HISTORY-TREKKING — NEW CASTLE DELAWARE

Founding principles feel present, still, in venerable New Castle, Delaware.  Literally on the banks of the Delaware River, famed as William Penn’s landing place.  But when the Swedes arrived around 1638, this bucolic spot was home to legendary Lenapes.

Flag Draped New Castle dwelling July 2017

Brick sidewalks thread through brick neighborhoods.  Flags are as likely to bear thirteen stars as the sharp angles notorious as the British banner (proudly displayed to left, below.)

A far cry, this joining of emblems, from the high spirits of the Founding Fathers hammering out a country in nearby Philadelphia; debating, and then signing, the Declaration of Independence.

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That Declaration and our Constitution remain living, yes, sacred, documents to me!  Democracy was the fruit of their labors, and where is it now?

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British Heritage New Castle Delaware July

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To my great delight, Revolutionary history is EVERYWHERE.  Here we read of (my hero!) Lafayette’s having given the bride away in this church:

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Lafayette Gives Away the Bride New Castle Delaware

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Buildings echo Philadelphia’s most venerable.  Here, both country’s flags blow in a July wind off the adjacent Delaware River.

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Essence of New Castle July 2017

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Venerable signs have faded on vintage buildings.  It’s eerie to see Coca Cola as a vestige of some storied past.

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Fine Sign New Castle Delaware

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Here and there, one passes “packet alleys” — long slopes, brick-lined, leading to the Delaware.  Here, clipper ships had landed.  Along these time-worn ramps, ‘stores’, –ships’ provisions–, had been tugged into the commercial part of town, by four-legged and two-legged creatures.  At one time, an epidemic closed the major port of Philadelphia.  New Castle had to step into the breach until a change of season brought a change of health.

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Model Ship Jessop's Tavern New Castle Delaware 2017

SHIP’S MODEL IN WINDOW OF HISTORIC JESSOP’S TAVERN

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The Shadows Know New Castle Delaware July

THE SHADOWS KNOW… What stories these rooms could tell…

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O Say Can You See New Castle Delaware July

“O, Say, Can You See?”

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Venerable New Castle Delaware Scenes July

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Wharf New Castle Delaware River Scenes

PORT OF CALL

Delaware Memorial Bridge Delaware River New Castle Delaware

COMMERCIAL DELAWARE, DELAWARE MEMORIAL BRIDGE TO NEW JERSEY

Inn op New Castle Delaware 2017

YOU, TOO, CAN OWN A STORIED INN

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Thomas Jefferson Ale Jessop's Tavern New Castle Delaware 2017

THOMAS JEFFERSON ALE, JESSOP’S TAVERN OF NEW CASTLE —

300-year-old building

From “Delaware, 200 Years Ago”, by Harold B. Hancock, “New Castle remained the county seat, but it lost out in trade and population to Wilmington…  Visitors in the port [of New Castle] considered it a town of lost importance.”  In 1785, New Castle was described as “a little, insignificant town.”  There were predictions that it would “bloom again”  And bloom it does for this traveler, in search of the courage, honor, dignity of Revolutionary Days, in a setting of unparalleled early beauty and taste.

When Lafayette and Jefferson join me on my history treks, I ask no greater boon.

TRULY RURAL: SELLERSVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA

Modern Male Sellersville

MODERN MALE, SELLERSVILLE, PA, FOURTH OF JULY WEEKEND

(A recent Pearl S. Buck pilgrimage took a friend and me also to surrounding towns in very rural Pennsylvania.  Sellersville was a curious combination of past and present.  We had to turn to Wikipedia to learn some of its past.)

Guide Pearl Buck Estate July 2017

EMMA, OUR CHARMING GUIDE TO NEARBY PEARL BUCK ESTATE

Sellersville was founded in the early 18th century. It was centered on a major road known as Bethlehem Pike that connected Philadelphia to Bethlehem and the rest of what was then far Western Pennsylvania.

(Wikipedia is rather voluble about this tiny burg surrounded by farmland, hills and almost-mountains of the appropriate shade of violet.)

