“CONFLUENCE” – Poem on Rivers, (for once, not the Delaware)

 

Written some years ago, this poem resurrects a winter trip to Pere Marquette State Park with my sister, Marilyn, to southern Illinois.  We stayed in Pere Marquette Lodge, which echoes Yellowstone’s and Yosemite’s.  It is sited at the point where three rivers (Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi) course as one, –keeping the waters open, blessing the birds    The rangers at Pere Marquette State Park told us at our dawn confluence (of naturalists), “Every black dot is an eagle.”

 

CONFLUENCE

 

this wild connection

proves turbulent as two rivers

 

–Illinois, Missouri –

coursing, writhing

between blonde flanks

of tower-rocks

that funneled Pere Marquette

in his frail bark

smack into the Mississippi

 

here eagles cry and joust

for winter fish

–all smaller tributaries

marble-hard

releasing no nourishment

 

two tumultuous rivers

crest, fling spray

scour their own depths

 

til scale-silvered life

meets fate

in gilded beaks and talons

 

–two voluminous rivers roiling

until fish take wing

 

 

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

 

DELAWARE RIVERKEEPER: “Environmental Protection is Not a Partisan Issue”

 

 

Delaware, the River, and the Official Riverkeeper — Tale of Christmas and Courage

washington-crossing-delaware-image-from-internet-2cuff0553b

Washington Crossing the Delaware to Trenton, from Internet, by Leutze

Christmas is a time for every citizen in our country and everywhere, to remember:

without the Delaware River, there wouldn’t BE an America. 

This post celebrates a mightily courageous woman — Maya von Rossum — the official Delaware Riverkeeper.  She’s articulate, accurate, and brilliant.  Following her blog, or attending to local news media night after night, readers marvel at Maya’s steady focus on the many perils of our boundary water, and what must be done to reverse them.  Some situations are obvious and seemingly internal: like pollution, stormwater run-off, animal wastes and fertilizer poisoning by nearby farms.  One, which I fought to prevent, is artificially emptying her to cool a nuclear power plant.  Other dangers are less visible, certainly far more difficult to describe — matters political.  Listen with me to our spokeswoman, what she has to say about our river, our country, our freedom in these times.  AND THE IMPORTANCE OF SPEAKING OUT. 

Thomas Paine exemplified the utmost daring and determination in his diatribes, polemics, books and pamphlets in the time of the American Revolution.  It is the essence of the country our Founding Fathers dared all to create, that vox populi  — the Citizen’s Voice — is to be encouraged and heeded so that liberty may truly exist. 

Thomas Jefferson felt the war could never have been won without Paine’s words.  It is no accident that his most famous book is Common Sense.

NJWILDBEAUTY long-time readers, –especially those who came aboard when this was a Packet Publications Blog, NJWILD –, know that I’ve been fighting for the well-being of our magnificent Delaware River since I moved to New Hope from Princeton in March of 1981.   I used postcards of the painting above to announce my change of address.

baldpate-mountain-view-brenda-jones

Delaware River From Baldpate Mountain by Brenda Jones

That essential move across the river plunged me right into her perils.  Forces of greed, (though we did not bandy about that phrase in those days), a.k.a. PECO (Pennsylvania’s PSEG) and chemical firms, lawyers and judges, far-seeing realtors wanted to insert a pump into the Delaware.  To remove unconscionable amounts from this already too-thin river, and pump them to the Susquehanna River, where Del’s water would be used to cool a nuclear power plant.  A fierce protest group, Del-AWARE formed.  A newspaper was generated.  The printed word, the spoken word, and especially the televised word brought us national coverage in our battle for the river.

Our strategy meetings were held at a rather disreputable tavern, [Applejack’s – is it still there?] –appropriately upriver, on the river, above New Hope.  Remember that taverns were the meeting sites in the 1770s, where our seemingly impossible American Revolution unfolded.  I always picture early patriots, including Tom and John and George and Ben at Philadelphia’s City Tavern, banging pewter tankards on rough wooden tables, asserting “Give me LIBERTY or give me DEATH!”

