Sourlands Rocks 08 08


(For you — newest poem, read in the Open Reading following Princeton’s Cool Women’s memorable performance Monday, at Princeton Public Library.  This poem was inspired by reading Jim Amon’s, naturalist, memories of Sourlands hikes  in the newsletter of the Sourland Conservancy.  It will appear in their spring issue.) 



it’s about the rocks


megalithic, actually



on either side

of this Sourland Mountain trail


turning in at the blue blaze

there is change

in the air itself


those who purloined these sentinels

seem not to have reached

this deeply into sanctuary


leaving sunlight and oven birds

I step into sacred sites

feel our brother Lenape


noiselessly entering

focused on the keystone

where the chief presided


councils were held here

decisions determined

smoke rising from pipes


transitions were planned here

from hunting to gathering

then back once again to the hunt


a 21st-century pilgrim

I bow to these predecessors

apologizing for all our



Carolyn Foote Edelmann

November 13, 2017








Marilyn as Lookout Sourlands 08 08

My sister, Marilyn Weitzel, Janet Black and Betty Lies Bird the Sourland Mountain Preserve Trail off Greenwood Avenue in Hopewell

While every newspaper and television and Internet Weather Source has been warning absolutely everyone to stay inside, “Stay Safe”, [which smarmy phrase makes my flesh crawl], I’ve discovered something experientially that I’ve probably always known:  It’s a whole lot hotter in any parking lot, getting into or out of a vehicle, than it is in any of our nearby New Jersey forests!  I’ve decided, it’s dangerous to stay at home.  For, there, life can turn into a spectator sport.

Abide With Me   Pole Farm

Pole Farm: “Abide With Me”: Shade in the Height of Summer

A Sunday ago, I hiked the Pole Farm at 8 a.m., actually about an hour too late to start, during these so-called Heat Emergencies.  Much beauty, great tranquillity, shade 9/10 of the way.  For a couple of hours, I was given gifts beyond measure.  There’s nothing on a screen, or in a newspaper or magazine to equal the elusive scent of fox, still apparent from morning trail-marking.  The cascade of field sparrows, the mew of catbird.  The pleasure of picking two wildflowers for Elaine Katz’s stone and bench – the woman who almost single-handedly insisted that this Lawrenceville (now-) Preserve was not to be a golf course or a series of intrusively spotlighted playing fields.

Sourlands Rocks 08 08

Sourland Rocks Exhale Lenape Presence

A day or two later, and again a week later, starting at 5:15, I entered the Sourland Mountain Preserve off Greenwood Avenue in Hopewell.  Not a man-made sound, not even a plane, did I hear in those couple of deeply shaded hours.  Not a man-made anything did I see, except some essential drainage pipes and the entry road, then densely wooded trails I explored.  One distant frog’s thrumming was heartening.  Dragonflies popped about whatever flowers could bloom in sunlit groves.  For a long time, I sat on basalt boulders leftover from creation, surrounded by mixed forest and essence of Lenapes of long ago.  There’d been rain by the second excursion, so various streamlets were caroling as I crossed them.

Bowman's Spring 2014 014

Intensities of Shade at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve

The next night, when her work and mine were over for the day, Intrepid Jeanette Hooban picked me up in Lawrenceville, to glide over hill and down dale to the Delaware River, –silver in late light, purling below the Lambertville / New Hope Bridge.  Moments later, we were deep in Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve.  We decided to take four favorite trails:  Violet Trail off the access road; the old pond trail onto Fern Trail, alongside a flower-erupting former pond; and the ever-enticing Medicinal Trail, crossing the tough new bridges constructed or reconstructed after Hurricane Sandy.  Each of us has many demands made upon us in the so-called real world.  Each was a little jagged as we started out.  But, again, silence, flowers, dragonflies, hidden birds, and the murmur of Pidcock Creek gave us timeless gifts of memory.  Jeanette discovered a flaming spurt of cardinal flower, favorite of ruby-throated hummingbirds.  I could show her where to elusive snow trillium can emerge, yes, in snow, in March; where, in May, opulent yellow ladyslippers peek through heavy leaf cover to the left of the Fern Trail.  We examined the rocky edge of that Creek, for I’d found the Louisiana Waterthrush, first by song, then by habitat and behavior, a month ago with another friend.  There in the cucumber magnolia, I’d seen my first ever phoebe sing out his name over and over, while waters burbled busily below early one spring.  In heat-strafed July, shade was our gift at Bowman’s, enhanced by occasional water-cooled air.

Marsh First Willows 2013

Abbott Marshlands: Spring Lake: First Willow Buds

A few days later, key birding buddy, Anne Zeman, picked me up at 7:30 a.m., so we could go to the Abbott Marshlands (in Trenton!), in quest of images for her entries for an upcoming fine-art juried exhibition: Voices for the Marsh.  New to us was the fact that Hurricane Sandy had taken down a quantity of the Marsh’s most majestic trees.  Youngsters that survived have burgeoned in the meantime, creating dense shade everywhere — 90-some percent of our walk was tree-cool, and much alongside water.  New patterns of light and shade have amplified the richesse of its fern groves, until we ran out of species names.  Not only tiny blue dragonflies, –half the size of needles–, but equally minuscule lipstick-red ones, zinged about on all sides.  Pickerel weed’s remarkable purple (hyacinth-like, but slimmer) stems rose here and there in Spring Lake and other wet areas.

fox face close-up Brenda Jones

Fox Face, Close-Up, by Fine Art Photographer Brenda Jones

Again, we remembered where  Clyde Quin and Warren Liebensperger had shown us the five-entried fox den.  On both sides of the trail, majestic yews revealed a former dwelling in that wilderness.  Not far from there, Clyde and Warren knew to look for owls in daytime.  There’s not so much silence in the Marsh, because horrific highways are all too near, spinning out a ceaseless drone of ‘the real world’.  But after awhile, one absorbed that sound, until lapping water or locusts warming up or the sacred luffing of swans wings topped every other impression.

