“BLAZING DISCONTENT”

heavy-heavy-hangs-late-snow-march-2015

Heavy, Heavy hang… conifer boughs in Lawrenceville, NJ

i AM NOT THE ONLY ONE DRIVEN TO QUOTE SHAKESPEARE’S MOST SEVERE TRAGEDIES BY CURRENT EVENTS.  What brings the white fury to us, catalyzes apocalyptic melting in the Arctic.  See Climate Change on “the unprecedented”, below.

But Shakespeare well knew how brief is our little turn upon the stage.  However, the impacts of our actions and inactions have permanent effect.  Certain persons (the highly funded Climate Deniers, read Naomi Klein’s prize-winning non-fiction masterpiece: This Changes Everything!) would have us believe that catastrophic climate change is a myth.

Hike a receding marsh; walk a chewed beach; drive through Pine Barrens forests where sand always drained instantly, where standing water has become the norm, except in summer.

Climate Central is a tremendously valuable, non-partisan, Princeton-based group committed to climate truth.  Climate Change is worth following, meter-by-meter.  Read with me as this morning’s communique warns of “profound change.”  (www.climatecentral.org)

If you want the truth, here is where to find it.

The Winter of Blazing Discontent Continues in the Arctic

By Brian Kahn

  • Published: February 6th, 2017

 

Weird. Strange. Extreme. Unprecedented.

These are some of the words that describe what’s been happening in the Arctic over the past year as surge after surge of warm air has stalled, and at times reversed, sea ice pack growth. And the unfortunate string of superlatives is set to continue this week.

Arctic sea ice is already sitting at a record low for this time of year and a powerful North Atlantic storm is expected to open the flood gates and send more warmth pouring into the region from the lower latitudes. By Thursday, it could reach up to 50°F above normal. In absolute temperature, that’s near the freezing point and could further spur a decline in sea ice.

Abnormally warm air is expected to reach the North Pole by Thursday.
Credit: Climate Reanalyzer

Scientists have said the past year in the Arctic is “beyond even the extreme” as climate change remakes the region.

Sea ice hit a record low maximum last winter (for the second year in a row,  no less) and the second-lowest minimum ever recorded last fall. After a fairly rapid refreeze in late September, the region experienced a dramatic shift. Extraordinary warmth has been a recurring theme.

Sea ice growth reversed in November. Temperatures reached the melting point at the North Pole in December. Preliminary data from January indicates the Arctic was up to 35°F above normal in some locations, including a mid-January mild wave.

That brings us to early February, which is setting up for another bout of mild weather in the Arctic.

A massive storm is swirling toward Europe. It’s a weather maker in itself, churning up waves as high as 46 feet and pressure dropping as low as is typical for a Category 4 hurricane as of Monday. The storm is to the southeast of Greenland and its massive comma shape has made for stunning satellite imagery. The storm is expected to weaken as it approaches Europe, but it will conspire with a high-pressure system over the continent to send a stream of warm air into the Arctic through the Greenland Sea.

Temperatures are forecast to reach the melting point in Svalbard, Norway, an island between the Greenland and Karas Seas. The North Pole could also approach the melting point on Thursday.

It’s just the latest signal that the Arctic is in the middle of a profound change. Sea ice extent has dropped precipitously as has the amount of old ice, which is less prone to breakup. Beyond sea ice, Greenland’s ice sheet is also melting awayand pushing sea levels higher, large fires are much more common and intense in boreal forests and other ecosystem changes are causing the earth to hyperventilate.

Together, these all indicate that the Arctic is in crisis. It’s the most dramatic example of how carbon pollution is reshaping the planet and scientists are racing to understand what comes next.

 

 

Some of you think what I’m writing is gloomy.  My level of desolation I would say has peaked, except I know there is far worse to come.  Some of you wish I would just enter pretty pictures of New Jersey’s spectacular nature.  SO DO I!

boardwalk-to-destruction-ib-cfe

Island Beach Boardwalk to Destruction – Nor’easter-scoured, Dunes Conquered

But I AM a Saggitarian, and truth is our middle name.  The reality is, everyone, WE ARE NOT GOING TO HAVE ANY WILD BEAUTY LEFT, –NOT ONLY IN NEW JERSEY–, SO LONG AS CATASTROPHIC CLIMATE CHANGE IS ALLOWED TO RUN AMUCK, LET ALONE BE EXACERBATED BY THOSE WHO WOULD PROFIT FROM IT.

