Crossing the Delaware in Quest of Antidotes to 21st-Century Reality

general-george-washington--delaware-river-on-the-eve- from Internet

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Your NJWILDBEAUTY blogger spent ‘the shank of the day’ in bucolic, historic Bucks County.  Yes, yet again.  Alongside our timeless river, The River of Independence.  This waterways shad, John McPhee insists, saved Washington’s army at Valley Forge.  We wandered alongside the model of Washington’s Durham Boats for the Crossing, then the strangely romantic group sculpture at Washington’s Crossing State Park.

As we cross her shimmering. expanse, I try to keep her serenity alive in my own being.

Strategic Retreat

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A friend and I breakfasted sumptuously, alongside that river, in a structure a couple of hundred years old: The Lumberville General Store.  It is allied with the Black Bass Inn, which predates the Revolution – 1745 as I recall.  Both in and ‘Store’ are lovingly restored by the legendary Laura Thompson of Thompson Toyota in Doylestown.  She had been my neighbor at Village II in New Hope, where I lived (and fought to save the Delaware River from the Pump) from 1981 into 1987.

After hiking the footbridge over to Bull’s Island, my yesterday-friend and I drove through ageless burgeoning croplands, first in Pennsylvania, then in our New Jersey.   We punctuated our ramblings with a stop at a tiny farmstand off Route 31, stocking up on peaches and tomatoes from our Garden State.

All the while, fleeing this vile century.  All the while, seeking America.  OUR America!

View from Bridge South and Bulls Island July 2017

FOOTBRIDGE OVER DELAWARE FROM LUMBERVILLE TO BULL’S ISLAND

Only to arrive back here with a thud.

First projects upon return, as always, are signing petitions, to counter the Purloiner of the White House.  Save the Arctic.  Stop All Fracking.  Prevent oil drilling off any coasts.  One “SIGN HERE/SUBMIT”  laments and tries to counter the loss of bees.

I don’t know about the rest of NJWILDBEAUTY readers.  I have to confess, my trusty antidotes to harsh realities are seeming too little, too late, and frankly frail!

My Illinois sister sends me this wise quote from Patrick Henry.  Prescient.  A patriot when that word meant heroism, courage and magnificent leadership.

My sister empathizes with my condition these days, having suffered in her own state from narcissistic tyranny in the name of a governor.  As for the national situation, Marilyn echoes my own despair.  The concept of our vaunted liberty, –let alone citizens’ rights–, seems rare and imperiled as the bees.

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Readying Riverton July 2017

Although I posted this the day after the so-called ‘election’ of 2016, I return to Yeats — ever the prophet…

“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government, lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”
Patrick Henry
1736-1799

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

 

THE SECOND COMING

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
  Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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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

 

Gastronomic Idyll — Barley Sheaf Farm, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

NJWILDBEAUTY readers shared the magic of Carousel Lavender Farm, [‘in’ Mechanicsburg, PA, just east of Doylestown.] That enchanted visit was immediately followed by unexpected delights at The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm,.  Located on the south side of 202 beyond Lahaska, when aiming for Doylestown, the word ‘Farm’ may be the greatest understatement, restaurant-and-setting-wise, I have encountered.       [http://www.barleysheaf.com/]

“Les Deux Carolines” – Carolyn Yoder and Carolyn Edelmann at Brunch at Barley Sheaf, by Jeanette Hooban

Author, editor, Carolyn Yoder, reads us the storied past of the Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm, at the close of our exquisite meal.

Jeanette's Breakfast, Barley Sheaf, by Jeanette Hooban

Jeanette’s Breakfast, Barley Sheaf, by Jeanette Hooban

This capacious room recreates our combined favorite European experiences, especially France, but also the best of the English countryside.

Everything was flawless, especially their food, as you can see.  We were given a superbly attuned waitress, who surpassed herself with each encounter.  She heard me wonder if one could have the (complimentary) mimosa without the orange juice.  This luminous libation instantly materialized.

All afternoon, generosity was the watchword.  Graciousness abounded.  Everyone there was surrounded by excellence, granted the rarest gift of timelessness.

Barley Sheaf Farm Main Building by cfe

Barley Sheaf Farm Main Building by cfe

No, this is not the Loire Valley.  We were eating inside that white sun porch, gazing into gardens that could be Villandry in miniature.  Beyond that, a pool beckons.  Throughout the grounds, guests strolled, readying for a country wedding about to unfold.  Butterflies danced among their healthy flowers.  Photographs later revealed fish and frogs among the lotus blossoms.  No, I am not making this up.

The history of the Inn is threaded with the most famous visitors of the “New Hope Colony” of songwriters, authors, wits, the Algonquin Round Table crowd, in the heyday of that artful county in which we spent our afternoon.  We feasted in the former home of George S. Kaufman, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, including the first for a play.  Ask to read the history, as Carolyn Yoder did.  That electrifying era spun into life around us, in the stillness of the sunlit room.  It’s a boost to one’s own creativity to be there.

Barley Sheaf Farm Grounds with Pool by cfe

Barley Sheaf Farm Grounds with Pool by cfe

White arches welcome to the generous pool.

