STARTING POINT – The Black Bass Inn and The Lumberville General Store, Lumberville Pennsylvania
HALFWAY ACROSS ON A HOT JULY DAY, STRONG NORTH WIND A GREAT BLESSING
BICYCLE AT THE BOAT LAUNCH, BULL’S ISLAND
ONE ECSTATIC CYCLIST
RESTORED RESTAURANT & 1745 INN, RESTORED BRIDGE
RESTORED TOWPATH AFTER HURRICANES & FLOODS, PENNSYLVANIA SIDE
Mostly a photo essay on the priceless fruits of preservation and restoration….of restaurants and venerable stores, of towns, of islands, of the historic towpath, of our River of Liberation itself.
http://thelumbervillegeneralstore.com/ [sign up for notices of SPECIAL events…]
One of Winter’s Welcoming Fireplaces, Lumberville General Store, PA
How can one be homesick for a place that is not home? Or actively miss a place, when one is there every few weeks? This has been my fate since I ‘met’ the renovated Lumberville General Store, on ‘The River Road’ above New Hope. This emporium of excellence has been eincarnated by brilliant Laura Thompson, aesthetic genius behind the Black Bass Inn across the road.
Bass Inn, Venerable ‘Parent’ Establishment Across Route 32
A Florida friend and I had set out for Bucks County with Christmas presents for one another in hand, planning for breakfast at a traditional Lamberville morning restaurant. Now that she lives in the South, time together needs to be timeless and quiet. Our destination, that morning, turned out to be rambunctious and raucous, with a line out the door into December’s gelid air. “We’re not doing this,” I announced. “I’ve read about new chefs at the Lumberville General Store. Let’s give it a try.”
Ice Floes Race Down the Delaware River, Out Lumberville General Store Windows
Welcoming Lantern on the Mantel
Window Decor, Lumberville General Store Haven
Fireplace Tile, Lumberville General Store
Even the Fire-Tending Gloves are Decorative!
Scotch Woodcock (home-smoked salmon), gossamer eggs, cloud-like roll, home-fashioned-and-smoked sausage with ginger and sage — and the most ethereal (so-called) hash-browned potatoes of our lives — [Chef Anton’s secret being pre-preparation inspired by The French Laundry] — an hour and a half sous-vide… and, o, yes, “We finish them in butter. Everything’s better in butter.”
One chooses a room, a table, a fireplace. One picks up a handy compact clipboarded menu in the main room of the General Store. One agonizes between their own bacon, quiche with crust that levitates, scrambled eggs in the form of the omelets of France, triple-berry or cheese scones, hearty breakfast biscuit, and the like. I cannot count the number of friends I have taken there or met there. All are astounded — even at lunch. This attention to detail, to sources (“We’re between Manhattan and Philly — purveyors are glad to serve us.”) I seem to remember Anton’s delight in the storied Viking fisheries of LBI for salmon and other fish; and local eggs whose provenance resembles that of works of art. Their legendary soups are also available frozen to take home, as are those remarkable quiches. Tall sturdy glass bottles with metal and porcelain stoppers hold (free) refrigerated water for your table, by whatever fireside, or outside, setting you may choose.
While Amy and Charlie and Anton banter with you behind the counter, you can create mixed coffee concoctions to meet your morning needs. Everyone’s pride in his and her work is palpable. Their delight in one’s presence is as though you’re guests and they’re cherished hosts in the warmest of homes.
We’ve done any number of Christmas and birthday rituals, wrapped in timelessness that is not the norm in this dire century. There have been celebration of having recovered visits and even sympathy returns. Hale or not, merry or sad, by the fire, or with backyard breezes wafting in as guests feast at the sturdy outdoor tables — in this historic setting, one feels blessed. As well as gastronomically enchanted.
And afterwards, in most weather (once, even in black ice — a short jaunt), one can walk the foot(e)bridge across my beloved Delaware and its Pennsylvania canal, to Bull’s Island in New Jersey. There’s even a successful eagle nest visible when trees are less leafed out, one mile below the New Jersey entry to Bull’s Island. This hefty structure crowns a massive sycamore, almost on the river. And another eagle nest may be found on the power tower near the Lambertville toll bridge — whose three young fledged on the Fourth of July weekend! For a long time, the Homestead Farm Market on the Lambertville hill had its scope trained on the nest where these hefty young were “branching” — testing their wings.
