Last week we weathered a polar vortex, tucked inside our homes, cussing the anticipated heating bills, keeping the water in the pipes moving, getting a little stir crazy.
Outside near the bay a bald eagle did what it could to survive. The bay was crusting over with ice, and this animal, like most who opted to stick around here for the winter, was in trouble.
Yesterday we decided to take a walk in Beerworld (or Ponderlodge or the Villas WMA–whatever you call it, a wonderful place to walk in the dead of winter). We usually come in from the Delview Avenue entrance, and we took a short detour to peek at the bay.
As we crept up Beach Drive on our way to Beerworld, marveling at the waves pushed by the stiff northwest breeze, a large bird slowly rose up from behind the dune, hanging at our eye level, no more than 10 yards away.
I thought it was the largest black-back gull I’d ever seen. I was wrong.
It was a bald eagle riding the wind as it was deflected upward by the dunes. By the time we got our phones out, well, it did what animals do, and we were left shooting shots of its backside.
Beerworld used to be a golf course owned by Billy Plaumer, a man who made a fortune distributing beer, ultimately owning Schmidt’s. One of his pools had the Schmidt’s logo engraved on the bottom. The last time I saw the pool it had been taken over by large bullfrogs and a few turtles.
Plaumer made a lot of money, but should have made a little less–the Feds caught him, and Beerworld eventually went belly-up.
The greens have gone to cedar, but the ponds are still there. The main pond, the site of a recent rescue, held three swans and multiple ducks. The reeds along its edge wore crystal ice collars, just forming as the sun dropped lower in the sky. A fisherman in full camouflage sat at the edge. A large snapping turtle poked its baseball-sized head out of the water, took a peek at us, then headed back under, an unexpected treat in February.
Winter is lovely–the ticks, the mosquitoes, and (for those among us who mind these kind of things) the black snakes hanging from the trees were all either hibernating or dead.
We went home, gobbled down dinner, then headed back out again, this time to catch the sunset. We do not venture out every time it’s a clear evening, but we’re never disappointed when we do. The sun has been setting on the bay a long, long time, and people on the Jersey side have been watching it a long, long time.