LIBERTY THOUGHTS

Friends Return Dune Walk Noreaster

Island Beach – Intrepids Walk into the Nor’Easter, in my Favorite Ten-Mile Preserve

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.

Cedar Ridge Welcome

Cedar Ridge Preserve, Welcome Sign and Welcoming Meadow

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.

Box Turtle leaves and roots

Terrestrial Box Turtle, Safe and Free on the Forest Floor of Cedar Ridge

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.

Delaware in November Looking North from Goat Hill Trail

George Washington’s View From Goat Hill Preserve, Below Lambertville

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:

East Point Light and Flag May 2015

East Point Light and Flag, Delaware Bayshore

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.

Chatham Light Storm-blown Flag jpg

Chatham Light and Flag

 

 

Leeds Point with Flag Flying pre Sandy

Leeds Point, Pine Barrens Fishing Village

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.

Remembering FDR   Library May 2015

FDR Sculpture, FDR Library, Hyde Park NY

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.

Rhinebeck Flag

Rhinebeck, New York Flag. at Historic Post Office

Beekman Arms Flags Rhinebeck NY

Flags of Beekman Arms, Rhinebeck, New York

 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.

Our Heroes FDR Library

Our Heroes, Eleanor and Franklin

WHAT I LOVE BEST — A PERFECT HIKE

Phyllis and Tracy Meet Goat Hill December

Phyllis and Tracy Study The Delaware River from Goat Hill Trail Below Lambertville

Long ago, working at American Re-Insurance, I made two friends who remain my hiking buddies to this day – Phyllis Horner and Tracy Turner.  Every couple of months, we’re out and about in nature, either before or after a memorable meal, exploring together.  On this Valentine’s Day, the Day of the Heart, I am grateful for all my friends — especially these two, who go back to 1997.  And grateful for the health which each of us has won, despite enormous challenges, in recent years —  health that grants us continuing access to remarkable natural beauty!

Delaware River Stillness Goat Hill December

Delaware River, Mirror Still, Looking Toward New Hope and Bucks County

Trees Most Beautiful Without Leaves

December Drama, Crest of Goat Hill

 

Rocky Promontory Goat Hill December

Rocky Promontory from Goat Hill Preserve – from which George Washington Planned Battles of Trenton

 

Teens on Promontory Goat Hill December

Teens on Rocky Promontory, Looking Toward Bucks County — note sleeveless garb in December

 

Smiling Basalt on Goat Hill

Great Stone Face — When Basalt Grins — Goat Hill Crest

 

Phyllis and the Rock God of Goat Hill

Phyllis Challenges the Great Stone Face

 

Tracy on Goat Hill December

Tracy on the Rocks, Goat Hill

 

Heat Haze Goat Hill December

Tracy’s View from the Rocks

 

Left Behind Goat Hill December

Left-Behind Birthday Present, Goat Hill Crest

This was actually my Birthday Hike, but our fellowship and the setting were my gifts.  This vivid sack, which was full, is not my birthday present.

 

Wood Gatherers Goat Hill December

This Felt Left Behind by Natives of this Site — Lenni Lenapes of Long Ago…

 

Beauty, Human and Wild, Goat Hill December

Beauty, Human and Wild, on Goat Hill

Realize that this idyllic spot would not be there for us to hike so easily (and I wonder what it looked like to George Washington, to General Cornwallis, in the 1700’s), were it not for prservationists, conservationists, ecologists, who joined together to preserve this historic site.  D&R Greenway, where I work, is part of that preservation miracle.

Take the road to Howell Living History Farm, off 29 below Lambertville.  Turn left onto Goat Hill Road and wind through dense forest with intriguing houses full of character, tucked into the wilderness.  Turn left on Washington Road, which had no name in his day.  Park on the left and hike to majestic views, in absolute tranquillity

You can tell that I cannot tell what season this is — and that, of course, is fallout of catastrophic climate change.  This was December 12, 2015!

Not many days after Thanksgiving, actually — and this flock of eight turkeys strolled through Tracy’s yard as I took her back home, here in “Society Hill” (Society of Friends – ancient land), Lawrenceville.

There is nothing better than fellowship, wild nature, and my beloved Delaware River!

Turkeys in Tracy's Yard Society Hill December

Wild Turkeys in my neighbor, Tracy’s, yard, Back Here in Lawrenceville – there were 8 of them