Tag Archives: trees

Lame Adventure 375: Sappy Encounter with a Sapling

The other night I was walking north on Columbus Avenue. A handsome young hustler dressed 127 times better than me — my rumpled tee shirt with a dried Liquid Nails stain on the sleeve magnified that factoid, approached. He declared:

Handsome Young Hustler: You look like a nice person.

Me (thinking): Don’t hit me for money, Sonny.

Me (saying): Looks are deceiving. If you want me to give you the time, it’s 8:02. If you want me to open my wallet, fat chance.

Handsome Young Hustler: But I just got out of the hospital!

Me: Keep that in mind the next time you go hipster hat shopping.

Earlier that same evening I had an infinitely more pleasant encounter with another sapling on West End Avenue. This one was not of the panhandling variety. It was a freshly planted Hackberry tree that I considered worthy of photographing.

A tree grows in Manhattan.

A tree grows in Manhattan.

I restrained myself from snapping any images of the French bulldog evacuating its supper at the tree’s base. Whenever I stop to photograph something, even something as seemingly mundane as this young tree, that’s when people walking along the sidewalk take notice, and punt pups are inspired to heed the call of nature. The dog’s owner did pick up after his relieved beast.

Tree pride!

A tree name so lovely it inspires fruit craving and loud throat clearing.

Right now, New York City is in the midst of a project called Million Trees NYC. As the tag declares, this tree is one in a million. Specifically, 220,000 street trees are being planted along with 780,000 others destined for parks and private partners. I think the latter refers to private homeowners who would like to adopt a tree. I would do that myself, but growing a tree in one’s apartment is not an option that this program condones because the people that run it are not mentally defective.

Tree care tips.

Tree care tips tag — can’t wait to see how that’s hanging in March.

The tree that previously stood where this sapling now stands was knocked down when Hurricane Sandy pummeled the Tri-state area last October. Looking at that tree gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling. I thought:

Me (thinking): Ah, how wonderful, new life!

I returned home compelled to research the Hackberry. My curiosity quickly entered freefall and I landed with a rude thud. Apparently the tree I found so charming is one that’s considered good for almost nothing. An article published on Reporter Herald implies that the Hackberry is about a half step above a Chia pet and its wood is of very low value:

“No one uses hackberry wood to make wine barrels, whiskey casks or fine hardwood furniture. Mostly, people cut down hackberries just to get rid of them. Occasionally, the wood is claimed for crates or pallets; sometimes it gets burned as firewood.”

Apparently, the Hackberry, which is planted all over this fine metropolis, is the tree equivalent to the ubiquitous pigeon — my choice for state bird, should anyone ask. I admit that my areas of expertise, tile labeling and sleeping, often done simultaneously, are a bit of distance from having a clue about botany. In fact, I can barely tell the difference between a redwood and a Douglas Fir even if both uprooted and fell on me simultaneously. I do know that were that to occur, it would hurt significantly.

This sap still likes that sapling very much. If Barbara Walters, who this week gave her year-long notice that she is retiring from network TV in 2014, so she’ll surely be conducting a final few fat fish interviews, decided to ditch her credibility and engage in this exchange with a smelt:

Barbara Walters: If you were a tree, what would you be?

I would proudly declare:

Me: What else but a Hackberry!

We even resemble each other a bit around the leaves.

We even resemble each other a bit around the rumpled leaves.

Lame Adventure 328: Hanging Around

Can you believe it?  Michael Phelps has a record nineteen Olympic medals and now that it’s August it’s been over four months since I first tackled the scintillating topic of tree bagging.  For those of you unfamiliar with the illustrious pastime of tree bagging, that’s when you’re out meandering, your mind is elsewhere, possibly veering in the direction of strenuous wanton sex, sinfully decadent foodstuffs, or you’re wondering if that 2-for-1 sale on nasal decongestant is still happening. Then you look up and notice the phenomenon of shopping bags nestled in tree branches.  If you reside on the Upper West Side like me you focus specifically on one multitasking tree on your block that doubles as a trash receptacle with branches.

That’s the tree in March.

Back in late March the bags in that tree looked like this.

Bags in tree.

Go ahead, take a closer look.

