POOL READING, Lawrenceville Haven After Work

Pool Late Light Society Hill

A year ago July, I discovered that my new home, Society Hill (named for Quakers of Old) has s saltwater pool.

A year later, I return, carrying Genet, a Biography of Janet Flanner, by Brenda Wineapple.  I had evidently carried it on my first pool experience, finding notes about that day on the back page:

I’m not so sure about swimming – cannot remember last time I did so, nor where.   I think Island Beach and Sandy Hook, and even Whitesbog, over and over, in the romantic summer of the year 2000.

It’s a perfect day, sun and high clouds in a periwinkle sky.  Pretty windy – hard to keep my place in the book.  Tall, lush evergreens seem to be singing above me.  Singing and dancing, even waltzing.

Two vultures play the wind.

Beside this very American pool, which looks Hollywood from the shallow end, I am reading the best source on Paris in the 20’s, –what and who might be chic; what and who definitely is is not.  Josephine Baker is a Flanner favorite, the infamous banana dance, and a rare person of color rising to fame in that challenging city.

But this shockingly blue sky, these high winds, these mountain-trees carry me right out to Montana, yes, to Big Sky Country.  Where I stood, equally storm-tossed, at an outdoor telephone, as my husband in Princeton read me the acceptance letter from Princeton University.  The Creative Writing Department had examined my poems, which no one had ever seen nor heard.  Accepting, they put me into Advanced Poetry (as a 35 year-old), with all those brilliant children.  My teacher would be the Founder and Editor of the Quarterly Review of Literature, Ted Weiss.  My knees buckled, hearing this impossibility, on the windswept Montana mountaintop.

Here I lie back on a lush towel on a solid chaise, wondering whether the tiny, supersonic raptor overhead could be a peregrine.  Word has it that they fly 200 mph.  Not in this wind, but he’s making a valiant try.

I think about getting into that water.   Hmmm…   there are plantings in tubs around the pools, neglected marigolds, faltering, going to seed.  I go around and deadhead every tub – once a gardener always a gardener.  My fingers, turning Genet pages, smell of old marigolds.

I shall wash them.  Walk straight into that water and set off, my lazy butterfly stroke that will never win me any medals, but does convey me to the other side.  Water on my tongue proves our Society Hill rumor, that we have a salt-water pool.  I’m grateful – not exactly the Salt Lake, but it does render a certain buoyancy.

Pool 'My End; Society Hill

Even though this is the pool of a development, I am absolutely alone, in what seems an endless reservoir of aquamarine, my favorite color.  Back and forth, back and forth.

Back on the chaise to dry, a dragonfly comes to sip from my upraised knee.

Janet Flanner is being her usual anecdotal, acerbic self.

I glance up to discover a great blue heron arrowing directly over me, east to west.

I feel cleansed within and without by my time in the saltwater, enriched within and without by Genet’s rapier wit and refusal to be easily satisfied.

I decide to weave Flanner qualities increasingly into my too-compliant being.

I gather my towel and my book, and stroll back to 23 Juniper, more alive than I have been in years.

Pool Evergreen Reflections Society Hill

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FIRST KAYAK IMAGES D AND R CANAL SOUTH OF ALEXANDER

I’ll soon be writing an article on this for the Packet, for Anthony Stoeckert, a delight of an editor, on the first kayaking of Spring.

But I must let NJWILDBEAUTY readers know, I made it out there on our canal last evening, (Sunday, May 3) from five to 6:30.  There may be no lovelier way to end a day!

‘There’ is the Alexander Road station of Princeton Canoe and Kayak, canoenu.com, (also up at Griggstown, where I learned.)  I’ll give you more info later.

Meanwhile, welcome to Tranquility Base!

Kayak Still Life, Princeton Canoe and Kayak at Alexander Road, Princeton

Kayak Still Life, Princeton Canoe and Kayak at Alexander Road, Princeton

Entry from the Turning Basin into the D&R Canal

Entry from the Turning Basin into the D&R Canal

Heading South from Alexander, 5 to 6:30 on a golden Sunday evening

Heading South from Alexander, 5 to 6:30 on a golden Sunday evening

First Great Blue Heron, who did not make his squawk nor fly away - I left before he did

First Great Blue Heron, who did not make his squawk nor fly away – I left before he did

Homeward Bound, heading back toward the Alexander Road Bridge

Homeward Bound, heading back toward the Alexander Road Bridge

It’s kayak time — what are you waiting for?  (609-452-2403)  Ask for Steve and tell him Carolyn sent you!

RARITAN RIVER TALK AT DandR GREENWAY Feb. 26 with Judy Auer Shaw, Ph.D.

