Phoebe I Have Yet to Hear — By Brenda Jones – at Carl Rogers Refuge off Alexander Street
First of all, a naturalist who is packing and moving looks wistfully at spring out car windows, en route to and from her new abode.
Daffodils spurt from the dead earth, warmed by reflections from an old stone wall.
Crocus spill across too few beds, little cups of spring. Tiny Grails. I long to stop the car, kneel, sip their grace and light.
But I’ve become a beast of burden in recent days, having found my new dwelling in lovely Society Hill of Lawrenceville. No, this is not a snob’s name — it goes back to ancient times in our state, perhaps even to when we were West Jersey and East Jersey. The ‘Friends’ in question were Quakers. Reading Revolutionary tales, we might well not have a country, were it not for this company of Friends.
Where I am now, high on a stony hill above the D&R Canal and Towpath, is stingy with spring. Nothing new erupts, let alone blooms, in this odd woods — all too ruined by constructions of McMansions, turning all this lovely forest into edge habitat.
The cardinals seem to be singing more lustily. Robins are here, but not caroling yet. I have yet to hear a phoebe. Red-bellied woodpeckers are a little more frequent in their odd purring.
However, one gift of this site is a plethora of peepers. Of course, it’s too darned cold for these hardy, eager singers, –if my door thermometer is below 32, which it remains many a day and most nights. I shall miss the peepers.
I shall not miss the poisons spewed into our air, and waters — the Delaware and Raritan Canal and Towpath and the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed — drinking water for the region — by ever-expanding Trap Rock.
No one realizes that Trap Rock somehow secured, long ago, a permit to burn and transport asphalt 24/7. That means, everyone, by day and by night. With not only the stench but the particles being carried to the four corners of the compass in heavy open noisy trucks. Open, meaning the poisons are not sealed from anyone they pass — “because the trucks might catch fire.”
Never mind that Trap Rock asphalt in my air, in my car, on my outside table and chairs, seeping through my windows, staining my carpets, gave me a collapsed lung and enlarged heart. Officials who came here said they could not enter that as a complaint. Even if I went to a courtroom with all my physicians, Princeton Radiology, and so forth. They can only enter a complaint if the asphalt fumes are preventing me from working outside in the garden! If they entered a complaint, –and after hours of talk and filing out forms, I never heard whether or not those Somerset County Board of Health and Public Safety officials did so–, if there were a fine imposed, it would be around $100.
Never mind that I lost my voice from asphalt, that wracking coughs were asphalt’s gifts to me, that one has little energy when one’s lungs are not fully functioning. Never mind that I need my voice at D&R Greenway, –where I work, ironically, to save the planet. Never mind health of humans, let alone amphibians, reptiles, fish, birds, the lovely coterie of vultures who need Trap Rock rocks for nests in breeding season.
I have fought as long and hard as I could. I am “folding my tent like an Arab, and as silently steal[ing] away.”
On Easter Monday. I will depart from a tomb, roll back a stone, seek resurrection. And new levels of energy and creativity.
Where I’m moving is very near the expansive Pole Farm. Site of Northern Harrier flights and short-eared owl winter arrivals and bobolink spring returns.
Place where I have found coyote tracks on the trail. Though, sadly, never seen a coyote in New Jersey. I never give up hope.
Pole Farm where I came across salamander and wood frog eggs one chilly March walk after rain, with a poet friend, who lives in Lawrenceville. These unmistakeable signs of spring glistened, full of life and promise, oddly enough in some sort of vehicle depressions on our trail.
Where I’m moving, pretty soon, an exquisite array of pink magnolias will open all along an island where my guests and I will park our cars.
Where I’m moving, light suffuses all the rooms. I have been unpacking with sliding doors open to a greensward, broad and treed and welcoming.
Where I’m moving, I’ll be free of asphalt.
So, if I have to give spring excursions this year, in quest of light and health and beauty, it will be worth it.
My Muse has been in hiding here. She is longing to emerge.
New NJWILDEAUTY posts will be the result.