WALKING SANTA FE STREETS WITH THE INTREPIDS

Land of Enchantment

LAND OF ENCHANTMENT

Your traveling blogger greatly appreciates the intense comments on our recent Taos scenes.  We began our trip to the High Desert in Santa Fe, coming in on a golden evening, heading from Albuquerque’s airport to Santa Fe’s ordinary but acceptable Best Western.  Next door was a shop whose sign read “Unlimited Firearms — Big Discounts for Cash”.  One of their major windstorms soon played havoc with the sign before I could photograph it for NJWILDBEAUTY.  This is not the form of ‘wild’ I had in mind when I named this communication op…  I considered going INto that shop to see what I could see…  Was not so ‘intrepid’, after all…

La Fonda Lunch Bell Tower

END OF THE TRAIL

The heart of Santa Fe is no longer the holy faith after which it was named.  Nor even the cathedral of Archbishop Lamy.  It is La Fonda Hotel.  Hundreds of years old, its name signifies the end of the, YES!, Santa Fe Trail.  We ate in every one of its restaurants, each more interesting and gratifying than the previous, even a French one for afternoon respite from the inescapable dazzle of sun.

High Noon Welcome La Fonda Bell Tower

BELL TOWER RESTAURANT — HIGH NOON — Note container of lemon/lime/ ice/water for arriving guests

We went West for Georgia O’Keeffe.  Know that Georgia’s spirit prevails in her museum in Santa Fe and home/studio in Abiquiu.  This museum held her earliest, most abstract, even most daring (nude self portraits in watercolor) works.  We had always known there was  more to Georgia than flowers and skulls and storms over Lake George.  Her museum and her home/studio proved this indelibly.  We might dare to call Georgia an original Intrepid, along, of course, with Eleanor (Roosevelt).

Object of our Quest Santa Fe

OBJECT OF OUR JOURNEY – GEORGIA O’KEEFFE MUSEUM OF SANTA FE

The most exciting aspect of Santa Fe for me was the museum of Indian Arts and Culture.  I’ll let the images speak for themselves.  Just know, –if you’re a fan of Maria’s black-on-black San Ildefonso pottery–, you can feast your eyes on it in Santa Fe and Taos.  You will find whole rooms dedicated to this master artist.  You will even see her clothing and her own personal Navajo jewelry, in your wanderings.  You may depart even more impressed/committed, even obsessed, than ever.

Brooding  Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

Afternoon at Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

A few Museum of Indian Arts and Culture scenes for you – full blog later.  We spent our entire afternoon up there!  We particularly could not resist returning to this icon:

Ready for Battle

READY FOR BATTLE – Outdoor sculpture at Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

End of Trail at Santa Fe Museum Indian Arts etc.

REPLETE! — THE END OF THE TRAIL; Santa Fe Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

The West thrilled and filled.  Our hearts, our spirits often return there.  We greatly miss BEING there.  But a certain level of roughness is required.  And, as Janet gently observed, “I have to keep reminding myself that lawlessness is the norm.”  I require that level of light, those levels of change in the clouds.  I could return to find ‘my’ Navajo woman and her luminous art and liquid language on the hem of Santa Fe’s Governor’s Palace.  But I will always be a visitor.

Santa Fe Silhouette at Museum of Indian Arts & Culture

MY HEART REMAINS

New Jersey and Pennsylvania wildnesses are filling me anew.  And Lenapes are replacing Navajo and Apache and Hopi and Tewa.  Most of the time…

 

 

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

BUT WILD, poem inspired by wild rice at Abbott Marshlands

For New Year’s Eve, no images, but words

Long ago, my editor at the Packet, and now my dear friend, Ilene Dube, insisted I become a blogger for them.

It was to focus on nature, especially of New Jersey.

But Ilene insisted that those blogs include my poetry.

As co-founder of Princeton’s storied Cool Women Poets, how could I refuse.

Here is one that was always a favorite at our jazz-like readings, in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Oregon — “But Wild”.

Of course, this theme was crucial to my Packet blog, and remains so now.

This poem was inspired by experiencing wild rice, 10 to 12 feet tall, which it achieves in one season, at the Abbott Marshlands, with Mary Leck, botanist extraoridinare, who, with her husband (ornithologist extraordinaire) Charlie Leck, put that Marsh on the map, internationally.

BUT WILD

I seek a canoe

birch bark

still on the silk shore

of some broad Minnesota lake

in autumn

spice on the air

red-gold bittersweet twining

high among lakeside pines

water more green than blue

stiff/supple grasses parting

as we nose our silent way

to that center to which ancestors were led

by Grandfather Sky/Grandmother Moon

we make no sound

in whisper water

every clump of grass

bending in seasonal submission

my paddle enters the lake

noiseless as the sharpest knife

as my partner thrashes grasses

they bend to right/to left

filling his sweet lap

then our entire canoe

with brown black heads of rices

that have never been anything

but wild

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

August 24, 2001

MIRACLE WALK IN THE TIME OF EPHEMERALS

 

Spring is alive and well and living at the Pole Farm:  Yellow Warbler with Insect by Brenda Jones

yellow warbler with insect Brenda Jones

NJWILDBEAUTY readers know I’ve moved to Lawrenceville, near the Pole Farm.  Every time I hike there, miracles happen. At one moment today, we were watching a scarlet tanager, a rose-breasted grosbeak and a yellow warbler.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak Wash Cross Brenda Jones

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Brenda Jones

Today, Tracy Turner, a friend who also lives in Society Hill, taught me a new way to get into the Farm.  Over to the park here, cross a bridge over a stream, walk through a forest, pass a plethora of skunk cabbage, drift through May Apple Central, cross at a lighted pedestrian crossing onto Pole Farm land, and find yourself in enchantment.  We walked with Phyllis Horner, who has eyes for the tiniest birds.  Never, in our multi-years at American Re-insurance, did we think that our partnership ‘in the trenches’ there would lead to a forest walk of irreplaceable memory.

