WHY READ HISTORY? — To re-experience EXCELLENCE

Thomas Paine from Internet [5].pn

“These are the times that try men’s souls.”  But, no, this line was not penned nor typed nor tweeted in the 21st Century.  It is one of the slogans that made the American Revolution possible.  That generated and strengthened bonds among “we few, we band of brothers”, striking tyranny from our land in the 1700’s.

thomas paine sign re Common Sense from Internet

The eloquent and heroic Thomas Paine went on to declare,  The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”  George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were known to credit the Spirit of ’76 [which barely existed in that era of barefoot soldiers, yet steadily grew], to the words of this writer. 

Strategic Retreat

The Legendary Crossing, which may never have happened without Paine’s heroic urgings

Nearby Bordentown is the only place where Paine ever owned a home.  A slight, compelling statue recreates the man without whose pamphlets we might not have a nation.

19171278-A-statue-of-Thomas-Paine-father-of-the-American-Revolution-in-Bordentown-New-Jersey--Stock-Photo

Paine’s  courage was by no means limited to 1776 — for he would also pen the stirring phrase, “Government without a Constitution is power without a right.”

We the People from Internet orig

 

220px-Thomas_Paine_by_Laurent_Dabos-crop

 

13 Star Flag Chestnut Neck Revolutionary War Monument Winter 2017

Thirteen-Star Flag in Winter, Chestnut Neck, NJ, Battleground —

British Won This One

 

I am steeping myself in history books, of the time of TR, FDR, ER and always Churchill; alternating with our own American Revolution, because I am starved for excellence.

Right now, David Hackett Fischer’s stunning account, “Washington’s Crossing” “hath me in thrall.”  I am particularly moved, proud of our state as I am, to read, “Ordinary people in New Jersey came together to do something about their lost liberty.”  This wise author describes our ‘rag, tag and bobtail’ soldiers as “an army of optimistic fatalists.”  Writing of the Crossing of the Delaware, Colonel Henry Knox declared, “Perseverance accomplished what at first seemed impossible.” 

We are a country that first seemed impossible.  Our neighbors sacrificed everything — there is an entire chapter on the Hessian’s near-total looting of New Jersey homes and of course farms and farmlands.

George Washington penned a note to himself on the Pennsylvania side before the crossing, “VICTORY OR DEATH.”  Our challenge was that simple, that austere.

One of the miracles was that “in the end, not a man was lost to the river,” despite towering, occluding ice floes, ice in the Durham boats, a sleet-laden nor’easter that struck as the men boarded their crafts at McConkey’s Ferry.

Surely, all this did not happen to have it tweeted away in the 21st Century!

Let Tom Paine have the last word: “Some evils in the world are worse than war.  And one of them is tyranny.”

Protest every way you know how!

“I MUST GO DOWN TO THE SEA AGAIN…” — CHATHAM, MASS. SURPASSES EXPECTATIONS

Tall Ship, (sort-of), Mac Millan Wharf, Provincetown

Tall Ship, (sort-of), Mac Millan Wharf, Provincetown

This line from John Masefield has always been resonant to me, since long before this Michigander ever encountered an ocean.  It continues, “…the lonely sea, and the sky…   and all I ask is a tall ship…  and a star to steer her by”

Walking the Plank, Brewster Marsh, Wing Trail at Low Tide

Walking the Plank, Brewster Marsh, Wing Trail at Low Tide

I’m just back from a place of seas, bays, sounds, creeks where ‘herrings’ (alewives) ‘run’ (swim in forceful schools) in the spring, limitless marshlands crossed on planks.  Yes, I even encountered a tall ship or two, matters piratical, and wild Provincetown and other Cape interpretations of Hallowe’en, as you know from the previous post.

"Down to the Sea", Harbormaster's Life Preserver and Antique Salvaged Anchor, Provincetown Wharf

“Down to the Sea”, Harbormaster’s Life Preserver and Antique Salvaged Anchor, Provincetown Wharf

Those among my NJWILDBEAUTY readers who know me personally, know that my major haven, when I had a family, was Chatham, Massachusetts.  West Chatham, Harding’s Beach, to be exact.  A tiny grey-shingled single-floored house on Nantucket Sound, from which I could walk the beach from morning til night, down to Stage Harbor Light.  Sometimes, we’d even do it by moonlight.  Once, the girls and I even swam it, just to see if we could.  We could.