Canal and Towpath, Pennsylvania Side
Canal and River Alongside/Below Black Bass Inn
Winter Canal, “Down By the Riverside…”
NJWILDBEAUTY readers well recognize that this haven, which extends far beyond a mere restaurant, constellates most of my passions: beauty, history, authenticity, gastronomy, and Nature herself — especially my cherished Delaware River.
Places such as Riverton and Burlington NJ, and Perkasie and Sellersville, PA, remind us, along with Lumberville: Without preservation, we would have little or none of the experiences and photographs on this ‘page.’
This canal was connected to our D&R Canal by an aqueduct at nearby Raven Rock. Much of New Jersey was settled, in the canal era, beside canal towns. Before that, the Delaware was the main artery. Lumberville was named for the trees harvested there and floated down the river to build Pennsylvania and New Jersey in those centuries. It is a miracle that not only beauty, but even artifacts of those time, let alone buildings, remain.
NJWILDBEAUTY readers know I celebrate living in the Delaware Valley, because it is so easy to get to beauty and wildness, and HISTORY, within an hour’s drive or less! It wasn’t like this in Michigan, which became a state in 1837… Open your eyes and your tastebuds newly to our surroundings. Give yourselves these memorable gifts.
From their web-site — you see, yet another passion, art in general and Delaware Valley Impressionism in particular…
As you can see from the original date stone on the front of the store, our beautiful building has stood on River Road since 1770. Over the years – with ownership passing from local family to local family – the General Store has always honored the same fundamental tradition: providing a place for the community to congregate. While our visitors may not be relying on us for their weekly groceries these days, we’re proud to still maintain the cozy, communal feel that has defined our store’s history.
This once-sleepy area alongside the Delaware River steadily developed over the course of the late eighteenth century, and with it, the General Store. In 1775, Revolutionary War hero Colonel George Wall, Jr. acquired the land and began personally overseeing the store. He also (modestly) renamed the area “Walls Landing” and created two lumber mills, a grist mill, and a surveying school. By 1825, the store started to serve a dual purpose as the post office of the newly renamed “Lumberville” – a moniker chosen by Jonathan Heed and Samuel Hartley in response to the successful saw mill operations. As the eighteenth century turned into the nineteenth, the General Store exchanged hands between the Livezey family and the Heed family.
Over time, Lumberville became a bucolic haven for artists, such as Martin Johnson Heade, who was originally a “Heed” before leaving for Europe to study painting. His romantic landscapes experienced a resurgence in popularity the 1940s, with pieces selling for up to $1,000,000. When the daughter of his nephew, Elsie Housely, became the owner of the General Store in 1939, she ensured Heade’s continued recognition after disassembling his sketchbook and selling the pages to eager dealers and collectors. The store remained in her capable hands until 1973, when the ownership changed again.
FINALLY! BACK TO ‘THE BRIG’ — Leed’s Eco-Trail
NJWILDBEAUTY readers know how important weekend adventures are to me, –the essentiality of refilling the well, emptied daily in our work, saving the Planet.
And Beloved Leed’s Point, (near home of the Jersey Devil, whom I long to meet!)
Some of you also know about February’s torn meniscus — healing enough that I’ve been back on the trails. But p.t. takes hours daily, –some in private, some with kind, gentle, dedicated coaches. There remains too little time for creativity with all this body-building. The whole point of this work on “glutes, hamstrings and core” is to get back outside. Come with me to recent restorative havens.
Snowy Egret in Full Breeding Plumage, in WIND, The Brig
Visitor Center, Purple Martin Houses, Perfect Clouds – The Brig
Spring Mimics Autumn – Swamp Maple, Waterlilies, The Brig
Essence of Spring – Geese and Goslings — The Brig
Jeanette Hooban (Intrepid) Rights Horseshoe Crabs,
Fortescue, Delaware Bayshore
High Tides Upset Horseshoe Crabs, Fortescue
BEACH COBBLED WITH HORSESHOE CRABS — 2 weeks late for the Full Moon of May
SACRED EGGS OF THE HORSESHOE CRABS
But red knots and ruddy turnstones may have come and gone, ill-nourished, to Arctic
Fortescue at Its Best — Late Light, Late Fishermen
“DAY IS DONE, GONE THE SUN” – Fortescue
For these scenes, these full days in the wild, all those intense hours of physical therapy, with John Walker of Princeton Orthopaedic Group; and of chiropractic with Brandon Osborne, D.C., are worth it. Whatever it takes to give yourselves the wild, do it!
