I have taken pictures here before. The ancient dock is crusty and photogenic, the background is scenic, and the location is just off of the White Horse Pike going into Atlantic City. It is easy to get to, but hard to see. Perfect in every respect for taking a few pictures on the way to work.
These past couple of weeks have seen the East Coast covered in artic air and then hit with a blizzard. While I actively dislike the cold, it is pretty when these combinations line up just right.
Saltwater freezes at a lower temperature than fresh. 28.4 degrees as opposed to 32. It may not sound like a lot, but it is the difference between a light skim on a sidewalk puddle and the sea grinding up anything in it's way.
These shots were taken behind work of the Clam Thorofare one of many salt water estuaries that run between Atlantic City and the mainland. With one side "hardened" with boulders made of granite, it's path is pretty much ordained for the time being. At the moment it is completely frozen and it's surface is going nowhere fast.
I am not sure if the Surfaris ever made to the mountains, but if they experienced a blizzard, I am sure they could have done a snow version of "Wipe out!" As the snow as just starting to come down last night I thought I would try to get shots of the spooky Maple behind the house through it. Three were done with the Camera's Flash, the other with a highpowered flashlight and no flash.
I make no bones about it, I intensely dislike the cold. I do not mind snow and ice, but the face numbing, lip chapping, and bone chilling cold is something I will have none of. This week has been full of polar freezing and it shows no sign of ending any time soon.
But there is beauty in it too. Running through the marshes from Absecon to Atlantic City are several large waterpipes that keep the taps from running dry on the island. These ancient iron straws pull water from the wells and reservoir in Absecon and ship it to Absecon Island to water Atlantic City, Brigantine, LongPort, Margate, and Ventnor.
When built, they must have used a barge to ferry the pipes as each one has an arrow straight canal cut through the marshes right next to it. With the freezing cold we are enduring here in South Jersey, the Salt Water that is ordinarily in these Canals is getting solid.
One day I will row up one of these pathways, but not today
I am a creature of the boundary areas where the sea meets the land. Aside from a brief stint in the middle of Pennsylvania, I have never been far from the sight, sound, and smells of the sea. As such the areas I haunt are in that area of rich biodiversity. Littoral waters are the areas between the high tide line and the land that is permanently inundated by the sea. It is the shore, and that is where I choose to live.
For some reason, renewable energy seems to be a polarizing issue. Some people love it, and some people absolutely hate it. As a sailor who derives great pleasure from the wind, I love it. It may not be as efficient as typical fossil fuels in terms of sheer energy production, but the maintenance is minimal and the impact on the world around is negligible.
Atlantic City has one of the few Wind Farms here in New Jersey, and while the supporting buildings are ugly (they are also part of the sewerage site) the windmills themselves are pretty awesome to watch. On a quiet day you can just hear the sounds of their blades spinning in the air.
With the first snowstorm of the year bearing down on us here in Southern New Jersey, it is hard not to be reminded that winter is almost here. Most of the trees have lost their leaves, the birds have all flown south, and the remaining critters are laying low over their cache of stored foods.
The biggest reminder though, besides the falling flakes, is the bare trees that dot the landscape. These are outside of work sitting above some up lights, giving them a spooky look against the golden paint of the building.
Most areas of the world have their own supernatural mythology. We all know about the Sasquatch or "bigfoot" of the rainy NorthWest and most people are familiar in passing with the Yeti of the Himalaya mountains, but what of the home grown monsters that lurk in woods close by?
The Jersey Devil has several origin stories. The most popular comes from the Leeds Family of Atlantic County. "Mother Leeds", generally thought to be a Mrs. Deborah Leeds, wife of Japhet Leeds, cursed her 13th child when she found she was pregnant with him. Crying out that he "would be the Devil" and on a stormy night in 1735 she gave birth to a normal looking child who soon turned grotesque with leathery wings, horns, and cloven hooves before killing the midwife and disappearing up the chimney.
Of course, there are more mundane explanations that involved local intrigue, politics, and of course, religion, but giving birth to a literal devil child makes for exciting drama in any family. While nobody has claimed to see The Jersey Devil in quite some years, his legacy lives on in sporting teams (The New Jersey Devils Hockey Team), the Military (Air Force Fighter Squadron 177 is known as the "Jersey Devils" and on Television and in several Video Games. There simply is no getting around his larger than life persona in and around the stunted pines of Southern New Jersey.
So, while I was walking about Birch Grove Park earlier, I found myself with a Jersey Devil Sighting of sorts. The Local kids had tacked up warning posters for all to see.
Nestled deep in the middle of the City of Northfield, Birch Grove Park is not far from the Main Commercial area of the town, but you would never know it while there. 271 Acres of Woods, Trails, and water, all on the site of the former Somers Brick Works.
The lakes were supposedly dug to a depth of 80 feet by the steam shovels that ran along the rails between them, scooping up the native clay and depositing it into rail cars to be later stamped, dried, and baked into bricks to be shipped all across the country. Operating from 1900 to the early 50's when it finally closed up shop, was dismantled for it's iron, and bought by the City of Northfield for use as a public space.
Today it is a beautiful park with ball fields, a campground, lakes kept stocked with fish and the occasional bear siting.