MARVELS OF THE WINTER BEACH, Phase 1

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that my favorite time to be almost anywhere is when most people aren’t.  Give me “too early”, “too late” and especially “out-of-season”!  Except, that –especially for the Intrepids — there is no “out of season” in New Jersey!

DECEMBER STILL LIFE — BARNEGAT BAY — REED’S ROAD — ISLAND BEACH

seaside-still-life-island-beach-dec-2016

birds-restaurant-reeds-road-dec

Birds’ Restaurant – Last Leaves of Autumn, Ripe Fruit of Winter

Intrepids Jeanette Hooban and Bill Rawlyk and I met fine-art photographers Angela Previte and her husband, Bob, and the redoubtable Ray Yeager, last Sunday, for an extended Barnegat Bayside breakfast.  Fellowship reigned supreme, until our photographers “had promises to keep”

 

barnegat-bay-at-breakfast-time-island-beach-dec-2016

Barnegat Bay Breakfast-Time, December

 

dock-ooutfitters-seaside-height-near-island-beach

Dock Outfitters with Cafe, Seaside Heights

 

table-barnegat-bay-dock-outfitters-seaside-heights-island-beach-dec-2016

Barnegat-Bayside Table, Dock Outfitters, Seaside Heights, NJ

 

Jeanette, Bill and I set off to bird the day away.  Indeed, it was December, but there’s no better time to stroll Reed’s Road, just around the corner from Seaside Park, barely into Island Beach State Park.

 

december-moss-reeds-road-walk-island-beach

New Moss of December!

 

In no time, we were deep in a forested glade, silvery sugar sand underfoot, seemingly new moss burgeoning on both sides.  Beach heather, Hudsonia tomentosa, and lichens vied for our attention.

 

iconic-sugar-sand-reeds-road-dec

Iconic Sugar Dand Trail, Reed’s ‘Road’, Island Beach State Park

 

There is nothing silkier than the normal, natural sand that forms Reed’s Road, nothing more alluring to the foot(e).  Although well into the twelfth month, autumn’s palette erupted first on one side, then another.

 

 

october-in-december-reeds-road-island-beach-2016

October in December, Reed’s Road Forest, Island Beach, New Jersey

 

sugar-sand-reeds-road-walk-island-beach-dec-2016

Native, Natural Sugar Sand — LIGHT YEARS beyond Army-Corps-of-Engineers Imported Harsh Yellow Hideous Sand!

 

There is nothing more irresistible than the tranquillity of Barnegat Bay, like an enormous silver platter, beckoning, beckoning to the west.

 

december-birding-reeds-road-barnegat-bay

Sugar Sand Trail to Barnegat Bay, Reed’s Road, Island Beach, NJ

 

There wasn’t a breath of wind.  Waves were delicate, hushed.  Black sparkling swathes of garnet particles beckoned, underfoot and underwater.  Off in the far distance, we could just peek at (but not photograph) Barnegat Light.

 

crushed-garnets-reeds-road-walk-island-beach-dec-2016

Crushed Garnets in Barnegat Bay Wavelets and Foam

 

We could have found cedar waxwing and robin flocks, as many have on this trek in previous high winter walks.  Or pine warblers in early spring.  Or stately swans in other Novembers.  This day, our bird stars were the merry bobbing buffleheads, making us laugh out loud in delight.

spotting-buffleheads-reeds-road-dec

Spotting Buffleheads from Reed’s Road Trail

bufflehead-in-tuxedo-princeton-brenda-jones

Dapper Bufflehead Male by Brenda Jones (on Carnegie Lake!)

 

The maddening part of that excursion was that some officials in our misguided 21st Century equate slashing with trail maintenance.  We spent a long time picking up their debris, mourning over literal ‘greenstick fractures’ in towering native shrubs of all species on all sides, apologizing to nature yet again for man’s depredations.  We wanted to go straight to the State House with our fury, were it not that politicians have other issues on their minds right now.  Obviously shrubs’ and trees’ health, shrub and tree rights are very low on Trenton ‘totem poles’ of interest and respect.  Citizens’ rights don’t seem very far ahead in terms of honor.  WE THE PEOPLE have a right to our native species’ being protected everywhere, and MOST ESPECIALLY IN OUR STATE PARKS!

 

even-weeds-majestic-reeds-road-island-beach-dec

Even the Weeds of Reeds Road Majestic, When Left to Their Own Devices!

 

trail-wreckage-in-guise-of-trail-management-reeds-road-island-beach-december-2016-002

DAMAGE in the Guise of Trail Maintenance, Reed’s Road, Island Beach, NJ

pillage-in-guise-of-trail-management-island-beach-december-2016-006

Pillage in the Wake of Trail “Maiantenance”, Reed’s Road, Island Beach State Park, New Jersey

after-the-trail-management-reeds-road-island-beach-december-2016

After Reed’s Road was “Maintained” by the Vicious

NJWILDBEAUTY readers have ‘heard’ me go on and on about reading “This Changes Evetything”, by today’s Rachel Carson: Naomi Klien.  She’s won the Sydney Peace Award from Australia, comparable to the Nobel — for her courageous expose of the multi-national, mega-funded organizations devoted to climate change denial. 

