacent gallery holds artwork of other countries and eras, all of it either leading to or influenced by Tonalism.

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Betty Studies the “Ticket Booth” for Outdoor Events on Florence Griswold’s Lawn

Fate had other ideas.

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Sign, Lawn and Gardens of Florence Griswold House, Old Lyme, CT

Betty’s early-morning fall on the Friday of departure led to nearly five Saturday hours in the Emergency rooms of (ironically) Middlesex Hospital (name of one of the hospitals in which my late husband long served, in New Brunswick, NJ, in the years of our marriage.)  This Middlesex is in Middleton, CT, and we now know more about Middlesex than we ever intended.  Her arm had broken.  Yes, the driving arm.  It was FINALLY splinted and slinged.  It is now cast, courtesy of Princeton physicians.  And we barely made it to Griswoldiana.

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Barn, Griswold House Grounds

Betty’s heroic and staunch.  I am neither, especially after spending this summer caught up in the dire plight of my nephew’s son James.  This musically gifted 20-year-old was snared by cancer inside his spinal column, abruptly and seemingly irrevocably discovered August 1.  James has now undergone two surgeries and God KNOWS how much chemo.  His walking remains a major challenge.

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Healthy Dahlia, Griswold Gardens

Betty drove anyway, insisting it did not hurt, as her insurance covers only the owner/driver.  I realized, that Saturday’s challenge was my first-ever experience of an Emergency Room.  That name, too, is ironic.  For no one seemed to comprehend the urgency in emergency.

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Palette, Griswold Garden

The art was lovely, dark but not deep.  Miss Florence remains overwhelmingly impressive, –such an independent woman making her indelible mark on the work of art, despite the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in HER life.  Another mentor for us, like Eleanor (Roosevelt) and Georgia (O’Keeffe).

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Miss Florence’s Lamp, Griswold House

I only managed a handful of pictures for my readers.  Put Old Lyme into the search function to see the internet scenes of the mystical art which catalyzed and still evoke our experience.

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Miss Florence’s Roof

And I wonder if I’ll ever be able to figure out this trip.

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Miss Florence’s House, Home and Catalyst of Tonalism in American Art

 

Mary Oliver, Poet, “The Soft Animal of Your Body…”

Sometimes I think I should just give UP writing about nature and turn this entire world, not just NJWILDBEAUTY, over to my Ur-Poet — Mary Oliver, formerly of Provincetown, Mass, bard of the sea and the dunes and the wild creatures.  She describes her life purpose as “trying to write about nature so that anyone can understand it.”  Needless to say, she has been my mentor for decades.

Port in All Storms Provincetown

Provincetown, Mass — Port in All Storms

My computer didn’t compute all weekend, so I luxuriated in every Mary Oliver book, –prose and poetry–, that I own.

 

Mary Oliver on Provincetown Beach

Mary Oliver on Provincetown Beach, from Internet

The greatest tribute I can give to this Pulitzer-prize-winning poet is that hers were the only books I took to the hospital and rehab when my failed hip was replaced with a kayaker’s hip, on 11/11/11.  As Dr. Thomas Gutowski teased me, “You may like it better than the original.”

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Carolyn Kayaking on Barnegat Bay, the Sedge Islands, in August, 2000

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that I make the most of this new hip, on trails and in the kayak.  I moved everything aside to kayak twice in two days a weekend ago, out on the canal, and writing of it for Rich Rein and his array of lively local papers.  My ideal, of course, will be a ‘trifecta’ – Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the water — but the weather gods will have to cooperate.

Provincetown Mac Millan Wharf Rowing Home

Provincetown, Returning Home

When Jeanette Hooban and Carolyn Yoder and I were in Provincetown last Hallowe’en, my favorite part (beyond the food! o yes, and the whale and seals) was the library, where everyone knew Mary, where her garden had been, how marvelous she was at readings and what a quiet force she was in that unique town..

