Sunday, April 9, 2017

Belvidere, New Jersey, Visit

 Martin's Creek Power Plant on the Delaware River

For years, I've meant to take my wife to Belvidere, "beautiful place to see," in Italian. Matt and I fished there in the Delaware River at the mouth of the Pequest seven years or so ago, trying for stripers at night with live eels. I've felt obliquely familiar with the town since my teens, passing near it on the way to the Delaware Water Gap and back, and so naturally, my curiosity grew. Somehow or other I learned of Victorian homes, and I imagined there would be a nice downtown to walk.

The plan included driving from Milford to Reigelsville on CR 627 along the Delaware River, a drive I've never made, but time prohibited. We would have continued north through Philipsburg. We did take I-78 west to Philipsburg, got on CR 621 from U.S. Highway 22, and followed the river to Belvidere, a fairly long ride. I parked in the town's center and said, "It's not what I thought it would be." Patricia had asked me if there's a downtown to walk, and I said there was. Later, as we drove home, she asked had I lied. No. But I told her I should have been critical of my belief and said I didn't know.

As we stood in Belvidere, the Pequest River racing under a bridge, she made fun of the town with her typical dry wit, though I don't remember the words. We saw only about half a dozen Victorian homes. Most are early 20th century. But one of the Victorians, pink and very large, up on a hill, especially fascinated me. We were driving out after ice cream, after I went inside an antiques co-op that didn't offer much, but Early American Life magazine was interesting, though I didn't buy an issue. I turned around and drove down a dead-end street. A trail lead up to the house, but I not only judged it wasn't appropriate to walk on up; parking there in front of a couple homes would be too nosy also.

So we rode out to U.S. 46 and stopped at Hot Dog Johnny's. Patricia expressed confidence that we'll stop here again in May, since the powers-that-be where I work won't want to pay me time-and-a-half back to back, she figured, on Memorial Day weekend. She wants to return to Millbrook Village in Delaware Watergap National Recreation Area. The thought of really hiking up Van Campens Brook with my two-weight fly rod flickered in my mind. Last year, we visited Layton and the Little Flatbrook before arriving at Millbrook Village. I plainly judged that to fish the Little Flatbrook, you have to walk right up the middle of it between a lot of brush. Since I've begun working at Shop Rite nine months ago, one of the butchers and I have a running conversation on fly fishing New Jersey streams. He's talked about that Little Flatbrook a number of times. I knew last year that if I were ever to do this, it's not a trip to take my wife along. The butcher confirms my initial observation: you have walk straight up the middle of the stream, and it's tough casting.

There's so much worth doing, which the American hegemony of economic power concentrated among the super-wealthy won't allow so many of us to do, because we have to serve them just like slaves--paid peanuts as tokens of American freedom--with very little time off to pursue values a lot more worthwhile than Bread and Circuses. I refuse to be their victim. It is better to fight and die while refusing to submit as the voiceless sacrifice they might demand you be, than live as a victim. This doesn't mean I don't work, hard and efficiently. Just the opposite. What else do I go to my job for than to work? There's a lot I don't agree with. But I punch that clock. And within that time I agree to work, I do my best. It's my work. The very little I am limited to.

 Pequest River

Country Gate. A stage presentation of Into the Woods at one of the first venues I noticed as we drove into town, the play piqued interest. Not only do I know the book, the young man who sought adventure and freedom was moved by deep yearnings that must have been similar to what moved me to walk out of society to harvest clams commercially in wild bays, which I did for 13 years as if away on a very prolonged Jewish Kibbutz. I wasn't the only one, and that's the reason I can draw that comparison.

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