We are the only state with three coastlines — The Jersey Shore; The Delaware River; The Delaware Bay.  New Jersey is being squeezed like an orange by Catastrophic  Climate Change’s generation of Sea-Level-Rise.  Get it!

 

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FOOT ACCESS ONLY — FOOT TRAILS OPEN – THE BRIG/FORSYTHE after Sandy

 

DECEMBER BEACHCOMBING, NEW JERSEY STYLE

Who needs summer crowds, or even summer?  The original Intrepids (Bill Rawlyk, Jeanette Hooban, and I) literally basked along both bayside and oceanside of Island Beach last Sunday.

Silence.  Limitlessness.  Sea-borne treasures.  Elegant fishermen.  Ravenous seagull. Artemesia in winter.  Sundown like peach mousse upon a slate-blue plate.  Paradise enow…

Stroll with us.   We nearly took our shoes off!

 

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“Mermaid’s Purse” (skate egg case) and Fox Tracks like Roses Pressed into Sand

 

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December’s New Green Growth, Oceanside, Island Beach

 

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“Dusty Miller / Artemesia” — first seeds came ashore in wreckage from clipper ships! Now major dune stabilizers.

 

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Post-Sandy Boardwalk to the Sea

Can’t you just hear the cold jingle of these shells, as waves sip in and out?

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December Still-Life, Oceanside

 

alluring-oceanside-walk-island-beach-dec

Alluring, Oceanside

 

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Seaside Success!

 

Remember that this pristine perfection exists because courageous and generous people knew to preserve it.  Do whatEVER it takes, and be generous with whatever land trusts speak to you, to extend preservation of open land, sand and water in our time.

 

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Gull’s Lunch – Probably Bunker

 

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Perfect Balance — December’s Oceanside Flycaster

 

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GAnnet-and-Long-Tailed-Duck Territory, Island Beach, December Waters

 

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Autumn Meets Winter, December Froth and Seaweed

 

 

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Crucial New Signs, Island Beach

Never forget — We ARE our fellow-creatures’ keepers.

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Our Land’s End — Below This is Barnegat Inlet, with ‘Old Barney’ Lighthouse on the Other Side

“HOME OF THE FREE, BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE…” Memorial Day Thoughts

SEE NAOMI KLEIN WINS SYDNEY PEACE PRIZE – A.M. AFTER I POSTED THIS BLOG, below

This scene from Chatham, Massachusetts, which I call “Tethered Steeple” could also be titled “Tethered Flag.”  This morning I passed the Lawrenceville Volunteer Fire Department, en route home from having kayaked to the Fishing Bridge and back.  Our firemen had created their Memorial Day sign:  “HOME OF THE FREE, BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE.”

Tethered Tower  Chatham Scenes 002

Tethered Tower, Chatham, Mass.

Regular NJWILDBEAUTY readers know my grave concern for citizens’ rights in our land.  My immediate thought, upon seeing that noble firehouse sign this morning was, “Well, they all seem to have died in vain.”

1 1776 1876 Flag

1776 1876 American Flag from Internet

I worry a great deal about what our Founding Fathers must think of vanished liberty in so-called America.  About everyone’s being treated as a criminal in airports, and now even in museums and theatres (Manhattan, not yet in Princeton).

Lawrenceville Fire Department 002

Lawrenceville Fire Department Mailbox

I am particularly devastated that land, –even that preserved in perpetuity-, is being punctured already with PIPELINE pipes of hideous yellow – color of 21st-Century tyranny.

Pipeline Precursor D&R Canal Princeton July 2013 038

PIPELINE: “We have met the enemy, and he is …” Fossil Fuel Corporations.

This land is no longer OUR LAND, as the lovely song insisted when we were fighting our own government to end the Vietnam War.  “…and all around us, a voice was singing, this land was made for you and me.”       Reality seems to me, “this land was made for fossil fuels!”