Now, more than four months later, I have reason to report on the State of the Tree Bags. I had just finished doing two loads of laundry after work but before dinner.  I was feeling hungry for my salad; the only dinner I have eaten almost every day in summer because I do not intend to use my stove again until fall. There were days in June and July that were so sweltering inside my un-air-conditioned hovel that I could have easily fried an egg on my bathroom floor, not to imply that that was actually on my “to do” list.  I’ll be the first to admit that greasing one’s bathroom floor is not such a genius idea.  Besides, I’m certainly not going to eat that egg.  Ew.

So there I was, deep in shallow thought while walking back to my sanctum sanctorum, carrying my bag of freshly done laundry.  It had been a long and busy day at The Grind. The soles of my feet were aching.  I was thinking:

Me (thinking):  Why are my feet aching?  Now what, do I have gout?  Doesn’t that only afflict old guys?  Or am I the one woman in the entire universe that’s screwed with this curse?  Can I ever get cut a single solitary break or is my entire life a constant disaster?  What is this going to cost me aside from epic humiliation? I can hear my dad right now, “How the hell did you get gout?  I know guys in the mall with it.  Gals aren’t supposed to get that.”  It would probably behoove me to exclude mentioning this in the “objective” category on my resume, or maybe it would show character and pith?  “Got gout.  Hire me.”  Hm, it does have an original ring to it.

I glance up at that tree’s branches.

Same tree more than four months later.

Then, focus my gaze and access my inner zoom lens.

Closing in …


I thought:

Me (thinking):  Wow!  That Fairway bag is still there!  It’s survived so many elements, the heat, the humidity, several rainstorms, even The Hunger Games entire run at my neighborhood multiplex.  Remarkable!  Am I almost out of balsamic?  I wonder when I’ll next get laid?  What happened to the second bag?

“I’m right here!”

Lame Adventure 325: Hanging Out in My Back Yard

I reside in an apartment in a Manhattan brownstone that is so rustic, I suspect that it was built shortly after the pilgrims dropped anchor at Plymouth Rock.  This past Saturday was possibly the best weather day of 2012, a day that was sunny and warm, with little humidity.  It followed an evening so cool and comfortable I entered a coma in my air condition-less hovel where I soundly slept twelve hours straight. I celebrated the advent of this glorious day by doing what else?  I purchased a tube of toothpaste.

Keep it simple.  Pass on complicated.

After completing my errand, I had no desire to return home.  I was feeling uncharacteristically nature-y having had my first good night’s sleep in a month.  Therefore I decided to hang out in my back yard, a place that is walking distance from my sanctum sanctorum, Central Park.

I walked up West 73rd Street where I indulged my Vespa fetish when I saw a lovely red one with a very cool black and red saddle.

Let’s go out on a date.  You do the driving.

Across the street stood the Dakota where Roman Polanski filmed Rosemary’s Baby in 1967.

Back door view of the Dakota.

The Dakota’s fence — a fence on steroids.

I enter through the West 72nd Street entrance and walk a narrow path where I see this tree.


I instantly think exactly what you’re thinking:

Me (and you):  Is this a Juniperus virginiana?

Our guess is on the money!

I walk further and see what I am quite sure is People-us On-a-rock-ana but I do not encounter a sign so I have to rely on my stellar powers of perception.

People-us On-a-rock-ana.

To my left is a whole helluva lotta green.

Want green and leafy? You’re in the right place.

To my right I see a cart full of plants.

Got marijuana? No.

Sheep Meadow is significantly more populated this day than it was when I last visited two weeks ago under a sweltering sun.

Sheep-less people-full meadow.

In fact the weather was so lovely it was possible to take a leisurely stroll in a black suit.

For an encore, don’t think about wearing a turtleneck.

I headed over to see the roller bladers showing off.

Anyone lose a water bottle?

This guy with all the joint protection was very good, not that it’s apparent in this picture.

This guy that looked like an accountant had great moves completely unapparent in this picture.

These guys are not performing a bro-dance with each other, even though this picture gives that false impression.

This may look like a pas de deux on skates but it’s not.

It’s even possible that this was the first and last time they ever met.

On my way to the band shell, I walked past statues of Victor Herbert, an early 20th Century composer, and Beethoven with a nymph, possibly symbolizing a 19th Century groupie.

This guy was The Man in the early 20th Century.

Beethoven remains the man in this century.

I also encountered a quartet of modern day musicians that sounded great.

Modern day quartet playing classical drums.

There was a crowd gathered in front of the band shell.