I dare to rephrase Thoreau: “In wildness is the healing of the world.”
MUSEUM LOBBY (a.k.a. Mass MOCA – Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art)
conduits of yesterday-metal
vie with writhings pf formidable tubes
against the striated ceiling
columns unretouched in this century
allow the past to bleed through
–here, the hue of Mohawks in rain
–there, the tone of too many tears
beams scoured by time
I resist descending
this fierce metal stairway
leading to that basement
where factory workers headed
to restrooms lacking all rest
where harshness and high walls
surround sinks that still insult
this lobby, capacious and echoing
streams with guests
–eager and savvy
–even the children
skipping toward grim gate and guard
pillars / ceilings / room dividers
flaunt splotches and scars
vivid as palettes of the brilliant
whose lifework adorns
relentlessly eloquent walls
CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN
Mother’s Day, 2017
I actually thanked the Mass MOCA guards for the policy of not retouching the industrial past of this glorious museum, –full-to-the-brim with the most challenging art installations. They were gratified, especially when I added, “This reality honors all who worked within these walls. And underscores the powerful meaning of each artist’s work.”
As a creative person, I viscerally feel how stifled those factory workers must have been, laboring deep within these endless, now empty, but then emptying, spaces.
On this week’s Berkshire Journey, I realized that the transformation of Mass MOCA echoes that of the miraculous Michener Museum in Doylestown, –once a prison where my friends (mothers, nursing mothers, grandmothers) were impounded over an entire weekend for daring to lie down in front of bulldozers who would destroy the banks of the Delaware, so that the dread PUMP could be built to deplete our sacred river.
James and Mari Michener’s vision has been realized, that art triumph over incarceration.
I salute all the visionaries who knew that thought-provoking installations could surpass industrial dehumanization. Being at Mass MOCA is like standing under a shower of fresh mountain waters, mixed with electrifying ions, generous helpings of stardust, and more than a dash of cayenne.
NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that ‘The B rigantine’, or Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, near Smithville, New Jersey, has been closed to humans other than construction workers, since September. I’ve now made two trips to the re-roaded, re-opened refuge. I am happy to note that rarities are in residence, or in tourist mode, to a high degree. This late March Saturday, we were treated to the last of the winter birds, and one life species for me — WHITE IBIS — two in a tree with a Great Egret, on the way to the Gull Pond Tower. Most of these images are by my dear friend and superb bird artist, Brenda Jones. All of them are wild nature, roaming free, thanks to far-sighted altruistic politicians of yesteryear.
A thousand thanks always to consummate birder, Mary Wood, who not only drives us in her silent Prius, which does not alarm the wildlings. But who gave me her spectacular (second pair) of Swarovski binoculars, which finally allow me to see eye rings…
In case you wonder why people bird….
Imagine Two White Ibis in One Tree — (Internet Image) We left before they did...
Great Egret – We also saw this one wading about (a first for us!) in sparkling Absecon Bay
Brenda’s Serene Male Bufflehead — We had three females, two males.
Brenda’s Intricate Female Bufflehead
At one point, we had the mute swan and the 5 buffleheads ‘in one glass’
(meaning we could see all without moving our optics)
We were this close to the first returned male osprey, — serene, imperious on his nest. His mate is due to return in about two weeks.
We had green-winged teal beyond counting, at the inlet from Absecon Bay
We were given snow geese in numbers of this magnitude – Laura Frazier at Blackwater Wildlife Refuge in Maryland, from Internet — our were at rest upon the waters, serenading us with that musical murmur before departing for cooler climes…
Brenda’s Spectacular Female Harrier – I also spied “The Grey Ghost,” the elusive silvery male northern harrier, coasting along the tree line in a field to the west of Route 206, before we’d even turned into the Pine Barrens.
We heard, but did not see, the song sparrow at the northeast corner of the Refuge.
Internet Image of Black Brant in Water — We were given flocks on both sides, –bay and impoundment — and overhead in elegant waves.
We frequently heard and ‘almost saw’ chickadees.
We heard and saw newly returned red-winged blackbirds.
Our finale bird at the Brig was an American Bald Eagle hiding out, disguising its imperious white head and diagnostic white tail in a black and white paper birch overlooking the final pond.
Does it seem to anyone else as though the sun never shines?
Literally and metaphorically, I mean…
Seems as though every excursion planned with any of the Intrepids is either diminished or actually cancelled, by weather.
NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that what I must do, [whether to flee personal tragedies beyond bearing, let alone the current political situation in this former “land of the free”], is to take intensive, day-long, nature pilgrimages.
On February 1, a dear friend and I took off for the Brigantine Wildlife Refute, above Atlantic City, on Absecon Bay. To our intense shock, ‘reparations’ of the refuge are still proceeding — to the effect that we could not enter, nor drive even to Gull Tower #I nor Gull Tower #2.
A biologist, who required our identification of snow geese, regretfully but firmly did not allow us to proceed. Enormous red trucks zoomed and roared everywhere. The official revealed that the truckers complain to her, “Those PEOPLE [meaning birders] are CRAZY!” Yes, indeed. Guilty as charged. All who travel to the Brig are there to experience wildlife where the wild creatures had always been plentiful and safe!
Leeds Eco-Trail, a ‘board’walk, was all that remained available in this shrine frequented by New Jersey’s most committed birders. In winter, we make pilgrimage there for snow geese beyond counting, for tundra swans and sometimes even the rare trumpeter swans, and all the winter ducks.
We took our disgruntled selves down to Church Road in Absecon, where any number of avocets had pranced and preened a year ago right now. But, due to high water, the array of sandbars that had served those rare shorebirds had vanished absolutely. All we could find on the unexpected lake were resident mallards, habituated to cars! Squawking and demanding, the handsome green-headed ducks and their muted females surrounded us.
Obviously, humans have not learned never to feed wild animals, since our food is junk food to them: As with the foxes of Island Beach, human food fills the stomachs of wildlings. But our offerings do not nourish appropriately; seriously subverting their immune systems. In Absecon, very odd, almost comical hybrid ducks swam and begged with the traditional mallards. I was too chagrined to take pictures. Only Brenda can render mallards attention-getting!
My friend, Fay Lachmann, and I took ourselves next to Scott’s Landing, where NJWILDBEAUTY readers well know that Tasha and Alan and I spend many a merry Christmas. Those magical days are rich in fellowship first; birding second; and Tasha’s elegant picnics, in sun (whatever THAT is) and new snow, among rare winged creatures, often beyond counting.
February 2017 finds Scott’s Landing a wasteland; a travesty of the concept of refuge. It’s always a shock, in hunting season, to see all those flat wooden images of various winged fowl, with numbers as to the size and shape of ducks and geese at so many yards. “The better to shoot you, my dear…”
It’s harder yet to come upon successful hunters at Scott’s Landing, triumphantly laying out bloodied prey upon these sandy, wood-rimmed stretches that pass for the driving area of the Landing.
When Tasha and Alan and I are there at Christmas, our ‘guests’ include elegant great egrets, all white and gold and sheer nobility; as well as stately, ashen ‘blue’ herons. At dusk in warmer times, Scott’s Landing is ideal for rails; even bitterns. In this season, we should have seen hordes of snow geese and heard their mellifluous ‘chattering’.
At Scott’s Landing, Fay and I saw no living creature.
The Brig, (Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge) after Sandy was a far, far better refuge/antidote than was our recent experience. In the picture below, note that post-Sandy sign announcing: TRAILS ARE OPEN.
For Fay and me, not only were no trails open on February 1, 2017. Even along the too-brief Leeds Eco-Trail, we could see but a smattering of snow geese settling onto nearby grasses. And not the wing of a single other bird, in this renowned bird refuge. I lay those empty skies and grasslands to all the disruption, since I received the notice: “Wildlife Drive Closures Begin Monday, September 12th.” “WORK IS EXPECTED TO TAKE SEVERAL MONTHS TO COMPLETE.”
Purported road repairs (never evident so far) and major building are the norm at Forsythe “Refuge” now. And the truckdrivers wonder why ‘those people’ are ‘crazy’…
Post-Sandy — Far Better Than Now
Epiphany, indeed! Actually, multiple epiphanies on the purported day of the Three Kings’ visit to the manger…
O.K., it snowed all night. Who cares?
There is nothing more thrilling than finding first tracks in fresh snow or upon tide-compressed sand.
And, yes, it’s cold and windy — so much the BETTER!
I’m beginning to think that winter is the BEST time for adventures!
Come with Kathleen and Jim Amon, of Lambertville, (and me). These friends are key birders, both fine artists — Jim with a one-man exhibition into early February at D&R Greenway of his magnificent butterfly studies. Jim is my former colleague (Director of Stewardship at D&R Greenway Land Trust). He also supports the Sourlands Conservancy, and writes marvelous nature articles under the heading, “Seeing the Sourlands.” Both are also impassioned about food, which you know key to my nature quests.