Cape May Half-Mast Christmas 2015

Cape May Point Flag at Half Mast in Gale

The fossil fuel industry would have it otherwise, as would many so-called ecological organizations, significantly funded by those whose motto is “Drill, Baby, Drill!”, (referred to by the brilliant author, Naomi Klein, as ‘Big Green.’  (This Changes Everything — Capitalism vs. the Climate”.)

Bayhead Flag in April April wind 2016

Bay Head New Jersey Flag at Ocean where Sandy Landed, in high wind of April 2016

I don’t know what the rest of you do to counter these dire trends.  What would George and Ben and John and Abigail and Thomas (Paine) and Thomas (Jefferson) have done, faced with the restrictions and constrictions of liberty in our times?

Borden's Towne

Nearby Town of Revolutionary Fervor, including only home owned by the rightfully fiery Thomas Paine

Please note how many of my excursion pictures seem to be taken in high winds…  We should stop blaming the situation of ‘climate change’, and begin accurately targeting fossil fuel magnates, politicians bought by them, the organizations founded by and funded by them, who permit the continued ruination of our country, our Planet.

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Chatham Light and Flag in Wild Pre-Storm Wind, 2015

Memorial Day used to be called ‘Decoration Day.’  It was created to honor Civil War dead, and there were supposedly two different such days, — one for the North and one for the South.  Somehow they were, –after a suitable lapse of time–, merged into Memorial Day.

Maine Cemetery Old Headstones

Maine Cemetery, Harpswell, Old Headstones in Late Light

As children, families went to the family graveyards, honoring deceased relatives.  We did not, but many did, [and in Salem and Cumberland Counties of New Jersey, many still do], have a memorial meal at the grave site.  When we visited, we cleaned the graves, weeded, watered, brought new flowers, and parents reminisced.  Our ancestors lived on through these rituals.

O Say Can You See at Chatham Fish Pier

“O, Say, Can You See?” at Chatham Fish Pier, October 2015

Turns out we were ‘doing it wrong,’, as this day is supposed to be about honoring those who died in war for our country.

1 Starry Stars Flag

Starry Stars “Old Glory” from Internet

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Land of the Free, Home of the Brave – Lawrenceville’s 9/11 Heroes

“HOME OF THE FREE, BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE.”

Let’s KEEP it that way.  Write legislators, editors, heads of ruinous Fossil Fuel organizations.  There is a Women’s movement, called “Take Back the Night.”

We need to pledge OUR lives, OUR fortunes, OUR sacred honor, if there is any such entity in these troubled times.

We need a TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY mentality.  Our land needs to be OUR land again.

Beekman Arms Flags Rhinebeck NY

Full Glory, Rhinebeck NY: Beekman Arms Inn and Tavern – Oldest Continuously Operating in America – since Pre-Revolutionary Days

 

Naomi Klein awarded 2016 Sydney Peace Prize.

We are very proud to share the news that Naomi has been awarded the 2016 Sydney Peace Prize by the Sydney Peace Foundation.

Naomi will be travelling to Sydney, Australia in November to accept the award and attend an array of events organised by the Sydney Peace Foundation.

Tickets to her award speech at the Sydney Town Hall on November 11th are available here.

We hope this will be a powerful opportunity to continue to bring conversations around social justice and climate change into the discourse in Australia as well as support the work of social movements across the region.

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Naomi and look forward to welcoming her to Australia in November.

Edward Said London Lecture

Fossil fuels require sacrifice zones: they always have. And you can’t have a system built on sacrificial places and sacrificial people unless intellectual theories that justify their sacrifice exist and persist: from Manifest Destiny to Terra Nullius to Orientalism, from backward hillbillies to backward Indians. – Naomi Klein Edward Said London Lecture May 2016.

On May 3rd Naomi delivered the Edward Said London Lecture – if you haven’t had a chance yet I urge you to read or watch her powerful address.

In solidarity,
Alex for This Changes Everything team

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Clearing After Storm — Bennington, Vermont; Green Mountains; Apple Barn

As New Jersey skies increasingly disappoint me, –resembling the inside of a vacuum cleaner bag–, my heart and memory leap back to the Berkshires and the Green Mountains.  OK, I’m this big New Jersey booster, but I’ve had it with gloom.