In the 1980’s, near Lumberville, PA, just north of New Hope, my own friends, — women, including nursing mothers and venerable grandmothers–, lay down in front of the bulldozers set loose to ruin the river environmentlay down to save the river, and were jailed at what is now the Michener Museum.  For some reason, no one at that Bucks County penal institution seemed to have heard of the writ of habeas corpus, so those women were jailed for the entire weekend!  Patriots, indeed!  I think of this every time I view Delaware River Impressionists honored on the Michener’s former prison walls.

flood-waters-brenda-jones

Delaware in Flood, by Brenda Jones

I love our river even more than I cherish our state.  But I couldn’t lie down in front of bulldozers.  However, I could write.  I penned poems such as “I am The River Speaking” and “To Val (Sigstedt) and the Valorous” to be published in the DEL-AWARE newspaper.  One, written when the forces of greed blasted the river during the shad run, [and Nature generated a powerful mud-slide right across from the site of the proposed PUMP], ends, “Blast ME?  I’ll show YOU power!”

[To read the poems, here’s an earlier post with both in it:https://njwildbeauty.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/dump-the-pump-fighting-for-the-delaware-river-with-poems/comment-page-1/%5D

One feels so hopeless in the force of these impassive official corporate forces.  But I could also write prose, –especially letters to editors of Bucks County and Philadelphia Newspapers.  And, each week, in Doylestown, as a volunteer, I  penned position papers, releases and speeches for Congressional candidate, Peter Kostmayer.  Peter ultimately would see to it that our Del was named Wild and Scenic, for as much of her imperiled length as could possibly qualify.  He also played a major role in stopping the Tocks Island Dam Project. I’d write truths about the essentiality of saving our river one day, and see them on Page One of the Philadelphia Inquirer, as headlines, the next day.

THEN, as NOW, WORDS MATTERED – but they must be conveyed to the broadest possible public.

We succeeded in returning Peter to office, despite mockery, fury, insults, dirty tricks – like wording the Dump the Pump referendum backwards, so we had to vote YES to mean NO PUMP.  We won the May referendum to prevent the building of the PUMP. 

After which, I moved to France.  Upon my return, the PUMP was in place.  It had been a non-binding referendum.  Let the protestors beware…  However, our battle kept the greedy group from fulfilling their original plan to remove 200 million gallons a day from the River of the Revolution!

It’s almost Christmas, 1916.  Grave changes are afoot in our country, which could result in negative changes far more perilous and long-lasting than the Delaware’s unwelcome PUMP.

It’s also almost the anniversary of George’s famous Crossing, to win the two battles of Trenton and the one battle of Princeton.  Never forget that the third of our first victories took place in Princeton, near the Clarke House, near the Institute for Advanced Study [who have finally bowed to protests and will not be developing acres of that sacred battlefield.]

Soon we can attend the annual re-enactment at Washington’s Crossing on the Delaware below New Hope.  There might be enough water in our river, after all, despite this serious drought year.  People who live near major rivers know truths despite increasing insistence that global warming is a myth.  For awhile, it looked as though this year’s Re-enactors would have to walk across.

Without the Delaware River, and her bounty of shad, according to Founding Fish author John McPhee, which fed our meagerly-clad-and-nourished officers in winter quarters, WE WOULD NOT HAVE A NATION.

Because of the Delaware River, we are the only state with three coastlines — the Shore, The River, and the Delaware Bay.  Vital Philadelphia and our own Capitol would not exist without the Delaware,  Yet, she is never safe.

coursing-waters-brenda-jones

Coursing Waters, High Water, Delaware River by Brenda Jones

LISTEN TO THE DELAWARE RIVERKEEPER, HERE, AND ACT ACCORDINGLY.  Her level of commitment, devotion, and willing to sacrifice and risk, is Revolutionary.  Let Maya be our model, every one of us!

