a blog from monmouth county by calvin schwartz
This is not the first time I’ve had longings to take my meager belongings and find a cabin somewhere (I’ve got strange notions of places. Anybody out there familiar with Freudian psychology?) and write, commune, meditate, grow tomatoes, do a beard, bird watch, listen to folk, jazz, opera, and paint and explore the full range of oatmeal uses. I’ve got a few ideas of cabin locations. Of course there’s Walden Pond (convinced they’ve probably got wifi hookup by now) Then I’ve had a notion for a long time to go to Hudson’s Bay and spend a year in a cabin (hopefully heated). Spiritually I’m pulled there; the desolation, remoteness, proximity to polar bears and UFO sightings; far away from New Jersey civilization; with a N.J. governor claiming N.J. ‘ownership’ of the N.Y. Jets (He’s got a point. The team plays, practices and most live in Jersey), watching self-indulgent machinations on Oscar’s red carpet, hearing that the second most dangerous city in America (Camden, NJ) laid off half its police force due to budget cuts (They hinted graffiti and vandals could have a field day now. I see local hotels in Camden filling up with graffiti artists from all over the country. Could it become the graffiti capital of the world?)
If I did go to Hudson’s Bay what would I miss most about New Jersey life? Pondering a ponderous question; of course I’d miss my spiritual jetty at the Shark River at Belmar but mostly long lines of people at the Parkway and Turnpike toll booths who do not have EZ Pass. Ten years into it and they still wait in long lines to pay cash while some of us red and green apples sail through. A key life strategy; you either get it or you don’t. No EZ pass on the shores of Hudson’s Bay. I’m excited. I’ll take a ship to the Arctic Circle (to see sea ice because it’s disappearing like polar bears and see bright stars, spirits and lights). Here’s another strange place I’d like to set up my cabin; on the cement base island under the Verrazano Bridge; to see ships sailing away to dreams. I’ve dreamed about sailing away to Kilimanjaro. I’m alone, remote, self dependent under the Verrazano. With cabin choices, even though they’re around 100 square feet, I still need outside supervision, a clinical approach to design and remodeling, a few painted dreams to get a perfect meditative home (the magic touch of the right architect) A sense tells me that I’ve been under the Verrazano all my life anyway. Imagination is a novel ready to phase like two low pressure systems coming together to form a Nor-easter blizzard; seamless segue to snow weenies.
What is a snow weenie? Of course now in early March most of the weenies are packing up for the next nine months; almost seems like a human gestational period. On the other hand long range maps seem to say there may be one more blizzard in store for the Jersey Shore before April. When I was nine years old, Newark, New Jersey was hit with a major blizzard. I loved snow. At 1 AM during this ferocious storm, I opened up my bedroom window and stuck out a lamp and saw snow drifting deeply. There’d be no school for days. At 4 AM, I heard a patter on the window; it was sleeting and raining; the snow of my dreams had cruelly disappeared. Radio said the weatherman made a mistake and warm air turned snow to rain. We might’ve had 3 feet. Fifty-six years later, like right now, I’m still upset about the upset and what could’ve been. Goodness gracious sakes alive I’m a snow weenie. I love the silence of the lambs and the fallen snow; purity, body and flavor(Ballantine beer if you remember) of snow and dreams of far away places and mountain summits, smoke snaking out of small cabin chimneys. Was it just me with this obsession, listening for days on end to weather forecasts a month ago, clinging to chances of frozen precipitation for Western Monmouth. (such envy of places like Buffalo, Lake Oswego or California mountains which got ten feet in December during one storm) But alas, I am not alone. A few months ago I discovered a vast culture and community of snow weenies on the internet.
Sometimes (4000) assemble on the fan page of a Penn State meteorologist and spew acronyms like nao, gfs, nam, oz, and post up their own maps of desires and dreams for feet of accumulating snow. They come from weather science circles and cities all over the eastern half and run from site to site (dozens of Facebook snow weenie sites) to see which met (weatherman) predicts a higher favorable accumulation. Those that under predict are scorned and cast off. On a Rutgers Football message board last year I realized that I was indeed bitten by a wolf and loved staring at a waning moon before a snow storm. A weenie I am and if I’m blogging about it, then damn proud. I’m still hoping for that late March blizzard.
‘Suddenly Last Summer’ (an old movie title) I feel like an oscillating watering hose, spraying my readers with all kinds of random food streams of consciousness. Hey food’s important. The French said last week not to worry because we’ll have enough to feed the 9 billion earthlings in 2050 even though we’re eating more now (called obesity epidemic). This is not a commercial blog but Starbucks recently introduced a new cold drink (Trenta); the volume is 916ml. Hey, the average volume capacity of the human stomach is 900 ml. A competitor fast food is now selling a sweet tea drink (946 ml) for $1.00. Convenience stores sell 32 oz.(1900 ml).