This is how Vermont skies looked, immediately on the heels of a Nor’easter.  Deb and I headed over to Bennington from the Cozy Corner Motel, along Route 7.  The Apple Barn is a key ritual of my trips to this region — for a cozy family place, with unbelievable vistas, and the best aged Vermont cheddar of my life.  Ditto mountain apples.  Baked goods aren’t bad, and the maple syrup is worth of the journey.

However, I’m giving you a feast for the eyes:

Clearing after Storm, Apple Barn, Bennington VT

Clearing after Storm, Apple Barn, Bennington VT

Apple Barn Crops

Apple Barn Crops

Apple Barn Picnic Table

Apple Barn Picnic Table

To the left, at another picnic table, a family was having a lovely outdoor feast, when the rain had hardly dried upon our windshield.

Bear and First Peeks of Sun

Bear and First Peeks of Sun

Monarch of the Apple Barn

Monarch of the Apple Barn

Spent Sunflower, Magnificent Even in Death

Spent Sunflower, Magnificent Even in Death

Harvest Time

Harvest Time

"Nothin' but Blue Skies, From Now On..."

“Nothin’ but Blue Skies, From Now On…”

"The Party's Over..."

“The Party’s Over…”

"Who Has Seen the Moose, Neither You Nor I..."

“Who Has Seen the Moose, Neither You Nor I…”

One time, when I was alone at Cozy Corner and at a corner cafe in Bennington, I was the only person in there who had not seen the moose.

They do to moose what Hopewell just did to oxen:

Moose of Route 7

Moose of Route 7

A few moments later, at a mansion near the Bennington Monument, we came upon this artistry.

Bennington Spectre Awaits Hallowe'en

Bennington Spectre Awaits Hallowe’en

Even the gloomy isn’t gloomy in this neck of the woods.

Can you see why I feel, it’s always beautiful in the Berkshires and Bennington?

ISLAND BEACH AUTUMN IMAGES

Swirling Swallows Island Beach Sept 2014

And the Skies Darkened with Swallows As we Entered Island Beach

September 2014

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Brooding Barnegat Bay Island Beach Sept2014

Going Toward Barnegat Bay as Rain Ended, Still Spocking Sands

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On the Way to the Bay Island Beach Sept 2014

Natural Habitat, Reed’s Road, En Route to Bay

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Heavy Weather Barnegat Bay Island Beach Sept 2014

Looking Toward Barnegat Light, Barnegat Bay

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First Blue Sky Island Beach Sept 15 2014

First Blue Skies

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Castaway Barnegat Bay Island Beach Sep 2014

Flotsam or Jetsam, Bayside

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Foam and Dead Cormorant Barnegat Bay Island Beach Sept 2014

Foam Wreathes Dead Cormorant, Bayside

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Bayberry Ripe for the Migrants Island Beach Sept 2014

Ripe Bayberry Awaits Migrant Birds

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Keep Off the Dunes Island Beach Atlantic Sice Sept 2014

Keep Off the Dunes, Atlantic Side

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No Swimming Island Beach Sept 2014

NO SWIMMING!

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Restored Boardwalk Island Beach Sept 2014

Restored Boardwalk After Sandy’s 11 Feet of Saltwater Covered Island Beach

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Compass Plant Atlantic Side Sand Fox Tracks Raindrop9s Island Beach Sept 2014

Compass Grass and Fox Tracks, Atlantic Side

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Island Beach Natural Perfection Sept 2014

Dune Perfection and Protection, Autumn

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Rail Territory Barnegat Bay Island Beach Sept 2014

Where the Rail Railed, en route to Barnegat Bay

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Spizzle Creek Bird Blind Island Beach Sept 2014

Spizzle Creek Bird Blind, Bayside

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Sept Marsh Grass through Spizzle Creek Bird Blind Aperture  Island Beach  2014

From Bird Blind – Site of Egrets, Osprey,

Yellow-Crowned Night Herons

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Immature Yellow-Crowned Night Heron Island Beach Barnegat Bay Sept 2014