Thursday, February 26th, everyone who loves the Raritan River and its exquisite and storied canal may hear Judy Auer Shaw, Ph.D., at D&R Greenway Land Trust, on the river’s history, industrial importance, aesthetic value, importance to our water supply, and current perils.  Dr. Shaw is a legend in her time, on many fronts.  Her current passion is this river, and her life is devoted to preserving and improving. it.

AuerShawinKayakImageforRaritanRiverPresentationbySchultz

Dr. Judy Shaw, The Raritan’s River-keeper

The presentation is from 6:30 to 8 p.m., with a light reception.  To register for this free evening of information and delight, please use rsvp@drgreenway.org.  Dr. Shaw’s book will be for sale and she will sign copies that night.

Cover, Judy Auer's new Book, "The Raritan River, Our Landscape, Our Legacy"

Cover, Judy Auer’s new Book, “The Raritan River, Our Landscape, Our Legacy”

The Delaware and Raritan Canal was created in the 1830’s to carry coal from Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley safely to New York (by Raritan Bay) and Philadelphia (via Delaware Bay.)  The pre-canal route meant rounding Cape May and daring dangerous shoals, en route to and past Sandy Hook.  At one time our canal carried more tonnage than the legendary Erie!

D&R Canal north of Mapleton Fishing Bridge by Carolyn Edelmann

D&R Canal north of Mapleton Fishing Bridge by Carolyn Edelmann

The Raritan River begins at the confluence of the North and South Branches of the Raritan.  All along that waterway, wildlife should be able to thrive.  Dr. Shaw is doing everything in her power to see to it that the River’s natural benefits to are region are restored and enhanced.

Great Blue Heron near Carnegie Lake Dam by Tasha O'Neill

Great Blue Heron near Carnegie Lake Dam by Tasha O’Neill

Beaver Lodge along D&R Canal Above Mapleton Fishing Bridge by Carolyn Edelmann

Beaver Lodge along D&R Canal Above Mapleton Fishing Bridge by Carolyn Edelmann

Snake Swims D&R Canal near Princeton

Snake Swims D&R Canal near Princeton

The North Branch of the Raritan is one of the most exquisite features of the state of New Jersey.  Up near Califon and Clinton, it ripples, clear as gin, over time-smoothed rocks, hiding and nourishing trout.

Ken Lockwood Gorge is astounding for hikers as well as trout fishermen.  My friend Tasha O’Neill is famous for realistic and abstract images of the Gorge.  To walk there is to move well beyond the 21st Century, in fact back to the time of the Lenni Lenapes/Algonquins who fished these shores long before we did.

Quintessential Trout Fisherman, Ken Lockwood Gorge, by Tasha O'Neill

Quintessential Trout Fisherman, Ken Lockwood Gorge, by Tasha O’Neill

Trout Fisherman Succeeds in Ken Lockwood Gorge, by Tasha O'Neill

Trout Fisherman Succeeds in Ken Lockwood Gorge, by Tasha O’Neill

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The sheer beauty and vibrancy of trout in the Raritan at its source – by Tasha O’Neill

Autumn Palette Ken Lockwood Gorge, Tasha O'Neill

My Ordinary Scene of Ken Lockwood in Autumn

Even if you have known the Raritan, as I did, –having lived above it in New Brunswick, you may find these images  hard to believe.  But they may explain, partially, why I’ve been in love with the Raritan since I met that river in 1964.  At the time, I knew nothing of the Raritan’s history, had never heard of Lenni Lenapes, and didn’t even realize that was a canal down there!

Autumn Spill along the Aqueduct of the D&R Canal at the Mapleton Bridge Near Princeton, by Carolyn Edelmann

Autumn Spill along the Aqueduct of the D&R Canal at the Mapleton Bridge Near Princeton, by Carolyn Edelmann

North Branch of the Raritan, Ken Lockwood Gorge, by Anne Zeman

North Branch of the Raritan, Ken Lockwood Gorge, by Anne Zeman

I walk the Gorge with many friends — the above is Anne Zeman’s dreamy view of the Raritan in all its pristine beauty.

North Branch of the Raritan, Ken Lockwood Gorge, by Tasha O'Neill

North Branch of the Raritan, Ken Lockwood Gorge, by Tasha O’Neill

We moved into the tall apartment (Colony House, first Buccleuch Park Towers) at Landing Lane Bridge in New Brunswick.  Our apartment wrapped around the corner, so we woke to the Raritan, and supped in its sunset.  The river was frequently mist-covered.  Sunrise would tint dawn’s mist pink, and sunset tended to fill the rivermist with coralline hues.  My daughters, toddlers, would wake from naps, rushing to see “The boys in the boats on the reevah.”

