Not plumming at Sandy Hook

“Wild, wild the storm, and the sea high running,
Steady the roar of the gale, with incessant undertone muttering,
Shouts of demoniac laughter fitfully piercing and pealing,
Waves, air, midnight, their savagest trinity lashing,
Out in the shadows there milk-white combs careering,
On beachy slush and sand spirts of snow fierce slanting,
Where through the murk the easterly death-wind breasting,
Through cutting swirl and spray watchful and firm advancing,
(That in the distance! is that a wreck? is the red signal flaring?)
Slush and sand of the beach tireless till daylight wending,
Steadily, slowly, through hoarse roar never remitting,
Along the midnight edge by those milk-white combs careering,
A group of dim, weird forms, struggling, the night confronting,
That savage trinity warily watching.”

— Walt Whitman, Patroling Barnegat

My plan for this afternoon was to go out to Sandy Hook for a beach plum walk, but the weather didn’t cooperate. I still went and the NPS ranger was kind enough to give her speech about making beach plum jelly to just me (wonder why no one else showed up? lol!), but the planned walk to pick plums was cancelled due to the weather. We met at the Visitor’s Center which was a U.S. Life-Saving Station that rescued shipwreck victims during the 19th century.

The ocean and marsh were still beautiful, but not walk-friendly despite my rain gear. I wasn’t the only nut out there – living close to the ocean makes it hard to resist going to see it all churned up with a storm. The saltmarsh at Plum Island was flooded and the only birds I saw was one wheeling group of shorebirds and a few Greater Black-Backed Gulls hunched down on a bit of high ground well out in the marsh.

The remnants of Ernesto are supposed to clear out overnight and I’m hopeful that tomorrow I’ll be able to pick some beach plums and try out the recipe the park ranger shared with me today.

11 thoughts on “Not plumming at Sandy Hook”

  1. Okay, you are making me think of the crazy surfers that go out when the storms hit!

    We didn’t lose any trees (thank goodness) but the wind was wild and there was a ton of rain – which we desperately needed. I love a good storm. (I was going to continue my lyric reference with Eddie Rabbit but I stopped myself :))))))) I am in a mood. Sorry, LOL.

  2. I’ve never read the poem you posted, Laura. What a great one for bringing a storm at sea to mind. Your photos are gorgeous too–how I wish I lived near the ocean! Hope you’re able to make plum jelly soon.

  3. Michelle: I think it was even too nasty for the crazy surfers! There were only storm gawkers out today.

    My husband was at work all day cutting down trees (he works for the town). I love a storm too, except when the power goes out and I’m home all alone in the dark. Was there any flooding by you?

    BTW: I like the song references – keeps me thinking!

  4. Lene: I found it in a collection of Jersey Shore poems – think it was written about a winter storm, but it read the way today felt.

    Susan: I’m not much for plums either – although I do like them once in a while ice cold.

    Beach plums look like big blueberries, and taste sort of like grapes, but the skin is very tart! The jelly is a treat, but you have to make it homemade or have a friend who does. Can’t find it for sale anywhere, I guess because the season is short and beach plums can’t be *cultivated* – plus the harvest is really weather dependent.

  5. And here I was picturing beach plums as the size of the plums that grow in California orchards, which is what I am familiar with. I hope you get some and get to make jelly.

    The poem is wonderful, perfect to go with your photos.

  6. Beautiful photos! I’ve always loved being at the ocean or along a big river or lake when a storm is passing through. Not quite sure why, but I suppose it’s the elemental quality. By the way, in the past, we’ve often been the only ones to show up for nature walks on wild days when everyone else stays indoors, so it made me smile when you mentioned the part about the NPS ranger giving you her beach plum jelly speech.

  7. Storm has kept us in

    beach plum jam sounds wonderful
    We keep thinking we will drive down to bird the New Jersey coast but every time we have an open day the weather has been yukky. Do you know a good yukky weather birding area? 🙂

  8. Sounds fun to me! I love to go in the woods when the wind is blowing. Hope you didn’t lose power, though.

    We used to make jelly out of sand plums in Oklahoma, they were small, red on the outside, and yellow inside. Pretty far from any beaches, though, so probably aren’t related.

  9. Maya’s granny: I got to pick some today – the weather was nice – I’m happy.

    Bev: I’ve lately drawn the line at birding in a downpour, but other than that it’s usually such a treat to be out after a week cooped up at work. I once was caught in a near torrential downpour while kayaking and it was so much fun! It was also a little scary because we were on a narrow creek that got high and fast all of a sudden.

    Naturewoman: Hope you’ll post about your geology walk – sounds interesting!

    Endment: If the weather ever does cooperate for you, please let me know and maybe we can bird together. I’m hoping to get to Cape May late September/early October for a day. Can’t recommend a good yucky weather birding spot, besides my couch with a hot cup of coffee! lol!

    Sandy: We didn’t lose power but a lot of our neighbors did.

    I googled your sand plums and they’re gorgeous! What beautiful color! The few links I looked at said they are related, but ripen fruit in June, rather than August/September. Thanks for mentioning them.

Comments are closed.