George Bernard Shaw — my “marching orders’ for this life

A natural autumn glow, at Prallsville Mills, on the D&R Canal – to remind us of George Bernard Shaw’s ‘brief candle’…

Autumn Canal near Prallsville Mills

Long ago, I read everything I could find, by and about Shaw.  Yes, his misogyny bothered me; and yet, and yet — I know no better life paradigm:

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live.

Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It ia a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to the future generations.”

George Bernard Shaw

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WHEN YOUR EASTER OUTFIT IS BIRDING GEAR…

Hold on to your Hat Jeanette Hooban at Cape May Hawk Watch Platform Easter 2017

“HOLD ONTO YOUR HAT!” – Intrepid Jeanette Hooban on Easter

Hawk Watch Platform, Cape May, New Jersey

Over the weekend, yours truly set off for New Jersey’s two birding meccas, –Cape May and ‘The Brig’/Forsythe Wildlife Refuge.  As usual, she was running away from Holidays that used to be magical, in quest of winged rarities.  This memorable journey unfolded after Intrepid Jeanette Hooban declared [some months ago], “Carolyn, Easter is YOURS!”

Cape May Hawk Watch Platform aster 2017

HAWK WATCH PLATFORM:  Support these courageous and generous donors, without whose work and words, people could still be slaughtering rare birds by the thousands, all along Sunset Boulevard.

The Climate Change that ‘doesn’t exist’ had other ideas.  Gale-winds had flags snapping almost to the tearing point.  Out of the SOUTH — the direction in which migrants need to be flying.  They may as well have faced a wall.

Wild Wind & Flags Cape May Easter 2017

NOTE THOSE WIND-WHIPPED FLAGS

Jeanette and I learned that only swans, osprey and a smattering of gulls were strong enough either day to surmount the mistral-like onslaught.

Mute Swan in Territorializing Posture Cape May Easter 2017

MUTE SWAN INSTITUTES TERRITORIALIZING POSTURE

We were given three oystercatchers at the Meadows at Cape May — walking around, seeking the ideal spot for the scrape they consider a nest.  Territorialzing was inevitable and amazingly raucous.  Get that verb though, “walking.”  At the Brig, –on the side of the renovated road, opposite Atlantic City–,  a pair of oystercatchers walked around on the pale gravelly substrate, nesting on their minds.  These could have been the pair I watched feeding one young a summer ago, in that same place, where Sandy had devoured the road.

There were a few great egrets in stunning breeding plumage.  They, also, were walking.  Terns wheeled and plunged.  A yellowlegs (I can’t tell greater from lesser unless they’re side-by-side) and some willets also tried to feed in low water, –feed on foot, not on wings.

So, right now, your NJ WILDBEAUTY Cape May activity report is being replaced this time by this poem.  It was written when the Dodge Poetry Festival was still held at Waterloo Village.  Joy Harjo, a feisty, eloquent Native American, magnificently conveyed her splendid multi-level poem, “She Had Some Horses.”

 

“SHE SAW SOME BIRDS”

                                                           (Hearing Joy Harjo at the  Dodge Poetry Festival)

 

she saw some birds who

were little and magical

and easily mistaken

— one for the other —

warbling in underbrush

and sporting, at the last moment

a red kiss

or a brassy crown or a

gold coin on a dark

rump, — and tiny, so tiny

really almost

invisible

 

she saw some birds who

were too high on a tree-

limb or a thermal

or above slate seas

and twisting — this

way and that –, hiding

their field marks

 

they could have been

peregrine or immature golden

against the noon sun but

no one can quite

make this call

 

she saw some birds

with distinctive bellies

plastered flat against

dark trunks which they were

excavating high and deep

where no one can climb

or raid or even — at the very

least — identify

 

she heard some birds

in the wide marsh

as the sun slipped

away from her and even

worse, from her birds

 

who had concealed

themselves among sere rushes

which they exactly matched

so she could not see but only

hear their rattle or click or whine

and wonder if this was her

rail, her shy bittern

 

the ones who so skillfully lose

themselves in the sedges as

she so longs to do in such

a setting,… everywhere

 

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

 

THE FOUR SEASONS RESTAURANT — HAVEN OF EXCELLENCE — R.I.P.

