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Posts Tagged ‘Delaware River’

Hurricane Ida, Sept. 1, 2021, had devastating effects on many parts of this country, my state of New Jersey, my county, and my little town. From the flash flooding of our local creek and the 10″ of water that fell in 3-4 hours on already soaked land, our little downtown was under water up to a man’s waist.

I am deeply grateful that my house did not take on water, and after a few falters, the power stayed on. Friday, I wanted to take a walk and see what the Delaware looked like and how some small part of my little town had fared.

The day was bright and sunny, and everything looked as if there had never been a devastating storm barely over a day ago. Gardens were overflowing with perennials of every kind and looking lovely. Our area isn’t real big on formal landscaping, just filled with life. I felt relieved.

Through the trees, you could glimpse the river, a sunlit brown and green, rushing downstream.

Flowers and plants were in full bloom, edging quietly towards fall.

There was such a profusion of life; I could hardly imagine the destruction that I’d seen on the news of so many areas not that far from where I live.

A cover of stormy grey clouds provided a momentary canopy over the Delaware River. The water had reached 8′ above flood stage just the morning before, and even though receding, it had enveloped tree trunks all along its banks. And still, as always, it was stunning.

A shallow shoreline of stones where the tree roots were always visible, gone.

An abundance of sweet-smelling honeysuckle climbing over everything. With the brilliant blue sky behind, it seemed some sort of miracle.

Snowball hydrangea changing into their late summer green phase still evidenced some fresh white blooms, in denial of the coming fall, and the crisp, dry temperatures.

When these cataclysmic events happen, we can easily get overwhelmed with the news, with the images of destruction, knowing in our hearts how much people are suffering in the face of life-changing events … in some cases, the loss of loved ones. I didn’t go into town, not knowing what I might find. And what could I do? So I remained in gratitude for the safety with which I and most of my town had been graced. And tried to find the balance in beauty.

Hoping this finds you all safe and well.

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It was only about a week and a half ago that I went out walking … the earth was still slumbering, content in its dried weeds, quiet soil, bare trees. But the warmth in the air, the sun, spoke of a greener time to come.

The river was high and moving swiftly towards the bay at the southern part of the state. Although turbulent and muddy-looking from this view, it was still beautiful.

I walked past what is probably the neighborhood eyesore. It’s a long, low red building, at the end of which are a loading platform and garage doors, awaiting a shipment that has long since failed to arrive. I love the chair sitting there, keeping the faith that someday the neglected warehouse might live again. The red checkerboards above the garage doors tell me that this may have once been a Purina distributor, perhaps for large animal feed, serving the farmers who are just a few miles away. In a tonier town, this would have long since been demolished. We all seem to just take it for granted.

A bed of purple crocus had pushed its way through the dirt edging the road, no grass yet in, looking rather alone, barren, and brave.

Across the street a stream of bright golden grasses filled the space between the old train rails, brilliant in the sun, and threw shadows on what was once a second set of tracks.

A small bunch of snowdrops struggled to announce an impending Spring among dried grasses and old walkway weeds. I couldn’t help but imagine them surrounded by a bed of rich grass or maybe even some mulch, just something more complimentary to their delicate, pioneering spirit.

An old building on the walk to the bridge. I’m sure it’s the same age as some of the other stone buildings I’ve photographed, but I am always puzzled by the doors stacked above one another. Perhaps there was once a stairway down the front, like a fire escape, but there are no clues in the stone or cement. I’ve been told it has housed, and still does, floors of antiques and collectibles. As long as I’ve lived here, someone (I suspect the owner) always places one item in the doorway, there for the taking by whoever passes by.

An old-fashioned doll rests in the corner today.

The Delaware looks stunning as always, its racing south not as immediately apparent as in the earlier view. Here it better reflects the cloudless blue sky, and wears an aura of peacefulness.

At last … the first sheen of green! That sly, subtle wash of the palest green creeping into the grassy areas, letting us know that in maybe as little as a week’s time there will be more of Spring poking its head through the ground – daffodils, more crocus and snowdrops, the blush of yellow on the forsythia.

