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The U.E.S. Journal

Category Archives: Nature & Plants

November Smells

Waiting for the bus somewhere on Fifth Ave, there was this strong sweet smell of rotting leaves.  It was nice.  I can smell it now, looking at these photos.

Leaves on Fifth AvenueLeaves on Fifth Avenue
But, it reminded me that a few days earlier my brother and I were walking down Fifth and smelled a stronger tree smell, bordering on nauseous.  He said he had heard about a certain tree species whose smell has been bothering its neighbors.

After some googling, here is the culprit:
Female Ginkgo Biloba Trees a.k.a. Maidenhair Tree
(I didn’t know trees had genders!)

NATURE: Chirping in the Dark

You know what’s kind of crazy? When you’re drunk, walking home from the subway at 4:55am, it’s still dark out and you’re surrounded by a deafening choir of chirping coming from the cherry blossoms, which you didn’t remember were even there earlier. (87th St. between Park and Lex)

Sunset Gathering

At 4:15pm on this unseasonably warm winter day, noticing it was getting dark out, I rushed over to the 90th Street entrance to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, the best spot to watch the sunset.  To my surprise, hords of tourists were gathered there photographing themselves in front of the view which is so remarkable I really shouldn’t have been surprised.

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The Windy Block ak.a. Anti-Skateboarding Block at it’s Worst Today


Stop and Smell the Tulips on the Park Avenue Meridian!

Right now there is a different kind of flower but I usually remember tulips.

I have a system for walking from point A to point B in Manhattan – its goals are to save time and distance. However, I recently implemented an exception to my usual rules.

In the old days, when I would approach a corner of Park Avenue and see that the light had already read “Walk” for several seconds, I would get a sudden mild panic wondering “Should I run to make it across?” Or more specifically, should I embarrass myself with my slow girly jog and possibly lose a slipper and have to scamper to put it back on and then sprint the remaining feet while impatient cars inch forward waiting for me to get out of the way?

But I forced a new habit upon myself – it does rub against my New Yorker grain but the habit is this:

If I am not in a big hurry – as I approach the corner of Park Avenue, I accept the fact that if I continue without running I risk the possibility of getting stuck on the meridian. I do continue, and I cherish this possibility. I look forward to it.

On the meridian, I can look at the flowers, notice the effort that went into planting them – wow, someone constantly replants the flowers all along Park Avenue. I can look at the cars go by. It’s also the perfect place to stop and tie your shoe – or find the metrocard, phone, or key that you accidentally dropped loose into your giant, unorganized tote bag.

Obscene Cabbage

If decadence ever needed a visual symbol, this is it:

Apparently the obscene over-development of these decorative cabbages has not caught the attention of the usually diligent and caring gardeners who design and tend to the flower boxes and plants in the neighborhood. After last night’s freeze the actual drying and wilting of these plants will probably trigger their removal to make room for whatever’s next (I can’t remember if there is anything between the cabbages and the tulips). Unfortunately, the children in this neighborhood have already seen too much.


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