Hm, what’s going on over here?

They were watching these very acrobatic dudes showing off impressively.

I’ll attempt doing this in my next life.

They asked two boys in the audience to participate.

Kids doing exactly what they’re told by dude in red shorts.

How was your visit to Central Park Young Fella? Okay, some guy jumped over my head.

Then, they resumed their acrobatics

Easy for him to do!

I popped an Aleve and moved on where I next encountered the soap bubble dude.

Big ass soap bubble!

Mr. Bubble.

I made my way over to Bethesda Fountain.

I was not alone.

Boating rentals did well.

Boaters boating.

As did the professional photographers.

Cool day to wear hot pink.

This guy was in a world of his own doing yoga moves.

Maybe he’s listening to Victor Herbert on his headphones.

A surefire way for me to pull a hamstring.


If I tried this I’m sure I’d bounce off the ball.

I thought:

Me (thinking):  Now I’ve seen everything … and a gondola?  Am I in Venice?

The Central Park gondola.

The boaters were heading towards the boathouse where I’ve been known to pound a beverage from time to time. (hiccup)

Central Park Boathouse.

Here’s the Trefoil Arch.

Trefoil Arch.

I did not walk under it.  Instead I headed for the Ramble, a place that in the not too distant past was notorious for gay male cruising.

Family friendly ramble.

Now it’s considered one of the top bird-watching locations in the US.

All I encountered was a guy serenading his girlfriend with his guitar, a squirrel and one lone robin.

Guitar man.

“Hurry up, photograph me, I’m on the hunt for dinner!”

“Whatever you do, don’t make me look fat.”

I could hear a chorus of birds singing in the branches, but I couldn’t see any of them.

“Hey, if anyone wants to show up for a picture, I’ll send you copies!”

So I photographed a squashed orange safety cone and moved on.

I agree. Not the most photogenic sight.

I then walked down a dirt path, not one of my favorite things in life, since I much prefer concrete and real stairs or an escalator.

Goodbye civilization.

The path led straight to the mouth of the lake but I firmly planted my foot to ensure I would not belly flop into it.

Firmly planted foot in blue Jack Purcell badminton shoe.

Boaters enjoying their idyll as city waits in the background.

I resumed my hike and saw some flora the botanist in me called the ouchy pointy plant.

Trip and fall into this might feel equal to embracing a porcupine.

I also encountered that robin again for I am sure that’s the sole robin in this 1.3 square mile park.

You can’t be serious.

I saw a stream.

Or is this a babbling brook?

And Turtle Pond, the place where there’s all you can eat green algae.

What a time to be without a spork!

I saw the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, something I had no idea existed – puppets in my back yard!

Swedish puppets only steps away from my humble abode!

I walked past Shakespeare’s Garden, not that the Bard ever saw this patch of foliage himself.

Greens for the Bard.

The Delacorte Theater where free Shakespeare in the Park is staged was doing sound checks.

Terrific outdoor free theater — if you can get a ticket.

Hey Romeo & Juliet, get a room!

Don’t mess with this guy.

Meanwhile more fresh air lovers were hanging out on the Great Lawn.

Great Lawn under beautiful blue sky.

I hope whoever is assigned to mow it has access to a lawn tractor.

The ducks were taking it easy, too.

We love this weather and, oh yeah, quack.

So were the turtles in Turtle Pond.

“MIchael Phelps has nothing on me!”

Here’s Belvedere Castle, no big city park is complete without its castle.

Just a castle in the big city.

Then I headed home to brush my teeth.

Think I’ll take the scenic route back.

Lame Adventure 263: Out of My Element and Into Nature

As my three faithful readers know, I am the consummate city slicker that thrives on soot, crowds and enclosed spaces. I view the outdoors as anything but great and a surefire way to activate my tree, grass, and fresh air allergies.  My best friend from college, BatPat, is my complete antithesis in this area.  The woman is a walking encyclopedia about birds, trees, flowers, the solar system, etc.  If it’s anti-concrete, glass or steel, BatPat is all over it.  She fishes, cleans it and cooks it.  I eat tuna straight out of the can feral-cat-style.  As opposite as we sound, there’s a glue or maybe it’s the super tankers of pinot noir that we’ve quaffed over thirty years that has kept us close for so long.  When we got together during my visit to the San Francisco Bay Area, she suggested we take a hike.