It’s been a long winter, a long year. We’ve survived and carried with us a great weariness and a need for the promise that a greener season brings. Soon … more hope, more sun, more people about. The simple things that make our hearts grateful that we’re still here and can lift our faces to the warmth.

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The Delaware River in her many moods extends a never-ending invitation to be photographed. Just three houses away, I’m able to easily see whatever weather-inspired beauty is happening on the river on any given day.

One of my favorite views is after rain or snow, when the fog in the area has cleared, and a cloud all her own has settled on the river.

I’d already started my work, but when I looked outside, I couldn’t resist, so slipped out with my camera down to the edge of the road.

There’s just such a moodiness at this time of year to how that cloud sits low, and the wintery colors are as rich in their own way as the green vibrancy of spring. If I were able, I could happily just pull up a chair and sit for hours.

This very old concrete structure had something to do with the railroad tracks and the trains that once ran here, I imagine. Oddly enough, I’ve never inspected it more closely, and today that ground was a field of mud beneath the leaf litter.

An ancient twisting tree of the sort that inhabits mysteries and horror stories. One of the joys of the winter months is in appreciating the skeletal silhouettes of so many different types of trees.

Rising from the misty shrouds is a ghostly white hotel on the far river bank in Pennsylvania, appearing to be much closer than it actually is.

On drier days, I can go over the tracks and much closer to the river’s edge, but the muddy ground was soaked, and on the bluff overlooking the river at this point, undoubtedly quite slippery. So I just counted myself lucky to live near such beauty, and returned, inspired, to my work

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While waiting for needed input on a number of projects yesterday, I decided to take the walk I’d been putting off. It was sunny and crisp, and even in mid-afternoon, with the shorter days, the light was angling through the trees and casting long shadows.

Ornamental grasses flanking a walkway sport their furry blooms. Many trees in the area have lost the majority of their leaves.

Long shadows are cast by an already lowering sun.
In the background, a sparkling river moseys south.

Something new for me when I moved to this side of the state was the concept of rural delivery. The postal carrier does not bring mail to the mailbox by your front door, but instead leaves it in mailboxes which stand alone or in groups at the edge of properties and driveways. Certainly makes sense considering how much of this area is farmland!

My town was initially established in the mid 18th century, a mill town on the river, but was not officially incorporated with its current name until 1925. It went through many names, among them Burnt Mills after the grist mill was destroyed by fire in 1769. Many older buildings grace the town, this one (I’m estimating late 1800’s) is converted to a barber shop and residence.

Trees along the riverbank holding on to the last of their leaves.

Looking north, the Delaware is a sea of calm. Whether due to rain or the extended warmth of much of the fall season, there were not many of the brilliant oranges and reds to be found among the trees this year. Instead, the green leaves seemed to fade to dull yellows and browns.

A group of Canada geese swim, relax, and feed at the edge of the riverbank.

An oak leaf on the textured concrete bridge path looks both crisp and leathery. It’s shadow seems to have another life altogether, something insectile.

A train once connected Phillipsburg about 1/2 hour north of my town all the way south to Lambertville, paralleling the river. The tracks were recently cleared and maintained to allow a train to travel several miles for fun trips for passengers at an annual event. The mournful whistle of the steam engine could be heard for two days, and then on occasion afterward.

Walking with my camera always opens my eyes to my surroundings, and causes me to be very grateful to live where I do – an older, established community with a long history, and where people still are gracious and kind.

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At the end of my street is the river … the moody, enchanting, ever-changing Delaware. Sometimes she is soft and shy and all wintery gauze. Though I haven’t in a while, I can go over the broken tracks, down an incline, across a small plateau where someone builds fires, and touch her. Yes, I see this river as female, though I cannot tell you why. Sometimes I take her presence for granted, yet I never forget she is there.

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Lately I’ve been thinking. Oh, about so many things. The words of others drift through my head. These are the words I want to share with you today. I may have done so before; if I have, they are no less true.

