Saturday, May 2, 2020

Photo of the Day: Spring at Roosevelt Common, Tenafly, NJ

Just before the weekend, Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order reopening New Jersey’s state parks and golf courses. I have never been interested in the latter, but lack of access to the former because of the coronavirus—and the associated shutdown of county and city parks—did as much as anything this past month to dispirit me and make me feel closed in by this all-engulfing crisis.

Still, I decided this weekend not to take my chances with even the county parks, as the governor’s relaxation of his prior order came with a cap of 50% of parking capacity. With temperatures over 70 degrees this weekend, and with the possibility of New York visitors pouring in, I did not want to be around any areas sure to test Murphy’s (not to mention the police’s) tolerance for “knuckleheads.”

So I went to a smaller, less frequented park—Roosevelt Common, about two miles from my home in Bergen County, NJ. Even here, there were limits, with the tennis court closed off to users, along with the centerpiece of the site: a stone monument honoring the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, America’s first conservation President.

I had wanted to get a picture of this memorial to T.R. for a different reason: to honor his strenuous effort in 1906 in passing perhaps the most enduring and beneficial legislation of the entire Progressive Era:  the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act. 

To state what should be obvious but which, painfully, far too many don’t see today: that achievement has been undermined in the last few weeks by the current occupant of the White House, an individual who, by undercutting any Presidential role in safeguarding every American against untested and even insane medical "cures" and food hazards, richly deserves the nickname given him by one of my friends: “The Orange Menace.”

Though I was sorry that a fence kept me from photographing the Roosevelt memorial, the Common still offered unfettered access to the principal feature of its natural landscape: the pond. It doesn’t take long to circle it, but for decades it has never failed to soothe my spirit. I hope others may enjoy it for generations to come.

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