4 Seasons Motif Restaurant Manhattan

The Four Seasons Motif outside the restaurant

Once there was a bastion of excellence, in Manhattan, called The Four Seasons.

Pool Room Four Seasons Restaurant

The Pool Room, The Four Seasons Restaurant

People think it was all about the food.  And, to a high degree, it was.  In that faraway year of 1959, when I moved to Manhattan, here was regionality and seasonality, and therefore savor and freshness and beauty such that no other cuisine could equal.  Not even Caravelle and Cote Basque.  Nowhere.

Metal Rain by Day 4 Seasons

Metal Rain Inside the Four Seasons, by day

Now, The Four Seasons is no more.  Several farewell nights took place, and many articles have appeared.  Nothing conveys the exquisite uniqueness that was our constant experience in every family meal at the hands of Four Seasons staff, from owners, through maitre d’, through waiters, and those invisible magnificent chefs.  All hands created that museum masquerading as restaurant, appropriately the jewel in the crown of the Seagram Building.

Palm Room Four Seasons Restaurant Manhattan

Palms and Tranquility, The Four Seasons Restaurant

The farewell articles go on and on about power lunches and billionaires and of course the movers and shakers of Manhattan.  The focus on guests splashing in what, –to us–, had always been, that sacred reflecting pool.  Seeing that pool room in vivid memory, I realize that its astounding simplicity and tranquility generated the air of haven in the middle of Manhattan’s notorious bustle.  Entering, it was as though a shawl of silence lightly descended upon our shoulders.

4 Seasons Modern Bench Manhattan Restaurant

Four Seasons Art

It cannot be true that all the superb art was reflected in that barely rippling water — yet that is how its multiplied beauty appears in retrospect.  Seeking images on the internet, nothing satisfies.   I am SURE there were Picasso tapestries hanging on stairway walls.  They appear nowhere today.  As Four Seasons appears nowhere today.  Progress and mercantilism dominate this century.  So are we deprived of this sanctuary whose aura to echoes the interiors of Chartres, Ste. Chapelle, the mosic-rich glittering basilicas in Ravenna on sunny days.

Night Scene Four Seasons Restaurant, Manhattan

Night Scene, The Pool Room, Four Seasons Restaurant

A major aspect of family meals at Four Seasons was the silken warmth of everyone’s welcome.  Come with Diane and Catherine, Werner and me, on a scintillating early autumn Saturday.  Settle in at a capacious table, carefully far enough from others so that privacy is maintained.  Hear the girls gently order their beverages; as Werner, their Swiss father, discussed wines with the sommelier.  Watch the girls’ tall gleaming glasses arrive with one waiter, as towering menus are settled silently into our hands.  See Catherine, –the younger but taller, with her long blonde Swiss hair–, open that menu and knock over her Coke.  Empathize with the horror on that young girl’s face..

4 Seasons Final Menu

Four Seasons Menu

See a brigade of waiters and busboys dash to our table.  Watch as though each had been Blackstone, the Magician.  Whisk!  off with the stained cloth and whatever had been so artfully arranged upon it.  Whoosh, floated the impeccable new one, like linens for an altar.

Hear the empathy in the voice of the headwaiter as he soothed our chagrined daughter:  “That’s nothing!,” he’s exclaiming.  “At night, we have grown-ups who catch their menus on fire!”

4 Seasons Plate with specialties Manhattan

Four Seasons Sampling

Laugh with all of us, and see Catherine’s shame erased.  Understand that this gentility was the hallmark of that restaurant.  We were not movers and shakers.  We were suburbanites, –upon whom I knew, as twice-former Manhattan resident–, that town looks askance.  We even dared to bring young girls, who happened to adore rituals and would eat anything (well, except petite friture in Villefranche, Provence, because, “Daddy, they have eyes!”

