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Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey’

Atlantic Coastal and bay beaches from South Jersey to Assateague Island.

Cape May Point, a shoreline and a wartime relic that appear timeless.
WW II Bunker at Cape May Point
Wind drives seaward; all the sand here has been trucked or pumped in repeatedly. Waves once crashed beneath this WWII battery fortress leaving it perched in midair atop the grid of wooden pilings that form its foundation. Storm after storm sent waves breaking over the historic duneline behind it, flooding the Cape May meadows and eroding the beach into steep cliffs, until the state of NJ had no choice but to rescue Cape May Point and this landmark by spending a fortune every few years since the early 1990’s to maintain and re-nourish these doomed beaches.
Up close a symphonic pattern of curving grasses, a brace of rebar, lime weeping, a garland of goldenrod nodding overhead.
Up close a symphonic pattern of curving grasses, a brace of rebar, lime weeping, a garland of goldenrod nodding overhead.
WW II Bunker at Cape May Point, festooned with grasses where the ocean once laid claim. And will again.
Coastal defense of a bygone era, shored up with imported sand, festooned with sedges and grasses where the ocean once laid claim. And will again.
Notice the image below “What Is It”, of the bunker suspended in midair with waves breaking behind it. The original 1940’s shoreline extended far in front of the structure and included gun turret mounts and other buildings. Beyond the bunker, midway down Cove beach toward Cape May, once stood the town of South Cape May. Remnants of that place sometimes wash ashore after a Nor’easter storm, bits of broken china, tile or brick. The rest of it lies underwater.
Around the point from the bunker, Delaware Bay beaches in the Villas, a far cry from the creosote bulkhead bound and filthy shoreline found here in the 1960s. Less beach but now backed by replanted dunes in place of the unsuccessful armored shoreline
Remnants of coastal mixed cedar dune forest set between the front Delaware Bay beach and the cattail anchored brackish wetlands behind. Saltwater slowly encroaches as sea level changes impact the estuary. A drive north on Route 47 up the western side of the south Jersey peninsula will take you past areas of drowned forests and fishing villages like Reeds Beach, Fortescue and others that are slowly being claimed by the rising tide. People who’ve lived long lives on this coast witness these changes firsthand. For others interested in the forecast for the region, this Rutger’s University study provides a wealth of information.

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Summertime growing up in Villas, NJ lots of my friends’ families were Catholic, Irish or Italian, some German or Polish. Almost all were blue collar, factory & shipyard workers. Or they got by otherwise. Some stayed with grandparents. The blessed Virgin was ubiquitous: on dashboards, front lawns, jewelry, framed next to her Son in every dining room where the mother fed the neighbor kids as well as her own. Some kids went to St Raymond’s school on Bayshore Road, but most went back to Philly, where their real homes were; the Villas was for summer vacation, fresh air for the kids, breathing room for mom and the Villas Fishing Club on the bay for men- only. The boardwalk over in Wildwood for everybody with a car or bus fare.

Labor Day Weekend marked the end of summer firmly as a door closing. The following Monday morning the streets were silent, window blinds pulled down, driveways- twelve hours earlier festooned with wading pools, kids, grills, beer bottles & fishing gear, empty. A vacuous quiet descended. Left behind we were all watchers in this new found emptiness, watchful for artifacts of the prior occupants, for signs that summer had existed at all. Mary would stare dolefully back at us from within her blue robes at various locations throughout the neighborhood, daring our trespass.

And then there was St Francis, keeper of beasts & of nature, benevolent & compassionate. Guardian of the wildness inside us all and protector of the earth, he would keep watch along the bay all winter long, and ever after.

Three Visions of St Francis Guarding the Delaware Bay

Three Visions of St Francis Guarding the Delaware Bay

Three Visions of St Francis Guarding the Delaware

Three Visions of St Francis Guarding the Delaware

Three Visions of St Francis Guarding the Delaware

Three Visions of St Francis Guarding the Delaware Bay

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Paul Vanderbilt & Alec Soth’s current Madison exhibits and accompanying text/audio and Frank Gohlke’s Thoughts On Landscape have me thinking about visual rhythms, algorithms and typologies.

Photos individual, paired, in series syncopate with what- anticipations, expectations, apprehensions?– in the viewer. And the resulting resonance renders them meaningful. Or.

The thing in itself, the subject without the photo, the photo without the viewer, retains meaning in situ independent of the intervening  eyes. Is it when the human attention drawn to the object of the len’s affection focusses deeply in that moment,  that the recognition of coincident, adjacent, harmonic- or dissonant– significance in the image(s) occurs? & Association liberates vision from its expectations.

