Dear Sourland Lover

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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on August 9, 2000. All rights


Between the Lines

We have received yet another letter in response to


Foote Edelmann’s July 12 article on the Sourland Mountains. This


of mail surprised us — usually a paper has to write something

about sewers or schools or means of controlling the deer population

to generate mail like this. Edelmann’s article not only struck the

fancy of readers treasuring the last remaining natural treasures in

our densely populated state, but it has also sparked some poetic


— this week’s letter writer reports that she and her husband built

their house not with their hands but with their hearts.

We should not be so surprised. As our Summer Fiction issue attests,

we have plenty of poetic readers picking up our paper. We are


this Thursday, August 10, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Barnes and Noble to

celebrate those poets. We hope you will join us.

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Dear Sourland Lover

I picked up a copy of U.S. 1 to read on the bus, and

the word "Sourland" caught my eye. What a treat! For 25 years

my late husband and I lived one mile beyond the top end of Hollow

Road, on 73 acres which we bought in about 1965, when it was fairly

cheap. We built (not with our own hands, but with our hearts) a pale

pink brick house with sage green trim. I recall that day when we made

our weekly visit to see what progress the builder had made. It was

just "framed," in the center of the cleared acre — the

raw wood looking so unseemly — and I cried out, "We’ve spoiled

the clearing!"

But somehow, when the house was finished, it seemed to disappear!

Something about the green and pink just canceled each other. And when

it was finished, my husband, who had a Fulbright in Italy to study

Italian poetry, put up on the outside of the fireplace wall a marble

panel, saying "Sempre caro me fu quest’hermo colle." (Ever

dear to me was this solitary hillside.)

We spent every weekend roaming the woods during the two years the

builder worked on the house. The builder was a dear man — he


after finishing it. He had specialized all his life in building barns,

and the gray-green shingles of our mansard roof somehow resemble the

Sourland boulders.

I’m 84 now, and live in a retirement community 55 minutes from our

Sourland home. I would have been heartbroken to leave; but, happily

for me, my daughter is as fond of the place as I am. Instead of


money after my death, I gave her half of my husband’s estate, and

she gave it back to me in payment for the house and land. She is our

only child — she and her husband have no children. She has bought

some cheap "land-locked" acreage next to ours (hers), so that

she can leave more land to expand the mini-Appalachian Trail that

some people hope to extend across the Sourland.

She has taken all three Lyme-tick shots, and, still bundled up and

sprayed with tick-killer, she spends all possible time hiking through

the woods and working outside to keep wilderness from reclaiming the

"hermo colle."

I often visit them, and I think they are very happy. So am I.

Elizabeth Vardon

Meadow Lakes, Hightstown


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