Me:  You want me to go on a hike?  Are there escalators?

BatPat:  It’s a flat trail.

I wince, squirm and make monosyllabic sounds in response.

BatPat: You can hear the freeway from the trail.

Me:  Really?  Okay, let’s do it.

BatPat drives us to Rush Creek in Novato (Marin County).

Rush Creek sign

It’s a general open space preserve with very specific dos and don’ts.

Rush Creek dos and don’ts sign.

For example bike riding, horseback riding, and dog walking (with leashed dogs) are all in the do column.  Shooting guns or as they call it, hunting, is in the don’t column along with smoking and lighting fires.  The idea of not getting my head blown off by a trigger-happy descendant of Elmer Fudd has great appeal to me.

As soon as we climb out of the car, a pile of horse crap the size of Delaware greets us.

A real pile of crap.

I suspect that the owner of the horse did not have a back hoe available to shovel the mess into a thirty gallon Hefty bag the way my sister, Dovima, and brother-in-law Herb (with a silent h) are forever cleaning up after Thurber, the family dog, with sandwich bags.

“Leave it to you to compare my marble-sized droppings to Trigger’s.”

We proceed down the trail that lies ahead.

Looks flat from here.

I notice a tree that brings to mind the Six Feet Under Tree.

Six Feet Under tree.

Across from the Six Feet Under Tree is a tree that appears to be bending.  It reminds me of when I threw out my lower back something fierce in 2010.

Bad Back tree.

I walked at that angle for about a month.

We see a feather in a pile of oak tree leaves; one of the few feathers that has not found its way into an Alexander McQueen design.

Feather on oak leaves.

We look up into the branches of the tree.

Tree branches.

BatPat:  Wouldn’t you just love to climb that tree?

Me: No.  Not at all.  Never. I’d rather have a colonoscopy.

We see an egret.

Egret hanging out.

BatPat marvels at how it’s one with nature.  She has a bird, Buttafuoco, named by her son, Guinness.  Buttafuoco loves to eat mashed potatoes.  I suspect he’d be one with New York City.


As we walk past these branches we hear a bullfrog croaking.

Croaking branches.

We see a few ducks swimming.

Ducks enjoying a swim.

The next night I dine on duck; hopefully not anyone in this couple.

We see two more ducks hanging out on the creek’s bank.

A moment of calm in-between an hour of fidgeting

The duck on the left drove me crazy.  It was constantly fidgeting and scratching.  It took me forever to get this shot.  I hope I ate that one for dinner.

BatPat loved this red plane that flew over us.


It reminded her of a toy.  Between the combination of my snail slow reflexes and snail slow shutter speed this was the best shot I could take.

This crow had a set of pipes on it that were almost worthy of the Metropolitan Opera.

“Figaro!” Not quite.

I say “almost” because although it had power, the tune it was singing, “Caw, caw, caw,” was quite a cacophonous racket.  I think the phrase, “Shut the hell up,” might have been coined in response to its song.

BatPat decided we should climb this grade.

Where’s an escalator when you need one?

Me:  Hey!  That’s not flat!

BatPat:  C’mon, climb it!

Me:  No way!  That’s Mt. Kilimanjaro to me!

BatPat:  You’re taking a picture of this?  Do you want to look like an idiot to the entire Internet?

Me:  Of course I do!  I can’t let down my readership!  Do you think I can get an airlift from a low flying hawk?

I huff and puff my way up trying to not think about how one misplaced foot fall can surely lead to my death … of embarrassment.   Yet, I make it to the top.  Since I don’t have a flag to plant, I take another picture from the reverse angle.


We walk on.  I see another bird giving me another opportunity to get National Geographic.

If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

We continue down the trail.

More flat trail. Hallelujah!

We encounter a tree stump that irritates BatPat.

Where’a the rest of the tree?

When she last visited a few months earlier, the entire tree had been on the ground.  BatPat had planned on taking a family portrait with her husband, Mick, her son, Guinness and daughter, Hepburn.

BatPat:  Who moved the tree?

Me:  Tree poachers?

She’s relieved that the birdhouse is still in another tree.

Anyone home?

BatPat:  I wonder who lives there?

Me:  Why don’t you toss an acorn at the hole?

BatPat gives me the stink-eye.  We then return to civilization – her house where, appropriately, since we have birds on the brain, we eat turkey for dinner.