Monday, August 15, 2011

The Land in Your Bones

This Sunday evening, rain bounces off the study windows, and the yard denizens whisper heavy sighs of relief. Finally, say the winterberry hollies and buttonbushes and other water-needy things the owner here (me) coddles far too little, finally some relief.

I suppose I'll go on record and say the first significant Higbee Beach morning flight of 2011 will happen this Tuesday, if the NOAA  frontal forecast is right - bookmark that page, by the way, very useful and accurate. A cold front clears Monday, although some unsettled weather to our north may persist, making the bird forecast tricky. But there will be a northwest wind overnight Monday into Tuesday, according to the local forecast. And the local wind is the thing, wherein we'll catch the birdies on the wing (sorry, Shakespeare, and cf. Hamlet act 2, scene 2). Tuesday should also bring hawks to Cape May, harriers and such. In case I'm wrong, watch Wednesday too.

I spent the weekend in river country, Susquehanna River country to be precise, out there in Pennsyltucky fooling with canoe and smallmouth bass, and watching an Osprey merely call in protest when the adult eagle flew past, but proceed later to run a hatch-year bird off its territory with confidence suggesting it knew the difference between the two. Shortly I'll be Googling "best way to repair broken wood canoe gunnel on Mad River Kevlar Explorer" - another story for the poor old girl to warn the newer kayaks it bunks with. . .

I'm feeling reflective this evening, post-river-trip, and one thing I reflect on is that people, some people at least, develop a feel for a certain landscape early in their lives, and that landscape never leaves them. My fishing buddy Fletch and I talked about this on and off all weekend. Not that I don't love the coastal plain, the beach walks at sunset when tourists have cashed it in for the night, or the season, or Morning Flight, or the shorebirds in Bunker pond and the harriers that will soon be over it. But I grew up exploring northern NJ, on a farm between two hills, or two mountains, depending on your perspective. They were mountains by Cape May standards, that's for sure. The farm is sadly now dead, growing office buildings and McManshions instead of hay and cows. Other places I've loved up north have met similar fates, but by far not all of them in the rural, hilly land running up to and over the Appalachian Ridge.

The land in my bones has hills and valleys, rocks and swift streams, tall oaks and hickories over spicebush and dogwood, sycamores and silver maples along a river, corn and soybeans between hedgerows, deer at the edge of a clearing, Great-horned Owls haunting the hollow below me during a December dusk.

Perhaps, after all these past years visiting Cape May, and a few more in the future living and exploring this place, its marshes and maritime forests and tides and storms, I'll harbor two different lands in my bones. We'll see. I've been here 5 years now, and going north still feels a bit like going home.

[A Susquehanna raccoon's favorite fishing spot.]

[Hills, valleys, rocks, moving water. . . you can go home again.]

No comments:

Post a Comment