Winter Still-Life, Island Beach, New Year’s Day


New Year’s Morning Wrack Line, Island Beach


So it’s come to this:  In order to walk Island Beach and Sandy Hook, –especially twice in one winter week, as currently planned –, I turn to my splendid chiropractor, — Brandon Osborne, D.C., of Hopewell, New Jersey.  On the heels of that nearly significant recent birthday, new ministrations are suddenly required to sustain my sometimes rebellious body.



Peroneus Longus – who can bark, “Don’t Mess With Me!”


The peroneus longus, –which one possesses, whether one wants one or not–, on the outside of each leg, leads down to the ankle bone.  My left Peroneus, (rhymes with Polonius), gravely dislikes soft sand, — especially dune trails leading up and down in order to get to the sea.


After P’s last rebellion, Brandon insisted, laughing, “The best medicine for Peroneus is more soft sand.”  Multi-faceted workouts engendered thereby actually stress Peroneus, rendering him stronger each time.  Brandon has me weave new leg-buttressing routines, among my yoga postures.  And he’s come up with a fine plan — move my appointments to the nights before beach-days, and he will protect my recalcitrant foot(e).  He will tape the offending tendon.


Behind me, Brandon asked what color I prefer, –of a pretty short list.  I blithely answer “green”.  (never far from work at D&R Greenway; never far from being a very “green” person.                  I expected the color of winter pine trees.          Wrong:



Yoga-Ready, New Year’s Morning, 2017


This development had me literally laughing out loud, since my motto for this significant year, is “OUTRAGEOUS!”   (Exclamation point included.)    I do yoga for an hour to an hour and a half each day, holidays included But there’s a little more to it than soft sweet grace:



Final Yoga Moments, New Year’s Day, 2017


I tend to do whatever Brandon suggests-to-insists so I can be outdoors as much as possible. New upright exercises involve standing high on toes for longish periods, legs together, then legs farther apart.  In the beginning, doing 30 of each seemed impossible.  Now it’s only the last six or so that weary me/us (Peroneus and me).  But they do not hurt.


Seeing that wild ankle decor Thursday, I marveled, “But, I feel like an athlete, taped for the fray.”  Brandon abruptly asserted, “You ARE an athlete!”  This is the person who had been felled by rheumatic fever at seven.  From then on, tennis, biking around the block, all jumproping – [and I had been the star], and roller skating were forbidden for life.  After which swimming to the end of the dock at camp became impossible.  (Until my 2011 hip replacement p.t., I had not set foot(e) in a gym, and was absolutely terrified to begin.)  Well, better late than never.

Brandon’s other prescription involves that very soft sand.  The picture below proves this morning’s obedience to his mandate:   You are coming with us along Reed’s Road to Barnegat Bay — first stop on my every I.B. pilgrimage.


Realize that this is the original sugar sand for which New Jersey’s Pine Barrens are famous.  Be very aware that this delicate, even exquisite pale grey substance is light years beyond the dingy practically ochre grunge dredged up and brought in (especially in Sandy-battered Mantoloking) by the infamous, Nature-negating Army Corps of Engineers.


Island Beach sand feels like superfine sugar.  Its chinchilla hue plays off the tawnyness of beach grass, to say nothing of cinnamon-stick brown jettisoned bayberry leaves.  Walking winter sand trails, it is as though Cezanne himself had been orchestrating the palette of each trail.



Soft Sand, As Prescribed, Bayside, Island Beach


Island Beach is a ten-mile stretch of pristine beauty, about which you’ve read and read in these electronic pages.  The landscape/dunescape could be Wellfleet and Truto leading into wildest stretches of Cape Cod’s Provincetown.



Spring-Green Dune Trail, Island Beach Ocean Side, by Angela Previte


Why it’s worthwhile for me to do whatever Brandon Osborne, D.C., directs —  long-tailed rarities of the winter sea:



Long-tailed duck, Female, December Sea, Island Beach, by Angela Previte


Long-tailed Drake, Winter Sea, Island Beach, by Angela Previte



Rare Snow Buntings of Late December, by Angela Previte



Snowy Owl 2016 by Angela Previte


Rarities arrive, of course, at Island Beach, because it has been preserved.  Support your local, state and national land trusts, so that wild nature can thrive in our time.