LISTEN TO MAYA.  FOLLOW HER BLOG.  IT’S TIME THAT EACH OF US BECOMES A Delaware Riverkeeper, a keeper of all rivers, of all natural beauty and the creatures — including humans — who require safe habitat in order to thrive.   cfe
1
  • Follow
    Go to the profile of Maya van Rossum

    Maya van Rossum

    Maya K. van Rossum is the Delaware Riverkeeper & leader for the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. Learn more www.delawareriverkeeper.org

  •  

     

     

     

    DECEMBER BEACHCOMBING, NEW JERSEY STYLE

    Who needs summer crowds, or even summer?  The original Intrepids (Bill Rawlyk, Jeanette Hooban, and I) literally basked along both bayside and oceanside of Island Beach last Sunday.

    Silence.  Limitlessness.  Sea-borne treasures.  Elegant fishermen.  Ravenous seagull. Artemesia in winter.  Sundown like peach mousse upon a slate-blue plate.  Paradise enow…

    Stroll with us.   We nearly took our shoes off!

     

    mermaids-purse-december-oceanside-walk-island-beach

    “Mermaid’s Purse” (skate egg case) and Fox Tracks like Roses Pressed into Sand

     

    fresh-green-growth-oceanside-walk-island-beach-dec

    December’s New Green Growth, Oceanside, Island Beach

     

    dusty-miller-in-dunes-oceanside-walk-island-beach-dec

    “Dusty Miller / Artemesia” — first seeds came ashore in wreckage from clipper ships! Now major dune stabilizers.

     

    post-sandy-boardwalk-island-beach-dec

    Post-Sandy Boardwalk to the Sea

    Can’t you just hear the cold jingle of these shells, as waves sip in and out?

    december-still-life-island-beach

    December Still-Life, Oceanside

     

    alluring-oceanside-walk-island-beach-dec

    Alluring, Oceanside

     

    success-oceanside-walk-island-beach-dec

    Seaside Success!

     

    Remember that this pristine perfection exists because courageous and generous people knew to preserve it.  Do whatEVER it takes, and be generous with whatever land trusts speak to you, to extend preservation of open land, sand and water in our time.

     

    gulls-lunch-oceanside-island-beach-dec

    Gull’s Lunch – Probably Bunker

     

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

    Perfect Balance — December’s Oceanside Flycaster

     

    searching-for-gannets-and-long-tails-oceanside-walk-island-beach-dec

    GAnnet-and-Long-Tailed-Duck Territory, Island Beach, December Waters

     

    seaside-still-life-island-beach-dec-2016

    Autumn Meets Winter, December Froth and Seaweed

     

     

    fine-sign-oceanside-walk-island-beach-dec

    Crucial New Signs, Island Beach

    Never forget — We ARE our fellow-creatures’ keepers.

    lands-end-island-beach-dec

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

    “Extreme Environmentalist” Confronts Sarah Palin – Poem by Carolyn Foote Edelmann, June 2010, after Gulf Oil Disaster

    Because I will be birding pristine Island Beach this Sunday, –with five other intense bird-lovers, two of whom are the well known fine art nature photographers, Ray Yeager (of Ray Yeager Photography.com) and Angela Previte, (of Simple Life at the Shore Nature Blog), I am expecting to be in the company of gannets.  There is no more elegant, no more spectaculara shore bird in my world, especially when gannets are feeding.  We may also be gifted with long-tailed ducks, out beyond the third waves.  Island Beach remains  as impeccable as gannets, –still serene, shrubby, wind-blown and un-BUILT since creation, thanks to PRESERVATIONISTS.  We six have the sense that we must relish this magnitude, this nature at her peak, while we still can…

    northern-gannet-adult-plunging

    Northern Gannet Plunging, From Internet

    Most of the time, dear NJWILDBEAUTY readers, I have managed to keep politics out of NJWILDBEAUTY.  Even though, as we all know, politicians threaten most if not all of the wild beauty of our (most populous, never forget it!) state; and, increasingly, of the Planet itself.

    gannet-on-rocks-1web

    Gannet on Rocks in Healthy Habitat

    Even though I dared once refer to this state’s so-called governor as ‘our Caligula’, in these ‘pages’; and termed then-newly-nominated presidential candidate ‘the new Hitler.’

