Looking Up

Contrast Enhances Color
(NYC 11 2020)

I looked down for inspiration in October. I looked up and found it, again, in November.

The fall season progresses, and as the tree’s leaves thin out, the colors of those that remain on the branches appear even more vivid due to the open space, the contrasting blue, or white, or gray sky above.

Years ago, as a new Romantic poet in his senior year at university, I was first struck by this perceived increased intensity of the foliage as the season aged. I had a daily walk up a hilly avenue lined by mature trees to reach my morning classes, and on one sunny day I looked up, and a poem appeared fully formed:

My Perfect Autumn Day

Blue and gold days

Have come to call.

Gilded trees, warm,

And clear, cool air;

I stare, this morning,

At a mighty mosaic.

We call this fall,

My perfect autumn day;

I say, each leaf is a coin,

Pure gold for my pocket.

If this season were a vault,

I would lock it,

And save them forever.

The poem retains the memory, the treasure, of that day. The same can be done with words now, added and aided by the convenience of the smartphone camera.

Looking up, one can see the gold of the birch, gingko, locust, and Norway maple against a bluebird sky. The white cloud of a rainy day allows the same yellows to glow in place of the sun.

“Still” – Abstract Expressionism
(NYC 11 30 2020)

The blue above also enhances the reds of the oak, and the full spectrum of the sweetgum, known also as liquidamber, and the savory tans of the London plane tree, whose overhead spread can resemble a cathdral when planted in rows . . .

Plane Tree Cathedral Vault
(NYC 11 200)

. . . . Which reminds me of a stanza from another poem composed on another autumn walk:

The tall plane trees sigh.

A broken spot of blue

In the gray and white sky

Grows as it goes by.

The fall is a wonderful time to spend time outside. Inspiration can be found, or recalled. The truth of a little poem, written so long ago, may very well be that each and every one is a perfect autumn day.

— rPs 11 30 2020

Leave a Comment

Carpets of Color

NYC 10 2020

Carpets of Color . . .

The grass, the uniform green lawn that provides the basic background for the rest of the vegetation both cultivated and wild, dresses up at the end of October in a multitude of autumnal tones.

NYC 10 2020

The large brown fans of the oak and sycamore, the delicate gold leaf of the locust and elm, the hearty reds and oranges of the sweetgum, together combine into a blended harvest tapestry.

NYC 10 2020

These carpets of color are another kind of blooming, a transient, lovely time for the simple green grass to costume up on Happy Halloween.

🎃

— rPs 10 31 2020

Leave a Comment

First Signs of Fall

First Signs of Fall . . .

White Snakeroot, Ageratina altissima, has honeybee company.
(NYC 09 2020)

There is a distinct chill in the air as the monochromatic green has begun to be edged with more ocherous colors.

Crisp air. Fall leaves.

The Autumnal Equinox occurred in New York City today at 9:30 a.m. EST.

Some of the first signs of fall are already in bloom. The rich color of jewelweed can be found around shaded areas near the water just as white snakeroot, one of the hardiest, most ubiquitous of the season’s wildflowers, lines park paths and other green edges of the city.

Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis, holds all the colors of autumn in a single bloom.
(NYC 09 22 2020)

Happy first day of fall.

— rPs 09 22 2020

Leave a Comment

August Harvest

August Harvest . . .

A summer salad of Asiatic dayflower, Galinsoga, and Lady’s Thumb.
(NYC 08 31 2020)

Family and friends have begun to share photos, and salads, from their gardens as the month of August comes to a close. The wild patches of Manhattan’s west side have also reached their peak of productivity.

A morning walk, or a stroll to watch the evening sun set behind the Hudson, will also be accompanied by a diverse harvest of native and immigrant wildflowers in full bloom and fruit. This salad bar of sorts includes:

American Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana

(NYC 08 17 2020)

Bittersweet Nightshade, Solanum dulcamara

(NYC 08 31 2020)

Broadleaf Plantain, Plantago major

(NYC 08 31 2020)

Butter and Eggs, Linaria vulgaris

(08 08 2020)

Chicory, Cichorium intybus

(NYC 08 2020)

Common Black Nightshade, Solanum nigrum

(NYC 08 17 2020)

Common Mallow, Malva neglecta

(NYC 08 17 2020)

Galinsoga, Galinsoga parviflora

(NYC 08 17 2020)

Lady’s Thumb, Persicaria maculosa

(NYC 08 17 2020)

Marestail, Conyza canadensis

(NYC 08 31 2020)

There is quite a selection to see. August’s harvest is here.

— rPs 08 31 2020

Leave a Comment

July Sky Blues

July Sky Blues . . .

July Blue Sky
(NYC 07 28 2020)

Summer treads light during the long days of July. The sun hangs overhead as a white hot ball set in a deep blue sky.

Thriving on that light and reflecting back up a similar pure blue hue, the blooming of chicory and dayflower make a match of the heavens and the earth.

Chicory, Cichorium intybus

(NYC 2020)

Asiatic Dayflower, Commelina communis

(NYC 07 2020)

— rPs 07 31 2020

Leave a Comment

Bloomsday 2020

Bloomsday 2020 . . .

White Clover, Trifolium repens
(NYC 06 2020)

Bloomsday, the novel 24 hours by James Joyce celebrated on this day, may have to be a virtual communal experience this year. No grand public readings, straw hats, bowties, or summer dresses celebrated under a bright blue and white sky.