Island Beach’s ten miles were to have been developed, as you’ve learned from me before.  The Great Depression put a stop to almost all building.  Magnificence remains at every turn.


Mostly (until recent brutal trail maintenance on Reed’s and other roads and trails  — this will be a blog unto itself later), the State Park’s trees, shrubs and grasses have not been pruned, –save by wind, sand and storm.


Rare birds coast overhead; court and build nests; dive through waves of ocean and bay; madly fish — especially Northern gannets, who create geysers as they plunge.  Most amazingly, merlins and swallows play exuberantly during Nor’easters — going as northeast as they can into the very teeth of the gale.

Wind has other effects.  See its creative partnership with remarkable compass grass:



Compass Grass Does its Thing in Strong Northwest Wind

Even the weeds turn into artists in the hands of the wind:


“Artist-in-Residence” – Compass Grass on the Oceanside, Island Beach, New Year’s Morning

The sea itself has been busy sculpting — all we need is a sphinx:


Sea As Sculptor, New Year’s Eve Morning, Island Beach


This day I shared this beach with dear friends, Angela and Bob Previte.  You know her fine art, stunning portraits of New Jersey’s winged miracles, from her own blog, “Simple Life at the Shore.”  (Which see!  Which FOLLOW!)  Delightful hours have been spent with her, with them, in recent months, in the park that serves their back yard.


We hiked merrily for hours, though they were concerned about Peroneus.  Angela had witnessed its giving out after a particular steep trek in summertime, [see green dunescape above.]  Even so, at Trail 7A, we skimmed along the boardwalk; trudged dutifully through the softest sand, –arriving in a particular ecstasy upon firmness created by winter’s high tide .



First Day of the New Year in Stunning, Impeccable New Jersey


We were not the only ones on the sands, this day.  Everyone we meet was simply blissed out by the perfection that we shared. We’d congratulate one another on knowing what to do with a New Year’s Day.


All except the woman  walking boldly and illegally atop a dune.  This person asserted to Angela that she was not doing exactly what she was even then doing.  I’ve experienced many forms of denial in my life, but this was egregious.  We tried to beckon the transgressor away from making those deeply destructive footprints, to no avail.


I’m in don’t-mess-with-me mode, in my OUTRAGEOUS! year.  So I called over to her — “You are breaking the fine roots essential to the grasses that hold these dunes in place!”  She moved defiantly onward…


But, everyone else, I would describe as almost reverent this day.


Fellowship and Solitude, Walking South along Island Beach Sands

Our own fellowship today was profound.  It will be repeated, –“take often as needed.”  Maybe I should thank Peroneus for Brandon’s prescription…


In the Year 2000, a great love was granted me along these unspoilt sands.  The picture below seems to represent the mighty ocean in whisper mode, hinting of secrets…



Atlantic Whispers, Island Beach, January 1, 2017

SEA and SEASIDE VISTAS of Cape Cod — Through Henry Beston’s ‘eyes’ – “The Outermost House…”

Cover, Henry Beston's "Outermost House" on Nauset Beach

Cover, Henry Beston’s “Outermost House” on Nauset Beach

Perhaps the most enticing phrase in Henry Beston’s Outermost House (just re-read for easily the 15th time, during and after our Cape Cod sojourn) is “I like the seven windows of my larger room.”  Those of you who know me know I spent 5 yes perilous years in a Canal-side, forest-surrounded apartment, which had barely any windows and less light.  I am free of that situation now, but seven windows in one room would be more precious to me than diamonds, even without the Atlantic Ocean or Nantucket Sound or Cape Cod Bay within listening distance.