Classic Provincetown from Mac Millan Wharf

Provincetown Central

Here is my all-time favorite Mary Oliver masterpiece — make of it what you will!  What does it stir in YOU?  Tell me in comments!

smiles, Carolyn

This came from a blog called Home Thoughts Worth Thinking, when I Googled, “soft animal of your body.”

They do not attribute the painting — my guess is one of my all-time American favorites, Winslow Homer.  What do you think?

cfe

“I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of the Imagination.” — John Keats


“WILD GEESE”
by Mary Oliver



You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

 

Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

 

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely

the world offers itself to your imagination

calls to you like the wild geese — harsh and exciting —

over and over, announcing your place

in the family of things

 

geese pass moon by Brenda Jones

Wild Geese Pass the Moon, by Brenda Jones, Fine Art Photographer

SIGN UP FOR FRIENDS OF THE EARTH & SAVE THE PLANET

Morning on Barnegat Bay Island Beach April 2016

Exquisite, Now Healthy, Barnegat Bay, thanks to Preservationists / Environmentalists

Some of you surely wonder why I’ve spent 11 going on 12 years at D&R Greenway Land Trust, at this phase of my life, and, yes, so poorly recompensed.  The answer is, my life mission has become to save the Planet.

New Dune Grass Bayhead April 2016

New Dune, New Dune Grass, Protecting Beloved Bay Head, New Jersey, April 2016

If you ever check me out on Facebook, that’s basically the only kind of ‘posting’ I do.  Once friends and I fought with minimal success to save Kingson’s Princeton Nursery Land from being sold and developed through Princeton University, into what was Villas of Tuscany and is now Barclay Square.  Hundreds of towering dwellings went in, where magnificent trees used to thrive, and so close to our Canal – drinking water for thousands locally  These condos are visible from the D&R Canal and Towpath, which is absolutely forbidden – and yet, and yet… significant exceptions were made.  The developers had the Princeton Nursery Lands deemed officially ‘nonhistoric’, triumphantly showing the signed and sealed document at a critical hearing concerning ‘Villas of Tuscany.’  ‘Nonhistoric’ although Washington had marched there with his barefoot troops after the first Revolutionary Victories, the two in Trenton and the one in Princeton; then, again, en route to crucial Monmouth and yet another win.  Abraham Lincoln rode the Camden and Amboy Railroad through that land en route to his Inauguration and his grave.  The Princeton Nurseries were the finest in America and some say in the world in its day.  The Canal, Towpath and that railroad defined New Jersey, determined its essential towns.  You can see the Barclay Square dwellings, symbol of our defeat, when down in a kayak on the water.

I mourned, just before that distant meeting over on the Delaware River (so no one could attend the hearing without taking precious scarce vacation days to be there) to one of the fellow protestors, whom I didn’t even know: “But I’m a poet.  What am I doing at the barricades?!?”

His answer propels almost everything I do these days, including walking into D&R Greenway in 2006 and saying, “Am I supposed to work with you?”

“Carolyn,” this stranger answered on the phone, “The barricades — that is where poets belong!”

First Kayak D&R Canal at Alexander Rd May 2015

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

This serenity is the norm on the D&R Canal, except where Barclay Square looms.  We did manage to save enough land to create a preserve, carefully watched over by the Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands.  My heroic fellow barricade-contenders in that long-ago fight are still in the forefront of saving and keeping Kingston and its sacred Revolutionary War and Industrial and Canal and Towpath and even Camden and Amboy Railroad sites as safe as they can possibly be from rapacious developers.  We have Karen Linder, Anne Zeman, Mark Peel, Tari Pantaleo and Robert von Zumbusch to thank for Kingston successes.  In fact, join Friends of Princeton Nursery Lands whether you ever set foot(e) in Kingston or not — for that canal and that river flow into the Raritan, its sacred Bay, and the sea, mantle of our blue planet.

