I'll go with thee to the lane's end... I am a kind of burr, I shall stick. Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

I write not to teach but to learn. Rebecca West

drew's writing:

  • "Always Forever Now," Ideomancer volume 13, issue 2
  • "Black Sun," Black Static # 32
  • "Bread or Cake" and "Pride/Shame,"2nd Annual Philadelphia One-Minute Play Festival
  • "Copper Heart," Polluto Magazine issue 5, A Steampunk Orange
  • "The Accomplished Birder's Guide to Overcoming Rejection," Last Drink Bird Head, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
  • "Another Night With the Henriksens," Player's Theater Halloween One-Act Festival NYC 2008
  • "Hating the Lovers," and "Pipe Down!" Geez Magazine: Thirty Sermons You Would Never Hear in Church
  • "Beth/slash/Nathan," Paper Fruit Blogiversary Contest

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

fifth hike 2011: Cape May NJ

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After some exhausting hikes in the snow, our hike this week was refreshingly easy. There was no snow in Cape May; we walked the beach, read the text in the museum about Indians, birds, and WWII, and crept around a nature preserve looking for wildlife. I had anticipated osprey but we were too early, and it was too windy for the other raptors I'd hoped for. Instead, we saw a lot of humongous Mute Swans--flying--violently beating the air when taking off--waddling to the edge of the water like arthritic old people at the beach--then launching themselves onto the water's surface with princely grace. It's hard to resent Mute Swans for being an invasive species when they look like royal emigres from a Grimm's fairy tale--but eurocentric nostalgia can't obscure the fact that Mute Swans are multiplying like tribbles, and are bad for native wildlife, and probably should be eaten.

A Great Blue Heron flew across our path; though this is not such an uncommon bird, it's thrilling to see one in flight. I grabbed my camerado and said look, he grabbed me--as if the bird might eat us--and said what is it, what is it? He had never seen one. Huge, and primordial, with its strong neck folded back on itself like one of Henry James's sentences, the Great Blue was my highlight of this hike.

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Cape May Point State Park has great interpretive signs; we learned to identify shadbush and mockernut, and practiced the persimmon-identifying skills we gained at Ridley Creek. We met an older guy with serene blue eyes and a smooth-but-textured voice like Tony Bennett, who coached us on distinguishing Black Vultures from Turkey Vultures (the former have shorter tails and white on the tips of their wings). It was clear that birding is this man's bliss. I regret not taking his picture.

We walked the park's blue trail and then walked the beach. I feel slightly embarrassed I did not know Cape May had so much incredible WWII history.

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After the walk on the beach my better half was so cold and wind-battered, we decided to cut the last third of the hike, which would have been the Migratory Bird Refuge. Unlike us to ditch, as we are normally such berserkers. (My parents and I hiked the Refuge once and saw a waning sun ignite the breeding plumage of a male kestrel--unforgettable).

Downtown Cape May, off-season, at dusk, reminded me of Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. The light was strange and gray, people struggled against the wind, the pedestrian mall had a pre-apocalyptic feel. We ate in a pub and checked out the candy store--great almond macaroons--and walked through a deserted indoor shopping area where a solitary vender kept a lonely vigil with her wares.

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Then we drove to the end of Beach Avenue and got a kick out of watching the sun set over the ocean... on the east coast... My camerado says this was one of his highlights of the hike.

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We both like the shore off-peak, but plan to return to Cape May during the prime birding season to see the raptors and butterflies with the friends who gave us the book that sparked our year of hiking.


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