A ‘Life Bird’ for Carolyn, and most welcome to both of us — The Black-Necked Stilt of Bombay Hook
Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuge is half again as large as ‘The Brig’, and far more generously treed. It’s managed this year for wading birds, and we were given two life birds before we’d been in there 20 minutes.
Second Life Bird for Carolyn — Blue Grosbeak
NOTE THAT ALL BIRD CLOSE-UPS ARE FROM THE INTERNET, not via cfe camera
Mary Wood and I dared a Delaware jaunt last Sunday, because of the heat. Both Refuges are mostly birding-by-car (the ideal ‘blind’ for the birds — our presence in those metal cocoons does not alarm our avian friends) Both refuges, also, in summer, are notorious for greenhead flies — carnivorous, or at least sangiferous winged beings, whom we do not add to our ‘Lists’ for the day.
AN ABUNDANCE OF EGRETS, Snowy, that is…
Immediately inside the park, we came to a cluster of dead trees, absolutely studded with snowy egrets. Picture a Christmas Tree decorated by a hoarder, every ornament alive, with wings!
GREAT EGRET AND GREAT BLUE HERON, below snowy-egret-studded tree
Founded in 1937, ‘The Hook’ is a vital link in the Atlantic Flyway’s chain, “extending from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.” Urgent in both spring and fall migration, admittedly there are always bird riches among these impoundments and woods. Wading birds (long-legged shorebirds) of some species are already beginning the southward journey. Mary is already planning our next jaunt — hoping for godwits, frankly.
TREE-RICH BOMBAY HOOK, with brown-eyed Susans and Queen Anne’s lace
SUMMER PERFECTION, BOMBAY HOOK, JULY
IMMATURE GREAT BLUE HERON — rarity for Mary and me (Internet)
EASTERN KINGBIRD SO NEAR — right beside car (image from Internet)
GOLDFINCH OF HOME — ONLY THEIRS FED ON INDIAN GRASS — NO THISTLES! (Internet)
EASTERN PHOEBE WITH NEST MATERIAL – OURS SLAM-DUNKED A GREEN GRASSHOPPER! (Internet Image)
EXCEEDING RARE TURK’S CAP LILY BLOOMS WITH SEASIDE GOLDENROD
PERCHED — EGRET RIGHT AT HOME AT ‘THE HOOK’
AN OMINOSITY OF VULTURES AT ‘THE HOOK’
Mary and I ignored her GPS most of the way, choosing 295 South, to the end of our New Jersey, to zoom over the Delaware Memorial Bridge. She’s named her navigator “Jeeves.” His commanding voice directed us on Route 1 South and 13 South in various combinations. Bombay Hook is near Smyrna, below historic New Castle. Whitehall Neck Road took us into the Refuge.
At this point, Jeeves complained, “RECALCULATING”. We had a good laugh, as I mused, “Mary, we have to remember, butlers don’t spend a lot of time in wildlife refuges.”
We couldn’t believe the swiftness of the ride, nor the mostly green beauty on 295 and the preponderance of 1 and 13. (Admittedly, Delaware’s fringes leading to the bridge are exercises in tackiness, –but briefly.) At one point we drove through blue-green just-tasseled corn on both sides of the road — “high as an elephant’s eye”.
I’ll do another blog on New Castle for our (very late) lunch — in Jessop’s pub, whose building is 300 years old. I was served Thomas Jefferson Ale in a stone mug, and a sumptuous Colonial crab pot pie…, by a ‘serving wench’ in the garb of the era. In the church next door, Lafayette had given the bride away…
A trio of poems, arrow’s in this activist’s quiver:
Probably all NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that, last Friday, the Pinelands Commission DARED approve the first pipeline in New Jersey’s Crown Jewel: The Pine Barrens. This one is “The South Jersey Gas Pipeline Project.” A pipeline by any name would smell as foul. The Pinelands Commission was founded to preserve, protect, even enhance this 1.1 million-acre wooded region, sited atop the legendary 17-trillion-gallion Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer of highest quality water.
Former NJ Governors Brendan Byrne, Jim Florio and Christine Todd Whitman joined forces to file a Friend of Court Brief to overturn approval of the Pipeline. But the forces of greed have won anew, and New Jersey will never be the same. Our beautiful state is being turned into a Sacrifice Zone, and who is to arrest this destruction?
Once, I lamented to a caller, “I’m a poet. What am I doing at the barricades?” The activist on the other end of the line retorted, “Carolyn, that’s where poets belong.”
I’m not good with barricades. Although I support and thrill to effective protest marches, they are beyond my physical/spiritual/mental/emotional strength.