    I have not revised my opinion, by the way.

    Although I try to concentrate on nature instead of politics in these ‘pages.’

    oiled-gannet-on-beach-from-internet

    Oiled Gannet on Beach from Internet

    Now enormous confrontation looms, in which politics will do all in its power to to destroy nature.  One of their cohorts, now, –Sarah Palin–, is mentioned as Cabinet material.

    oiled-gannet-face-from-internet

    Oiled Gannet Face, From Internet

    Long ago, my poem, (in the form of a letter to Ms. Palin) –before appearing in NJWILD, which Ilene Dube asked me to launch for Princeton Packet Publications–, had won internet publication by a clean water group asking for poems about the seemingly insuperable, and now mostly overlooked, Gulf Oil disaster.  You may recall whom Sarah Palin blamed…

    120424051724-bp-oil-spill-horizon-horizontal-large-gallery

    BP OIL DISASTER, from Internet, which everyone continues to refer to as a “SPILL”, including internet title to this image

    No one who cares about birds has forgotten the BP explosion, which was originally reported as emitting 200 barrels of oil per day.  Do note that, –even in the caption for this photo on the Internet–, the ceaseless explosions and outpourings are simply termed ‘a spill.’

    I did write, in NJWILD, “If you believe that gallon estimate, you’ll believe anything.”

    We all know that far more than birds was ruined in those terrible months — especially the way of life of people of Louisiana who had fished and shrimped and boated for generations.

    oiled-human-protestor-to-bp-oil-disaster-from-internet

    Oiled Human Protestor in Gulf during BP Disaster

    You may have forgotten that Sarah and her ilk blamed the disaster (which means “torn from the stars!”), on “extreme environmentalists.”  I proudly accepted then, –and even more insistently now–, rejoice in that title.  The result was the poem below.

    mutant-seafood-image-from-internet

    The Livelihood of Gulf Fishermen because of BP Disaster

    oiled-pelican-in-gulf-during-bp-disaster

    ICON of BP DISASTER – Oiled Pelicans

    Today, I mailed the poem to my my professor daughter to read it to her Literature class at a California college.  I dared challenge this formidable young woman and ardent feminist to suggest that her students have their pictures taken HUGGING A TREE, to promulgate on Facebook.  To show the shuddering world that not everyone in America agrees with its most outrageous current spokesman.  To demonstrate that the guardians of the future know what really matters.

    Everyone reading this can do so, letting our allies know that some of us do have planetary consciousness.

    tree-hugger-from-internet

    We Need to Become a Nation, a World, of TREE-HUGGERS

    WHAT REALLY MATTERS:

    Liberty

    Nature

    The Planet

     

    PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH EVERYONE YOU KNOW —

    Remember, Margaret Mead insists, “A small group of people can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

    And Edwin Burke:  “All that it takes for evil to happen is for good men (PEOPLE) to do nothing.”

    WHAT WILL YOU DO?

    the poem of June 2010:

    DEAR SARAH PALIN,

     

    I understand it’s all my fault

    –this Gulf oil disaster, I mean–

    not only all that fire

    bodies catapulted into air

    then drowned

    soon likely shark bait

    but also this volcano of oil

    spewing interminably

    into our blue mantle

     

    Sarah, you say

    I did this

    all of this and more

    now some six weeks ago

    with no end in sight

     

    and no businessman

    politician not even a general

    let alone you, Sarah Palin,

    knows how to stop

    this tornado of oil

     

    it’s also my fault, the oiled birds

    — Northern gannets —

    pristine as Josephine

    in her Empire gown

    frail white silk

    adorned with gold

    though not quite bees

    dark eyes snapping

    as each becomes increasingly encased

    in ‘my’ oil

    more abruptly than all those mastodons

    in La Brea’s tar pits

     

    now slender cormorants

    who, everyone is sure, are drowning

    as they swim along

    neck barely afloat

    no one realizing

    the genius of cormorants

    who can fly/swim 30 miles an hour

    underwater

    when they are not oiled

     

    about the mpg of my car

    my old car

    for the ownership of which

    I am quite guilty

    for the replacement of which

    I have no means

     

    cormorants

    must wave both wings

    after every dive

    to dry them

    so that they may

    dive and dive again

    –no wave strong enough

    to shake off ceaseless poison weight

    of oil

     

    it’s my fault, the reddish egrets

    you know his own epitaph

    –written by photographer Ted Cross

    for his own recent death–

    describing his multi-faceted self

    on the Other Side

    “still searching for the perfect photograph

    of the reddish egret”