(We had begun our Pearl Buck-quest at a delightfully vibrant and lively farmers’ market in Perkasie.  First peaches joined healthy cabbage, vibrant tomatoes and a rainbow, so to speak, of fresh ‘greens’, sold by the farmers themselves.)

The ‘shank of the day’ was spent exploring the Pearl Buck Estate on nearby Dublin Road. 

Welcome Sellersville Rural PA July

WELCOME TO SELLERSVILLE

Our finale was a bountiful and gracious late lunch at Sellarsville’s remarkably sophisticated Washington Inn, in what most people otherwise might describe as ‘a backwater’.  The name of that Inn was just part of the constant Fourth-of-July references that peppered our adventure, –none planned and all greatly appreciated–, on our Country’s sacred Birthday weekend.)

Flag Sellersville PA

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR AMERICA, FROM SELLERSVILLE

The town was very small and was called Sellers Tavern. Its most notable feature was a large inn. The present Washington House in Sellersville, however, was not Sellers Tavern.

Washington Inn Side View Sellersville PA

HOW WASHINGTON INN LOOKED FROM MAIN STREET IN ITS PAST

The town grew slowly over the years until the Industrial Revolution. In the 1860s the North Pennsylvania Railroad was built, running parallel to Bethlehem Pike: this stimulated the growth of light textile industries and brought a wave of population growth.

Proud Past Sellersville Rural PA July 2017

PROUD PAST – SELLSERSVILLE’S MAIN STREET

The East Branch of the Perkiomen Creek runs through the town, connecting it to an adjacent town of Perkasie. This creek was dammed in the early 20th century,  creating a small body of water known as Lake Lenape. (So, even in Pennsylvania, places are named after those who were destroyed — these first settlers — in order that ‘progress’ might take place…)

Along the length of the lake, a park was built on Perkasie and Sellersville lands. In the 1920s and 1930s this park housed a carousel, a roller coaster and several other amusements.

The railroad brought hundreds of people from Philadelphia in the summertime.  It became a well known vacation spot for blue-collar city workers.

Sellersville Theatre 1894 2017

SELLERSVILLE THEATER, 1894

The town was also home to the Radium Company of America, which was the largest uranium milling facility in the world at the time.  (There seems to be no notice of the human toll of uranium milling, or the “luminescence” to follow.  At Wheaton Glass Museum in South Jersey, the human toll of luminous glassware is frankly declared.)

Cloud Bank Sellersville PA

TURRETED TOWN OF SELLERSVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA

The United States Gauge Company originated in Sellersville in 1904.  It became a prominent manufacturer of gauges for military use, many of which were coated with radium-based paint[1] for nighttime luminesence. The company later became instrumental in the production of nuclear weapons,[2] leaving behind a legacy of industrial and radioactive contamination that has been well-hidden by local, county, state, and federal government agencies for decades.  (Ironically, my friend – who had planned this intricate excursion- and I were actively speaking with longing of the healthy air, the healthy lives these fortunate residents must have!)

Clematis Exuberance Sellersville PA

CLEMATIS EXUBERANCE, WASHINGTON INN

Today the town is still relatively small, sandwiched between a ridge line and the larger town of Perkasie. The center of town still runs along Bethlehem Pike, now called Old Route 309.

Storied Washington Inn Sellersville PA July 2017

THE WASHINGTON INN, 2017

The Washington House still stands and has recently been restored to become an upscale restaurant.

Washington House Sellersville PA

HOTEL AND RESTAURANT: WASHINGTON INN

Next door to the restaurant was a livery stable, which was converted into a theater (later a movie theater) in 1894. It has since been restored.  It was reopened in 2001 as Sellersville Theater 1894 as a live music venue.  (The Washington Inn and the Sellersville Theater cooperate in evenings of food and drama.  My friend and I signed up for chances on “A Big Night in Sellersville — involving gastronomy and theatre and ‘a night in the Tower.’)

Parisian Cafe Chairs Sellersville PA

PARISIAN CHAIRS, WASHINGTON INN, SELLERSVILLE, PA

The creek is still dammed but only the carousel in Perkasie remains of the amusements.

The textile industry has long moved out of the area.  Sellersville has become mainly a residential town for people working in the many urban centers that are only a short commute away.

