“Paradise enow…”: Wells Mills Preserve / Pine Barrens

It’s always a treat when someone says, “Carolyn, I have a place I’d like to take YOU to hike!”  Fay Lachmann, –British-born–, has proven her friendship in a myriad of ways.  Many of them had to do with various rescues around the hip operation, and in other challenging times.  My first post-op Thanksgiving meal…  “Carolyn, it’s not about the sheets,” as she helped this unbendable one make the bed Friday after Friady.  Last week, Fay insisted on going right back to Wells Mills together, when she had only just taken her own hiking group there the day before.

Fay’s voice held uncharacteristic wispy notes, as she tried to explain why.  Finally, she simply stated, “Well, it’s about laurel.”

 

Laurel and Old Cedar Wells Mills

 

I could probably end this blog post right here.  The mountain laurel is at peak in the New Jersey Pine Barrens right now.  Even though there isn’t a mountain for miles.

***

Fay Lachmann Cedar Woods Wells Mills early June 2017

***

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep…”  Some of the other lines from Frost’s masterpiece were also true, as in “.,..miles to go before I sleep…”  Enchanted miles in a woods that comprised almost totally of Atlantic White Cedar.

This wood was everywhere in South Jersey when that land was discovered by whalers settling Cape May in the 1500s.  Other explorers were naming shore areas Egg Harbor, for example, because beaches were covered with shore bird eggs.  In the 1700s, white cedar was used for shingles — as house siding and for roofs; for fence posts; and most urgently for casks carrying the tannic Pine Barrens teak water on whaling voyages.  In cedar, teak water stayed fresh for three years.  White cedar casks also protected wild cranberries for sailors, who otherwise would have perished from scurvy.  Such usefulness doomed cedar back when we were East Jersey and West Jersey, except in Wells Mills.

***

Laurel and Cedar and Pine Wells Mills

***

Towering cedars raised their lacy greenery, inky against fresh clouds.  Frail laurel blossoms leapt for the sky.  Here and there, a rough-trunked pitch pine announced to the forest primeval just exactly whose forest this is, anyhow.  A pine cone or two on the sugar sand trails foretold the probable future.

***

Canoeists on Wells Mills Lake

***

Silent canoeists hugged the far shore, of a tranquil lake that resembled finely pleated silver lame.  Anything or anyone could’ve emerged out of it, — a mermaid or The Lady of the Lake of Arthurian days.

A single dazzling swan sailed just out of reach of the paddlers.  A family of geese included a huge pale barnyard goose in the middle of five young — a switch on the Ugly Duckling Story.

***

Rarities at Wells Mills early June

***

Exceedingly rare plants burgeoned at points where peatwater streamlets entered the glistening lake.  If I am understanding my Audubon Field Guide to North American Wildflowers correctly, this is (misleadingly named) Common pipewort.  “Bog or aquatic herbs with crowded head of tiny flowers and long, leafless stalk.”

***

Rarity Wells Mills

And this is purportedly Northern Pitcher Plant:  “a carnivorous plant with a large, purplish-red flower.”  Audubon does speak of “an umbrella-like structure.”

Laurel at Peak Wells Mills June 2017

But mountain laurel carried the day — laurel and friendship.

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PINELANDS ~ PIPELAND: Road to Ruin – Poems of This Imperiled Region

clouds-in-the-water-haines-bogs

Pump House, Clouds and Lilies in Waters of Haines Cranberry Bogs, Chatsworth

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.

antique-cranberry-scoop-pine-barrens-november-2015

Traditional Cranberry Harvest Tool

 

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?

 

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Essence of the Bogs, Chatsworth

 

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.

 

batsto-teak-water-spillover-7-4-9-cfe

Pinelands’ Pristine Tannic Waters, Batsto

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

slumbrous bees

formed golden pyramids

on gleaming amber boxes

 

dawn’s pollinators

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

 

RESURGENT

 

I long to slip into
peat water

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
–silent liquidities
–eloquent duskiness
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

CRANAPPLE PIE

 

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

oddly recollects

your ignited gaze

thrown back at me

in this new solitude

 

every inch of rooms you cherished

becomes apple-fragrant

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

 

jerseys-jewels-chatsworthjpg

Jersey’s Jewels, Sugar Sand, Chatsworth

 

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!