And thinking too much impedes seeing:) A series of random views that made me stop and shoot during recent travels:

Umbrellas at Willow Vineyard, Cape May, NJ

Umbrellas at Willow Vineyard, Cape May

Levitation.  Seaport promenade, Manhattan

Levitation. Seaport promenade, Manhattan (thanks to Liz S. for the tipoff!)

Wisconsin River Autumn, early morning

Wisconsin River Autumn, early morning

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The Driftless World photo exhibit at Timberlane Coffeehouse in Boscobel, Wisconsin’s finally up on the wall. 50+ images including some old silver prints from 1989. New respect to everyone who’s ever prepped and matted work for a show. Delicious anticipation, but a lot to do to do it right, hopefully!

Opening reception’s from 1 – 5 pm today, April 5th. If you happen to be in the area, stop by! Would love to meet blog friends in person.

Driftless World photography now on display at Timberlane Coffee

Driftless World photography now on display at Timberlane Coffee

 

Driftless Photos on Display

 

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Two photographs I edited today: The first a freshwater lake at Belleplain State Forest in south Jersey, the second a dry wash canyon in northern New Mexico, an ancient seabed now a semi-arid desert. The contrast between these two images triggered my thinking about how a single natural  resource such as water determines us. The native peoples of the American Southwest have seen the rise and fall of entire cultures driven by aridity. Here are the photos, and something like a Chautauqua in their wake:

Northern New MexicoHow does water affect the places we choose to live and our sense of habitation within that place? So many popular communities around the country are at the water’s edge; the beauty of the sea, the vastness of the ocean compel our imaginations. Their abundance has fed our bodies for generations by supplying a clean and renewable food source. Now the twin macro-scale disasters of the BP Deepwater Horizon gulf oil rig blowout in 2010 and the radioactive seepage of Japan’s Fukishima nuclear plant, coupled with decades of other sustained non-point insults from human activities leaves us with a huge question mark as the ocean’s inhabitants  demonstrate the consequences by sickening, dying and disappearing. Each summer once crystalline waters curdle into a stinking soup in Florida Bay, smothering the coral reefs along the Keys beneath algal blooms the consistency of jello. My generation has born witness to  these radical changes in the order of magnitude by which human activities have overtaken nature.

The famous springs of central Florida that poured freshwater at rates measuring billions of gallons daily are predicted to run dry within the decade as development investors continue to sink wells to bottle water, water golf course and irrigate cattle pastures.  The Great Lakes, having sustained industrial insults for decades pre-EPA, recovered dramatically at the end of the 20th Century. They  now face renewed assault as energy and mining investors consider transporting heavy tar sands crude viaBelleplain State Forest, NJ lake freighters and opening the world’s largest open pit iron mine along the shores of Lake Superior. The Elk River drowned in chemicals last month in West Virginia, where mining now blows off mountaintops to extract coal from open pits. All across America hydraulic fracturing-fracking– cracks shale deep underground to release natural gas, threatening local water tables’ integrity while at the same time contaminating millions of gallons of fresh water with drilling chemicals  and then pumping the entire toxic mess that results back underground. That water is gone from the surface life cycle for good. And is replaced by…nothing. There is no alternative. On this planet or any other within reach.

It seems to me a kind of blind madness that globally mankind continues to assault the life-sustaining system of this one hospitable planet we can call home, without any viable means to restore them. We are bad at imagining scale and good at denial; pollution and degradation formerly were localized, contained, infrequent horrors, like Love Canal. The majority of the world’s wild open places were untainted sanctuaries, life preserving wells from which we could draw the future to repopulate damaged places. This is no longer the case. At every turn the natural world has  sustained and continues to aggregate collateral damage in the name of human infrastructure and profit, yet the value of those irreplaceable and finite  natural resources is nowhere figured into the economic equations of the profit machine.

Today in the headlines, California and the West’s cataclysmic drought, a “500” year event. Towns will be without water. For the first time, backup systems from surrounding communities fail to meet the need, so trucks must come from afar bearing potable water to sustain residents. Crops have gone unplanted, animals and lawns, a perished afterthought. Those people have been stopped in their tracks, their attentions now riveted on their dry cups. Were investors or industry or politicians to come and attempt to add a teaspoon of contaminants to any of those precious tankers of water, the people would seize and restrain and punish them. And so it should also happen at the macro scale. The margin for humanity’s errors isn’t nearly as large as we presume.

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