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Great Egret Fishing the D&R Canal,  by Brenda Jones

The following thank you note just came in from Friends of the Earth.  The 21st Century can seem so hopeless, climate-wise, Planet-wise.  But small acts by committed people, as Margaret Mead asserts, are still changing the world.  “Indeed, this is the only thing that ever has,” she continues.  Read this.  Sign up of Friends for the Earth yourselves, financially and electronically.  Let’s prove all the skeptics wrong and save our Planet.

Read the effects of courageous acts by committed people, 21st-Century paradigm changers:

(bolds mine)   cfe

Dear Carolyn Foote,

I was just thinking about all we’ve achieved together in the past few months and I wanted to thank you for making it happen. Your activism makes a difference!

In fact, the activism of Friends of the Earth members like you in Maryland was crucial to passing the nation’s first law to ban bee-killing pesticides. Without your emails, phone calls, and in-person meetings with local legislators, the law wouldn’t have passed. Now, it’s time to take the fight to other states with similar bills on the table — and build momentum for national action on bee-killing pesticides.

On the national level, you’ve driven progress in our work to keep fossil fuels in the ground. The White House recently put a moratorium on all new coal leasing — which you helped make happen by signing petitions and writing to the President. 

And that’s not all — the Obama Administration has also postponed five oil and gas lease sales — taking a total of 125,136 acres of public land off the table for now. We’re gaining momentum thanks to the constant drumbeat from people like you telling President Obama to protect our public lands and climate. But we won’t stop until the President keeps ALL our fossil fuels in the ground.

By taking action online and in your community, you are saving bees and butterflies. You’re preventing the worst impacts of climate chaos. From local victories to progress on national issues, you’re driving our work forward. So thank you for all you’ve done, and keep up the good work!

Thanks for being a Friend of the Earth.

Warm Regards,
Erich Pica,

President,
Friends of the Earth

 

 

 

FIRST KAYAK IMAGES D AND R CANAL SOUTH OF ALEXANDER

I’ll soon be writing an article on this for the Packet, for Anthony Stoeckert, a delight of an editor, on the first kayaking of Spring.

But I must let NJWILDBEAUTY readers know, I made it out there on our canal last evening, (Sunday, May 3) from five to 6:30.  There may be no lovelier way to end a day!

‘There’ is the Alexander Road station of Princeton Canoe and Kayak, canoenu.com, (also up at Griggstown, where I learned.)  I’ll give you more info later.

Meanwhile, welcome to Tranquility Base!

Kayak Still Life, Princeton Canoe and Kayak at Alexander Road, Princeton

Kayak Still Life, Princeton Canoe and Kayak at Alexander Road, Princeton

Entry from the Turning Basin into the D&R Canal

Entry from the Turning Basin into the D&R Canal

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

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

First Great Blue Heron, who did not make his squawk nor fly away - I left before he did

First Great Blue Heron, who did not make his squawk nor fly away – I left before he did

Homeward Bound, heading back toward the Alexander Road Bridge

Homeward Bound, heading back toward the Alexander Road Bridge

It’s kayak time — what are you waiting for?  (609-452-2403)  Ask for Steve and tell him Carolyn sent you!

BUT WILD, poem inspired by wild rice at Abbott Marshlands

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

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

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

But Ilene insisted that those blogs include my poetry.

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

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

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

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

BUT WILD

I seek a canoe

birch bark

still on the silk shore

of some broad Minnesota lake

in autumn

spice on the air

red-gold bittersweet twining

high among lakeside pines

water more green than blue

stiff/supple grasses parting

as we nose our silent way

to that center to which ancestors were led

by Grandfather Sky/Grandmother Moon

we make no sound

in whisper water

every clump of grass

bending in seasonal submission

my paddle enters the lake

noiseless as the sharpest knife

as my partner thrashes grasses

they bend to right/to left

filling his sweet lap

then our entire canoe

with brown black heads of rices

that have never been anything

but wild

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

August 24, 2001