Happy Tiger Swallowtail Brunch cfe

Happy Tiger Swallowtail Brunch cfe

Ready for the Country Wedding, cfe

Ready for the Country Wedding, cfe

Contented Fish in Lotus Pond cfe

Contented Fish in Lotus Pond cfe

Can You Find the F rog, Lotus Pond, Barley Sheaf, cfe

Can You Find the F rog, Lotus Pond, Barley Sheaf, cfe

Barley Sheaf Motif on Balcony cfe

Barley Sheaf Motif on Balcony cfe

Carolyn Yoder Explores Barley Sheaf Gardens cfe

Carolyn Yoder Explores Barley Sheaf Gardens cfe

Villandry-in-Pennsylvania cfe

Villandry-in-Pennsylvania cfe

Versailles in Bucks County Pennsylvania cfe

Versailles in Bucks County Pennsylvania cfe

Idyllic Barley Sheaf Bridge cfe

Idyllic Barley Sheaf Bridge cfe

Ready to Grill, Barley Sheaf cfe

Ready to Grill, Barley Sheaf cfe

Historic Outbuilding cfe

Historic Outbuilding cfe

Timeless Dining Room, as Brunch Ends cfe

Timeless Dining Room, as Brunch Ends cfe

Contented Guests at Leisure at Barley Sheaf -- Carolyn Yoder and Jeanette Hooban cfe

Contented Guests at Leisure at Barley Sheaf — Carolyn Yoder and Jeanette Hooban cfe

I wish it were not true, that a picture is worth 10,000 words.  But the mere word, ‘timeless’, does not convince you of our idyll.  I hope you experience it in the above scenes.

One of the frequent guests, Dorothy Parker, was famous for answering her telephone (the heavy dangly black sit-on-the-table with rotary dial one) with, “What fresh hell is this?”  I am often tempted to do likewise.

At The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm, though, the phrase must be revised:

“What Fresh Heaven Is This?”

“Fresh Heaven” at The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm, by Jeanette Hooban

Butterscotch Days — Goat Hill Hike as Autumn Exits

Recent hikes have catalyzed an unexpected childhood memory – that of butterscotch candies with sun shining through.

Autumn’s woodlands are drenched now in butterscotch and honey, maple syrup, and occasional runnels of cranberry.  A recent hike up Goat Hill (on the NJ side of the Delaware River) surrounded Fay Lachmann and me with feasts for the eye that triggered taste memory.

Gilded Grove, Goat Hill Trail

Gilded Grove, Goat Hill Trail

Another hue on every side was that of cinnamon sticks.  When I’m in art-mode, of course, I say it’s pure Cezanne.

Basalt and Last Leaves, Goat Hill Trail

Basalt and Last Leaves, Goat Hill Trail

In the Delaware River Valley, we are blessed with outcroppings of basalt, direct connections to the beginnings of earth, of time.

Goat Hill's Weathered Gateway

Goat Hill’s Weathered Gateway

This time-worn gateway beckons.  Come, hike with us.

"A Long, Long Trail a-Winding..."

“A Long, Long Trail a-Winding…”

It’s a broad trail, a leaf-cushioned trek, a soundless journey.

The Spirit of the Rock

The Spirit of the Rock

Indians insist that rocks are alive, hold spirit, offer gifts to us.  I could really feel the deity in this one.

But let me tell you where Goat Hill is.  Over above the Delaware, on preserved land that will soon hold many additional fascinating trails.  Off 29, onto Valley Road (look up Howell Living History Farm for directions — you’ll pass it on the way to the trails..)  Left on Goat Hill Road, a winding drive that holds its own remarkable beauty. Left on George Washington Road.  Park and walk.  There are two picnic tables at the crest — bring bread to break with others, as you feast upon that view!

George Washington is said to have surveyed the river and enemy movements from this pinnacle, as did Lord Cornwallis.

The Delaware seems to stretch forever, a shimmering silk scarf dropped by a diva.

Our Delaware River from Goat Hill crest

Our Delaware River from Goat Hill crest

Delaware looking North, across New Hope Bridge

Delaware looking North, across New Hope Bridge

Devekioer;s Dream -- Conservationists' Nightmare -- ruination of Delaware banks

Developer’s Dream — Conservationists’ Nightmare — ruination of Delaware banks

Why D&R Greenway and all our other regional non-profits work night and day to save nature!

Solitude -- Goat Hill Crest

Solitude — Goat Hill Crest

This couple sat, rapt, upon this boulder, all the while we were exploring, the two of them high and silent above the river’s mellifluous rapids.

Other delicious sounds were that of crisp leaves underfoot, and whisper wind in leaves still on boughs overhead.  One of the greatest gifts of this journey, however, was absolute silence.

Twinings

Twinings

I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear these vines at their twining.

New Hope and Bucks County, looking west

New Hope and Bucks County, looking west

Sleeping Beauty - Goat Hill Crest

Sleeping Beauty – Goat Hill Crest

Trees Past Peak Reveal Vistas at New Outcroppings

Trees Past Peak Reveal Vistas at New Outcroppings

These are not ‘the trails less traveled by’.  Softly trodden trail tendrils lead in a number of directions from and at the crest.  Views reward every exploration.

Three Sentinels at the Gate

Three Sentinels at the Gate

Three sentinels bid farewell.

This remarkable November trek is a fruit of preservation.  Do everything you can to expand the reach of your own non-profits, so that wild nature can persist.