     

    Ted did not have in mind

    this soiled oiled specimen

    trying, unsuccessfully

    to lift newly leaden

    legs wings and feet

    out of Gulf mud muck and oil

     

    it’s all my fault

    and not because I use the wrong lightbulbs

    in a couple of fixtures

    nor because I do turn on the heat.

    inside, in winter, sometimes

    although I’ve been doing without air

    conditioning so far this troubled year

     

    it’s my fault

    because I am an “extreme environmentalist”

    because I think there should never be any more

    drilling for oil in our country

    because I deplore petrotyrrany

    the privatization of profits

    socialization of poverty

    because I think we should start with the auto companies

     

    well, what do you expect, Sarah?

    I grew up in Detroit

     

    I’ve never seen a wolf in the wild

    as you do and deplore.

    These beings you condemn to bloody deaths

    I would embrace

     

    nor have I encountered

    a single polar bear

    let alone a starving female trying to find food

    for her new brood

    attempting to swim with them

    toward vanishing ice floes

    but that’s o.k. with you

    Sarah

    it makes the hunting

    easier

     

    it’s my fault, Sarah

    for I am quite literally

    a tree-hugger

     

    I believe that greed should end

    America return to her original nobility

    where people pledged lives

    fortunes

    sacred honor

    remember sacred honor?

    — ah, well, probably not, Sarah

     

    I believe we are our Planet’s

    keepers

     

    Sarah – who are you?

    Carolyn Foote Edelmann

    June 2010

    “This is not an environmental disaster, and I will say that again and again.”
    – Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) speaking about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

     

     

     

    Sandy Hook June Scenes with Jeanette-the-Intrepid

    We go to the Shore to cool off, right?  Not last Saturday!  Sandy Hook was as steamy and stifling as Manhattan, despite intense winds that had the flags in whipping/ripping full-out mode.  Nonetheless, Jeanette Hooban (the original Intrepid) and I made the most of our day there on Saturday.

    You should know that The Powers That Be want to desecrate / destroy forested areas of Sandy Hook, in order to construct buildings to house vehicles.  Any chance you get to protest this travesty, take it.  Sandy Hook is a key segment of the Atlantic Flyway, essential to birds in migration in spring and autumn.  Nests of rare, threatened, endangered species are everywhere.  Write editors and congresspeople, insisting they honor habitat, for once facilitating the lives and hatchings of these spectacular birds!

     

    Black_Skimmer_by_Dan_Pancamo

    Black Skimmer Skimming, from Internet

    Star of the day was either the black skimmer skimming on the ocean side (they usually prefer bays and impoundments), or the strutting oystercatcher, also on the ocean side, so near hordes of New Yorkers screaming in the surf.

    American_Oystercatcher_Strutting from Internet

    Oystercatcher Strutting, from Internet

    great-egret from internet

    Great Egret Landing, from Internet

    The winds were so high that all water surfaces were pleated like the cotton plisse of childhood summer pajamas.  Neither the ospreys nor the egrets could see into the water to fish.  Seven egrets surrounded an oxbow pond, beside the Shrewsbury River.  It seemed that they were stabbing blindly in quest of lunch.

    osprey-with-bass from Internet

    “Osprey Packing a Lunch” from Internet

    That entire day, –and we confirmed this with other birders–, we only saw one osprey ‘packing a lunch,’ the waters were so turbulent.  This one was flying practically from the entry toll booths (it’s free to bird there!) to a nest on a chimney of the officers’ (ruined) houses, where his mate searched plaintively.  We told her, “He’s on his way.  He’s having a bad day at the office.”

    osprey-nest-abandoned-house-sandy-hook-osprey nests on chimneys

    Osprey Nest on Officer’s House Chimney, Sandy Hook

    sandy-signatures-officers-houses-sandy-hook ruined officers' buildings

    Ruined Officers’ Houses 2 Years Ago – they look exponentially worse now!

