I shamelessly indulged myself here, placing myself in the book. This particular passage has always resonated with me, because for years I’ve wandered alone through the Pine Barrens of Southern New Jersey, which is a 1.1 million acre national reserve, the first in the US. It’s the largest remaining piece of wilderness left on the seaboard between Washington DC and Boston. Very rare species of animals and plants live here; some of them live nowhere else.
In the winter I hike into the more dense swamp areas, but in summer I mostly stick to my kayak, mainly because the plants I’m interested in grow near the water, mainly orchids and carnivorous plants. I patrol these areas, keeping an eye out for poachers who steal orchids and turtles, as well as irresponsible off-roaders who sometimes rip up the delicate bog habitats where the endangered tree frogs live.
Governor Chris Christie has been using corrupt means and strong-arm tactics to break the Pinelands Commission (which regulates the use of the Pine Barrens), so his rich friends can gain access to this land. We’ve successfully fought off a gas pipeline project, but the state senators are trying again. It’s a constant fight. A perpetual journey.
My friend David Kessler (who also put together the trailer for this book) is shooting a film about the Pine Barrens. I assist him as a guide through the more obscure areas.
Allen Crawford is an illustrator, designer, and writer. He and his wife Susan are proprietors of the design/illustration studio Plankton Art Co. Their most notable project to date is the collection of 400 species identification illustrations that are on permanent display at the American Museum of Natural History’s Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. Under his pseudonym, Lord Breaulove Swells Whimsy, he wrote, designed, and illustrated The Affected Provincial’s Companion, Volume One, which was optioned for film by Johnny Depp’s production company, Infinitum Nihil. He lives in Mt. Holly, NJ.
Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works.
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