Tag Archives: tree hugger

Lame Adventure 447: Christmas Trees Of Gotham – Bitty, Beastly and Best

One of the most enduring symbols of the holiday season wherever you go in the country is the Christmas tree. Here in New York City, Christmas trees are not purchased in tree lots. New York City dwellers purchase their trees from sidewalk vendors.

Trees being pimped on Columbus Avenue.

Trees and wreaths pimped on Columbus Avenue.

For about a four week period from Thanksgiving to Christmas, New Yorkers not only sidestep the usual: each other, kids in strollers, elderly folks moving at a snail’s pace, dog walkers and walking dogs. Added to the daily dance of pedestrian navigation at holiday time is zigging and zagging around a forest of pine trees crowding the corners on what seems like every other block.

How tree-buyers get their trees home is another tale in the playbook of inconvenient. A Christmas tree cannot be delivered like a pizza. Christmas trees are takeout. In the thirty-two years that I’ve lived here, I have yet to see a delivery guy on a bike transporting a Christmas tree in my neighborhood, the Upper West Side. New York City Christmas trees are brought home in a variety of ways starting with Manual: the woman I saw walking on upper Broadway struggling awkwardly as she hauled her tree solo. Next up, there’s Happy Teamwork Style: a guy duo effortlessly carrying their firry [sic] friend in tandem.

Not to be confused with this furry friend who is surely wondering, "When is my tree getting here?"

Not to be confused with this furry friend who is surely wondering, “When is my tree getting here?”

Reported in Gothamist was Irritating: a guy riding with his tree on a subway train. I am sure that some people carry their trees home in taxis, or for the privileged with a car, the Traditional Method: tying it to the roof.

Many apartments such as my own thumbnail-size sanctum sanctorum are too cramped to house a tree, so wreaths and mini trees are very popular. My building’s vestibule is decorated with the trinity of holiday adornment New York City-style: a mini tree, a wreath and a poinsettia.

Holiday decorations in Casa de la Shangri-la.

Holiday decorations in Casa de la Shangri-la.

I do not partake in tree or wreath purchasing but I am an avid tree watcher. Pictured below are some trees, infinitesimal to massive, that I have glimpsed in my neighborhood, as well as that iconic one in Rockefeller Center.

Good luck with that.

Planter Tree: good luck with that.

Nice display of stoop trees, but anyone needing to hold onto the banister is out of luck.

Nice display of stoop trees, but flirting with a lawsuit if anyone needs to hold the banister.

Apartment near my laundromat; looks like a tree purchased on Columbus Avenue.

Apartment near my laundromat; looks like a tree purchased on Columbus Avenue or maybe all the trees are wearing red bows in 2014.

Co-op building tree; I'd prefer a lower maintenance over a tree.

La-di-da co-op building tree.

My building's tree.

My building’s knee-sized tree: what rent stabilized tenants rate.

Lincoln Square tree in Dante Park a.k.a. the tree cross the street from Lincoln Center. Next to no one was looking at it.

Lincoln Square tree in Dante Park a.k.a. the 27 foot tree across the street from Lincoln Center.

Radio City Music Hall's glitz - a light show rather than an actual tree.

Radio City Music Hall’s glitz – a light show rather than an actual tree.

To see the Radio City Music Hall holiday tree light show click here.

85 foot 27 ton Norway Spruce attention whore in Rockefeller Center.

85 foot 27 ton Norway Spruce attention whore in Rockefeller Center.

Is it me or does this year’s Rockefeller Center tree look like a massive, misshapen blob in need of a manicure? Smothered in 45,000 lights cannot hide that this behemoth looks like a shaggy oaf. Possibly I’m being critical because I’m not a fan of big and bloated. I naturally gravitate in the direction of small and lean. My favorite holiday trees are not in windows, rooftops, plazas or parks. They do not
attract herds of gaping gawkers from near and far. Here are my favorite trees of this holiday season: The Trees of West 73rd Street.

First up, a sturdy trunk tastefully swathed in red and gold.

First up, a sturdy trunk tastefully swathed in red and gold.

Second tree in blue and silver: a shout out to those that celebrate Hannukah?

Second tree in blue and silver: a shout out to those that celebrate Hanukkah.

Tree Three: a slender number in formal attire ready for New Year's champagne.

Tree Three: a slender number in formal attire ready for New Year’s champagne.

The fourth in the series: Purple Passion tree.

Tree Four decked out in purple and silver  for those celebrating eggplant and flatware.

The fifth and the finest: the candy cane tree.

The fifth and the finest: the candy cane tree lovingly embraced by a bike.

Each West 73rd Street tree exudes New York City attitude and style. If I could have a beer and socialize with a tree, these are the trees for me. If I were able to interview these trees and ask them what they think of the trees purchased on street corners or the trophy trees that stop traffic they’d likely say:

The Trees of West 73rd Street: Fuhgeddaboudit!

Every time I walk past these five trees en route to the subway, no matter how late I’m running or how irritated I’m feeling, seeing these festively dressed trees lifts my spirits. Whoever decorated them did this with personality, care and flare and probably at their own expense. Possibly they did it just because they like seeing them. I know that I sure do. This cool, quirky, “all natural” quintet of trees will not be piled high on the sidewalk in round two of street hogging. What’s round two you wonder? That’s when the Christmas trees of New York City prepare to be converted into mulch. That tradition resumes December 26th.

Tree speck in street: swatch of suicidal pine needles.

Tree speck in street: swatch of suicidal pine needles.

Advertisements

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.