For everyone that has come to love our Meadowlands there have never been words needed or explanations sought to explain our passion for this special place.
There was never a requirement to discuss details or describe the reasons why the frequent visitors just know in their hearts that the Meadowlands is part of who we are and that it conveys “life” to those that have come to love it, the same as it does for any wild bird of the skies.
To those of us who grew up there it has risen like a phoenix from the ashes and for those that have recently discovered its magic is a whole new world which has been waiting to reveal itself to those lucky enough to search out its treasures. And yet sometimes I am still asked why I love the Meadowlands. So for those that have yet to visit there I will try in some way to explain what the Meadowlands means to me ans many more of us.
Today the graceful Northern Harrier soars over-head, in a place once left for dead, forgotten about and abused. Shorebirds gather by the thousands on the mudflats to continue their journey on lands that were once the subject of bad jokes and public ridicule. Within the sites of New York city, the Peregrine Falcon flies once again into the skies above the Meadowlands, a vision many of us could never have imagined.
The Osprey nests seem almost commonplace, a return no less dramatic than the Meadowlands itself, and the Bald Eagle nests and hunts on its ancestral lands once again where my childhood dreams could only have imagined them ever to be.
We can watch a Kestrel hunt the fields and a Monarch Butterfly gently land nearby. We listen to the song of the Red-winged Blackbirds as they fill the marsh air as well as the rattle of the Kingfisher and screech of a Red-tailed Hawk l. The sounds of nature bring balance and stability to an urban environment The Diamondback Terrapins line the muddy banks as the Egrets and herons stand like sentinels of the marsh.
Where there once thought to be void of life, now it thrives and flourishes. Now a magnificent habitat that was thought by some to be given up on and thrown aside now allows endangered species to flourish like nowhere else in the state.
The Cedar stumps of Mill Creek Marsh display an ancient history to be remembered and not forgotten, just as DeKorte park and Harrier Meadow give hope to the future and show the world what can be done when good people care.
We embrace the cold winds on winter in the meadowlands and love the summer breezes across the meadow grasses. We wait for the migrants of Spring and greatly anticipate the migrants of Fall. The seasons all exceptional and distinct in our Meadowlands From Losen Slote Creek to Skeetkill Marsh every habitat within the Meadowlands is complex and unique and still vulnerable and at risk. Every acre, all the ponds, rivers and marshes none less important or critical than the other give wildlife the chance to survive in the most densely populated State.
The concrete and steel of the surrounding cities are nothing more than a frame to display a vital thriving wildlife haven. The cars and trucks are a reminder that all habitats should and can be saved and protected no matter where they are and the people that live and work there are a symbol that everyone, no matter who you are or where you live deserve to have places like the Meadowlands to rest, renew and thrive just like the wildlife that calls it home.
Our Meadowlands today is a living, breathing, thriving monument not only to the wildlife that now has returned there but to the many people that decided that above all else saving and protecting the Meadowlands was the right thing to do, a living lesson for all of us, a message of love and passion for our natural world.
From the Hummingbird to the Bald Eagle, to the woods, marshes and fields the reasons we love the Meadowlands are as complex and diverse as the habitats within it.
It will always be about the land and the wildlife but it is also very much about our own human story both personal and public. Why do we love the Meadowlands ? It is about who we are, how far we have come and not only how the land and water was revitalized but also how our own hearts and souls were saved too.