NJWILDBEAUTY readers know I cherish and require New Jersey’s wild natural spaces. Frankly, my passion for NJ open space is right up there with my need of Cornwall’s and Brittany’s. It’s why I pour myself into preservation every week at D&R Greenway Land Trust. Although centered in Princeton, we save the land in seven counties, approaching the 20,000-acre mark.
Lovely Cedar Ridge, like all of our preserves, bel0ngs to the people, in the best American tradition. Wild creatures thrive here. Hunters have restored a stone wall of yesteryear. A majestic oak stand sentinel at the center of the trails. The ‘two-legged, the four-legged, the winged’, as the Lenni Lenape named them, are free in this multi-faceted setting just off Van Dyke Road beyond Hopewell, because it was preserved.
The box turtle reminds me of FDR’s Four Freedoms, so beautifully illustrated in four enormous canvases at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Never forget these freedoms.
Choose only to vote for people who increase:
FREEDOM FROM FEAR
FREEDOM OF SPEECH
FREEDOM FROM WANT
FREEDOM OF WORSHIP
Every once in awhile, I have to visit other states in quest of wild beauty, spectacular hikes, and always history. Don’t get me wrong, NJ has HISTORY in capital letters. I’ve read that 75% of the significant battles of our Revolution took place on NJ soil. And three significant early victories — the two battles of Trenton and the single one at Princeton. Our Founding Fathers traveled through our state on their way to forging liberty at Philadelphia. Words penned there could have cost every delegate his “life, fortune and sacred honor.” Two nearby New Jerseyans paid with their lives for Signing that sacred Declaration – Stockton and Hart.
General Washington examined the Delaware from Goat Hill, below Lambertville, before his significant Christmastime crossing. John McPhee claims that the shad of that sacred river sustained the troops at Valley Forge. And some also insist that rations of Jersey Ligntnin’ — applejack made particularly in our Pine Barrens– were issued to instill courage as needed.
The General and his bootless heroic men defended liberty at Monmouth, where extreme summer heat may have been our secret weapon. We would not have become the literal Land of Liberty without New Jersey.
For me, there’s a special, inexplicable connection between lighthouses and liberty:
Partly on account of the courageous and brilliant Adams of Massachusetts, we secured true freedom from the tyranny of George III. Never forget that John daringly defended those accused of the so-called Boston Massacre. Otherwise, he insisted, all the words spoken and penned in Philadelphia would have meant nothing.
Sometimes I have to return to his state for deep doses of history, heroism, and nature herself. Chatham Mass.was my summer home for at least a decade of summers. Glorious even in fog, Chatham seems to hold light by day and by night, filling me recently, as NJWILDBEAUTY readers know, with scenes seemingly unchanged since the 1970’s.
Chatham’s light has brought safety in storms for decades beyond counting. Let that light fill you, and and do whatever you can to increase the light of true liberty in our land.
In rustic Leeds Point (home of the Jersey Devil, also in the 1700’s) fishermen and clammers and crabbers remain free to ply their generational trade, moving silently along tidal creeks through wetlands. Many wetlands in that region have been preserved through the foresight of Forsythe – Edmund B., a politician far ahead of his time in realizing how important open space is to true liberty.
Two of my all-time heroes are Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and his intrepid activist wife, Eleanor. Next week I’ll be in his ancestral home, Springwood, with two of The Intrepids. We’ll make pilgrimage to 1930’s murals, evoking rural ways and the Depression out of which FDR pulled us all, in the post office he dedicated in Rhinebeck.
Our first meal will be at the Beekman Arms in Rhinebeck, pre-Revolutionary haven and living museum. Their Tavern seems even now to echo with the sound of pewter tankards, banged on weathered tables, as Revolutionaries of New York insisted, “Give me liberty, or give me death.”
My friends know, if I could return in any era, I’d choose Philadelphia in the 1770’s. I’d have to have been a man then, of course. We’d all be there – Tom and John and Ben and George and Richard Stockton and I hope Tom Paine, banging those tankards at the City Tavern by my beloved Delaware River.
From our thoughts and this cacophony would flow the liberty which sustains us today. Do not, for God’s sake, lose it!
These two never lost sight of what really matters in America.