The town is surrounded on three sides by open country and spread-out housing developments.

The Teller Cigar Factory was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

TURRET OF YESTERYEAR, SELLERSVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA

Sellersville Turret PA July 2017

 

Riverton, New Jersey, Decorates for the Fourth!

Riverton Yacht Club July 2017

I feel most fortunate to live in New Jersey when I ride our brilliant light rail, The River Line, especially with people who’ve never been on it before.    We board this snazzy Swiss-built conveyance at bucolic Bordentown,   The station offers views of ‘my’ river, along with free, safe parking, and interesting sculptures having to do with our often undervalued state.

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Burlington July 2017 023

TRENTON MAKES / WORLD TAKES    Sculpture @ Bordentown River Line Station

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Within soundless seconds, we are wrapped in marsh landscapes, heading south through storied Roebling; brick-sidewalked Burlington (proud to have a London neighborhood founded in 1656), and on to explore and feast in idyllic Riverton.

Riverton Scenes July 2017 002

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The River Line could solve so many problems in our land, in our world.  Gliding along rails used for freight at night, the glistening two-headed train has become a traveling village.  Conviviality rules the ride, especially surprising New Yorkers, now key members of the Princeton Photography Club, on a day-long time-travel excursion.

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Riverton Scenes July 2017 012

PROUD SIGNATURE IN ANCIENT SIDEWALK

People walk around in Riverton.  They’re lively and open, eager to talk to strangers.  Parents hold children by the hand; and children hold books, coursing toward this town’s charming little library.  A Councilman asks us why we are photographing, tells us how Riverton came to be (summer homes for Philadelphians in 1800’s), and exchanges cards with the real photographers.

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Riverton Bunting

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This amateur is in heaven in Riverton, because ‘her’ river, the Delaware, is so near, so alive, shimmering with history and promise.  The Delaware’s signature, –almost a perfume–, is that zingy breeze that starts to riffle hair, even on a steamy July day.

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Riverton Delaware River Scene at Yacht Club

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Riverton Fourth 2017

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The town is gearing up for its hundred-year-old Fourth of July Parade.  Homes of other era are as spiffy as when they’d been built; each yard individually planted and tended and decorated for our first day of Independence.  One man invited us INTO his home to meet the cats.

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Riverton Scenes July 2017 009

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Another neighbor explained that the arresting black and blue and white flag on one balcony honors policemen, EMT people, First Responders.

First Responder Flag Riverton Fourth of July 2017

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The colors of our day, however, were red, white and blue.  No town is more celebratory about the efforts of those founding fathers, –so near, across our pivotal river–, without whose vision and heroism, we would not have a country.

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River Wind in Riverton Flag July 2017

 

 

 

PINELANDS ~ PIPELAND: Road to Ruin – Poems of This Imperiled Region

clouds-in-the-water-haines-bogs

Pump House, Clouds and Lilies in Waters of Haines Cranberry Bogs, Chatsworth

A trio of poems, arrow’s in this activist’s quiver:

Probably all NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that, last Friday, the Pinelands Commission DARED approve the first pipeline in New Jersey’s Crown Jewel: The Pine Barrens.  This one is “The South Jersey Gas Pipeline Project.”  A pipeline by any name would smell as foul.  The Pinelands Commission was founded to preserve, protect, even enhance this 1.1 million-acre wooded region, sited atop the legendary 17-trillion-gallion Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer of highest quality water.

antique-cranberry-scoop-pine-barrens-november-2015

Traditional Cranberry Harvest Tool

 

Former NJ Governors Brendan Byrne, Jim Florio and Christine Todd Whitman joined forces to file a Friend of Court Brief to overturn approval of the Pipeline.  But the forces of greed have won anew, and New Jersey will never be the same.  Our beautiful state is being turned into a Sacrifice Zone, and who is to arrest this destruction?

 

essence-of-the-bogs-haines

Essence of the Bogs, Chatsworth

 

Once, I lamented to a caller, “I’m a poet.  What am I doing at the barricades?”  The activist on the other end of the line retorted, “Carolyn, that’s where poets belong.”

I’m not good with barricades.  Although I support and thrill to effective protest marches, they are beyond my physical/spiritual/mental/emotional strength.