Henry's Nauset Retreat before 1978 Blizzard

Henry’s Nauset Retreat before 1978 Blizzard

Because of his views from the Eastham beach house, Henry could exult, “Into the bright, vast days I go.”  Carolyn Yoder, Jeanette Hooban and I also poured ourselves into bright vast days.  Unlike Henry, we did not trek the midnight beach, no matter the weather, preferring the luxury of snap/crackling fires and favorite films instead.

Vastness was particularly rewarding below Chatham Light, where seals beyond counting were basking and humming (! I kid you not!) on a Chatham bar — sandbar, just beyond our reach.

Chatham Light

Chatham Light

Seals at Rest on Chatham Bar

Seals at Rest on Chatham Bar — “the long grey line” -=- of HUMMING Seals

"into the vast bright days we went" -- Race Point Beach, Provincetown

“into the vast bright days we went” — Race Point Beach, Provincetown

Bright healthy beach pea thriving on unspoiled protected Provincetown's Race Point Beach

Bright healthy beach pea thriving on unspoiled protected Provincetown’s Race Point Beach

Spouting Whale as Drawn in Provincetown Race Point Sand, by our predecessors on that beach

Spouting Whale as Drawn in Provincetown Race Point Sand, by our predecessors on that beach

Sun Creating Our "Vast, Bright Days", drawn by predecessors in Race Point Sand

Sun Creating Our “Vast, Bright Days”, drawn by predecessors in Race Point Sand

Shorebird Signatures and Dune Grass, Race Point, Provincetown

Shorebird Signatures and Dune Grass, Race Point, Provincetown

Barefoot October Surfcaster, Provincetown, Race Point Beach

Barefoot October Surfcaster, Provincetown, Race Point Beach

right whale as seen from Race Point Beach (photo from INternet)

right whale as seen from Race Point Beach (photo from INternet)

Tail of Right Whale as seen by us from Race Point Beach - Feeding in Enormous Circle -- Photo from Internet

Tail of Right Whale as seen by us from Race Point Beach – Feeding in Enormous Circle — Photo from Internet

And Carolyn Yoder, who held the glasses at that  moment, saw this very rare, calm, powerful creature spout.

Fragile Leopard Crab, Race Point, shell whole despite powerful waves

Fragile Leopard Crab, Race Point, shell whole despite powerful waves — see all the colors of authentic Provincetown sand!

Sea-Washed Stones, Race Point -- far more stones than shells!

Sea-Washed Stones, Race Point — far more stones than shells!

I select scenes from our various sea-side treks, gllmpses that convey our time, not in an Outermost House (which the Blizzard of ’78 washed out to sea anyway), but a Marsh-side, pond-side house in South Chatham.

Explore with us.  Experience the pristine beauties of the Cape, saved by President Kennedy not long before his death.  He, –man of Hyannis–, well knew the Cape’s value and its peril.  He braved the wrath of many forms of financiers during his tenure, –not the least of whom were those who would develop/destroy the sacred essential sands from just above Chatham to and beyond Provincetown.

Land's End, or Beginning, Provincetown

Land’s End, or Beginning, Provincetown

"Vast, Bright Brewster Beach"

“Vast, Bright Brewster Beach”

Raptor Alert, Alarmed Gulls, Brewster Beach

Raptor Alert, Alarmed Gulls, Brewster Beach

Tide-Dislodged Peat Clump, "primordial ooze" and the dune grass that creates it, Brewster Beach

Tide-Dislodged Peat Clump, “primordial ooze” and the dune grass that creates it, Brewster Beach

Jeanette Skips Out into Low-Tide Revealed Sandbars and Marshes

Jeanette Skips Out into Low-Tide Revealed Sandbars and Marshes

Henry Beston, in one of his countless memorable paragraphs, writes of “the restless sea and the mutable land.”

In Cape Cod, land is still principally mutated by wind, sand, sea and its tides.  Thanks to severe preservation measures in the 1960, under our soon-to-be-martyred President Kennedy, Cape Cod is a paradise of the natural.

Preserve whatever you can in your territory, wherever it is!