 

cranberries-on-the-vine-chatsworth

Cranberries on the Vine, Chatsworth

finished-product-cranberry-sauce-2015

Pine Barrens Just-Picked Dry-harvested Cranberries as Sauce Extraordinaire, Back Home

21st-century-cranberry-harvest-pine-barrens-november-2015

Cranberry Dry Harvest, Early November, 2015

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

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Batsto Barn – Pine Barrens’ Mercantile History, Legendary Iron Forge Village

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!

 

The Cranberries of Yesterweek: Images to Share

Finally, thanks to Ray Yeager, Faith Bahadurian, and others of my blogging colleagues, I’ve found the way to enter the pictures into the ‘Library’ anew.

Now the challenge is adding text.  With any luck, I can explain what follows.

If not, you’ll just have to realize this is the journey of a Pine Barrens Cranberry: from the antique method with one of the Adams Bogs’ vintage cranberry ‘combs’; through their fields, in the new dry harvest program, where neighbors pitch in to bring in the crop; to the cranberry-bounce process — only the ripest, healthiest bounce; and a computer rejects the pale ones; into bags, then my strainer, the pot with tangerine juice and one small cinnamon stick, to supper.

Bon Appetit!

 

Antique Cranberry Scoop Pine Barrens November 2015The Old Way Cranberry Harvest Pine Barrens November 2015Antique  Cranberry Scoop gathers Harvest Pine Barrens November 2015Labor Intensive Cranberry Harvest Pine Barrens November 201521st Century Cranberry Harvest Pine Barrens November 2015Dry Harvest Cranberries Pine Barrens November 2015Bags Ready for the Cranberry Harvest Pine Barrens November 2015Dry harvested Cranberries Pine Barrens November 2015Rejected Cranberres Pine Barrens November 2015Rolling toward Thanksfiiving Cranberry Harvest Pine Barrens November 2015Jersey Fresh Bagged Cranberry Harvest Pine Barrens November 2015Ready to Ship Cranberry Harvest Pine Barrens November 2015Ready to Truck Cranberry Harvest Pine Barrens November 2015Cranberryies StrainedSimmer Until They Pop 2015Flatbread and Cranberry Sauce

WHAT ARE THE PINE BARRENS

Chatham Bogs, Constable Skies

Chatham Bogs, Constable Skies

A Princeton Garden Club has asked me to speak and show pictures on the Pine Barrens.  I have written my talk, with all its logistical details.  But my experience of the Pines is an idyllic region, dreamlike in beauty and Productivity.  It is currently seriously imperiled (five PIPELINES are poised to thread their way through the ‘Barrens’ as we ‘speak’, and our governor is all FOR THIS DESTRUCTION, 17-trillion gallon aquifer of America’s finest waters and acres beyond counting of flammable pines or not.)

This is a typical scene along Route 563 near Chatsworth, the Heart of the Pines.

Marilyn Schmidt, Savior and Proprietress of Buzby's General Store in Chatsowrth

Marilyn Schmidt, Savior and Proprietress of Buzby’s General Store in Chatsowrth

This is my long-time friend, Marilyn Schmidt, former scientist, former realtor, former tax assessor, author, publisher, illustrator, and keeper of the Heart of the Pines.  To learn more about the historic role of Buzby’s, which she saved in a tax sale and had named to the New Jersey and the National Registers of Historic Places, read John McPhee’s legendary The Pine Barrens.

Tomasello Windery Store at Smithville, above Atlantic City

Tomasello Windery Store at Smithville, above Atlantic City

The Pine Barrens even have their own winery, Tomasello’s, an outlet of which is visible from the Bakery at Smithville, near the Brigantine Wildlife Refuge, where NJWILDBEAUTY readers know I go all the time for major birding experiences.

