Friday, February 26, 2010

The Eye of the Storm

Hey, why is the sun out? The low pressure center is roughly over NYC. Soon it will get windy.


This way.

That way.

Do this.

Or your tree limbs will break away.

Save your tree and shrub limbs. When the heavy, wet snow falls, shake the snow off gently from the bottom of the shrub or tree and on up. Prepare to get clumps on you. A man died in Central Park during this storm; clobbered by a falling tree limb overwhelmed by wet, sticky snow. Of course, it's nearly impossible to clear tall tree limbs, so be careful out there.

Even The Mountain Goats Are Staying In

It became pretty clear last night that it was going to pile up over the morning hours. Yet, somehow I was still surprised to see so much snow upon waking up at 7:30 am.

I went window to window to check out the snow -here on the knockout rose in the front yard.

It is the silence that is most appealing. It is surprising that no one has been out and about -the sidewalk snow is untouched by feet. By 8 am, our streets are typically filled with noise: garbage trucks, delivery trucks, car alarms, horns, people walking dogs, people walking their kids to school, people off to work, engines warming up, cats yowling at each other in corners and the distant noises of all that takes place on our main drags. Today, the thick snow absorbs many of those sounds and so it seems that everyone has decided to stay in.

Oh no, the ruining machine. Welcome back noise. I think these are great tools, but I was hoping for another few minutes before their hum and thrum began. Not long after this will be the engines revving and tires screaling on icy underpinnings.

For now, though, a rare opportunity to witness our front yard sidewalk snow untouched.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Snowball Warming

I've seen none of the forecast rain today.

It was barely cold enough to support this morning's giant chunks of snow. Those are them coming down.

But it was only when the mountain goats appeared outside my window that I knew for sure it was still winter.

The daffodils don't seem to care.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Nearness of Spring

Hard to miss over the last few days, despite the remains of past snowfalls lurking in shadowy places, is the return of spring. Its in the air and the garden calls. I have not, as anticipated, planted any vegetable seeds for this years garden. We're going herbs and flowers in the side yard.

The side yard is a mess as always and now it has a pile of yew branches. A quick clean up of this winter's city garbage, a swift shoveling of the cat scat, and we're on our way. Some wooden planters will be disposed of, one or two will be kept. The compost pile might be transferred to a large nursery tub. Herbs will stay in pots. I do hate the tainted soil.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Greenhouse Library Dream Machine or A Car.

Honestly, I do not know what it's all about, but I do enjoy reading a book while sitting in the driver's seat of a car. Not while driving, but parked in a park or at a beach or some other quiet setting. Window cracked, mixing the cool air outside with the warm air inside generated by the late winter sun shining through the greenhouse glass that is a windshield. Book propped on the wheel, seat reclined just so. It's a dream inducing, thought provoking, quality time. As the sun begins to drop closer to the tree line, cooler air predominates, the gig is up, it's time to go.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ducks In A Row

Out on the southern coastline of Long Island last weekend while my wife set up her work at the Islip Art Museum. There was much snow around which, honestly, seemed wierd to me as it has been rather brown in winter time over my adult life. The ducks didn't seem to care much for the snow, spending most of their time waddling between the pond and the parking lot.

Mallard drake and his wife, maybe.

Canada Goose. In the last twenty years or so they stopped flying further south. Now they have a taste of the winter they wish to flee.

The ducks came a runnin' when I stepped outside. Bread, please. A car rolled in, bread flying out of fingers, the motley bunch of natives and domestics waddled rapidly to their crumbs. Long Island had a large duck industry until only rather recently. Many escaped, along with some backyard varieties, and have become, uh -naturalized. They look quite different (rather children's book) from the Mallards and others, but all appear to get along.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Yew Down With That

As I sat typing posts this Thursday morning, wind blowing, the sound of spinning tires and revving engines a constant, I heard what sounded to me a chain saw. Surely it could be nothing but, what else sounds like a chain saw, and wow, someone's tree must've lost some large branches.

That's how disbelieving I was that my landlord would cut down this Yew after so many years of it sagging over the sidewalk. All the while Occam's razor suggesting to me that it must be our sidewalk-kissing Yew. I got dressed and headed out to see for myself.

This cut-down changes everything in the side yard. The Yew created a 3/4 day-long shady zone and limited the square footage possible for vegetable gardening (not that I'm doing that here any longer). It also had a tangle of roots that made spading the soil difficult for planting perennials. Now, the soil will warm up faster in the spring, and dry out faster in the summer. It's possible the side yard will harbor less shade loving tiger mosquitoes too.