From Harding's Beach to Stage Harbor Light, Chatham, Mass.

From Harding’s Beach to Stage Harbor Light, Chatham, Mass.

Some of you also know that I lost both my beloved, beautiful, and yes, brilliant (they always want the best and the brightest) daughters to an aggressive cult during the 1980’s.  Brainwashing appears to be permanent.

Cults are worse than any Hallowe’en drama — turning all treats for the remainder of life to tricks and/or tragedy.

But beautiful places, strong fellowship, and determined creating of new memories can serve as antidote.

'Our' Home for Seven Weeks Each Late Summer in the 1970's and 80's, but tripled in size now...

‘Our’ Home for Seven Weeks Each Late Summer in the 1970’s and 80’s, but tripled in size now…

I know because I braved Chatham return with two of The Intrepids last week.

'Our' Road, Heading toward South Chatham and Harwich, unchanged...

‘Our’ Road, Heading toward South Chatham and Harwich, unchanged…

That idyllic place was everything I needed, and THEN some.

First View, Evening Arrival, Taylor Pond,Cottage, South Chatham

First View, Evening Arrival, Taylor Pond Cottage, South Chatham

First Sunset, Taylor Pond Cottage, South Chatham

First Sunset, Taylor Pond Cottage, South Chatham

You’ll be traveling Chatham and Brewster and Provincetown shores and streets with me in the weeks of this difficult month of the girls’ birthdays.

Fellowship is EVERYTHING!

Carolyn Yoder beachcombing at Hardint's Beach at High Tide

Carolyn Yoder beachcombing at Hardint’s Beach at High Tide

Jeanette Hooban following brant flock at Brewster Beach of Paine's Lane, at High Tide

Jeanette Hooban following brant flock at Brewster Beach of Paine’s Lane, at High Tide

It’s funny — seems like it was always high tide when we arrived at destinations.  True friends can re-think, rearrange, re-plan, and relish every nuance, no matter where, because we’re together.

Ur-Lobster Roll, Quintessential Cole Slaw, The Lobster Pot, Provincetown

Ur-Lobster Roll, Quintessential Cole Slaw, The Lobster Pot, Provincetown

Lobster Pot Restaurant Provincetown Lunch at Lobster Pot

Haven at Land’s End

Lobster, Avocado and Mango with Sauteed Baguette, The Lobster Pot, Provincetown

Lobster, Avocado and Mango with Sauteed Baguette, The Lobster Pot, Provincetown

You could call our meals “Early Thanksgivings” — especially the Wellfleet Oysters!

Rainy-Day Haven, Chatham

Rainy-Day Haven, Chatham

Impudent Oyster Dining Room Early for Lunch

Early for Lunch

Memorable Oysters, Impudent Oyster, Chatham Bars Ave., Chatham

Memorable Oysters, Impudent Oyster, Chatham Bars Ave., Chatham

The above was a meal as predicted drizzle began to sift from oyster skies, after a morning of seeing seals beyond counting upon ‘Chatham bars’, — a major sandbar below the main Chatham lighthouse.

Chatham Light, Storm Appropriately Brewing

Chatham Light, Storm Appropriately Brewing

I hope some of the scintillation of my Cape Cod return flashes all around you as you view upcoming mages and read scant words.

Last Fire, Taylor Pond Cottage, South Chatham

Last Fire, Taylor Pond Cottage, South Chatham

I hope that having gone “down to the sea again” with us reminds NJWILDBEAUTY readers of their own major reasons to be thankful that such luminous places persist in our 21st Century.

There may be no more important concept in our time than PRESERVATION.

RARITIES IN RAIN — ISLAND BEACH IN NOR’EASTER

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that I run to nature every chance I get.  Here is a (mostly) photo essay on being at Island Beach in a Nor’easter none of us realized was our fate.

It was a day of beauty, drama, and rarities.  But, above all, of fellowship, as Mary Penney’s picture of Jeanette Hooban and Bill Rawlyk attests.

