The Border
I like to be out. Travel. And appreciate what time I have for knowledge that comes from the seat of a pickup. First there's the topography, get an idea of the bigger picture, see how things fit together. If there's a hill, go up, look, then another. You might find a view, even a photo to take. Drive up along a river too. Often you find you're following history. The landscape holds a past remembered, as geography shapes history, as our lives are shaped in an environment we share with the ancestors to this land. Eventually you start to get it. Where do the plants grow? There's much to discover.
New Jersey is a peninsula, a great river to the west and another with the Atlantic to the east. So we really have only one state border, with New York, based on vague and competing land grants. On that northern frontier, the fields of an old farm high up in Wawayanda State Park provide a view across a deep wide valley with the Shawangunk Mountains beyond. Where I'm looking once rang with the skirmishes of a small border war. Dutch generations who sailed up the Hudson to Kingston and had settled down through the valley were not inclined to be easily ousted by the Jerseymen who came over the mountains. This was so far from the centers of authority. Today that arbitrary "line" sits rather uncomfortably between the Hudson and Delaware upon these ridges. Where I stand is protected, but those in the distance are contested, courts again involved, this time to settle differences between development and preservation.
To the west, the old Dutch name Wallkill fits kindly over a glacially carved valley where multitudes of ducks find temporary repose on their migratory flyway. The importance of these waterlands are recognized in a Federal reserve. In the distance sits the veterans monument atop the Kittatinny Ridge at High Point where the state does reach its highest elevation. 1803 feet.
Go southwest from there to follow the ridge, passing through the oak woods of the Stokes Forest with occasional views toward the river. Below lies the Minisink, a beautiful country with a faintly recorded history of settlement. At a small schoolhouse, carefully tended roses accent the old stone walls. Looking through the camera, I notice how thick is the wood and robust the iron hinges of the open shutters. More than necessary for protection from weather for the windows it seems.
Later a roadside historical marker reveals that here early settler and Native cohabited peacefully. But that was before what we call the French and Indian War raged bloody along this ancient waterway - Delaware. A contest of European powers with their Native allies. An open understory of riverine silver maple woods echoes now with a quiet beat of pre-historic foot trails - Lenni Lenape.

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