“You were born with potential. 
You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dreams. You were born with greatness. 
You were born with wings. 
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t. 
You have wings. 
Learn to use them and fly.”

~ Rumi

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It’s always a bit of a surprise when the clock turns back to “regular” time and it starts getting dark earlier. We know it’s coming and why, but it’s never fails to be an adjustment. It seems the most clear demarcation of the end of all things blooming and the deepest step towards winter.

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I was determined to give my camera and myself a little exercise Sunday, but was not prepared for the sun already setting lower at 2:30 in the afternoon. The sky was alternately blustery grey, bright blue, or streaked with layered clouds. You can see the Delaware River in the background as I walked parallel to it heading north. The tracks once connected all of the river towns on the Jersey side, and I hear rumors from time to time of their being restored.

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It’s funny how you can pass the same thing so many times and yet not truly notice it. These old doors belong to a 2-story stone garage. What’s interesting is the structure is completely made of stone and mortar except for over the doors, where it appears to be made of odd, stone-like shapes of brick. It’s most unusual and makes me wonder what purpose this was once used for. The space is big enough to have housed at least one horse stall, but it seems more suited as a garage. The style of stonework is really quite old.

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Lately I find myself noticing all kinds of textures. The worn paint and the rusted hinges enchanted me. I think I could have taken dozens of photographs of just the front of this structure, maybe even of the doors themselves.

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The front, looking up. I love the stone windowsill and the wooden lintel. Someone has been keeping up with the concrete repair around the stone and brickwork.

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The sky was such a changing mix of things, but the river seemed moody and sullen. No lovers tarried on the bridge this afternoon.

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Skies looked brighter in the east. A few lone hangers-on from some type of shrub waved in the breeze. Orange leaves drifted down, speckling a surprisingly still verdant lawn.

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The sun cast long shadows as I continued to walk. So many beautiful old trees in this area, not cut or abolished as you see in so many of the newly developed tracts. Here trees have their place and are appreciated for their beauty, their shade, and for the part they play in creating a place people like for its coziness and charm. I could walk – and take photographs – all day.

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It has been a lovely Fall so far … crisp, sunny days with a light chill at night, not quite cold enough to turn on the heat, but chilly enough to warrant a warm blanket or quilt.

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On morning walks the leaves seem to whisper that no matter how green they are now, they soon will be slipping into golds, crimsons and pale, dusky rose.

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Pumpkins and mums announce the onset of Fall, and the river glides lazily towards the sea, resplendent surrounded by her last-of-summer greens.

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The smile that flickers on baby’s lips when he sleeps — does anyone know where it was born? Yes, there is a rumor that a young pale beam of a crescent moon touched the edge of a vanishing autumn cloud, and there the smile was first born in the dream of a dew-washed morning.   ~ Rabindranath Tagore

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The air was too crisp and the sunshine too bright to not go for a morning walk. And it was worth it … the Delaware was celebrating the day as well.

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This humble bridge connecting Pennsylvania and New Jersey was originally constructed in 1842.

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Yesterday was my day to go to my accountant. It’s about a 45 minute drive, and as any 45 minute drive in this part of the state will assure you, there were many beautiful vistas of farmland, woods, ponds, small towns, etc. I hadn’t expected the lovely fog I encountered, the mist lying low on acres of land threaded with rows of trees. I really need to remember to bring my camera.

The land is just so beautiful in all seasons, and although I may have been late by a moment or two, I would have loved to capture some of yesterday morning’s soft edges. Years ago, when I was in art school we had an ongoing assignment – always have your sketchbook with you. When that morphed into my majoring in photography, the assignment was to always have your camera with you. It was meant to keep our artistic tools as integral parts of our lives, and is something that fell by the wayside. It would be a good habit to revive. Both, actually … my sketchbook and my camera.

