Monday, February 18, 2019

Jersey Shore

In search of snowy owls, we left Brooklyn over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and headed south to the notorious Jersey Shore, synonymous for me with the reality TV show, hence zero appeal; but the Frenchman had visited in January, and had just missed what the locals referred to as the bird. So in the brave spirit of adventure, I voted we return.

In just under a two-hour drive we reached the beautiful barrier island that contains Island Beach State Park, first passing through miles of strangely pristine and deserted beach houses - perhaps pristine because many of them will have been rebuilt after been wacked by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

In the park a sign said: Do Not Feed Fox. Fox! One fox? Many foxes? I had never seen a fox.

And then juniper berries greeted this happy forager (I bet foxes eat juniper berries). They belong to Juniperus virginiana, whose confusing common name is eastern red cedar (there is a whole chapter dedicated to unpacking that in Forage, Harvest, Feast - and lots of recipes: think Juniper Strawberry Ice Cream).

And in the dunes I saw smilax fruit in wild tangles. The spring shoots of smilax are delectable.

The beaches here seem limitless, marred only by the presence of occasional cars, which are obscene in this beauty. We walked to find the owl a photographer had told us about and spent a long time watching it. It sat. We watched. Sometimes it scratched its feathers.

I can't imagine what summer looks like, here - inundated - but on a cold and sunny winter day the desolation was perfect.

We stopped at various spots to access the endless beach on paths through the dunes.

And on one the Frenchman suddenly hissed, FOX! I froze.

Of course my own telephoto was uselessly in the car. Thank goodness he had his (see his post here). See the reddish dot on the sand towards the middle of the screen? Sleeping fox! We watched the fox for a very long time, trotting to and fro, settling to nap again. I fell in love.

Photo by Vincent Mounier

That fur. That nose. Those whiskers. The ears!

And of course we picnicked. Pickled cabbage and beets (pickles belong in winter, somehow), a treat-sandwich of sourdough and chevre and pea shoots.

That morning I had made a soup with a mushroom and bacon base, with tomato paste and smoked paprika, sloshes of red wine and good broth. It was still steaming hot from the Thermos and we sat on the sand sipping it, insulated in many layers, watching the crashing waves.

And then it was back to Brooklyn, our route this time taking us through the industryscape one expects of Jersey, belching smoke, filled with super highways seven lanes wide in one direction.

In the failing light, it had a futuristic appeal.

Over the Goethals Bridge into Staten Island.

And back home across the Verrazano. Heads still filled with owls and foxes, empty dunes and cold, clean beaches.



  1. Love how you seek out beauty in remote spots...and find other redheads!

    1. It's always interesting how many remote spots there are so close to the deeply unremote! The fox won the redhead competition, paws down ˆˆ

  2. What a gorgeous fox!!! We rarely see them up here, I think in the 15+ years I've been living up here I've seen less than 5 foxes. Owls a plenty though!

  3. What a lovely sighting at the beach! Very jealous!

  4. Love seeing others find the wild in the benighted areas close to where they live! Now what would be the equivalent for've planted a seed. ;)

  5. That photo! Vince is a marvel with a camera.

  6. Love the mix of crudely urban and soothing nature pictures, so representative of that funky ride...

  7. Beautiful! Owls and foxes -two of my favourites.

  8. You would love where I live not in Africa or America, but were I live has an abundance of foxes (imports) no doubt from colonialism.

    We have also wombats and kangaroos but alas due to the El Niño La Niña conditions and massive urbanisation out of the towns older suburban limits they are now more often than not a normal daily road kill occurance

    Enjoy your fox and the pristine beach that you and your darling went meandering on



    1. Where in Australia are you? Beautiful and gigantic country! I do love pretty creatures but not so much when they are invasive and doing a lot of local damage.

  9. Love the fox all curled up <3 he/she looks a lot like Mingus! X Winny


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