4 Seasons China

Four Seasons China

Werner knew, and we would come to know, that the poliltesse that suffused The Four Seasons was in the best European traditions, –as in Claridge’s of London, the Plaza Athenee and the Ritz of Paris.  But we weren’t in Europe — we were in America.  And for those few savory scintillating Four Seasons hours, we were experiencing the best of our country.  As with those legendary hotels and their sublime restaurants, what we took place at table rivaled beauty and majesty and tradition we had spent all morning absorbing in the world’s most important museums.

Metal Rain Four Seasons Restaurant Manhattan

Metal Rain by Night, Four Seasons Restaurant

The Four Seasons was not a museum.  It was alive, and its excellence could be counted on, time after time after time, no matter the origins of our guests

WAS alive.

IS no more.

So I must mourn this loss.

America is the less for this finale.

My words are so feeble.  I need Will to give me lines such as “Take and cut [it] out in little stars, and all the world shall be in love with night!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LET US ALL PRAISE FRANCE!

The Normal Peace of the South of France

Abbey in lavender fields South of France from Internet

Abbey, Senanque?, in Lavender Bounty, South of France, from Internet

My heart is in fragments, scattered along the beaches of Nice, across from the Negresco – where we stayed in 1964, before I knew that Provence is different from France.

Down the road from the Hotel Suisse, where my daughters and I and Charlie and Rose Mary Clancy stayed, –our balconies overlooking the Boulevard des Anglais, in 1984.  We woke to the sussurus of Mediterranean waves, and the aroma of French coffee and fresh brioches on little trays at our doors.  We slept to the slow weaving of delicately illuminated pleasure craft stitching one ‘Cap’ (as in Cap Ferrat, Cap d’Antibes) to another across an ink black sea.  The lit craft shattered the stars’ wakes, and we could barely leave to go to sleep.  But another day in wondrous France awaited us, and attention must be paid.

It cannot BE that enraged bitter people believe their lives, this world will be better if they strew the beaches of Nice with bodies and blood.

I have this horrid vision of my beloved tricoleur, shredded, trampled.

Once, blood-soaked French beaches saved the free world.  But that was Normandy.  Yes, there was a battle of the Riviera, (August 15, 1944).  Cannes (where I lived in ’88 and ’89) was right in the heart of it.  Her Bay held firing warships, aiming at Nazi strongholds around the corner from our villa L’Aquila.  I could feel the bad vibes of the German centers, as I took circuitous walk after circuitous walk on the heights of Cannes.

But that was a real war, with declared enemies, and somehow generals and politicians knew who won and who lost and we won and liberty was assured.

Or so we thought.

Now there are phantom enemies everywhere.  France is bleeding again.  Only it’s not for a good cause.  She’s the victim again, as in the 1940s.  Then, she was betrayed from within.  Now we have no idea how to contend with this evil.

My heart breaks with France.  Mourn with me, please.

 

 

MISSING FRANCE: Rain Ride, May Poem

Many times, a poem will start itself at the most inconvenient time, in the most inconvenient place.  Such as this one, in a fizzly downpour, between Pennington and Hopewell.  No way to pull over and capture it, and no pen and paper anyway.  And not until I returned home and began to type did I have any idea where this poem was going.  To France, no less:

Images from the Internet will give you a sense of what was happening to me, on my country ride.  Trying to get over a country is like trying to get over a love — it crops up when and where you least expect it.  And there’s no escaping the breath-stopping power of memory.

lavender fields forever France from Internet jpg

Lavender Fields Forever, France, from Internet

RAIN RIDE, MAY

 

new white blossoms

against the old red barn

 

lilacs turning

before my very eyes

from smoked purple

to lavender itself

 

distant headlights

above the drenched macadam

become lighthouses

crowning any one of Brittany’s

rock-hewn coasts

 

flowers of claret

outline the newest barn

–white, imposing as Mt. Blanc

 

I see I have become

depaysee encore

–uncountried yet again

 

driving thin wet roads

of old New Jersey

 

 