First ferns unfurl on both sides, –so-called ‘sensitive’ ones, which means they shrivel first at first frost.  Last frost isn’t so very far behind us, and too many rains and floods are very apparent on those beautiful fine hard dark grey Pole Farm trails.  So solid, so smooth, on first excursions.  Now rutted, gouged, unsmoothed, contorted by storms of Wednesday and Thursday.  But still beautiful.  And still leading to scenes right out of The Secret Garden, Girl of the Limberlost, Green Mansions.

Trees overhead held a rose-breasted grosbeak, caroling away.  Birders tell me this grosbeak sounds like a robin whose studied opera.  And he sings more lustily and lengthily han the most determined diva.

Good trail markers tell us how many miles to whatever landmarks and viewing ops and historic sites.  We just sail into those woods, wind in our hair, spring in our steps.

On the right are carpets of spring beauties — those tiny spring ephemerals with the pale pink stripe down the center of each minuscule petal.  And some of them get carried away with pinkness, until they turn nearly magenta.  But they are so very delicate.  You don’t see how they get through the cold of this spring, let alone the storms.  Yet here they are, smiling up at us on all sides.

May apple parasols are up and their white blossoms descend, like little liberty bells, waiting to be rung.  In awhile, those bells, pollinated, will turn into fruit, –white fruit, –appealing, yet hidden.

First dark purple violets spurt among spring beauties.  So tiny.  So vivid.  I think about beloved France, that over there they eat violets, even candy them.  Somehow, in this country, I couldn’t eat one.  It would be like eating a small friend.

We hear the ping-pong-ball sound of the elusive and rare field sparrow, over and over again.   Go onto Cornell Ornithology Lab (and join, while you’re at it)  Click on the audio button for this bird who require specific soft grasses in great swathes.  Know that its presence at the Pole Farm signifies that managing for grassland birds is working, is working.

Follow the cabbage white butterfly in its zig zag flight, not very high above the flowers, and right along with you on your trek.

Watch some dark skippers dancing right, then left, –joined and not joined, but determined.

NorthernHarrierHawkLHT3-19-12DSC_5594Raptor on High, Brenda Jones

Stop dead in your tracks at the sight of a bird brighter than any male cardinal in full breeding plumage.  See those dark wings and know, –although you haven’t seen one since spring of 1980–, this is a male scarlet tanager.  He’s high in a tree of the most blinding chartreuse of the newest leaves of the season.  He seems to enjoy our wonder, our spoken praise and even love.  He comes closer and closer and we basically give up our walking, because who can walk away from a tanager?

Marvel at flood damage on the trail, and later — going toward the last pole of the Pole Farm, worry over all the newly downed trees in the most recent storm.

Know that this is irrefutable evidence of climate change, and never mind all those corporate types who want you to use the word ‘believe’ with this catastrophe.  Know that climate change is our doing, and do everything you can to counter it, starting with walking instead of driving, through turning off every un-needed light and supporting your local land trust, such as D&R Greenway.  Open land absorbs carbon.  So do trees.  Marvel at the stretches of unspoiled land that once was corporate, and now causes rare creatures to thrive.

Throw back your head in wonder as the turkey vulture rides thermals for the entire length of your walk without once flapping his/her wings.  Meaning, not using any calories.  Meaning, he/she elevators up and up on warmth from the open fields, and then coasts down.  “The wind master”, as Ur-birder Pete Dunne calls vultures.

Be dazzled by the straight out (as opposed to V-shaped) thermal coasting of the red-tailed hawk, out over the field where the last pole presides.

Come upon a vernal pond and discover a myriad of dark spurting newly emerged minuscule black tadpoles, –perfectly at home in the shadowy water.  Determine to come back every day to watch legs appear and bodies change into amphibians who will fill the nights with song.

Everywhere you look, realize there is nothing human except for the flood-scoured trail, –nothing ruined, everything beautiful and natural and alive and the way it is meant to be.

 Cabbage  White Butterfly Brenda Jones

Cabbage White Butterfly in Spring by Brenda Jones

Ponder preservation, and determine newly to do everything in your power to see to it that more and more of beleaguered New Jersey is saved.

So the tadpoles and the skippers, tanagers and red-tails, cabbage whites field sparrows, sensitive ferns and spring beauties and all their wild relatives can thrive and absorb carbon and actually save the planet.  Be glad that the powers that be saved the Pole Farm and created the Lawrenceville-Hopewell Trail.