Central to the paradigm of these planet-destroyers is downright hatred of Nature, a vicious delight (obediently promulgated by the Weather Channel) in blaming every storm on so-called Mother Nature, terming even Hurricane Sandy – the anthropogenic disaster of all time — “Mother Nature’s Revenge.”  Face it, watchers and listeners.  These terms ascribing rage and revenge to the magnificent nature that surrounds us are utilized to justify destruction.  Get it!

NATURE IS EDEN.  WE ARE DRIVING OURSELVES OUT OF IT!

Meanwhile, back in Paradise:

Reed’s Road is home to proprietary pair of exquisite foxes, and sundry nocturnal raccoons.  Many the track did we follow.

who-walketh-here-bayside-walk-island-beach-dec-2016

“Who Walketh Here?”

 

The animals have always known to ‘leave only footprints’.

 

tracking-in-pulverized-garnet-barnegat-bay-dec

Inverse Tracks in Crushed Garnet Sand

 

Silence surrounded us, underfoot, overhead and out on the bay.  Beauty was everywhere, that had never been altered (until this brutal pruning session).  I am fond of saying that Island Beach has not been built on since initial development failed in the 1930’s Depression, and is pruned only by wind, sand and storms.  I’ll pretend that’s still true…

 

forest-floor-reeds-road-island-beach-dec

Undisturbed Forest Floor, Reed’s Road, Island Beach State Park, New Jersey

 

oaks-curtain-call-reeds-road-dec

Pin Oak’s Last Gasp, Sugar Sand

 

trail-guides-box-island-beach-001

TRAIL GUIDES — superfluous!

 

REMEMBER, we can stroll these impeccable, usually unspoiled trails because this land has been preserved.  NEVER HAS IT BEEN MORE URGENT TO SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL AND NATIONAL LAND TRUSTS. 

See to it, with your memberships, that every possible wild inch of our sacred country is preserved in perpetuity, no matter who wields what power. 

“This land is your land.  This land is my land…” — but only due to our absolute constant courageous vigilance.

While you can, get out into the Parks of our beleaguered state, let their unspoilt magnificence seep into and restore your souls.

 

TRUE FRIENDS – Poem re Henry David Thoreau; Bird List from the Marsh

Sleepy Snowy Owl by Ray Yeager

Sleepy Snowy Owl by Ray Yeager

It’s lovely to think, had I lived in Concord, I might have strolled with Henry round his pond, met the creatures who enlivened his Walden days and nights.

This is a new poem, triggered by my umpteenth reading of Walden.  What a treat it is to plaster and build fires and fish and stride with Henry, far from the hurly burly and gossip he decries, while all the world seems to be swarming into and through malls…

REMEMBER PARTRIDGES?

Henry, in his Walden haven,

called partridges

“my hens and chickens”

praising serene eyes

— open yet filled

“with wisdom clarified by experience”

trusting

in his outstretched human hand

insisting partridge eyes

were “not born when the bird was”

but are “coeval with sky”

Henry hearkens

to partridge “mewings”

the “whinnerrings”

of raccoons

consorts with otter

“big as a small boy”

heading for a summer spring

–cooler than his pond

Henry is ringed and ringed

by the maternal woodcock

pretending broken wing

then leg

if we could follow his instructions:

“You only need sit still

long enough.”

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

December 6, 2014

It’s interesting, in this time of gifts and cards, to attempt to define true friendship.

Right now, true friendship is conveyed by people I slightly know and barely ever see.  Ray Yeager, who sends his newest snowy owl, frisking fox, from Holgate, from Island Beach.

FRisky Fox of Island Beach, early December 2014, by Ray Yeager

Frisky Fox of Island Beach, early December 2014, by Ray Yeager

And Warren Liebensperger, “Godfather of the Marsh,” who called last night with the current bird list from the (Hamilton Trenton Bordentown) Abbott Marshlands:

mute swans

Canada geese

wood ducks

green-winged teal

American black ducks

mallards

northern pintails

northern shovelers

gadwall

American wigeon (this used to be spelled with a ‘d’ and always looks wrong to me)

hooded mergansers

marsh hawk

sharp-shinned

Cooper’s hawk

bald eagle

a lot of coots!

Most of these birds were to the right as you walk into the Abbott Marshlands off Sewell Avenue. According to Warren, there was “nothing in Spring Lake.”  The lake never looked right all summer and fall, choked with insect-riddled yellowing leaves.  I wonder if its ph has changed or what that makes it inhospitable to winter waterfowl.

Warren then, clearly disappointed by the emptiness of the lake, gave me his (near-Marsh) yard bird list:

flickers

robins

marsh wrens, which “they like to call winter wren”

kinglets, mostly golden-crowned

chickadees

cowbirds

white-breasted nuthatch

downy woodpecker

hairy woodpecker

American crows

of course, the juncoes are here

THANK YOU, PROFOUNDLY, RAY AND WARREN, for our friendship, and yours, with the wild creatures.