An exquisite lake is Lake Oswego, ideal for kayaking, ringed with evergreens and marvelous wild plants, right down to the water.

Here's How the Brig (Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge) looked shortly after Hurricane (by any other name) Sandy!

Lake Oswego shortly after Hurricane (by any other name) Sandy

As the autumnal equinox approaches, I think of equinotical storms, not the least of which was the infamous Sandy.  Our state is still recovering.  Although the Brigantine and Lake Oswego and Scott’s Landing and Leed’s Point are very near Atlantic City, where Sandy came ashore — these are tough places, home of salt-of-the-earth people, and they were back on their feet remarkably soon.  Here are a few images that give only the slightest clue as to what the land and the people endured, from what they have recovered:

No Picnic Today,, Lake Oswego After Sandy

No Picnic Today,, Lake Oswego After Sandy

Brigantine Wildlife Refuge Closed by Hurrican Sandy

Brigantine Wildlife Refuge Closed by Hurricane Sandy

Barricade Realities, Brigantine After Sandy Chewed the Dike Road

Barricade Realities, Brigantine After Sandy Chewed the Dike Road

Foot Access Only

Foot Access Only

Raccoons Survived Sandy

Raccoons Survived Sandy

Wildlife Drive Taped Off

Wildlife Drive Taped Off

Scotts Landing Survived Sandy

Scotts Landing Survived Sandy

Scott's Landing Looking Due East

Scott’s Landing Looking Due East

We Survived Sandy - Tasha O'Neill's Traditional Christmas Picnic at Scott's Landing

We Survived Sandy – Tasha O’Neill’s Traditional Christmas Picnic at Scott’s Landing

And always a final visit to idyllic Leed’s Point, which lost many buildings, but kept its working fishing village spirit despite all.

What Remains at Leeds Point After Sandy

What Remains at Leeds Point After Sandy

One of the Signs and One of the Buildings We Lost at Leed's Point

One of the Signs and One of the Buildings We Lost at Leed’s Point

What the Pine Barrens are All About -- After the Harvest

What the Pine Barrens are All About — After the Harvest

All of this beauty survived one of the most savage storm in recorded United States history.  Only to fall, now, in 2015, to the forces of politics and greed.

BRIGANTINE WILDLIFE REFUGE — WHEN ICE RULES

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that my favorite haven in all of New Jersey is the Brigantine Wildlife Refuge, in the Pine Barrens, eerily slightly above Atlantic City.  Those of you who followed NJWILD, during all the years before the Packet abruptly ended their blogs, have seen ‘The Brig’, a.k.a. The Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, in all weathers.  Well, almost all:

OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER -- frozen impoundments at the Brig

OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER — frozen impoundments at the Brig

By this time, I figure everyone knows we go down there for the birds.  I nearly titled this post, “What birds?”  First of all because this Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge is frozen to such a degree that there is barely any open water.  In order to feed, most birds require water.

Runnel and Frozen Mud from Leeds Eco Trail

Runnel and Frozen Mud from Leeds Eco Trail

Low Tide, Leeds Eco-Trail

Low Tide, Leeds Eco-Trail

Nature as Sculptor, Leeds Eco-Trail

Nature as Sculptor, Leeds Eco-Trail

We had to be really bundled up out there, with a fierce wind out of the southwest.  Masefield was wrong.  It’s not “a warm wind, the west wind, full of birds’ cries”…

Bundled for March Winds, Lois and Lee Harrod, Leeds Eco-Trail

Bundled for March Winds, Lois and Lee Harrod, Leeds Eco-Trail

Fellow Cool Woman Poet, Lois Harrod, and her husband, Lee, both professors at The College of New Jersey, have been turned into avid birders by their very young, very advanced grandson, Will.  You can see how geared up we had to be, to be OUT there.  I nominate Lois and Lee now, to join Jeanette Hooban, Bill Rawlyk, and Mary Penney — The Intrepids.