One may still go out in the fine weather to the park to smell the clover, perhaps the most Irish of wildflowers. Spend some time there, distanced safely on a park bench, or on a blanket spread on the ground, book in hand held by the odyssey of Leopold Bloom.

Pink Clover, Trifolium pratense
(NYC 06 2020)

Happy Bloomsday, 2020.

(NYC 06 16 2020)

— rPs 06 16 2020

Postscript: You can read WWV’s original Joycean odyssey here:
https://wildflowersofthewestvillage.com/2010/06/16/bloomsday/

Leave a Comment

May Flowers of Manhattan

May Flowers of Manhattan . . .

Yellow Flag
(NYC 05 2020)

City wildflowers have never lifted my spirits more than during this month of May. Morning walks home from my essential worksite have cleansed my mind, filled my lungs with fresh air, and filled my eyes with life worth living. Views in bloom I hope will be the main lasting memory I keep of this chequered pandemic time.

Here are a few thousand words worth of photos to convey the magnificence of this May in Manhattan:

Wild Columbine

Wild Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis
(NYC 05 2020)

Shepherd’s Purse

Shepherd’s Purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris
(NYC 05 2020)

English Plantain

English Plantain, Plantago lanceolata
(NYC 05 31 2020)

And last, and perhaps most iconic: the always cheerful Common Dandelion

Common Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale
(NYC 05 31 2020)

All the above and more can be seen now during a walk through the city’s many green spaces. Grab a mask, and go . . .

The Green Path
(NYC 05 2020)

— rPs 05 31 2020

Leave a Comment

Earth Day 50

Earth Day 50 . . .

The Globe by Kim Brandell on Earth Day 50 Morning.
(NYC 04 22 2020)

Ten years ago on Earth Day 40 I walked in Central Park and wrote of the lovely clear spring day it was and how nature and the city seemed to be in ecological balance.

Ten years later we find New York City like the rest of the world locked down in the midst of a global pandemic. The weather is the same, even more intensely clear and crisp, but the human activity is mostly absent.

My everyday life has me fall under the category of “essential (healthcare) worker” who also happens to work the night shift. My morning commute home, a healthy walk rather than a horrid subway ride, today took me through Central Park to revisit the view of a decade ago, which remains the same except for the spikes of several new supertall condominum towers stretched along the width of Central Park South.

Viola sororia, bi-colored form, claims a crack near Columbus Circle.
(NYC 04 2020)

My strongest impression is that the high blue sky clear of jet vapor trails and streets devoid of the numbing hum of peak vehicular traffic have given the city, in fact the entire planet, a pause to catch its natural breath. It’s as if the Earth is itself a meta unicellular creature exclaiming: “Thank you for ceasing to stress me with all that bad gas. Here is a perfect spring day as a reward.”

Earth Day 50: ironically the most beautiful Earth Day I have so far witnessed. May it not be the last.

The Lake in Central Park.
(NYC 04 22 2020)

— rPs 04 22 2020

Postscript: Time Does Fly. Read about Earth Day 40 here: https://wildflowersofthewestvillage.com/2010/04/22/earth-day-40-on-the-fly/

Leave a Comment

10th Anniversary

10th Anniversary . . .

Inspiration: The springtime view of Scilla siberica in bloom that began Wildflowers of the West Village.
(NYC 03 22 2010)

Ten years ago today I took some time to write a few paragraphs after a walk in Hudson River Park. The subject, one that had interested me since childhood, the wildflowers one encounters along the way.

“Wildflowers of the West Village will be an ongoing document, beginning with the 2010 growing season . . .”

A decade since spent exploring New York City’s wild flora, both native and immigrant (NOT invasive, imho), has given me monthly material enough even when internal inspiration may have been lacking. The walks and runs I have taken have at times rejuvenated my body and mind and imtroduced me to fellow like-minded lovers of nature. WWV has even received a bit of media notice from the likes of West View and The New York Times.

I have long described my love of creative writing as exploring the infinity found within the fixed space of the page, and likewise, so I have found the seasonal variety of wild plants established along the Hudson River side of Manhattan.

And as no writing enjoys life without readers, may I thank you all for taking the time to visit. I have endeavored to create an ongoing lasting document and resource for anyone interested in what has and what comtinues to grow wild along the margins of this great city of New York.

Here’s to ten (10!) more years of Wildflowers of the West Village.

Continuation: Scilla siberica
(NYC 03 17 2020)

— rPs 03 22 2020

Postscript: Read the post that started it all here: https://wildflowersofthewestvillage.com/2010/03/22/welcome/

Comments (1)

Mild Winter Early Birds

Mild Winter Early Birds . . .

Forsythia in February!
(NYC 02 12 2020)

You can tell a winter season is a mild one when the mourning dove wakes you with its morning call as early as the middle of February.

Rain rather than snow with plenty of sun in between has brought early flowering greens along with the songbirds. Leap year adds an additional day to the second month of the year, and what’s become clear is this one has been warmer just as Punxsutawney Phil predicted. A brief walk in the park or down a garden block encounters:

Bittercress

Cardamine hirsuta
(02 28 2020)

Chickweed

Stellara media
(NYC 02 23 2020)

Grounsel

Senecio vulgaris
(02 28 2020)

Birds and blooms already in February may forshadow a healthy 2020 growing season for New York City, and a hot one, too.

— rPs 02 29 2020

Leave a Comment

Older Posts »