 

batsto-teak-water-spillover-7-4-9-cfe

Pinelands’ Pristine Tannic Waters, Batsto

The only arrows in my quiver are Pinelands poems.  Here are a few, to remind NJWILDBEAUTY readers of what we are about to forfeit:

This was one of the original “Hot Poems by Cool Women”, a favorite of what we came to see as our poetic groupies, as our various new volumes reached the public through readings:

 

IT ALL STARTED

 

when we came upon

carpets of stars

cranberries in flower

trembling white below

the ice blue sky

 

along the hard-packed dikes

slumbrous bees

formed golden pyramids

on gleaming amber boxes

 

dawn’s pollinators

here to burst all bonds

course among broad acres

of waving stamens

 

at day’s end we stood on tiptoe

plucking first blued berries

from among the mauve and pink

at the tips of overarching bushes

 

tucked among hollies and sheep laurel

through thickets and tunnels

we made our way to the sea

mouths awash in warm berries

 

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

Cool Women, Volume I

 

RESURGENT

 

I long to slip into
peat water

watch my long legs turn
orange, then burnt sienna
bathed in tannins of old leaves
and newly desiccated needles
having steeped over the centuries
between primordial banks

I belong to the Pines and its peat
whether striding or swimming
requiring levels and mystery
–silent liquidities
–eloquent duskiness
even on bright days

over there, on a low branch
a slim snake twines
somnolent and sure

overhead, in the pine tops
winds echo ocean
near yet far

time keeps these waters warm
enough to welcome legs
too long denied the Pinelands

see how my limbs flicker and flash
–burnished in peatwater
–flames in the depths

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN
US 1 Fiction Issue,

D&R Greenway Poets of Preservation

Written in Princeton Hospital
Immediately post-op  – 11 11 11

CRANAPPLE PIE

 

I’ve gathered apples of our Barrens

to blend with bright cranberries

sparked with honey of dawn’s bees

we two once awakened

on Chatsworth’s sandy dikes

 

I craft a random European tart

— ragged edges, coverless

in honor of your world that I so crave

in memory of ragged days, uncovered nights

 

the luminous glaze

oddly recollects

your ignited gaze

thrown back at me

in this new solitude

 

every inch of rooms you cherished

becomes apple-fragrant

our joyous kitchen above all

 

my fruits become a brigand’s cache

–rubies tossed with fine abandon

as I once flung caution to wild winds

when you stretched out fine hands

luring me, pirate-like, to irresistible back bays

 

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

                                                Cool Women, Volume Two

 

jerseys-jewels-chatsworthjpg

Jersey’s Jewels, Sugar Sand, Chatsworth

 

Once, I carried books of others’ poems into hearings at Prallsville Mills, in my futile, idealistic attempt to convince decision-makers not to allow “The Villas of Tuscany”, –currently “Barclay Square” –, towering condos.  to profane our cherished, historic D&R Canal and Towpath.

I read words of Paul Muldoon and Gerry Stern and friends who later became the Cool Women, insisting that art is born in New Jersey beauty.  Trampling her open spaces, defiling sightlines of the canal — for these travesties are visible even deep down upon her waters in a kayak — destroys not only habitat for essential wild creatures.  It also spells the end of inspiration, the cessation of art catalyzed in these storied reaches.

Pipelines are nonessential, destructive, temporary in terms of jobs provided, and threaten ignition of the Pines and fouling of the pristine waters of the Pine Barrens.

Don’t let this happen.  Use whatever arrows are in your quiver to preserve, protect, and even enhance our entire state!

