The Inimitable Alice!
The Inimitable Alice!
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.
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?
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.
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
formed golden pyramids
on gleaming amber boxes
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
I long to slip into
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
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
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
your ignited gaze
thrown back at me
in this new solitude
every inch of rooms you cherished
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
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!
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
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!
NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that my favorite time to be almost anywhere is when most people aren’t. Give me “too early”, “too late” and especially “out-of-season”! Except, that –especially for the Intrepids — there is no “out of season” in New Jersey!
DECEMBER STILL LIFE — BARNEGAT BAY — REED’S ROAD — ISLAND BEACH
Intrepids Jeanette Hooban and Bill Rawlyk and I met fine-art photographers Angela Previte and her husband, Bob, and the redoubtable Ray Yeager, last Sunday, for an extended Barnegat Bayside breakfast. Fellowship reigned supreme, until our photographers “had promises to keep”
Jeanette, Bill and I set off to bird the day away. Indeed, it was December, but there’s no better time to stroll Reed’s Road, just around the corner from Seaside Park, barely into Island Beach State Park.
In no time, we were deep in a forested glade, silvery sugar sand underfoot, seemingly new moss burgeoning on both sides. Beach heather, Hudsonia tomentosa, and lichens vied for our attention.
There is nothing silkier than the normal, natural sand that forms Reed’s Road, nothing more alluring to the foot(e). Although well into the twelfth month, autumn’s palette erupted first on one side, then another.
There is nothing more irresistible than the tranquillity of Barnegat Bay, like an enormous silver platter, beckoning, beckoning to the west.
There wasn’t a breath of wind. Waves were delicate, hushed. Black sparkling swathes of garnet particles beckoned, underfoot and underwater. Off in the far distance, we could just peek at (but not photograph) Barnegat Light.
We could have found cedar waxwing and robin flocks, as many have on this trek in previous high winter walks. Or pine warblers in early spring. Or stately swans in other Novembers. This day, our bird stars were the merry bobbing buffleheads, making us laugh out loud in delight.
Spotting Buffleheads from Reed’s Road Trail
The maddening part of that excursion was that some officials in our misguided 21st Century equate slashing with trail maintenance. We spent a long time picking up their debris, mourning over literal ‘greenstick fractures’ in towering native shrubs of all species on all sides, apologizing to nature yet again for man’s depredations. We wanted to go straight to the State House with our fury, were it not that politicians have other issues on their minds right now. Obviously shrubs’ and trees’ health, shrub and tree rights are very low on Trenton ‘totem poles’ of interest and respect. Citizens’ rights don’t seem very far ahead in terms of honor. WE THE PEOPLE have a right to our native species’ being protected everywhere, and MOST ESPECIALLY IN OUR STATE PARKS!
NJWILDBEAUTY readers have ‘heard’ me go on and on about reading “This Changes Evetything”, by today’s Rachel Carson: Naomi Klien. She’s won the Sydney Peace Award from Australia, comparable to the Nobel — for her courageous expose of the multi-national, mega-funded organizations devoted to climate change denial.
Central to the paradigm of these planet-destroyers is downright hatred of Nature, a vicious delight (obediently promulgated by the Weather Channel) in blaming every storm on so-called Mother Nature, terming even Hurricane Sandy – the anthropogenic disaster of all time — “Mother Nature’s Revenge.” Face it, watchers and listeners. These terms ascribing rage and revenge to the magnificent nature that surrounds us are utilized to justify destruction. Get it!
NATURE IS EDEN. WE ARE DRIVING OURSELVES OUT OF IT!
Meanwhile, back in Paradise:
Reed’s Road is home to proprietary pair of exquisite foxes, and sundry nocturnal raccoons. Many the track did we follow.
The animals have always known to ‘leave only footprints’.
Silence surrounded us, underfoot, overhead and out on the bay. Beauty was everywhere, that had never been altered (until this brutal pruning session). I am fond of saying that Island Beach has not been built on since initial development failed in the 1930’s Depression, and is pruned only by wind, sand and storms. I’ll pretend that’s still true…
REMEMBER, we can stroll these impeccable, usually unspoiled trails because this land has been preserved. NEVER HAS IT BEEN MORE URGENT TO SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL AND NATIONAL LAND TRUSTS.
See to it, with your memberships, that every possible wild inch of our sacred country is preserved in perpetuity, no matter who wields what power.
“This land is your land. This land is my land…” — but only due to our absolute constant courageous vigilance.