People who’d always lived in New Brunswick would stride into our apartment and say, “Well, Carolyn, it’s beautiful, but it’s not New Brunswick.”  I didn’t know enough then to tell them that the Raritan is far more important than New Brunswick!

Never would I have believed anyone who would insist that I’d be living near that river and its canal for most of the rest of my life.  That the Towpath would inspire, nourish, even heal me through almost overwhelming tragedies.  That a friend would teach me to kayak on the canal above Griggstown. That the Raritan River and its Canal create a feast for all seasons.

peaceful prow D&R canal tasha o neill

Peaceful Prow on D&R Canal near Princeton, by Tasha O’Neill

"In Just Spring" along the D&R Canal Towpath north of Princeton

“In Just Spring” along the D&R Canal Towpath north of Princeton

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Autumn Harvest, D&R Canal Style, near Princeton

Red Mill, Carnegie Lake by Tasha O'Neill

Red Mill, Carnegie Lake by Tasha O’Neill

SUMMERTIME- WHEN THE LIVIN’ WAS EASY… in Lawrenceville

Pool Evergreen Reflections Society Hill

Evergreens Reflected in Pool, Society Hill, Lawrenceville NJ

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that I moved to Lawrenceville in April of 2014.  For awhile, I lived in both places, but finally totally here.  You might not believe that I did not know that Society Hill had a swimming pool.  It took me awhile not only to discover this, including the fact that it is salt water.  But also to be free enough of moving tasks, helped by many splendid friends, finally, literally, to put toes into that healing water.

Admin Bldg Juniper Court Society Hill

Administration Building — Pool HIdden Behind This

After that delightful day, the pool became my refuge, –even immediately after work, not only on weekends. All tensions, any stiffness from time at the computer, even sadness, drained away.  These images only begin to convey the magic of this unexpected gift.

Pool 'My End; Society Hill

Evergreens at Pool, ‘My End’…

Now the Society Hill Pool is by no means Wild New Jersey.  However, on my very first leisurely afternoon with book there, I glanced up to see a great blue heron rowing majestically overhead, over my chair.  Its shadow floated along my being.  Talk about a blessing.

Determined Great Blue Heron by Brenda Jones

Determined Great Blue Heron by Brenda Jones

All summer, I was treated to frequent sail-by’s of vultures, my good-omen birds.  So graceful, you can usually tell time by them — rising with thermals around ten a.m.  As turkey vultures tip/fly, both sunlight and wing direction reveal silver highlights.  I am always delighted by vultures.

Turkey Vulture by Brenda Jones

Turkey Vulture by Brenda Jones

As autumn approached, other majestic birds or flocks of migrant creatures soared overhead.  Most of the time, I was alerted by shadows on the page.

Migrant Flight by Brenda Jones

MIgrant Flight by Brenda Jones — Common Mergansers (not at the pool)

Soon, I would meet friends at the pool, each with our books, all normally entirely too tense, unaccustomed to lounging.  We worked on lounging!  Coursing from one end to the other left all of the cares of the world behind.  Using my replaced hip so effortlessly never ceased to astound.

The water was always the right temperature, refreshing, its saltiness keeping us buoyant in body, mind and spirit.  There was no chlorine stench, nor that powdery chemical residue I always felt upon emerging from our pool on Braeburn Drive.

The water is almost as silky as Pine Barrens peat-water, but this doesn’t (temporarily) tint legs orange, as at Whitesbog or Lake Oswego.

Peat Waters of Lake Oswego, below Chatsworth, The Pine Barrens of New Jersey

Peat Waters of Lake Oswego, below Chatsworth, The Pine Barrens of New Jersey

It’s quiet at the pool.  Sun rises and sets behind tall evergreens.  It’s not exactly fragrant there, but the air smells extraordinarily fresh.

Autumn Day's Wild Farewell Juniper Court

A miracle.  Hard to remember, now, with the greensward outside coated again by ‘Royal Icing’, otherwise known as snowfall.

Dire Beauty -- Canal Point Greensward in Snow January 2015

Dire Beauty — Canal Point Greensward in Snow January 2015

And the rhododendrons clenched.

Clenched Rhododendrons at Absolute Zero, from inside

Clenched Rhododendrons at Absolute Zero, from inside

However, days are subtly lengthening.  Spring always returns.  And I will be able, anew, to read timelessly by the salt pool.

Meanwhile, indoors, spring’s geranium is budding:

Spring Geranium Blooming in the Time of Snows, January, 2015

Spring Geranium Blooming in the Time of Snows, January, 2015