So having failed to capture any of the lovely scenery I passed yesterday, and unable to photograph the goodies I picked up from the Italian bakery in my accountant’s town, (because I ate them), I have included a photo I took of the Delaware in the fall, taken from the almost-PA side of the bridge.

Tomorrow they’re predicting rain, but I’ll be in a quaint town, and who knows where a photo may be waiting.

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There’s not much I could possibly say about Hurricane Irene that hasn’t been said 50 ways from Sunday, but I can post a couple photos of what the Delaware River looks like post-Hurricane. I went out this morning to take a look – fast-moving, brown, and carrying all manner of tree and other debris. This is already post-crest stage, but the Delaware is so high as to have inundated trees, docks and some buildings across the way in PA. I had taken some photos awhile back, thinking it was high then – which it was – but what could be seen on the PA side in March 2008  – not even visible.

The Delaware in March 2008

The Delaware August 29, 2011

And a different view taken from the nearby bridge to PA, looking northwest, taken in February 2009

And although in a different season, it can be seen that after Hurricane Irene, the bases of all trees are totally submerged. Those of us who live so close to the Delaware River continue to be thankful that the lay of the land is such that she has never, since 1955, approached our homes.

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I have had a 100 things to blog about, all swimming, swirling in my head. But at the moment am coping with something else, and the thoughts are just not solidifying. (One thing I want to write about, having just seen Where the Wild Things Are and finished reading Coraline, is about what happens when children’s books become movies. Stay tuned …) So when inspired writing fails and I still have a ton of work on my desk, what to do? Take a few pictures …

Home-Across

These photos are taken without me walking more than 100′ from my front door.  The first, my neighbors across the street, taken from my front porch. Not much wind today, but Old Glory always looks so nice in all the seasons.

Home-CaddyCorner

My caddy-corner neighbors …. their fence is always lined with some kind of blooming flowers, daffodils, lilies, and in the fall, white shasta daisies

Home-Porch

My front porch … have to have something of fall there! Each year the local deer inevitably take down whatever live flowers I put on the steps, but I will prevail! Or at least I’m trying – my neighbors had success in protecting their Hostas with Deer-Out, (nothing horrible in the way of ingredients), which is no small accomplishment, so I’m giving it a try. Doesn’t bother next door’s cats, so it must be deer-specific. Time will tell.

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Looking down my short block from in front of my house … I’m on the corner. At the very end, if you look carefully, you will see a spot of blue/grey. That’s the Delaware River. I’m happy to live near a river, near any water, really. I’m very happy for the little town I live in and how un-modernized it is. Real people with real small stores and local friendliness. I’m lucky.  Grateful, too.

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It was a long, grey, stormy day in which torrents of rain fell hour after hour. Puddles swelled into small lakes in the streets. There was no point in getting the mail. Each momentary letting up was quickly followed by sheets of rain cascading from the sky. It had been predicted to end around 5 pm, and indeed small patches of brightness blew in and right on out, chased by more, though shorter, bursts of rain.

In one of those brief intermissions, I caught sight of the Delaware River at the end of my block. Lying between her banks, as there often is in damp weather, was a cloud. No fog brushed the earth, just a cloud exhaling on top of the waters. I ran down with my camera – it was nearly gone by the time I got there, but still visible.

Cloud lying in the Delaware

And then came the wind. No sooner had the rain stopped and pushed in an obligatory patch or two of sun, than extraordinarily high speed winds whipped through the trees, dislodging anything not secured on the ground. Electrical failures began switching off lights all over the area. I was thankful – mine stayed on. Between the rain and the winds, the Delaware was predicted to reach flood stage at some points along its banks nearby.

Delaware running high after storm

Here, late Sunday afternoon, the sun was heading down in the blue western sky and the Delaware rushed madly by. Brown-ish blue, the water was very high and its speed dangerous. But in all its moods, whether languidly dreaming or racing to the sea, the river is a richness and a gift to be near.

Just in … my friend who had been up visiting last year had also taken a beautiful photo of the river. It was summer and the Delaware was in her glory.

Delaware in late spring

Jeanne

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