As a child of parents who didn’t fly for vacations; or fly period, we had to get creative coming up with family vacations. My parents weren’t very creative! We either drove to “the shore” in Belmar, Point Pleasant or Ocean Beach, New Jersey or Pennsylvania to visit my grandmother Stuchal. Every few years, we would get crazy and drive to the southern tip of Jersey, in the thick of the Pine Barrens to a camp resort called Chips Folly. This camp resort was located on Cedar Lake. Camping wasn’t my mother’s thing; so, we stayed in the beautiful log cabin they rented for big families. I remember thinking how enormous it was as a child.
Cedar Lake was once named Cranberry Lake, then Silver Lake. They called it Silver Lake back in the day due to the abundant amount of silver moss in the lake; the moss was harvested and used to pack ice in that was shipped to nearby metro areas. The reason we vacationed at Cedar Lake was because my father swore by its healing powers! He had bad knees from being a lineman for years and wanted to bathe in the cedar water. Guests travelled from afar to swim in its healing, natural spring waters. Cedar water forms when water is allowed to stand in highly acidic soil with a high iron ore content.
Cedar is a sacred tree and, like sweetgrass and tobacco, is part of many ceremonies. It’s used to purify homes, in sweat-lodge ceremonies, and as a medicine. The tea of simmered branches is used to treat fevers and rheumatic complaints, chest colds, and flu. This brew is delicious warm or cold and is simple to make. The tree holds a significant purpose in detoxification, stimulating the lymphatic system. It plays a vital role in fat absorption and transportation and therefore utilization. Great as an accompaniment for ketogenesis, and keto diets, fasting protocol, and cardiovascular exercise. The tea can lower chronic low-grade inflammation, the aging process’s primary drivers, and nearly every chronic disease.
The Cedar tree, also called an Arborvitae; in French, means “Tree of Life”.
The New Jersey Pine Barrens, also known as the Pinelands or simply the Pines, is the largest ecosystem, stretching across more than seven counties of New Jersey. The Pines Barrens host an underground reservoir of pure, untapped water. Loose, high-absorption soil makes the woods an ideal aquifer, while self-contained rivers prevent pollution from foreign water sources.
The unique ecology of the Pine Barrens supports a diverse spectrum of plant life, including orchids and carnivorous plants. The sand that composes much of the area’s soil is referred to by the locals as sugar sand.
The Swedish and Dutch settlers had fishing, whaling and shipbuilding operations in the Pines when first arriving. Later followed, sawmills, gristmills; making tar and turpentine from the trees. Smaller industries such as charcoal-making and glassmaking also were developed. Cotton mills and cranberry bogs followed in the early 1800’s.
The wildlife is quite abundant in the Pine Barrens. I remember seeing many black bears from our cabin. We would also sit on the beach and watch the bald eagles soar over our heads daily; they were majestic. I didn’t realize that its home to at least 39 species of mammals, over 300 species of birds, 59 retiles and amphibian species, and 91 fish species. At least 43 species are considered threatened and endangered by the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife including the rare eastern timber rattlesnakes and bald eagles. American Black Bears and Bobcats can also be found here.
Writing this blog brought me joy! I believe people think of James Gandolfini in the Sopranos’, when someone mentions the Pine Barrens of New Jersey; I want them to think of the medicinal healing powers of Cedar Water. Native American Indians consider Cedars to be a Holy Tree.
The current economy feeds on cranberry & blueberry bogs, lumber, glass and tourism.
Speaking of swimming and water… I’ve always had a fascination for bathing in natural spring waters or going to spas. I will write about my experiences in my next blog. Natural Springs & Spa’s