Blue Crab Mural at River Barge Park: Thank you Cheryl Hochberg!

Credit Emilia Lorenz @emilialorenzphoto

Visitors to River Barge Park are marveling at the wonderful mural looking out over the Hackensack River. The painting, “The Crab Reveals/The Crab Portends,” displays the Blue Crabs that inhabit the River. It features four of the species spread out over 24, 4-by-4-foot, carved plywood panels set against a teal backdrop.

Local New Jersey artist Cheryl A. Hochberg created this admirable work of art. She chose the crab as the subject matter because of the central role that they have played – and continue to play – in the changing ecology of the Hackensack River.

The NJSEA collaborated with Hochberg to find the perfect location for her special piece. Hochberg said staffers Terry Doss and Brett Bragin played an invaluable part in informing her about the Meadowlands’ unique eco-system. River Barge Park is a beautiful spot with the River in the foreground. We appreciate and commend Hochberg’s great work!

To learn more about Hochberg’s artwork, please visit her Instagram account, cherylhochberg and sdher website, www.cherylagulnick.com,

Credit: Emilia Lorenz @emilialorenzphoto
Credit: Cheryl Hochberg @cherylhochberg

Thanksgiving Day Morning Walk at Harrier Meadow (DeKorte Park Closed)

Join the Bergen County Audubon Society for this special Thanksgiving morning walk at Harrier Meadow, a natural area usually closed to the public. While we’re unlikely to see a wild turkey, we will be keeping our eyes open for raptors, waterfowl and songbirds. The walk runs from 9 to 11 a.m.

Harrier Meadow is located off Disposal Road. (Please note: DeKorte Park will be closed for the day)

Information: Don Torino at greatauk4@gmail.com or 201-230-4983.

Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: A Wild Life

Just the other day an old friend contacted me after almost 30 years. Needless to say, it was a very emotional reunion, and even though it was a get-together by phone, we quickly knew time could not weaken the bond we had built and held throughout those many years.

My friend now had a wonderful family with a wife and four kids and had become a successful orthopedic surgeon on the West Coast. After filling him in on my wife, two sons and my new granddaughter it did not take long for us to talk about what bonded and held us together throughout all the years and time. It was growing up wild.

My friend asked about some of the old meadows, woods and creeks that played such an important part of our growing up. In many ways, these wild places directed our life’s journey. Those places guided us along the road to become who we are today. Some of those wild places, now gone for forever, were plowed over and buried, some inaccessible by fences and signs; and others that stood up to the bulldozers and concrete and were now saved

Growing up our family lives were far from perfect. We did not have to talk about or discuss it in length. We both just knew that things were much better when we got outside. When we walked through the meadows, slogged through the mud and rested under the trees all else was left behind. The bad things could not follow us, and despite their dogged attempt to shadow us on our path, it soon weakened and fell by the wayside, forgotten about at least until we were finally forced to leave nature’s refuge for the day.

“We didn’t have much,” my friend said. “But we sure led a great life! We grew up in wild places, went where we wanted and did things that you can never forget or probably ever do again,” he added. “Those fences would not have kept us out back in those days!” I laughingly agreed.

My friend was right. We did not have much, many material things were way beyond our reach and our dreams of the future seemed too much to consider. But we knew that nature would always be there for us. The natural world was the one thing we could depend on. It never judged us and it was a place where we were always welcomed and felt safe. “Everything we experienced back then directed us to the place we are now,” I said.  “Nature guided us to where we are both supposed to be, even though it was thousands of miles apart,” he quietly agreed.

We talked about how the kind of life we knew growing up was gone, never to be relived or revived. Now only the memories were left, the powerful ones that took us on our long life’s journey. His to heal people so that they can move and walk to enjoy life again, and mine to help protect the nature that we both loved, and in my own way to help people learn what we both needed no words to say: It’s good to grow up wild.

We talked about getting together for a fishing trip come spring, much like we did back then. Maybe along a stream where once again we could stand together under the trees, laugh, watch the birds go by and wonder why the fish aren’t biting. But now to also talk about where we have been and how we got where we are while reminiscing and reminding ourselves that all of it is surrounded, encircled and inspired by being able to walk in nature’s path.

My wish is that everyone can get outside, connect with nature, take it all in and let it guide along life’s path. You never know how far it will take you

 See you in the Meadowlands. 

Happy 40th DeKorte Park!

This month marks a very special anniversary for Richard W. DeKorte Park. The park was officially opened on Nov. 30, 1982, via proclamation by Governor Tom Kean. The late Richard DeKorte was the State Assemblyman whose environmental vision and advocacy led to the creation of the then Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission. One of the HMDC’s mandates was to protect the delicate balance of nature. The creation of the agency has completely transformed the area into an extraordinary jewel.

To commemorate the occasion, DeKorte’s family gathered at the NSJEA’s Nov. 17 Board of Commissioners meeting. Those in attendance included Paulette DeKorte, who was married to Richard W. DeKorte, her children, Jeff DeKorte and Susan DeKorte-Albanese, and Paulette’s husband, Jack Ramsey.

The family are great supporters and advocates of the park, and we thank them for their continued dedication to ensuring that Richard W. DeKorte Park remains an enduring legacy to the gentleman whose hard work helped to create this natural wonder.

Thanksgiving Day Morning Walk at Harrier Meadow (DeKorte Park Closed)

Join the Bergen County Audubon Society for this special Thanksgiving morning walk at Harrier Meadow, a natural area usually closed to the public. While we’re unlikely to see a wild turkey, we will be keeping our eyes open for raptors, waterfowl and songbirds. The walk runs from 10 a.m. to noon.

Harrier Meadow is located off Disposal Road. (Please note: DeKorte Park will be closed for the day)

Information: Don Torino at greatauk4@gmail.com or 201-230-4983.