Distant Yellow-Crowned Night Heron near Spizzle Creek

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Perfection Barnegat Bay Island Beach Sept 2014

Perfection from Bird Blind

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Northwest Wind Primary Dune Island Beach Sept 2014

Northwest  Wind — Good for Migrant Birds

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Beside the Primary Dune, Island Beach Sept2014

Atlantic Side

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Poison Ivy Barnegat Bay Island Beach Sept 2014

Poison Ivy Glory, Good for Migrants

Freshwater Wetlands, Oceanside

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Two Paths Diverged Island Beach Sept 2014

Two Paths Diverged… on an Autumn Day

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Woodbine Atlantic Sand Raindrops and Sun Island Beach Sept 2014

Woodbine and Sugar Sand

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Survivors  Primary Dune Grasses Atlantic Ocaen Island Beach Sept 2014

Survivors, Island Beach

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ISLAND BEACH — THE TRUE “JERSEY STRONG”

BECAUSE IT’S NATURAL!

Whatever Happened to Soft Rain?

Water tumultuous Brenda Jones

Tumultuous Water, the Delaware — by Brenda Jones

My Tremulous Storm Scenes above the Millstone and the Canal:

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Wild Storm, Floodwater High Across Canal Road, north of 518

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Ponding on the Driveway, High Water, Canal Road, north of 518

Neither my friend, Brenda Jones, nor I, spends much time outdoors in rain, –at least not intentionally, and not with our cameras.

Hers is far better than mine in chronicling wild water.  I lived on a hill high above Canal Road, and the waters came up from the flood plain, over the Millstone River, over the Road, and far up the driveway, drowning its protective metal rail, in recent storms.

Last night, in a rather ordinary storm, poles went down, and wires with them, all over the Princeton Region.

My 5.5-mile ride from Lawrenceville to work took 90 minutes this morning.  “Rosedale Road is closed,” declared the policeman (yes, I had ignored the closed sign and bright lights- I had to get work!)  It would be closed from 2 hours to 2 days.  Still closed when I left work this afternoon.

Thanks to human greed, burning of fossil fuel, refusal by our country to take the lead and reverse catastrophic climate change, we basically never have normal rain any more.  Read Elizabeth Kolbert’s masterworks, “The Sixth Extinction” and “Field Notes from a Catastrophe” for the best science writing yet on what we are living through, what we are causing.  “Among the few irreplaceable volumes written about climate change,” declares Bill McKibben, “Kolbert offers the best summary yet.”  Other experts praise “Sixth Extinction” as our century’s “Silent Spring.”

You all know the reasons — glacial melt.  Freshwater (light) on top of saltwater (heavy), –therefore more evaporatable water; more precipitation; more frequent precipitation; more violent precipitation.  Changes in sea and river currents, which change air currents and the Gulf Stream.  Which alter our planet, our very existence.  Pogo said it long ago:  “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Forget “the new normal”!  There ISN’t any normal any more.  Not in any season.  Not any time of day or night.

When we were little, we could go outside in bare feet and little homemade swimming outfits and paddle in bright puddles.  Soft rain blessed our shoulders, tickled our backs, rinsed our long curls in the best conditioner ever.    Tornadoes began with Flint when I was 11.  “One day, clouds went both ways, fast!”, I wrote of being out precursors to that tempest.  Nothing was ever the same.

Rain was something we liked.  Something to play in!

Not an excuse for weather gurus to use smarmy voice and smirky smile to order us all “Stay safe…” and “Shelter at home…”  If you notice, they also tell us when to shop and what to buy, and show pictures of shopping frenzy to stoke the coals…

Basically there isn’t any safe, any shelter, any more.

There used to be wonderful cadences to thunder.  A soft vacuumy hush before the first rumble.  The excitement of thunder as it grew nearer and nearer.  Counting between lightning and thunder – “one one hundred, two one hundred” — something about the distance between bolts and ears.

The other night – not EVEN last night with all the downed trees of Princeton, all the sparking, smoking wires of morning — there was not even time to say “one”, let alone “one hundred” between ceaseless stabbings of lightning throughout the greensward here at my new dwelling and the explosion of thunder.