While you can, get out into the Parks of our beleaguered state, let their unspoilt magnificence seep into and restore your souls.
Nearing the Delaware River on November’s Last Weekend, 2016
Part of me wants to stay indoors, curled up with a book these days — especially my friend Mary Wood’s collection on FDR, ER, Winston and times of excellence and true leadership. Part of me well knows that the most healing place for this particular person is out in Nature, usually in New Jersey. A recent nearby journey tied politics, history, liberty, beauty and nature into a perfect package.
In tumult over the recent election, Tasha O’Neill, Alan McIlroy and I journeyed to Carversville, Pennsylvania, in quest of hours of fellowship and the perfect lunch – which we achieved. We didn’t even need menus. Fragrant Escargots for the two of them, Mushroom Ragout for me. Then the handsome Diver Scallop, wrapped in its savory scarf of applewood-smoked bacon, piqued with microgreens, and adorned with the most delicate citrine sauce. Sunlight dappled onto our shoulders through wavy windowglass of the venerable building, originating in the mid-1800s. Opulent desserts thrilled. Timelessness and merry deft service surrounded us.
Then we were out on fascinating roads leading away from our gastronomic haven. Sometimes, it seems that trekking with friends with cameras is even more exciting than birding. Can this be? Is this heresy?
Remnants of Determined Woodpecker, Carversville, Fleecydale Road Hike
When men and women pledged their “lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor” to bring forth a land devoted to Liberty.
SEE NAOMI KLEIN WINS SYDNEY PEACE PRIZE – A.M. AFTER I POSTED THIS BLOG, below
This scene from Chatham, Massachusetts, which I call “Tethered Steeple” could also be titled “Tethered Flag.” This morning I passed the Lawrenceville Volunteer Fire Department, en route home from having kayaked to the Fishing Bridge and back. Our firemen had created their Memorial Day sign: “HOME OF THE FREE, BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE.”
Regular NJWILDBEAUTY readers know my grave concern for citizens’ rights in our land. My immediate thought, upon seeing that noble firehouse sign this morning was, “Well, they all seem to have died in vain.”
I worry a great deal about what our Founding Fathers must think of vanished liberty in so-called America. About everyone’s being treated as a criminal in airports, and now even in museums and theatres (Manhattan, not yet in Princeton).
I am particularly devastated that land, –even that preserved in perpetuity-, is being punctured already with PIPELINE pipes of hideous yellow – color of 21st-Century tyranny.
This land is no longer OUR LAND, as the lovely song insisted when we were fighting our own government to end the Vietnam War. “…and all around us, a voice was singing, this land was made for you and me.” Reality seems to me, “this land was made for fossil fuels!”
The fossil fuel industry would have it otherwise, as would many so-called ecological organizations, significantly funded by those whose motto is “Drill, Baby, Drill!”, (referred to by the brilliant author, Naomi Klein, as ‘Big Green.’ (This Changes Everything — Capitalism vs. the Climate”.)
I don’t know what the rest of you do to counter these dire trends. What would George and Ben and John and Abigail and Thomas (Paine) and Thomas (Jefferson) have done, faced with the restrictions and constrictions of liberty in our times?
Please note how many of my excursion pictures seem to be taken in high winds… We should stop blaming the situation of ‘climate change’, and begin accurately targeting fossil fuel magnates, politicians bought by them, the organizations founded by and funded by them, who permit the continued ruination of our country, our Planet.
Memorial Day used to be called ‘Decoration Day.’ It was created to honor Civil War dead, and there were supposedly two different such days, — one for the North and one for the South. Somehow they were, –after a suitable lapse of time–, merged into Memorial Day.
As children, families went to the family graveyards, honoring deceased relatives. We did not, but many did, [and in Salem and Cumberland Counties of New Jersey, many still do], have a memorial meal at the grave site. When we visited, we cleaned the graves, weeded, watered, brought new flowers, and parents reminisced. Our ancestors lived on through these rituals.
Turns out we were ‘doing it wrong,’, as this day is supposed to be about honoring those who died in war for our country.
“HOME OF THE FREE, BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE.”
Let’s KEEP it that way. Write legislators, editors, heads of ruinous Fossil Fuel organizations. There is a Women’s movement, called “Take Back the Night.”
We need to pledge OUR lives, OUR fortunes, OUR sacred honor, if there is any such entity in these troubled times.
We need a TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY mentality. Our land needs to be OUR land again.
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