Absedon Bay Frozen, Atlantic City on the Horizon

Absedon Bay Frozen, Atlantic City on the Horizon

Which is more unreal – a saltwater bay, The Absecon, frozen, or Atlantic City hovering there.  Lee Harrod yesterday and Rose Mary Clancy today, Lee in situ and Rosemary seeing this picture, pronounced Atlantic City “Oz.”

Wild Weeds in Wild March Wind, Absecon Bay, Atlantic City

Wild Weeds in Wild March Wind, Absecon Bay, Atlantic City

O, yes, birds.  Did we see any birds?  Indeed — they are the true Intrepids.  Ducks are in full breeding plumage now, and carrying on accordingly.  Some sort of natural magic sees to it that fertilization doesn’t take place until it’s o.k for eggs to form and be deposited soon. In the interim, the male ducks have never been more splendid.

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that my camera doesn’t do birds.  Here’s one — the least snazzy of all we saw.  This is the indigenous black duck, with his glorious red-orange legs, preening and prancing on the frozen impoundment, to the evident indifference of females.  What is sad, for the black duck males, is that their females prefer vivid mallards.  In this way, this natural way, we could see the end of black ducks in our time.  Meanwhile, he’s bravely doing the best he can.

Black Duck in Full Breeding Plumage, Waiting

Black Duck in Full Breeding Plumage, Waiting

Black and Blue -- Ducks and Ice

Black and Blue — Ducks and Ice

The black duck flock is huddled against the far shore, very typical behavior.  It is also all too typical for this camera to ignore the birds.  I threw OUT the lovely snap of the two mute swans, orange beaks gleaming.  They’re too far away — reduced practically to gulls.  I’m not insulting those noble swans by releasing that image.  You should know, however, that we saw a number of mutes; four handsome tundra swans, with their black beaks and yellow lores; and three trumpeter swans, two majestic ones in flight over an inlet that led toward Absecon Bay.  There’s nothing to equal the stately rowing of trumpeters on the wing.  No, they did not trumpet.  Maybe they were too cold.  And too far, for sure, for my camera.  But stunning.

Red-Tail, Immature, Digesting Lunch, atop a tree to the right after Jenn's Trail

Red-Tail, Immature, Digesting Lunch, atop a tree to the right after Jenn’s Trail

This is a test.  Can you find that bird?  You can see that snow still clots most trees down there, a day and a half after that terrible storm.  We found the bird because so many birders were out of their cars (rare any day at the Brig, but especially in this weather), huge lenses in hand.

As we took our time along the dike road, we were treated to saucy pintails, imposing hooded mergansers, silly bobbing buffleheads, ring-necked gulls. either three female harriers, or one female three times, a sharp-shinned hawk back at the entry, angle-zipping low alongside the woods, all those swans, no snow geese, some Canada geese, mallards and black ducks and that’s about it.  No snowy owls when the ground’s that frozen — mice and voles being inaccessible.  The ever-present gift of female northern harriers thrilled throughout the day.

Wild Rabbits' Journey, near Leeds Eco-Trail

Wild Rabbits’ Journey, near Leeds Eco-Trail

Human Journey, Leeds Eco-Trail

Human Journey, Leeds Eco-Trail

Love, Peace and Memory --Leeds Eco-Trail

Love, Peace and Memory –Leeds Eco-Trail

Sinuosities, Frozen Impoundment

Sinuosities, Frozen Impoundment

Scarce Open Water -- bad for birds

Scarce Open Water — bad for birds

Two-Way Vista

Two-Way Vista

Wild Weeds, Wild Wind

Wild Weeds, Wild Wind

Cezanne Palette

Cezanne Palette

Bluestem Glory

Bluestem Glory

Frozen Impoundment, Looking Back West

Frozen Impoundment, Looking Back West

Wild Tracks

Wild Tracks

Pine Barrens Vista Brigantine March

Pine Barrens landscape, which incredible beauty was ours for 2/3 of Saturday’s journey.

