Way of the Short-Ears

A new poem, imagining an owlquest later than this one — “Come with me…”

These magnificent images of short-eared owls, we owe to the superb fine art photographer, Brenda Jones.  You will see her masterpieces on the information panels at Lawrenceville’s Pole Farm Preserve.

Short-eared Owl white coloration

Short-Eared Owl of Pole Farm, by Brenda Jones

 

come, take my hand

wrapped well, and sporting headlamps

set out for pale broad fields

where ghostly ones rise each evening

from winter weeds

 

this sky’s occluded

–if there’s a North Star

I can’t find it

let alone Orion with his dazzle-belt

which may be good for all the hunting birds

 

the wind’s dropped

so it might be easier for them

to listen for the rustle of voles

 

parking just beyond

the preserve’s locked gate

we thread our way by wooded paths

known so well by day

 

each with our own hand light, tonight,

seeking owl eyes

 

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

January 2017

 

short-eared-owl-profile-pole-farm-brenda-jones

Short-eared Owl at Sunset by Brenda Jones, taken at the Pole Farm, Lawrenceville

 

Bears Be Common — truly wild poem from 2001

NJ WILD was my first nature blog.  My readers know how very much I celebrate any aspect of wild in our beleaguered, overpopulated state.  My heart rejoiceth that bears have been seen in the Pine Barrens, near Chatsworth.  I well know the three roads where the sightings happened, experiencing a delightful frisson whenever I am in ‘bear country’.  Now, the Packet has banished/vanished NJWILD, but I had saved this sample and found it today for NJWILDBEAUTY readers.

In the fall, I believe October 6 and 7, there were Bear Sighting signs at the Keefe Road entry to my neighboring preserve, the Pole Farm.  Friends and I, unbeknownst to one another, each returned twice a day, hoping, hoping…  Of course, the bear sighting signs were supposed to have the opposite effect…

Nonetheless, this poem came to me in a potent year, and I share it with you, to remind you just what WILD really means!

If I ever publish a book of the 2001 poems, its title shall be, “Most Fierce in Strawberry Time.”

Bears, They Be Common…

“…for bears, they be common, being a great black kind of bear

                                    which be most fierce in strawberry time…”   William Wood, 1630

so early English readers

learn of wildlife in our land:

of squirrels so troublous to corn

that husbands (Wood means farmers)

carry their cats to the cornfields

hearns are herons, eel-devouring

eagles known as gripes

wolves bear no joint from head to tail

none but Indians may catch beaver

to hunt turkey, follow tracks in snow

but skip cormorants – rank and fishy

owls taste better than partridge

Wood limns the Indian game:

riding the bear over

watery plain, until

he can bear him no longer

then engaging in a cuffing match

Wood gives short shrift to omens

save cranes in faminous winters

in my starveling time

a Nebraska sandhill crane’s been sighted

in nearby Lawrenceville

yet I cannot sight

my own rare Love

whose first eagle we discovered

gripping a glowering pine

after tracking the great hearns

with and without eels

we were untroubled

by jointless wolf, fishy cormorants

at dusk we would ride the black bear

over meadow and plain

kicking with eager heels

as he splashed into inky bogwater

we held no cuffing match

yet he is elusive as Wood’s beaver

cannot be tracked, even in freshest snow

now I shall be most fierce

in strawberry time

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

March 10, 2001

INESCAPABLE AUTUMN…

Box Turtle of Autumn at Cedar Ridge

Box Turtle of Autumn at Cedar Ridge

I’ve always loved autumn, for its hues and fragrances.  And the light — the only time New Jersey light approaches that which bathed me in my year (and other visits) in Provence, is when September unfurls.

However, this year, I’m not ready for it.

What with nights in the 60’s most of the summer, and a very challenging job at D&R Greenway Land Trust, with few vacation days, I am one of those inclined to blurt, “WHAT summer?”

So I wasn’t thrilled to waken to 40-some degrees on my front-door (Lawrenceville, NJ) thermometer this Sunday.

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know I’m always on nature quests, early and late, any season – you NAME it –, even in the middle of the week – scheduling every scarce day off for a jaunt to NJ’s WILD BEAUTY.

Even today, I’ve marinated ruby-rich tomatoes from Salem and Cumberland (assorted) farmstands.  I’ve cooked my very first fresh sage-green limas from the pod, from Lillian’s fruits and vegetables next to the Mauricetown Diner on Buckshutem Road south of Millville.  I’ve cut hand-sized peppers of red, green and variegated, into bite sizes for friends who are coming shortly for the last swim of the season.  First we eat, then we swim, not like childhood.  O, yes, and there’s merry berry pie from the hillside farm market in Lamberville (across the road from Rago and all that art…)

But out there, on the trails, after our swim this eveing, autumn awaits us.  It’s not only a number on a plexiglas thermometer.

It’s assorted swirls of scarlet and crimson, twining up tree trunks near the red barn of the Pole Farm — announcing that autumn’s bounty is ready for the birds, in the form of woodbine and, yes, poison ivy berries.  Poison ivy in particular really nourishes migrants on their interminable (often night-time) flights to other continents.

It’s buzzing and whirring and tingling of insects, getting their last songs in before frost.

It’s spiciness and fruitiness all along that entry trail.  Spiciness as though it were Thanksgiving or Christmas, in the kitchen, nutmeg, and clove and other more exotic almost puncturing fragrances.  Fruitiness among the varied vines so intense that it can knock me off my stride, and even feel intoxicating.

It’s meadows awash in brassy tones of tick-seed sunflower, leftover brown-eyed Susans, and first goldenrod, heavy on its stems.

Autumn, the poets insist, is that season “of mists and mellow fruitfulness”  The latter is present along Pole Farm’s sunny trails.  The mists I’ve, so far, only encountered once.  I wonder what the function of mist is, to Mother Nature.  For me, it’s enclosure, it’s wrapping, it’s transformation, and it hides any traces of hideous technology, such as some brutes are now attaching to poles along Cold Soil Road.  Through the mists, I can see and sometimes hear the dark sheep.  I do not see or hear the cattle lowing, but know they are near, off to the right, as I drive through morning fog, ground fog, to save New Jersey Land at D&R Greenway.

Cedar Ridge off Van Dyke Road in Hopewell Welcomes Visitors in Autumn

Cedar Ridge off Van Dyke Road in Hopewell Welcomes Visitors in Autumn

Autumn is the end of the plants in my tiny new garden.  I’m down to three nasturtiums and four white petunias and one geranium  — blooms, not plants.  The basil has come and nearly gone, although its final leaves adorn those Salem and Cumberland Tomatoes from the stand where you put your money in a locked tin container and drive away without having spoken to anyone.

Autumn used to be school, which I loved, oddly enough.

Frankly, I don’t know what autumn is any more.

I think the trails, in Island Beach on Tuesday, and at Pole Farm any day, hold my answers.

 

I’ll keep you posted.

 

Smiles, and SAVE THIS PLANET! in all seasons

 

Mushrooms of Autumn near Iconic Oak, Cedar Ridge Preserve

Mushrooms of Autumn near Iconic Oak, Cedar Ridge Preserve

 

Carolyn