Marsh Sandy Damage 2013

Marsh: Hurricane Sandy Damage to Iconic Beech, Spring Scene

Each walk, alone and with others, proved that Heat Emergency consciousness can be overdone.  People can turn into couch potatoes out of fear.

beaver close-up Brenda Jones

Beaver Close-Up by Fine Art Photographer, Brenda Jones

Beauteous preserves, rich in wildlife, await on all sides of Princeton.  There’s the thickly treed Community Park North off 206.  There’s Herrontown Woods, off Snowden Lane, and the nearby Autumn Hill.  Plainsboro Preserve beckons on the other side of Route 1, with its monoculture forest of beeches — guaranteed 12 to 15 degrees cooler in summer, warmer in winter.

Beckoning Path Pl Prsrv

Beckoning Path, Plainsboro Preserve

Turn off the screens.  Grab a hat and water and natural insect repellant (a wonderful rosemary-based one is available at the Hopewell Pharmacy) and get out there.  Don’t be someone Richard Louv will have to describe as The Last (Child) in the Woods.

Beechwood Forest Stream Pl Prsrv

Microclimate Beechwood Forest, Plainsboro Preserve






Exploring The Berkshires, with The Intrepids

I convey this brief post on the evening we arrived home from our Berkshires week of hiking, arting, feasting, laughing, exploring, wildflowering, birding, treeing…   all to the tune of brooks, streams and rivers, and the leitmotifs of mostly invisible birds.

These lively pictures were taken by Jeanette Hooban, one of the Intrepids, as NJWILDBEAUTY readers well know.

My fellow author of the book on Stuart Country Day School’s fifty years, Carolyn P. Yoder, has become an official Intrepid — our heroic driver who wrote immediately upon return to say, “fabulous, just fabulous,” adding, “everything was so easy, even the driving.”  No one in my experience has deemed the negotiation of the NYSTATE Thruway from Troy to nearly Somerville, ‘easy’.

Both Carolyn and Jeanette are always ready for anything.  They don’t bat an eye, for example, when trail maps, such as those from the Clark Art Institute, turn out to be misleading, wrong and just plain infuriating.  “More time on the trails,” they sang out, as we trundled on.

Our birding was mostly by ear — especially exuberant oven birds of the Hopkins Forest Trail maintained (and well mapped and signed and blazed) by Williams College.  At one point, alongside a wildly twisting stream, we heard the few unmistakable notes of the almost-never-encountered bob-white.

I don’t trust words tonight.  And it’s beyond me to upload my own pictures.  Jeanette’s will serve as appetizer, partly metaphorically, and partly in reality, in the interim.


Our Hiking Feet Cool Among River Rocks, at the Clark Art Institute Reflecting Pool

Our Hiking Feet Cool Among River Rocks, at the Clark Art Institute Reflecting Pool

One of the main reasons we go there is the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.

My Favorite Renoir, as well as Sterling Clark's Favorite, Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass

My Favorite Renoir, as well as Sterling Clark’s Favorite, Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass

This is my all-time favorite Renoir.  It turns out to have been Sterling Clark’s as well.  Eat your heart out, Barnes Foundation!

Our favorite work there, bar none, is Ghirlandaio’s lady with a red dress.  If Jeanette has an image of that, I’ll add it.  Or find on line.  But not tonight.  This aristocratic Florentine remains vividly gracious, across all those centuries.

Another major reason for the Berkshires is hiking.  You’ll get that post when my pictures are uploaded or downloaded – could someone explain the difference.

In between hikes and arts, we feasted:

Arugula Salad, Coyote Flaco, Williamstown, Mass

Arugula Salad, Coyote Flaco, Williamstown, Mass

Stuffed Pepper Appetizer, Coyote Flaco, Williamstown, Mass

Stuffed Pepper Appetizer, Coyote Flaco, Williamstown, Mass

In more ways than one:

Margaritas Arrive, Coyote Flaco, Williamstown, Mass.

Margaritas Arrive, Coyote Flaco, Williamstown, Mass.

Coyote Flaco was a first for all of us.  It’s on Route 7 north on the left-hand side heading into town.  We were welcomed like royalty, even though it was MOTHERS’ DAY! evening.  We were graciously seated outside, beneath vivid umbrellas, at the edge of a babbling brook (which also ran alongside our motel, a little farther along Route 7.)  A steep hill, completely forested rose directly from the brook, which never stopped singing.

The vivid, most exciting food is Mexican and Spanish, with exquisite sauces, tropical beauty, exciting yet subtle flavors, and lashings of lobster.

The Staff so welcoming, as though we were their long-lost relatives, at last come to town.

Wonderful people, murmuring with delight, filled the indoor rooms.  We could savor vivid delicacies in a timelessness not known by any of the three of us in our complex professional lives in Princeton.  At the end, the Staff GAVE us their three signature desserts.

And THREE ROSES, still velvety and fragrant, as we reluctantly drove south on 7 this morning.

Stay tuned for other Berkshire miracles, and some from Hyde Park, in quest of Eleanor, of course.