62 posts categorized "Jersey"

The spirit tree


The spirit tree stretching up to the sky (here are the leaves in all their glory) / New Jersey / August 2009

The mighty Japanese Red Maple tree had gotten too tall. It dwarfed the house. It dropped sap on the roof. The ants used it as a causeway to the porch. So mighty Paulo and his trusty helper cut and heaved and pulled and prayed and took all those huge branches down, leaving the trunk with only truncated branch stubs. The mighty red maple was left with just a few delicate leaves. Would the tree be able to overcome such a severe pruning? One day, several weeks later I noticed tiny clumps of bright red leaves all over trunk. The clumps grew bigger and spread up and down the tree. It was bursting out in beautiful blooms in places that had never bloomed before -- it not only survived, but it was thriving and growing. Now it is an ever-changing sculpture that grows more beautiful every day.

Consider the postcards

The kaleidoscope that is Atlantic City / July, 2009

As if the pixels of light depicting the world she is framed in
              were impastoed by me to the monitor's glass canvass (to
                   be arranged
    according to the obligation of my anonymous nobility),
what good could I do
             to alter the facts of the world as it hustles around her?
             What odds

    do those birds stand to chance anyway?
Prevention is akin to greed. Say recovery
          and a sermon salts the air. Consider the postcards here
   on the counter beside me. They'll do no more than carry the
       word of their
senders, speak pictures: Jersey's domed capital looks like a junkyard

              of church bells, a reliquary of Sundays
     wracked and laid to rest. Noble martyr, Trenton fears no law
of diminishing returns, says it “makes,
              the world takes:” Another prays the next wet pebble
  be the one that makes a beach. Paydirt. We should be so lucky.

~  from Atlantic City Sunday Morning by Gregory Pardlo

My officemates

Out my office window in the AM / February 2009

I heard wild noises outside my office window. Drawing back the curtains, I beheld my turkey vulture office mates on break. They strutted. They flapped. They swiveled their heads this way and that. They sat staring intently. They soaked up the sun on the rooftops and chimneys while I basked in the warm rays that streamed through my back window. Soon break time was over and the pack of them were off again soaring through the trees. I was left alone at my computer.


The Jersey landscape going north / New Jersey / Jan. 2008

This morning driving north to central Jersey where the landscape changes. A slow climb through gentle hills. Long vistas of trees and fields. An old barn with sheep grazing in the cold morning air. A funeral for the father of an old college friend, Jane's father. A modern church with floor-to-ceiling windows at each corner that invite the Jersey landscape inside. Even the gray winter views are comforting and lovely. A family with four young children sit beside me and immediately one wants to know, Where is God? I later learn that they are neighbors who visited frequently; the children loved to play with the buttons that controlled the hospital bed and were an energetic and welcome counterpoint to the inactivity of a man who suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease. The priest reads the well-known quote from Lou Gehrig's farewell speech (“today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth”). But then he continues reading from the speech: “When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed — that's the finest I know.” An accurate description of Jane's mother and how she has cared for her husband for seven years. As the mass closes the pianist begins to play the 2nd movement of Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 (New World Symphony). It is the only piece of music that I distinctly remember from a music class that Jane and I took in college — we sat in carrels in the music building listening through heavy earphones. The music seems to hang in the air above us and then drift out slowly and easily across the barren fields.

Celebrate the freedom to read

A google book online: Historical Collections of the State of New Jersey containing a General collection of the most interesting facts, traditions, biographical sketches, anecdotes, etc. / published in 1844

Did you know that this is banned books week? Did you know that google books has thousands of books that you can read online? Go to www.books.google.com and search any topic. The window above gives you a peak into one of the online books. You can search within this book (published in 1844), zoom in and out on the page, and browse up to 20% of the book.

Dance of the crickets


Back porch music / New Jersey / August 2008

“Why are the crickets always on when we get here?”

~ four-year-old Riley upon arriving from Seattle
(where they don't have the summertime song and dance of the crickets)

On my path


Does the Hoodle-Doodle Jersey Devil really live in there? Maybe he vacations at the shore, too / Wildwood, NJ / Jun 2008

“Paths cannot be taught,
they can only be taken.”

~ Zen saying

Hoodle-Doodle Blue


Look! Is it the Jersey Devil masquerading as a horse on the carousel? Look at the double-pointed tail! And the wings on the back! Hoodle-Doodle, Hoodle-Doodle! / Wildwood, NJ / June 2008

“We must have a beginner's mind, free from possessing anything, a mind that knows everything is in flowing change. Nothing exists but momentarily in its present form and color. One thing flows into another and cannot be grasped.”

~ Sōtō Zen priest Shunryu Suzuki

Rhythmic beach morphology


On Five Mile Beach there's lots of room for rhythmic beach morphing / Wildwood, NJ / June 2008

New Jersey's many barrier island beaches are covered with clean, white, soft, quartz sand that make for comfortable walking and lounging. The beach always feels so solid — able to survive the unceasing onslaught of the waves — and yet it may be imperceptibly shifting beneath us. The theory of Coastal Morphology says that over time barrier islands naturally move across themselves toward the mainland. The theory of Rhythmic Beach Morphology says that the beach is a good place to play music or tune into the rhythms of nature or that by spending time on the beach people can morph from stressed-out automatons into tanned, relaxed beach bums (I made that up; I'm not really sure what it is, but scientists study it and I like the sound of it). Expose yourself to the rhythm of the waves and the beach and maybe you'll morph a little, too.

Good land to fall in with


In the shadow of the Wildwoods sign on Rio Grande Ave. / Wildwood, NJ / June 2008

“A very good land to fall in with — and a pleasant land to see.”

~ The first recorded description of the Island of Five Mile Beach (the present-day Wildwoods); written by the English navigator Robert Juet in 1609

Even before the English arrived, the Lenni Lenape Indians (also called the Delawares) spent summers at Five Mile Beach. They cut two trails through the dense forest (the wild woods?). One was a continuation of the mainland King Nummy Trail that began at the north end of the island and stretched southward. In the middle of the island, it met another trail that entered where the Rio Grande Bridge was eventually built (via The Wildwoods Historical Society). King Nummy was the last chief of the Unalachtigo Tribe, a branch of the Lenni Lenapes (via New Jersey History's Mysteries). Unalachtigo means “people who live near the ocean.”