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

May 2016

Breton Light at Night From Internet

Light of a Breton Light, France, from Internet

lighthouse Breton Coast, France from Internetl

Guarding the Rockbound Breton Coast, from Internet

Abbey in lavender fields South of France from Internet

Abbey, Senanque?, in Lavender Bounty, South of France, from Internet

 

Mont Blanc Image from Internet

Mount Blanc from the Plane, from Internet

I suppose, if you really want to get over a country, as [when you really want to get over a love], it’s best not to spend every sit-down meal at home surrounded by books such as La Cuisine Provencale par Gui Gedda; Bonnard et Le Cannet (the next hill over from ‘mine’ in Cannes’, by Bonnard’s nephew, Midhel Terrase; Provence the Beautiful Cookbook and Taste of France by Robert Freson.

Face it, Caroline (my French name, sung out by the merry mailman of Cannes), you are hopeless!

 

MAINE MEMORIES – Spruce Point, Boothbay Harbor

 

 

Maine Spruce Point Inside Looking Out 2015

Spruce Point View of Boothbay Harbor

Sometimes, enduring the slings and arrows of outrageous weather that we are visitng upon ourselves becomes absolutely too much for me.  I turn to trips of other times, other climes, seeking surcease.

Maine Spruce Point Directional Sign of Yesteryear

Old Directional Sign to our Maine Haven of Many Summers

Years ago my family summered in a cottage at Spruce Point Resort, on Boothbay Harbor in Maine.  This past autumn, my dear cousins, Margy, Sally, my sister Marilyn and I toured the grounds of this place of splendid memory.

Maine Spruce Point Main Lodge 2015

Spruce Point Main Lodge

It is still ‘spruce’, in the archaic sense, otherwise known as ship-shape in that literal neck of the woods.   The setting remains sublime.

Maine Spruce Point Cottsge w Green Shutters

Spruce Point Cottage with Signature Green Shutters with Spruce Cut-Outs

We could find ‘our cottage’, and remember waking to woodsmoke on brisk July mornings, before dressing and walking over to the Main House for gratifying breakfast at our table with our waitress.  I could still find the beach where I read Rachel Carson’s “A Sense of  Wonder” to my sister’s son, borrowed by my husband and me because our girls were in Maine camp that summer.  There, Carl and I found every shell and creature Rachel describes, as she took her nephew tidepooling a few miles away.

Maine Spruce Point Ledges Tidal Pools Explored with my nephew Yesteryear

Carl’s and My Rachel Carson Tide Pools

I could send some of these pictures to Carl, and he could resonate and remember.  His favorite off-Spruce activity, beyond fishing and piloting the Boston Whaler though only a lad, was to visit the Old Salt in downtown (so to speak) Boothbay Harbor.

Maine Spruce Point Sign From Our Times There

Spruce Point – The Old Sign, Rescued, Displayed Inside

My cousins and sister and I didn’t find the Old Salt, needless to say.  That’s why Werner and I had bought Carl a woodcarving, in his childhood, that greatly resembled that grand old man.  Because we somehow knew those encounters were a one-time blessing.  But, –as you can see from the sign –, last September, we all found the same warm welcome that was always ours, even on the first visit.  That sense that we were old friends, cherished, whose return absolutely delighted the Staff.

Maine Walks Blustery Sally Marilyn Margy

Sally, my sister Marilyn, and Margy, on a blustery Maine Walk

We strolled the public rooms where the girls and I had worked puzzles, where we took down venerable books of the region, read by many others before us, on rainy Maine days.  This was the room where Carl and I peered as though we knew what we were doing, through gleaming brass telescopes, scanning the sea.

Maine Spruce Point Inside Main Lodge

Inside the Main Lodge – the Rainy-Day Rooms

The funniest day with the girls had been when we finally gathered all our gear, boarded the Boston Whaler, and Werner (double landlubber – partly because he was Swiss) acted as Captain.  Our shiny new fishing poles were at hand.  We felt bulky and even buxom in our too bright new L.L. Bean life-vests.  We didn’t have bait – we used ‘spoons’, which are what Maine mackerel require.  We finally were able to use the casting we’d endlessly practiced (in futility) in our Princeton Pool. Mackerel were a joy to catch, feisty and lively and beautiful, catching the light as they danced on our lines.  But Catherine had a pronouncement to make: “Everybody quit fishing!  We’re killing them!”