Twenty years ago popcorn at the movies was 270 calories; now 630 and burgers averaged 333 calories, now 590. I don’t eat burgers; stopped in 1975. Think of all the fresh water we could save if the cows we slaughter for golden arches didn’t graze on all that watered grass. Meanwhile the Feds passed some interesting bills. Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act (in part focus on veggies and physical activity) FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (gives FDA power to recall tainted food) FDA Releases the Amount of Antibiotics Used in Factory Farmed Livestock. The first time FDA has exposed amounts of antibiotics used to fatten up factory farmed animal and keep them from getting sick. In 2009 (29 million pounds) of antibiotics were given to our nation’s livestock. And we all know about recent studies linking processed meats to cancer. And I know some cynic out there will come along and say one day cigarette smoking will be proven good for you. I love this: a new study was released that says benefits of fish oil are cancelled out by excessive mercury. Alright then; enough food talk. I’ve got this headache now; maybe because ‘they’ tightened my braces yesterday; a form of water boarding? Maybe I’ll move out of Jersey; been stuck here since Washington crossed the Delaware a few miles away. Wish I were there with Washington. I can see it now. George personally bangs on my cabin door and gets me to volunteer for the icy boat crossing. Maybe I’ll move to Westlake, Texas (a Dallas suburb); the richest place in the nation with an estimated annual median household income of $250,000. Maybe I won’t move on second thought. After all I’m cabin hunting around here. Cabins are cheaper in Jersey. Jersey’s got the Jets and Camden with half a police force. But Jersey also has Long Beach Island. I took a trip on that sailing ship and SUV recently around the lonely island.
I loved the drive to Long Beach Island in December, picking a cloudy ominous day. Works of art in surreal grey reduce me to black and white memories of growing up, wondering what I was and would become. Barnegat Light in the distance; was I ship captain once, invading Madagascar, pillaging, pirating and procuring bread fruit trees and dropping them off at Pitcairn Island where my friend Fletcher Christian lived? Grey imagination running wild. Loveladies next stop. I like train conductors calling out stops wearing those art deco hats. The grey sky helped me see myself as a conductor; the train slowly made its way up a Rocky Mountain. There are fine houses in Loveladies. Through the grey filtered light, I saw myself through a large picture window facing the Atlantic, sitting at an old fashioned typewriter, finishing a chapter in my introspective novel. I got up and stared at the ocean, looking across to England, ‘where my heart lies.’ I love Loveladies when I see an old fashioned ‘widow walk;’ imagining my wife standing there every night, watching for my ship, hoping I kept a few bread fruit trees. Adding to the surreal feel of my car (SUV) trip are blinking traffic lights;’ they’re turned off for the winter (no one around on the cold island).
Suddenly I’m Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson and he’s from Manasquan, a few miles up the road) in ‘The Shining.’ After all I had a typewriter a few lines ago. I slapped myself gently and kept driving. Next stop, Harvey Cedars. Didn’t I go to school with a Harvey Cedar? His father delivered milk to our back door and left it in an archaic insulated box. I still haven’t seen another car. I am alone on this long island to drift back and forth. Over there on the left, near the ocean, the place where our species left the comfort of salt water, lost our tail, and stood upright, I saw my dream house. Three stories. Large picture windows and situated almost On the Beach (a great novel by Neville Shute. scared the hell out of me) Imagine writing every day, looking out on this Jersey shore seascape, getting motivated and inspired (some people say getting high). The body of work I could produce if I lived in that house here on Harvey Cedars. Lament. Lament. How about a cabin right over there near my dream house; my dream cabin? I’ve seen enough. I’ll head home. Leave Beach Haven and the rest of the island for another day. Like Scarlett said, “Tomorrow is another day.” I wonder if I’m understood. Staring at the Jersey shore ocean and deserted houses (all facing the ocean) Dreaming of writing and telling stories. Weaving imagery. Inhaling grey skies and cold air. I love the abandon of Long Beach Island in December. Still white snow piles. Blinking traffic lights. No blinking eyes. A blinking blog. That’s it. This blog is blinking, cooking, percolating. And I’m dreaming of a White Christmas this coming December, all those months away. And spending Christmas Eve in a little cabin it took me so long to find, so far away, so remote, so fulfilling; so end of journey stuff.
You can contact Cal on his website, Facebook or Twitter!
0 comments on “My cabin. Food issues. Snow Weenies. A drive on Long Beach Island”