I never wanted to be someone who yearned for the “good old days.”

But I yearn for good old rains.

DAYS OF SWANS and THRUSHES — Naturalists ‘Bird’ Despite Storms

Solitary Swan by Brenda Jones

Solitary Swan by Brenda Jones

People who are constantly battered by storms find themselves stir-crazy.  This dire condition is particularly offensive to naturalists.  When we make plans to bird anyway, observers are known to diagnose us as plain crazy.  Be that as it may, two magnificent days unfolded among birds between this week’s most recent snows.

Two friends defied public opinion to set out for Sandy Hook with me on Friday.  We carried, and later stuffed ourselves  into, gear the equal of anything I ever wore skiing in Aspen and Zermatt.

All that garb wasn’t necessary for our first spectacular birds of that day.  Removing coats at the table of Bahrs (seafood restaurant par excellence, Atlantic Highlands, feeding the public since 1917 or before), we picked up our optics before we opened our menus.

“Grebe?,” one questioned.  “Diving duck.” Another answered.  Waterbirds awash in vivid color whirled and fed, right in the tidally thin Shrewsbury River, practically at our feet.  True birders carry their binoculars anywhere a feather might show up.  They also take their Sibleys (best bird guide) into restaurants by water.  David (Allen Sibley) and sharp eyes noting a variegated beak proved that the first star of Friday’s bird show was a common goldeneye.  I had only seen a goldeneye in books.  You’re supposed to do a ritual dance when you come upon a life bird such as I did.  I left that ritual unperformed.  And yes, we did finally order, starting with fresh oysters, three different species from Maine (the tiniest the most savory), two from Connecticut, one from the Chesapeake

We tore our eyes from the goldeneye as a stunning female merganser hove into view.  She’s the one who seems to have stuck a wing into a light socket — her red ‘hair’ frizzed into the most radical of “Mohawks”.  Her mate’s hair-do (feather-do?) was equally electrifying — only a rich forest green.  Right below us, we feasted our eyes on dazzling white splotches among his back feathers, like portholes on the S.S. France.  The two mergansers fed ceaselessly in the waning tide.  Anne Zeman insisted that the female was actually tired of eating.

Beyond pilings where fishing boats usually moor, a family of merry buffleheads bopped up and down.  Black and white, round (hunters called them butterballs) as rubber duckies, they carried on in complex minuets.  ‘Buffies’ disappear so suddenly and so completely, you think you imagined them.  Then there they are again!  Either three cormorants, or one comorant three times, arrowed past, his burnished beak so vivid in that rare sun.

The palette of our lunchtime birds was gold, red, red-orange and red-gold.  Beaks and legs vied with immaculate feathers.  It was as though someone had tugged all those colors out of the Crayola box, scribbling as hard as he or she could on beaks and feathers and legs; then shone the brightest lantern onto each and every species.

Over into Sandy Hook itself, we would see more birds than cars.  That’s a first.

Right by Spermaceti Cove at the entry, where we were supposed to find oystercatchers, we flushed a great blue heron.  The three of us, [bundled to the teeth, hardly anything showing, not even our eyes, for they were deep in binoculars], were trekking along the highway verge above the cove.  Sandy had chewed up and spit out the boardwalk that always led us to far reaches to find rare birds.  We literally heard the concussion of air in wings, as a majestic great blue heron erupted at our approach.

At the hawk watch platform, at North Beach, not a creature was stirring.  Forget snowies, — snowy owls which have been sighted at ‘the Hook’ all winter, were nowhere in evidence.  Lack of snow there (warmer by the ocean, windier?) may have removed the snowies’ beneficial white camouflage.  They would have really stood out, sitting there against pale sands.  We strolled a long time toward the water, toward bridges and lighthouses and unwelcome views of Manhattan.  We were absolutely alone, among stark dune and wind-buffeted dune grass.  Flattened prickly pear looks dessicated beyond hope.  It will, indeed, rise again.  The most vivid colors waved among bayberries, those cinnamon-stick leftover leaves.