The stump. I'll probably chop this out.

The corner is very different now. The shade under the Yew created a popular place to stand on the sidewalk on hot days. I'm sad that it is gone and I rarely celebrate a lost plant. On the other hand, when I was vegetable gardening I often wished it gone. It changes the whole planting experience on this corner and clearly, the experience of the corner. Now, if only my landlord would remove those old telephone poles laying along the fence!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Yew Gotta Be Kidding Me

I returned Wednesday night to find the Yew tree doing what it does every time it snows heavily. But this time, it had to be the lowest I'd ever seen it hanging.

Underneath the Yew.

Looking back at the Yew from our stoop.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snowtacular II: A Change of Mood

Since I was unable to get into the BBG, I decided to walk back through Prospect Park in order to pick up the bus to Bay Ridge, where I was meeting a friend for lunch. It was quiet, but the wind was picking up, and was happy to be amongst the trees. I thought of the Robert Frost poem I've seen on the subways:

The way a crow 
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

I'm ready to speak again. These pigeons were very docile, they didn't run as I brushed past them. I stopped, turned to photograph them, and they looked at me sidelong, standing still.

This stopped me in my tracks. Maybe it was the greenery.

Underneath, birds waiting out the snow. There were cardinals present under the canopy, but each time I trained my camera on them, they would hop to the opposite side of the shrub. I moved on.

Later that day, by the time I was in Bay Ridge eating Phở and other treats with my friend, the blizzard was on. We retreated to his place on 4th Ave, and in a manner not unlike my school days, played video games until it was time to brave the snow once more, head for the bus, and get home.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wild Kingdom

This rare and elusive creature only ventures out of hiding during, and just after, a significant snowfall. A significant and memorable experience for any naturalist lucky enough to spot one, observe its habits, and then leave to wonder when, or if, I'll have the chance to see one again.

Snowtacular, the Early Hours

School was closed, as anticipated. My plan was to go to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden during the morning, before the wind and snow picked up. I stepped outside, about two inches had fallen, and an icy mix was falling. It wasn't cold or too blustery. Wind was from the east north east. The bus was on time.

New Dawn, snow, and my lovely building-side.

Climbing hydrangea

But when I got to the BBG, the gate was locked. Before leaving I looked on their twitter/facebook/website for information about opening and I even called their main number, but no info about being open or closed. So I chanced it. Their was a guard in the booth. I hollared "will you be open" to which she replied, "maybe later." I wondered to myself if this was five minutes later or tomorrow later. And moved on.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Home Made Street Meat

I eat this about once a week, purchased from a halal cart on the sidewalk in front of school. We don't have many choices in our neighborhood for a quick bite, and this meal checks in at 5 bucks and is relatively healthy (chicken, rice, not greasy). I thought this meal would be quick at home and maybe even more tasty. I added more broccoli than the man at the cart seems ever willing to give me and added the peppers for flavor. On the street, vegetables are 99 percent iceberg lettuce and a slice of tomato. I omitted those, working only with what I had on hand, but add those too if you wish. I can only imagine that I missed a spice in my home made street meat, but that said, I think the cumin and paprika approximated the street experience.

For two plates, plus lunch leftovers:

  • 1-1/2 cups rice with added sweet Hungarian paprika for color cooked in the rice cooker
  • 1 cup frozen peas into the rice cooker
  • 1-1/2 lbs boneless chicken thighs.
  • as much broccoli as you like
  • 1 onion -sliced
  • 1 Italian red pepper -diced
  • 1 hot pepper, any kind -diced
  • oil, your choice
  • paprika
  • cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • optional hot sauce
  • optional yogurt or sour cream
Cook your rice as you wish. I added the frozen peas to the rice because my cooker is big enough to accommodate cooking both at the same time. Also, the cooker keeps the finished rice done while I am waiting on the chicken.

Chop up the chicken. I put the chicken in a cast iron skillet and into the oven at 325 degrees with some olive oil, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. I cooked it for about 1/2 hour and pulled it out of the oven (watch the hot handle!) to drain off the fat. I threw into the skillet the sliced onion, chopped peppers, and broccoli florets along with some more paprika, stirred it up and placed it back in the oven for about another 1/2 hour.

Serve the rice and chicken together. I add lots o hot sauce. You could also eat the meat and vegetables alone in a pita.