Posts tagged ‘Newark NJ’

OUR BIRDFEEDER DRAWS A CROWD

It may be time to upgrade our squirrel-proof birdfeeder after this new challenge by the masked intruder.

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Believe it or not, this is in a sense, a memoir piece.

We live a suburban life where homes occupy half-acre lots. Not far from home are fields of corn and stands of forest. Our piece of land is bordered by a gully, once the home of railroad tracks. Overgrown now, it is a natural highway for wildlife.

Groundhogs and fox have made dens in the gully’s confines. The groundhogs can be seen lumbering around the front and back yards, or heading towards my garden. Foxes can be heard more than seen, although on winter afternoon I caught the sight of a red fox against a new snow. Summer nights they call, to one another or pierce the tranquility with a rabbit kill. In recent years, deer have appeared in the gully, up to five does occasionally accompanied by a buck, a sure sign of the species overpopulation in the area. Also, a sign of danger for our road is a busy one. Skunks are around, but see almost never only smelled.

The birdfeeder pictured attracts a host of birds, chickadees, cardinals, titmouse, goldfinches and the occasional woodpecker. Now, for two day running the sunflower seeds have also attracted our masked visitor.

“How is this a memoir piece?” those of you still with me are probably asking. The observations above reinforce in me the memories and contrast in my mind my present conditions and those I experienced while growing up in Newark, NJ. When looking out on the tranquil area I call home, I recall our backyard in Newark, dirt and cinder, defying the growth of grass. Our wildlife consisted entirely of squirrels. Our birds were limited to sparrows and starlings, with the occasional robin looking forlorn and confused. Those distant memories help me appreciate the surroundings I inhabit now, help me appreciate my Pennsylvania home.

Some future day, I hope to spend part of the year near the ocean. Its vastness provides a ceaseless source of peace and contemplation. I could never live on its shore year-round, for I fear that that endless body of water would become commonplace and lose its magic. My Newark youth provides no problem in keeping the wonders of nature in prospective.  

September 4, 2014 at 12:07 am Leave a comment

MEMOIR: LIVING ON BORROWED TIME

I’m old enough, and my memory good enough to recall a great deal of detail growing up in Newark, NJ during the 1950s and 60s. With these memories in mind, I study the world around me and have to chuckle. At times, it’s as if our society is rediscovering the wheel, then again, at times I’m amazed that my wheel still turns.

One observation which I find interesting is the current nutritional trends, and what information they provide – if any. Consider all the studies you’ve heard concerning the benefits or harmful effects of coffee consumption. I don’t know about you, but it boggles my mind. Some of the current nutritional mindsets are to cut down on processed food and eat local. When I was young, we adhered to these principles as a way of life. Processed food was in its infancy. And unlike today, for better or for worse, the mom of the family stayed home. Most did not know how to drive, and that didn’t matter because most families could only afford one car. Few moms worked outside the home. Their lives were taken up with raising the kids, maintaining the home and cooking. We are warned away from processed and junk food, yet grocery store shelves grow heavier and heavier with these items. Is there a bottom line at work here?

Another ‘new’ trend encouraged is to eat locally. While I was growing up that was the only option. Fruit and vegetables – veggies had not been invented yet – were not transported from all over the globe as they are now. In my neighborhood, fresh produce was available during the summer months sold from a horse-drawn wagon. During the winter the stores carried a minimal selection.

Those are the positives of my past which are far outweighed by the negatives, hence to purpose of this article.

During my youth, the fear of cholesterol was unknown. Of course it existed, but knowledge of its hazards was unknown and its effect, insidious. Food was consumed without a thought to sodium or fat content. Taste was all that mattered. It was a time long before the existence of ‘best by date’. The rule of thumb was: If the can wasn’t swollen the contents were fine to consume.

But all this is secondary to the primary reason I am living on borrowed time, although my food consumption has left its effects in the form of bypass surgery. The health concern most abused in my past was sun exposure. Today we have sunblock able to protect you from any damage the sun may try to deliver. When I was a kid we also had a means of protection and it was homemade. This was long before billboards began displaying that cute little girl having her bathing suit bottom pulled down by that delightful dog to expose her pale butt and tan line.

The means I used to shield myself from the sun’s harmful rays was a concoction of a few drops of iodine dispersed in baby oil. Where that was invented I have no idea. Did it work? No way! Every summer’s journey to the shore resulted in a bright red burn resulting in a mass of oozing blisters. Back then we were of the mindset that when you spent a day at the shore you had to get your money’s worth and we always paid the price. When we went as a family unit, on the way home I and my siblings would sit in the backseat of the old Chevy shivering from the intense sunburn. To this day we fondly refer to those sun-induced chills as suffering from ‘the disease’.

Once home, my mom would apply vinegar to our burned bodies. This remedy is actually documented as working, usually in vinegar ads. At night, after a day at the beach, slathered in oil and vinegar we were human salads suffering the pain of a summer outing.

 

July 30, 2014 at 6:44 pm Leave a comment


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