Fellowship in Nor'easter by Mary Penney

Fellowship in Nor’easter by Mary Penney

This was taken at storm height on the Atlantic side, where we could barely stand some of the time.  However, above our heads, merlins headed over and over toward the highest waves, where wind was wildest.  These aerodynamic masters made abrupt U-turns over buffeted waves, then allowed themselves to be flung back across this exquisite barrier island.

The merlins were neither feeding nor forming for migration.  They were playing.  So were we!

Flags Whipping at Entry to Island Beach  Noreaster full blast

Flags Whipping at Entry to Island Beach == Noreaster full blast

Another title for this image is “O, Say Can You See?”  We could

(1) see tattered Old Glory;

(2) see increasingly occluded skies;

(3) see hundreds of swallows filling those skies;

4) barely see through our glasses or salt-coated optics, in fact barely see through our eyes.

Looking out rain-soaked car window to three friends heading out through tallest dunes at road's end

Looking out rain-soaked car window to three friends heading out through tallest dunes at road’s end

Two of the three are barely visible on either side of one of the warning posts.

GPS shows road's end at land's end

GPS shows road’s end at land’s end

I am a collector of land’s ends, and this is one of my favorites.

When you walk through these dunes on a normal day, Barnegat Light presides across its turbulent inlet, far in the distance.  Not this day!

Friends Return from Land's End Walk

Friends Return from Land’s End Walk

 

Heading Nor'east in the Nor'easter, toward the Atlantic with reputed ten-foot waves

Heading Nor’east in the Nor’easter, toward the Atlantic with reputed ten-foot waves

 

Note that boardwalk ends abruptly, having been chewed by Sandy.  All three of my friends righted Nor’easter-downed poles that mark the route of the proposed completion of boardwalk.

 

Compass Grass Draws Nor'easter Circles on the drenched sand

Compass Grass Draws Nor’easter Circles on the drenched sand

 

Artemesia - the Dune-Saver

Artemesia – the Dune-Saver

Seeds for this plant purportedly first arrived upon the sands of our country, having been carried in holds of clipper ships.  When ships foundered, boards floated ashore, carrying artemesia.  That was the Cape Cod story in ’70’s.

 

What Naturalists do in Nor'easters

What Naturalists do in Nor’easters

 

Survival Tactics

 

Nor'easter-whipped spume

 Spume, Wind-Driven, Rolls Down the Beach

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Contemplation of the Infinite

Contemplation of the Infinite

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Scant Protection at Extreme Northeast, Island Beach

Scant Protection at Extreme Northeast, Island Beach

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Boardwalk to Barnegat Bayside

Boardwalk to Barnegat Bayside

 

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No Personal Watercraft

No Personal Watercraft

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Barnegat Bay in Nor'easter

Barnegat Bay in Nor’easter

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Beach Access Reality

Beach Access Denied — Since Sandy

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Hunkered Down, Atlantic Side

Hunkered Down, Atlantic Side

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Bayberry Autumn, Atlantic Side

Bayberry Autumn, Atlantic Side

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Wild Rose Hips, Atlantic Side

Wild Rose Hips, Atlantic Side

 

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Hudsonia Grove, Atlantic Side

Hudsonia Grove, Atlantic Side

This is a very rare natural native beach plant that will have tiny yellow flowers in spring.  It is thriving in this storm.

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'Gimme Shelter' - Interpretive Center, Atlantic Side

‘Gimme Shelter’ – Interpretive Center, Atlantic Side

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Alone With the Storm

Alone With the Storm

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No Vehicles Past This Point

No Vehicles Past This Point

 

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Nor'easter Intrepids

The Intrepids

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As you can see, Island Beach, “The Natural”, New Jersey’s true “Jersey Strong”, is perfectly designed to withstand storms.

Sometimes, humans are, too.

Swallows Play in the Nor'easter

Swallows Play in the Nor’easter

My camera is not powerful enough to point out all those tree swallows.  But they were everywhere in the air, like pepper on a roast.

Remember that barrier beaches were meant to be barriers, not dwelling-places!

This preserve was saved by farsighted people, after the Great Depression wrote ‘fini’ to major resort development.

Preserve every bit of open New Jersey space.  Our future, and that of the planet, depends upon open space.

