“WHITE ASH” Poem – ‘in memoriam’: Ash Trees in storm track of emerald-ash-borer-infestation

ashes-green-and-gold-from-internet

Ashes, Green and Gold, from Internet

A phonecall just surprised me at work, conveying gratitude for one of my nature poems — in the most recent Sourland Conservancy newsletter.  Long ago, this courageous group had asked for seasonal poems they might use to further preservation in their pages.  I had frankly forgotten.

I urge your strong support of these generous people.   In word and deed, they honor and preserve one of New Jersey’s most crucial stretches of contiguous forest, and water source par excellence.]  NJWILDBEAUTY readers read often of my favorite Sourlands hike, off Hopewell’s Greenwood Avenue.  This post holds the link to newsletter, with that poem in place:  http://sourland.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Sourland-Journal-Autumn-2016.pdf

golden-ash-from-internet-2

Golden Ash from Internet

My current dwelling is surrounded by imposing ash trees.  This year, probably for drought reasons, — instead of their leaves turning boring seared brown– all these monarchs represent the new gold standard.  The light through their leaves is literally blinding, as though glancing off the rare metal itself.  I leave my living room to follow the sun in late afternoon, so I won’t miss a moment of dazzle.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Golden Ash from Internet, closest in shape to, yet far younger than, ‘mine’

As for the white ash tree of the the poem, I never saw its leaves.  That ash by the towpath is termed ‘white’; the ones near me in Lawrenceville ‘black’.  Ashes represent stateliness surpassed only by oaks, such as the late lamented Mercer Oak, under which the dying Mercer continued to direct the Battle of Princeton.

golden-ash-leaves-and-blue-sky-from-internet

Gilded Ash Leaves, October -Blue Sky from Internet

Usually, for me, nature leads to poems.  This time, the poem led to nature.

Published in U.S.1 Newspaper, the man who’d numbered the rings called my editor, the paper’s founder Rich Rein.  He politely requested to be put in touch with me.  The outcome was a shared hike to his ash, mourning already that the elements were having their way with those precise pencil marks.  Ever after, I have called my guide, “Mr. Impeccable”…

It never occurred to me, nor I think, to him, that we could lose our bounty of regional ash trees.  Beware, everyone!  Even the fate of the sturdiest trees is imperiled by climate change:  New Jersey’s ever-warmer winters encourage insects to multiply.  As I urge  so often, please do everything possible through your life choices, –as in writing editors, signing on-line petitions, and especially voting–, to focus our country’s attention on altering climate change once and for all. 

Together, we can bring forth human change for the better, for a change

green-ash-leaves-from-internet

Green Trees of Ash from Internet

The Sourland Consevancy chose this poem now, not only to praise ash trees. Their key purpose was to inform readers that we will no soon be bereft of ashes.

These majestic ones will no longer shade; nourish; delight; absorb carbon; shelter squirrels and birds from warblers to raptors; cradle nests; nor fling down a king’s ransom in gold.

The fate of the ashes, the climate, the Planet itself is in your hands.

ash-majesty-measured-from-internet

Ash Majesty Measured, From Internet

[I wrote this poem in the year 2000, when thinking in terms of eons was the norm…]

WHITE ASH

 

I take the high track

where the path splits

wondering if the felled trunk

remains to block my way

 

but it’s been sawn

and someone impeccable

has named the tree

numbered its annular rings:

“1872”   “1905”   “1950”

 

this enormous trunk

yet a mere two inches

mark years from my grade school

until this year’s tree-death

 

–faint the rings

and fainter still the penciled

letters naming this compacted

wood — preferred for baseball

bats because it does not crack

 

my own annular rings

do not bear numbering

 

 

 

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

February/March 2000

Advertisements

Whatever Happened to Soft Rain?

Water tumultuous Brenda Jones

Tumultuous Water, the Delaware — by Brenda Jones

My Tremulous Storm Scenes above the Millstone and the Canal:

IMG_2252

Wild Storm, Floodwater High Across Canal Road, north of 518

IMG_2253

Ponding on the Driveway, High Water, Canal Road, north of 518

Neither my friend, Brenda Jones, nor I, spends much time outdoors in rain, –at least not intentionally, and not with our cameras.

Hers is far better than mine in chronicling wild water.  I lived on a hill high above Canal Road, and the waters came up from the flood plain, over the Millstone River, over the Road, and far up the driveway, drowning its protective metal rail, in recent storms.

Last night, in a rather ordinary storm, poles went down, and wires with them, all over the Princeton Region.

My 5.5-mile ride from Lawrenceville to work took 90 minutes this morning.  “Rosedale Road is closed,” declared the policeman (yes, I had ignored the closed sign and bright lights- I had to get work!)  It would be closed from 2 hours to 2 days.  Still closed when I left work this afternoon.

Thanks to human greed, burning of fossil fuel, refusal by our country to take the lead and reverse catastrophic climate change, we basically never have normal rain any more.  Read Elizabeth Kolbert’s masterworks, “The Sixth Extinction” and “Field Notes from a Catastrophe” for the best science writing yet on what we are living through, what we are causing.  “Among the few irreplaceable volumes written about climate change,” declares Bill McKibben, “Kolbert offers the best summary yet.”  Other experts praise “Sixth Extinction” as our century’s “Silent Spring.”

You all know the reasons — glacial melt.  Freshwater (light) on top of saltwater (heavy), –therefore more evaporatable water; more precipitation; more frequent precipitation; more violent precipitation.  Changes in sea and river currents, which change air currents and the Gulf Stream.  Which alter our planet, our very existence.  Pogo said it long ago:  “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Forget “the new normal”!  There ISN’t any normal any more.  Not in any season.  Not any time of day or night.

When we were little, we could go outside in bare feet and little homemade swimming outfits and paddle in bright puddles.  Soft rain blessed our shoulders, tickled our backs, rinsed our long curls in the best conditioner ever.    Tornadoes began with Flint when I was 11.  “One day, clouds went both ways, fast!”, I wrote of being out precursors to that tempest.  Nothing was ever the same.

Rain was something we liked.  Something to play in!

Not an excuse for weather gurus to use smarmy voice and smirky smile to order us all “Stay safe…” and “Shelter at home…”  If you notice, they also tell us when to shop and what to buy, and show pictures of shopping frenzy to stoke the coals…

Basically there isn’t any safe, any shelter, any more.

There used to be wonderful cadences to thunder.  A soft vacuumy hush before the first rumble.  The excitement of thunder as it grew nearer and nearer.  Counting between lightning and thunder – “one one hundred, two one hundred” — something about the distance between bolts and ears.

The other night – not EVEN last night with all the downed trees of Princeton, all the sparking, smoking wires of morning — there was not even time to say “one”, let alone “one hundred” between ceaseless stabbings of lightning throughout the greensward here at my new dwelling and the explosion of thunder.

I never wanted to be someone who yearned for the “good old days.”

But I yearn for good old rains.