    Prickly Pear in Bloom Sandy Hook

    Prickly Pear Cactus in Bloom, June 2016, Sandy Hook

    Salt Spray Rose Sandy Hook June 2016

    Salt Spray Rose in Bloom, June 2016, Sandy Hook

    Mysterious House Sandy Hook

    Mysterious Officer’s Mansion, Sandy Hook

    ravages-of-time-bunker-sandy-hook-extremely hazardous area

    Extremely Hazardous Area – Old Battery near North Beach, Sandy Hook

    sandy-destruction-close-up-sandy-hook Decaying Porches

    Sandy-Rearranged Bricks, Officers’ Houses

    Jeanette Meets the Atlantic Sandy Hook June 2016

    Jeanette Merrily Wades in the June Atlantic, Sandy Hook

    Impressionist View New Yorkers in Atlantic at Sandy Hook

    Impressionist Scene, New Yorkers Streaming to, Screaming in, the Surf

    REMEMBERING SUNSHINE: Cape Cod Glimpses

    Authentic Chatham at Fish Pier

    Authentic Chatham, Massachusetts – At the Fish Pier, Looking Out to Sea

    When I was a child, my nickname was “Sunshine”.  I have always needed a great deal of sun and light and fire, –partly because of my Sagittarius birth sign.

    Strange Encounters Chatham Fish Pier

    Gull and Seal in Chatham Sun

    I feel like starting this blog post with a strict dull dictionary definition of “sun”, because I have so little experience of it any more.

    Fair Weather and Foul at Chatham Light

    Elusive Sun, Chatham, Mass., Chatham Light

    Webster’s Unabridged, of course:  “The star that is the central body of the solar system.”

    Well, that doesn’t do it for me: does it for you?

    Provincetown Mac Millan Wharf Reflections Black and Grey

    Sun Caught in Water, Provincetown’s MacMillan Wharf

    “Sun” – that flat round disk formerly to be discovered in daytime sky (day – between dawn and dusk), sky formerly blue.  That spill of gold upon a carpet or a table, warming twice — in the sky, where it belongs; and as it reflects off indoor surfaces.  And always, always warming my heart.

    Provincetown Mac Millan Wharf Reflections Red Boat

    Proud Reflections, MacMillan Wharf, Provincetown

    Except there isn’t any sun any more.  Nor blue sky.

    Danger Rough Chatham

    Danger, Rough, Chatham, Mass.

    Just some grey-white substance all over what used to be sky — clots that remind me of the inside of my mother’s Electrolux bag.

    Tethered Tower  Chatham Scenes 002

    Tethered Tower, Chatham, Mass.

    I know what’s happened to sun.  It’s called fossil fuel / emissions / catastrophic climate change / disaster / the Antrhopocene.

    Provincetown Mac Millan Wharf Reflections Green and Grey

    Tangled Tower, Provincetown

    My antidote to sun-deprivation is memory.

    Chatham Pier Fish Market Sign

    Chatham Pier Fish Market

    Here’s to Cape Cod at Hallowe’en, when sunlight spilled everywhere, from dunes to shells to whales and seals to fish in the sea and in a splendid market and all along weathered clapboard shingles.

    Typical Chatham Cottage

    Typical Chatham Cottage

     

    Warming both heart and my soul.  May these scenes warm YOURS.

    Perry's Pride Chatham Fish Pier

    Perry’s Pride, Chatham Fish Pier

     

    Sharks to Market Chatham Fish Pier

    Heart of the Matter at Chatham Pier

    Provincetown Mac Millan Wharf Then and Now

    Harbormaster, with Sun Glint, Provincetown

    Provincetown Mac Millan Wharf Rowing Home

    Provincetown, Rowing Home