Maine Spruce Point Main Lodge Fireplace

Ship Ahoy! inside Main Lodge

Werner saw the entire trip, which included stopping at waterside places en route to practice our casting, the rental and negotiation of the Boston Whaler, everything in effect going up in smoke.

Maine Spruce Point Price of Yesteryear

Rate Sign from Times of Yore

Without a pause, he countered, “No, Cath.  We’re feeding the gulls.”  And he threw his newest catch into the beak of the hovering one overhead.  At lunch we did eat mackerel we had caught, prepared by the Spruce Point chef.

Maine Spruce Point Vista 2015

View of Boothbay Harbor from the Dining Room

My cousins, my sister and I didn’t eat at Spruce Point, but it felt the same in those sunny seaside rooms, as when the girls and I in our long skirts, and Werner in his very non-doctor summer sports coats would stroll over to lunch and to supper.  I could still see my father, luxuriating in his favorite part of the Spruce Point week – the Sundae Bar, of all sorts of ice creams and all sorts of toppings.  I think he tried them all.

Maine Spruce Point Political Sign for Owner from Our Days there

The Druces owned Spruce Point in Our Day, and Mr. Druce was such a splendid citizen!

My cousins, my sister and I found the boat dock where our family had boarded sunset cruises and boat-jaunts to other islands and bays.  We reminisced about taking Carl and his grandparents, my parents, over to Bath for a ship launching.  Where we’d foolishly embarked during an eclipse of the sun, to go sort-of deep sea fishing.  When sixty-pound Carl caught a sixty-pound cod, we realized our folly.  It may have delighted the Captain to have that huge fish on board, but ir hadsurely depleted my beloved nephew to have done so.  Eclipses do weird things to waves — ‘chop’ doesn’t begin to describe that Bay that day.

Maine Lobster Workboat

Non-Eclipse Calm Maine Waters

They say you can’t go home again.  Well, this wasn’t home.  But Spruce retains  the family welcome after long absence, for which we once drove ‘over the river and through the woods’ to relatives in Ohio and Michigan.

Maine Spruce Point Our Cottage Pelican

‘Our’ Pelican Cabin, tucked in among hardwoods and spruces

I was afraid I would be too sad to walk Spruce lanes and rooms.  But only joy was there for me.  It matters a great deal to Marilyn, Carl and to me, that Spruce Point remains impeccable, beautiful, and so welcoming.

Maine Spruce Point Our Cabin and Chimney

“Pelican’s” Chimney, where Werner Built Each Morning’s Fire

 

 

ANOTHER WORLD — THE TRACTOR SUPPLY STORE

Dear friends, knowing my enthusiasm for NJ Farms and most related to these vanishing, eponymous sites in our state, offered to take me to the Tractor Supply Store.

After a sublime (try it, you’ll LIKE it!) breakfast at the Americana Diner on Route 130 — truffles where you least expect them, Kevin McNally drove Judith and me through fields and farms and forests to this store.

I had my trusty camera and extra batteries, because I expected to capture close-ups of tractor wheels, gears, hardware and the like.

Instead, it was like stepping through a gateway to another world.  Somewhat like Alice in Wonderland after the sipping.  Somewhat like the Wizard of Oz when it changed from black and white to color.

Come with me — see what I mean!

(I wanted those t-shirts, but they were all XLarge 3X…)

Born to Fish

Born to Fish!

 

Secret to Fishing

Where the Fish Are

 

Wrangler

WRANGLER

 

Boot Central

Boot Central

 

Original Muck

Muck Boots

 

True Grit Tractor Supply Store

How-Tp Department

In among How to Raise Chickens, and Feeding Your Horse, and Kayak Angler and Food Guide and Grit, on another side of this kiosk, were Marilyn Monroe Magazines.

This turned out to be the reverse of “You’re Not in Kansas Any More…”

And, guess what, there weren’t ANY tractors!