 

cranberries-on-the-vine-chatsworth

Cranberries on the Vine, Chatsworth

finished-product-cranberry-sauce-2015

Pine Barrens Just-Picked Dry-harvested Cranberries as Sauce Extraordinaire, Back Home

21st-century-cranberry-harvest-pine-barrens-november-2015

Cranberry Dry Harvest, Early November, 2015

This rich harvest tour took place through Pinelands Adventures: http://www.pinelandsadventures.org;

Which organization has come into being under the auspices of ever-militant, thoroughly vigilant Pinelands Preservation Alliance:  JOIN THEM — they turn around damage to the Pines, week after week after week:  http://www.pinelandsalliance.org

batsto-barn-7-4-09-cfe

Batsto Barn – Pine Barrens’ Mercantile History, Legendary Iron Forge Village

Without  “The Iron in the Pines”, from forges such as Batsto and Allaire and Martha’s Furnace, and beyond, George Washington would not have had cannon balls nor wagon wheels for Revolutionary Battles.  Pinelands shipbuilders and ship’s captains effectively fought the British and the Hessians, boldly advertising auctions of stores of captured ships in Philadelphia papers.  Mullica Rivermen rowed with muffled oars to change the course of history.  It is said, we would not have a country without the Mullica, without the Pine Barrens!

 

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.

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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
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    Maya van Rossum

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

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    MARTIN MIRACLES — Purple, That is!

    First Martins On Wing Above Phrabmites

    First Martins On the Wing, Dark Phragmites Roost Site, Maurice River at Sundown

    Would you believe 500,000 to 700,000 purple martins filling the sky, above the phragmites marshes of the Maurice River?  That waterway, literally designated “Wild and Scenic”, is never more dramatic than when the martins gather prior to migration, every August.  If you’re lucky, you have tickets with dear birding friends, aboard watercraft chosen by Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River (and its Tributaries), to carry you toward a sunset miracle.  (https://www.cumauriceriver.org/)  (https://www.cumauriceriver.org/pages/maurice.html)  (http://www.mauricerivertwp.org/purplemartin.html)

    There are a couple of more sailing — use the third link above to become martin-dazzled!

    All Aboard ! Bonanza Martin Fesitval August 2016

    My Birding Buddies Board Bonanza II on Purple Martinquest

    The Maurice empties into our Delaware Bay.  Recall/realize that New Jersey is the only state with three coastlines — The Shore, The Delaware River, and the Delaware Bay.  Revolutionary Battles were fought in the vicinity of the Maurice — “Peak of the Moon” and the grisly Hancock House massacre. In Greenwich (pronounced Green Witch), there is an actual monument to the tea burners of that town, celebrated for daring to defy the British.  Several trials were mounted, not one of them successful in convicting a single burner of tea.  The names on that stone are the proudest items in Greenwich, right up there with that very early, venerable Quaker Meeting House.

    Citizens United Martin Fesitval August 2016

    Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and Its Tributaries

    Preservation battles are increasingly being undertaken in the region — for Philadelphia “developers” — let’s face it, they’re destroyers! — would pave over the entire area that earned New Jersey its Garden State honorific.  Think tomatoes.  Think Campbell’s soup and Heinz ketchup.  They put ketchup on their breakfasts down there.  Neighbors realize you’re not local when you look surprised that they bring you Heinz’s glory for your bacon and eggs.

    Maurice River Craft

    Maurice River Scene

    The Maurice and the Cohansey are wide and shimmery, soft, even lazy.  Silence is the norm in either Salem/Cumberland County river.  A few fishing boats mutter along.  Various signs of legendary shipbuilding of yesterday become apparent as your boat carries you martin-ward on the well staffed Bonanza II.

    Maritime Realities Maurice River

    Maurice River Commerce

    You’ll have counted 8 mature American bald eagles and more than a few immatures before you’re even settled into your viewing post in the prow.  Great blue herons lift off with dignity.  Black-crowned night herons are already at roost in the heart of dark evergreens and shrubs.  These white football-shaped herons always seem to be scowling, but they’re very happy with the undisturbed habitat provided by the Maurice in August.

    Black-crowned night heron Brenda Jones

    Black-crowned Night Heron on Roost for Evening and Night by BRENDA JONES

    Your boat is filled with people from many states, and birding experts who specialize in martins.  The birds themselves will float in from four states, but not until the sun has nearly set behind those towering reeds.  We don’t know each other, but birders are never strangers for long.  The air is steamy but not oppressive.  Wavelets whisper and it’s quiet enough to hear them.  Inside the excursion boat, desserts of sweet and fruits await, and plenty of soft drinks and essential cold water.  Binoculars are everywhere.   Expectation high.