Yes, stroll with us along the northernmost barrier beach of New Jersey early on a January Friday morning.
As you can see from my intent friends above, –wild winds, recent snow, a nearby bay, and a few salt ponds over which increasing gusts were gusting, mean nothing.
Gear is essential. Fashion is not. Windproofed everything is worth its weight in gold.
O, yes, and having memorized most of the texts of these books, and possessing decent optics. As NJWILDBEAUTY readers know, an amazing friend recently gave me her second set of Swarovski binoculars. Kathleen Amon had just purchased the identical ‘species’. Here she is using them for the first time, astounded by subtleties revealed. These ‘glasses’ are beyond price. No gift of my life, (including rare jewels from my ex-husband) surpasses them in importance.
At my bird-feeder at home, my amazing Swarovskis, I swear, let me absorb the personality and character of feeding goldfinches from the look in their eyes!
Other essentials, — which I am sure all my NJWILDBEAUTY readers possess, include curiosity, passion, enthusiasm, persistence, courage, and a certain level of fitness – which as you know Peroneus Longus (that pesky left-leg tendon) does not always provide.
‘Perry’ was a brat last week at Island Beach. But we worked him into cooperation any number of times. At Sandy Hook, –taped anew by my legendary chiropractor, Brandon Osborne of Hopewell– Peroneus behaved like a perfect gentleman. So he moved into Jim Amon’s league…
O, yes, the ankle tape this week is the color of tomato soup before you add milk. It sports white writing all over everywhere, shouting “ROCK TAPE”, over and over and over.
Never mind rocks. Give me sand and snow!
The purpose of our jaunt, which we’d determined to take come rain or snow or sleet or hail, — well, almost… — was to acquaint Jim and Kathleen with all the bird ops at Sandy Hook.
To show them where the green heron lurks in summer:
Where the great egret feeds on the incoming tide…
Where the ospreys soar, court, mate, build nests, raise hefty young, and perform impressive exchanges, as both parents tend first eggs, then chicks.
Well, you get the idea.
Every time I introduce anyone to Sandy Hook, there is great attraction to, and concern for, the yellow houses left from “the Hook’s” military past. Time has had its way with them.
Sandy, the Storm, was doubly merciless — waves crashing in from the Atlantic and others rising with menace from all-too-near Sandy Hook Bay.
These houses, upon whose chimneys ospreys delight to nest and successfully raise young, are finally being restored!
Everyone muses, in the presence of the battered yellow house, upon stories these dwellings could tell.
Three of these haunting structures had become impeccable, after all these ruinous decades. The northernmost restoration now sports a FOR RENT sign in its front window. The one beyond that had its door open, a workman in a hard hat entering with urgency. Across from their porches, one faces Sandy Hook Bay, bird-rich, to be sure. Also frequently crossed by the ferry to Manhattan…
Oh, yes, and what birds did we find?
What did we see that we did not expect? I had jokingly mentioned, as we faced salt ponds awash in the dapper and compelling ducks of winter, “With any luck, we’ll have a red-throated loon in winter plumage… Of course, that means he won’t have a red throat.”
This is just one of the many complexities of the birder’s life. If you cannot stand contradictions (such as the black-bellied plover in winter plumage who has white belly), don’t bird.
What had we expected to find, but didn’t have enough time on the ocean side?
Long-tailed ducks out beyond the third waves…
Ray Yeager is a master at finding and immortalizing long-tails, so this image will have to do for all of us.
What do I remember from my November visit, [that did not happen in January]– every brant on the salt ponds catapulted into the air by horrific military noise from two officious helicopters.
‘The Hook’ has been military since the War of 1812, even though “no shot has been fired in anger”, as they say, along those splendid sands.
I’m supposed to feel secure and protected in the presence of the military, but the opposite is my truth. Such intrusions cannot be good for the birds..
Sandy Hook is so special, even the poison ivy is beautiful. This November scene reminds us
(1) Winter Birding is full of riches, worth all the risks and potential discomforts.
(2) Rejoice that these preserves exist. Do everything in your power to see that they persist, for the wild creatures above all, and for human epiphanies!
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!
Can’t you just hear the cold jingle of these shells, as waves sip in and out?
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.
Never forget — We ARE our fellow-creatures’ keepers.
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.
Fate had other ideas.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
And I wonder if I’ll ever be able to figure out this trip.