The only arrows in my quiver are Pinelands poems. Here are a few, to remind NJWILDBEAUTY readers of what we are about to forfeit:
This was one of the original “Hot Poems by Cool Women”, a favorite of what we came to see as our poetic groupies, as our various new volumes reached the public through readings:
IT ALL STARTED
when we came upon
carpets of stars
cranberries in flower
trembling white below
the ice blue sky
along the hard-packed dikes
formed golden pyramids
on gleaming amber boxes
here to burst all bonds
course among broad acres
of waving stamens
at day’s end we stood on tiptoe
plucking first blued berries
from among the mauve and pink
at the tips of overarching bushes
tucked among hollies and sheep laurel
through thickets and tunnels
we made our way to the sea
mouths awash in warm berries
CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN
Cool Women, Volume I
I long to slip into
watch my long legs turn
orange, then burnt sienna
bathed in tannins of old leaves
and newly desiccated needles
having steeped over the centuries
between primordial banks
I belong to the Pines and its peat
whether striding or swimming
requiring levels and mystery
even on bright days
over there, on a low branch
a slim snake twines
somnolent and sure
overhead, in the pine tops
winds echo ocean
near yet far
time keeps these waters warm
enough to welcome legs
too long denied the Pinelands
see how my limbs flicker and flash
–burnished in peatwater
–flames in the depths
CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN
US 1 Fiction Issue,
D&R Greenway Poets of Preservation
Written in Princeton Hospital
Immediately post-op – 11 11 11
I’ve gathered apples of our Barrens
to blend with bright cranberries
sparked with honey of dawn’s bees
we two once awakened
on Chatsworth’s sandy dikes
I craft a random European tart
— ragged edges, coverless
in honor of your world that I so crave
in memory of ragged days, uncovered nights
the luminous glaze
your ignited gaze
thrown back at me
in this new solitude
every inch of rooms you cherished
our joyous kitchen above all
my fruits become a brigand’s cache
–rubies tossed with fine abandon
as I once flung caution to wild winds
when you stretched out fine hands
luring me, pirate-like, to irresistible back bays
CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN
Cool Women, Volume Two
Once, I carried books of others’ poems into hearings at Prallsville Mills, in my futile, idealistic attempt to convince decision-makers not to allow “The Villas of Tuscany”, –currently “Barclay Square” –, towering condos. to profane our cherished, historic D&R Canal and Towpath.
I read words of Paul Muldoon and Gerry Stern and friends who later became the Cool Women, insisting that art is born in New Jersey beauty. Trampling her open spaces, defiling sightlines of the canal — for these travesties are visible even deep down upon her waters in a kayak — destroys not only habitat for essential wild creatures. It also spells the end of inspiration, the cessation of art catalyzed in these storied reaches.
Pipelines are nonessential, destructive, temporary in terms of jobs provided, and threaten ignition of the Pines and fouling of the pristine waters of the Pine Barrens.
Don’t let this happen. Use whatever arrows are in your quiver to preserve, protect, and even enhance our entire state!
This rich harvest tour took place through Pinelands Adventures: http://www.pinelandsadventures.org;
Which organization has come into being under the auspices of ever-militant, thoroughly vigilant Pinelands Preservation Alliance: JOIN THEM — they turn around damage to the Pines, week after week after week: http://www.pinelandsalliance.org
Without “The Iron in the Pines”, from forges such as Batsto and Allaire and Martha’s Furnace, and beyond, George Washington would not have had cannon balls nor wagon wheels for Revolutionary Battles. Pinelands shipbuilders and ship’s captains effectively fought the British and the Hessians, boldly advertising auctions of stores of captured ships in Philadelphia papers. Mullica Rivermen rowed with muffled oars to change the course of history. It is said, we would not have a country without the Mullica, without the Pine Barrens!
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!
Can’t you just hear the cold jingle of these shells, as waves sip in and out?
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.
Never forget — We ARE our fellow-creatures’ keepers.
Is it November, –or is it THIS November–, that renders sun a memory?
What images, what journeys hold light so crucial to me, ever more essential, every day?
Key birding buddy, Mary Wood, and I ‘hiked the day down,’ –mostly wordlessly, often birdlessly–, after the election. November surprised us with remnant vividness.
Walk with us. Climb with us.
We owe this lovely restoration to Winnie (Hughes) and Fred Spar, and Tom Poole. I know Winnie through U.S. 1 Poets, and Fred and Tom through D&R Greenway Land Trust, where I work.
Finding these images on this gloomy day reminds that all that matters in my life is preservation, — of nature, of beauty, of wild spaces.
Oh, yes, and freedom. For the wildlings and for us.