Beneath this magnificence is a 17-trillion-gallon aquifer.  Once New Jersey knew enough to prevent the legendary Wharton’s draining it to fill his pockets and water Philadelphia.  Our jewel in the crown, Pine Barrens peatwater filled Pine Barrens white cedar casques, when they were not filled with Pine Barrens cranberries to stave off scurvy.  This healthy water lasted for three-year whaling voyages.  It is beyond price, and the Pine Barrens Preservation Commission was formed to protect it and the noble pines and oaks and understory above.

Now an egregious act, the stacking of the Pine Barrens Commission, stand to permit a PIPELINE in this INTERNATIONAL BIOSPHERE PRESERVE.  Government “of the people, by the people and for the people” has been banished from New Jersey.

Wherever you are, in person, by letter, on social media, on links to Audubon, Sierra, NJ Conservation Foundation, wherever — do all in your power to keep poisonous pipelines our of New Jersey.

Nowhere is this more important than in the Pine Barrens.

Water may prove a more priceless resource than oil in the climate-destroyed years that are our fate at this time.

Even preserved land is not immune to PIPELINES.

STOP THEM!

 

New England — Where Thanksgiving Was Born

Golden Grove near Bennington Monument, VT.

Golden Grove near Bennington Monument, VT.

I know, I know, it was Plymouth, Mass., not anywhere near Williamstown, Mass.  And it certainly wasn’t Bennington, Vermont.

Monument to Battle of Bennington

Monument to Battle of Bennington

But it’s Thanksgiving in Princeton and there aren’t any Pilgrims, and everyone’s eating turkey when Priscilla and John and Miles and all, and of course Squanto, were tucking into lobster and deer and yes probably cranberries with maple syrup, which those clever, generous Indians brought to the feast.

Revolutionary War General, Bennington

Revolutionary War General, Bennington

It’s also beastly cold, raining and snowing at once, and nobody’s plowed anything anywhere near my new apartment, and what is going to happen to all that wet, as the mercury plunges tonight?

Venerable House, Bennington

Venerable House, Bennington

1781 — as a person of Michigan, founded in 1837 — I can barely believe house dates like this.  You see why I feel, these are the birthplaces of our nation.

Sacrifices were made here, without which we might not have a country for which to be Thankful

Sacrifices were made here, without which we might not have a country for which to be Thankful

I need non-ice upon which to drive to the Brig at dawn with Jeanette Hooban, because we need many birds, not just one, tomorrow.

And I need sun.

What a difference a month makes!

What a difference a month makes!

In Bennington a month ago, we were drenched in sun and color.  Come, stroll its streets with me.  There were hardy pioneers there, too.  And, of course, many tribes of powerful Indians.  And patriots who fought in the Battle of Bennington.  There were probably bears and certainly deer, and now there are moose — somehow I never think of moose in the time of the pilgrims.

A stroll in an entire town that is a shrine to true Liberty

A stroll in an entire town that is a shrine to true Liberty

We were in the heartland of our country, in my experience.  We stepped into different time machines in each New England town.  My heart is still there, strolling the tree-root-uplifted sidewalks of Bennington, under glowing ancient trees, examining homes of other centuries, some of which had marble walkways to their welcoming front doors.

Essence of Bennington

Essence of Bennington

Ready for Hallowe'en in New England heartland

Ready for Hallowe’en in New England heartland

Bennington Dooryard

Bennington Dooryard

Prosperity in Liberty's town

Prosperity in Liberty’s town

What History This Tree Has Witnessed!

What History This Tree Has Witnessed!

I am in love with the fences of New England

I am in love with the fences of New England

Everyone Was Welcome at the Pulled Pork Dinner, on the hem of the Monument's Park!

Everyone Was Welcome at the Pulled Pork Dinner, on the hem of the Monument’s Park!

The Gold Standard

The Gold Standard

Can't You Almost Hear The Crinkle of the Leaves?

Can’t You Almost Hear The Crinkle of the Leaves?