Circling back into the park, we passed all those strange gold former military dwellings, all of them Sandy-battered.  Every house had slanted props and vanished porch supports.  Haunting, if not haunted, they stared with empty eyes toward the river that had risen to ruin them.  Workmen were tending to the second house, and may have completed some sort of buttressing and renewal on the first.  It would be a pity to let that strip of history collapse into sand-strewn rubble.

One last chance to park in a small lot to the left, not far beyond the Sandy Hook Light.  Hopping out of the car, in yes, welcome sunshine, although lowering sun, we came immediately upon a thrush.  All puffed to ward off cold and blustery winds, this bird was so wild, it was as though he had never heard of humans.  He hopped and searched among leaves so near we could hear the impact of those tiny claws amidst crispness he matched so perfectly.  He stayed a long time, coming nearer and nearer, then flew and returned, to the base of a tree full of cedar waxwings.  The dropping sun intensified every carat of gold amidst those feathers.  Deciduous trees looked full of Christmas ornaments.  Then all the ornaments took off and flew west over the river.

Thrush in Underbrush by Brenda Jones

Thrush in Underbrush by Brenda Jones

In the car, driving home, we were hard-pressed to name the most significant birds.  I didn’t see it then, but writing, it becomes apparent, they were all significant.

In retrospect, the miracle of the birds of Friday was all that gold and red and red-orange — among the ducks, among the yellow-rumps, among those waxwings.  Colors we see in fires, –on a hearth or on a beach.  Warming hues our snow-strafed hearts require in this winter of discontent.  Above all, we walked that day in sun.

The next morning, I met journalist and fellow-poet, Linda Arntzenius, for a hearty diner breakfast, preparatory to an exploration of the Marsh.  Formerly called Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown, it has been rechristened “The Abbott Marshlands”.  Right in the heart of Trenton, off South Broad and Sewell Avenue, one drives down a steep driveway and parks by a lake called Spring.  Legend has it the Lenni Lenape, who gathered in the Marsh, named that lake because it is spring-fed.  Legend also insists that beavers were the first to dam it onto a lake.  This Marsh is a freshwater tidal wetland, essential for wildlife in all seasons.

Linda and I have walked its trails before, always marveling at the solitude and extreme beauty, both watery and terrestrial, that awaits in the hearts of all those towns.  Beaver lodges just beyond the lake make its storied origin seem real.  Twigs perhaps rejected by the beavers in their nightly forays filled water on both sides of the tiny bridge.  Wild yam seeds dangled like farthings from their vines, lit again by lowering light, intensifying their coin resemblance.

There was much more snow at the Marsh than at Sandy Hook.  And that snow is marble-hard, Michaelangelo material.  A trekking pole kept me upright, in whiteness that did not give under our boots.  A single turkey vulture float-coasted over us at entry, and mute swans presided in waters to the right of our trail.  They were cold, too — preferring to tuck their orange beaks into back wings.

Overhead, fish crows cried “Uh-oh, Uh-oh” as we two-legged intruders made our way in their domain.  A robin or two hopped in the midst of the forest – such an unlikely setting that we didn’t recognize the birds at first.  Of course, Linda is accustomed to British robins, rounder and brighter and somehow perkier than ours, which added to the momentary mystery.

Again, we were given sun, sun, sun.  Again, we were practically the only people there, all afternoon.  On the final turn toward Beaver Point, where more lodges awaited, two more mute swans swam about with aplomb.  They resembled the swan boats of Boston, wings raised high over their backs.

Swans are very important to Linda, not only because in Great Britain, they belong to the Queen.  They have resonance because of her beloved sister, lost to us now.  We are both the kind of person who can take comfort in a bird as a messenger from elsewhere.

Who would expect a wetlands in Trenton to provide spiritual renewal?

Well that’s how it is about birds.

Go ahead.  Defy anyone who calls it or you crazy.

More urgently, perhaps, than any other winter.  Get OUT there.  Let nature nurture you.  Let her fill you with golden light and feathers in leaves and wild calls overhead and strange fungi decorating severed trees.

Fill you, so you can get through however many storms wait in the wings.  (Pun intended.)

Wintry Ocean

Surf Fisherman in Winter Ocean