Winnie and Fred, in their fine new signs, give honor to legendary birder, quintessential birdwalk leader, Lou Beck, of Washington Crossing Audubon.
We all give credit to everyone who reaches out, through whatever non-profits, to save the wild while we can. Thoreau was right, you know: “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”
Memories of this refuge especially include green herons. Not this day, not this season — but often. Sometimes, kayaking nearby, one spots green herons mincing along the banks of the (D&R, of course) canal, then lofting up into Refuge trees.
Spring brings not only winged miracles. This refuge is yellow-flag and blue-flag Central in May. Wild iris of the most vivid hues, The Rogers is worthy of a journey for ‘flags’ alone.
Invasive species had driven out cattails essential to territorializing red-winged blackbirds.
Seemingly inescapable phragmites, — bush-tailed grasses beloved of decorators–, are too frail to support the weight of males, ruffling scarlet epaulets, vocalizing welcome to females and banishment to rivals, in these woods and wetlands.
Restoration, a key facet of preservation, is visible in the final scene of Mary’s and my November walk.
NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that sometimes, (if VERY fortunate), I can convince local editors to feature nature articles for their readers. I’m very aware that people of the 21st Century, if they are not out IN Nature, can absolutely forget, if not negate her.
The perilous state of journalism in our time renders my media appearances more and more scarce. Nonetheless, those who find US 1 Business Newspaper tomorrow/Wednesday, August 10, will see my article on four shady walks in this time of searing sunlight. I’ve been blessed to have a new poem, “Earthwise”, in US 1’s Fiction Issue the past two weeks.
Canalside Shade, Lambertville Towpath
Meanwhile, on Sunday, I relished a fine shady towpath hike with Jeanette Hooban, (original Intrepid), first heading north out of Lambertville (NJ), then south, so far as the weir, otherwise known as the rapids of the Delaware River near New Hope. There are towpaths with canal on both sides of this river that I cherish above all others. Our side has the right amount of water in it. Pennsylvania is finally getting ’round to filling theirs to historic levels, but it’s taking an unconscionably long time.
I have to admit, since I am in terrific turbulence over the difficult diagnosis given my 20-year-old great nephew last week, my ‘eye’, –as manifested through my camera–, was seriously off during these refreshing hours.
Bear with me, nonetheless. I will expand the quantity and quality of my meagre offering with fine photographs by Jeanette and by Brenda Jones, known to readers of this blog and its predecessor for the Packet, NJWILD.
Know that Jeanette and I relished every foot(e)fall. That the journey WAS the destination. And that our culminating brunch at Pennsylvania’s Barley Sheaf Inn, past Lahaska, may have been our most luminous yet. Every sustaining visit to this haven (known for weddings) has us plotting our return, listing the friends with we MUST share this multi-faceted excellence.
Exquisite as the food was, as always; chaleureuse (warm) as the welcome always is; beckoning as the grounds always are, we could barely eat for watching continuous courtship dances of various species of butterflies.
Come with us to our post-hike haven — Barley Sheaf Inn:
Lately, the Muse has become relentless, interrupting key reading to dictate her latest devisings. Tonight, she’s kept me at reformatting and meticulously improving page after page in her new poetry notebook. Maybe she’ll ‘get off my back’ for awhile, if I turn one of her latest into a blog for you. Might even go so far as to illustrate it a bit.
I’ve been out on this trail (in Hopewell, off Greenwood Avenue, which is off Route 518 mid-town at the light at the vintage pharmacy.) Its magic only increases with each visit.
An assignment for US 1 (Business!) Newspaper, at their request, features the Sourlands Mountain Preserve as one of four shady hike sites. As I say in the story, along those trails, there is no Philadelphia or Manhattan; no Princeton; not even Hopewell. Matters political are so remote as to be impossible, although their results can extensively and even destructively affect sacred sites such as these.
Without determined preservationists, we would not have had these hikes. Nor would you, and others, (including my daughter’s literature class) have this poem. Enjoy, and walk this shaded trail, as summer burgeons.
a short walk in the dense woods
where temperature and season
silence itself audible
now and then broken
by ovenbirds’ shrill cries
in the right light
orotund tones of wood thrush
domain of terrestrial turtles
and the occasional owl
dark ponds all a-shimmer
still breathe Indian presence
at trail-top, we might ride
the grown-ups’ teeter-totter
hand-hewn from a wind-felled tree
“If you would attempt exercise
go in search of
the springs of life,” asserts
Henry David Thoreau
“The world today
is sick to its thin blood
for lack of elemental things,”
Henry Beston mourns
CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN
Summer Solstice 2016