    American Eagle Millstone Aqueduct 2011 brenda jones

    American Bald Eagle in Flight by BRENDA JONES

    Legendary martin expert, –who modestly disclaims his introduction–, Allen Jackson, speaks on the microphone, then comes down to eager participants on the prow.  All evening long, he softly answers seemingly endless questions.  We learn that these martins eat in those other states, returning nightly now to the Maurice to roost in seemingly endless phragmites.  That the sky will fill with them, as with passenger pigeons long ago.  That their migratory flight could start next week, with the first northwest wind to speed them southward.  That insects are their food of choice and Brazil their 4000-miles-away destination.

    Osprey on High Sandy Hook, Brenda Jones

    Osprey in Flight by BRENDA JONES

    The river turns from wet slate to mercury.  The sun goes from yellow to orange to pink tones, then copper.  It resembles a cauldron, spilling molten copper across the water’s dimpled surface.  On the other side of the boat, the half-or-so moon is yellow, then gold, then orange.  Yet its water signature is silver.

    redwing sunset Pole Farm Brenda Jones

    Red-Winged Blackbird Singing by BRENDA JONES

    Ospreys are everywhere, –young on the nest, matures in the air, skillfully, skillfully fishing.  We don’t see any of legendary competitions between eagles and osprey, perhaps because all have had a good day on the Maurice.  Red-winged blackbirds ripple overhead like avian rivers, males and females together, feeding intensively.  Grackles perch on a complex telephone pole, and we all want them to be martins.

    900-37865474-purple-martin-in-flight

    Purple Martin in Flight from Internet

    Then Allen softly alerts us to a single martin on high. A handful.  A gathering.  A cluster.  A swarm.  As the river turns the color of smoke from a fresh campfire, phragmites reaches become the color of charcoal.  I must admit, we’re not seeing the purple of the ever increasing circling birds who choose sundown for their autumnal drama.  Charcoal-feathers-to-charcoal reeds, they soar and circle, consider landing, land, then rise again.  No longer can we count birds – until some0ne comes up with the old joke:  “Count the legs and divide by two!”

    Sky Peppered with Martins August 2016

    Sky Peppered with Martins — We had 100s to each one before dark

    Allen is rapt, gently reminding us to look right, look left, look carefully over the reeds, and, above all, gaze at the sky.  Those miraculous birds are as closely packed as pepper on pastrami, and still more are streaming in.  Two tiny boats and ours still their motors.  We are gifted with the musical chatter of the gatherers.  And then the sun seems to drop like toast pulled into a toaster, and it’s all over until tomorrow.

    By next week, Allen announces, there could be a million.  They will roost on both sides of the Maurice then, awaiting that weather front, that essential northwest wind that begins their migration, and ends martin miracles in New Jersey for another year.

    Never forget, as I remind and remind you re land in our state — neither the martins nor the humans would have had this night’s experience, were it not for dedicated preservationists.  Support Citizens United to Save the Maurice River.  Support your local land trusts, wherever you live.

    Nature is paramount.  Nature herself is endangered.  Do everything you can to keep her, and her magnificent creatures. safe.

    Preliminaries to the skyful of martins:

    Oyster Shipping Bivalve

    Bivalve, where there were more millionaires per block than anywhere in the world, because of oysters

    Oyster Shipping Sheds Bivalve

    Oyster Heyday Images As We Prepared to Board the Bonanza II

    Oyster Cracker Cafe Port Norris

    The Oyster Cracker Cafe, Port Norris, NJ

    RR Car Port Norris NJ

    Restored RR Car That Carried the Oysters Very Far from Bivalve, NJ

    Trawl Tank Port Norris

    Trawl Tank at Bivalve/Port Norris

    Gulls' Bivalves Martin Fesitval August 2016

    Gulls’ Bivalve Experience

    Lift-Off Port Norris

    Gull Lift-Off at Bivalve – probably spooked by a raptor

    Nautical Still Life Port Norris

    Nautical Still Life: Port Norris/Bivalve Dock

     

    HeronMillstoneSNOW1-17-11DSC_5656

    Great Blue Heron by BRENDA JONES — The Heron in Winter…

     

     

     

     

     

     

    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