“PAX” — WHEN STORM IS NORM

Snowbound

Snow Incarceration

“PAX”– WHEN STORM IS NORM

A single vulture wildly wheels past my study window.  We are in the midst of worsening onslaughts of our latest named storm, ironically titled “Pax”.  If vultures rise and ride the winds, this may mean we are in a mid-day hiatus, for which I am profoundly grateful.

I deal with ordeals by journaling, by day and by night.  This post is a constellation of journal entries, as snow wraps us yet again in worry and wonder.

What Storm Pax has accomplished in my yard is the near disappearance of a table and two chairs.  Because of snow mounded high on chair seats, I can no longer see the metal table top.  The storm before this amazed me as snow hats on table and chairs grew to the hight of my father’s Knox hat boxes on the front-hall-closet shelf.  Pax-snow on top of Knox snow is simply astonishing.

Maybe the climate is trying to teach those of us who have ruined it — be astonished.  And act to end catastrophic climate change.

“My back is up” because of a Weather Channel pundit.  After after showing us, in Atlanta, a ruined historic building [– ice had vanquished its roof, which fell, taking several walls with it –], she blithely blamed this destruction upon Mother Nature.  I turned it off in a huff, convinced that they are ordered to do so.

It’s not Mother Nature, folks, it is we who are ruining climate and planet.

As a poet, I am among the first to see beauty in snow.  As someone who works (four days a week at D&R Greenway Land Trust to save the New Jersey part of the planet), I am almost brutally aware of snow’s perils.  Even as one who avidly skiied, who survived and even thrived throughout Michigan and Minnesota winters, I recoil before these severities.

Everyone should.  Everyone should wake up.

What is oddest about Snowstorm Pax (mispronounced by experts who seem not to get irony of Pax’s meaning — peace) is that these ceaseless flakes fall upon and stick to to snows from yesterdays.  Meaning that snow no longer melts between storms.

Deciduous trees in this forest are striped more relentlessly than skunks.  Upper branches are Pax-clotted.  Even though these trees are now swaying with mid-day winds, they do not divest themselves of vertical stripes.  Only one pine tree, –the largest–, shivered and shuddered and shrugged off its snow burdens.  All our other evergreens are white, never green.

Beneath the snowed table is a hollow, this storm’s lair.  On various shoveling-excursions, I hear the storm changing its tune.  Mutters lead on to snarls, then growls.

I experience “Pax” as a wild beast, shaking all of us in its maw, feverish glints in narrowed eyes.  The beast begins to spit – as snow itself becomes audible, almost crackling, it sticks like white chewing gum to vertical walls of this house.

In the night, I could watch snow change form by porchlight.  It went from cascades of table salt to Wondra flour.  Then, suddenly, flakes and clumps.  It became impossible to see into the forest. What began to fall seemed like powdered sugar sifted by a mad cook, unsing a sifters with squeezable handle.  Over and over.  Faster and faster.

Visibility became myth, something vaguely remembered.

Snow increasingly stuck to the house walls, like hundreds like hundreds of cottonballs glued there by some mad craftsperson.

Snow became Lux flakes, torn doilies.

It landed on my head with uncomfortable clumps, clots in my hair, dripping down onto my shoulders and neck, making me shiver like the large pine.

I am reading “Saving Italy” by Robert Edsle, author of “Monuments Men.”  I’m slogging through northern Italy, near the end of the war, hunting for Nazi caches of the most legendary art of civilisation.  Throughout this book and these storms, I feel under siege — blitzkrieg without air raid sirens.  We become victims and refugees.  Some die. Historic buildings collapse.

Now my front door is a mosaic of water droplets.  I decide they are the tears of the Planet.

Petrochemical excess is the reason for our ceaseless storms, and those of Asia, and of Europe and the overflowing rivers of Britain.  Face it, everyone. 

The Weather Channel’s ascribing these terrors to Mother Nature is like the tobacco industry using doctors to promote smoking, –turning everyone’s heads away from cancer of the lungs and cancer of the bladder – their enormous secret.

We are causing cancer of the climate.  Wake up!  Turn this around.  Now

We are not meant to live in a world where Storm is the Norm.

1 A blizzard deer feeding 2014

Deer Tries to Feed in Storm