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14 novembre, 2015

14 novembre, 2015 . . .

pour Albert Camus

War in Europe, again.
How ironic
And how parallel

To continental
Historical cycles
This conflict has arisen

To Whenever,
To Wherever,
Perpetual war cataclysm.

We people are a species
Stuck rocking
On our own rodent wheel,

Rolling
Rock of our own
Rolling.

— ron P. swegman
— 14 novembre, 2015

Enduring November Rain  (NYC 11 2015)

Enduring November Rain
(NYC 11 2015)

— rPs 11 14 2015

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Happy (3rd) Anniversary

Happy (3rd) Anniversary . . .

The view that inspired Wildflowers of the West Village - three years on . . . (photo taken 03 22 2013)

The view that inspired Wildflowers of the West Village – three years on . . . (photo taken 03 22 2013)

The scene at the base of the tree was brown and bare today. Had this state of affairs been the case three years ago, Wildflowers of the West Village might not have bloomed into the blog it is today. I hope the blue Siberian squill that grew there three years ago shall return at the close of this extended cold spell.

Until then, Happy 3rd Anniversary, Wildflowers of the West Village!

— rPs 03 22 2013

Postscript: You can compare the view above with the original photo from three years ago, which can be found in the “Welcome” section here: https://wildflowersofthewestvillage.com/category/welcome/

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The First Day of Spring

The First Day of Spring . . .

The first courtyard flower of the year beat the first day of spring by a few days. (photo taken 03 17 2013)

The first courtyard flower of the year beat the first day of spring by a few days. (photo taken 03 17 2013)

The Vernal Equinox began in New York City today at 7:02 a.m. Snow fell just two days ago and temperatures for the week are to average ten degrees cooler than what the meteorologists state is normal for this time of year. Still, our courtyard had become decorated with a few scattered patches of pastel color, nestled like Easter eggs in the brown leaf litter from the previous autumn.

Spring is here . . .

– rPs 03 20 2013

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Before the Snow

Before the Snow . . .

Life, as in its daily living and responsibilities, has intervened between me and my heretofore regular forays into the urban natural world. I have been devoting more time to earning a living, which by its very nature prevents me from experiencing the city’s wilder life fully and freely, even though it continues to exist off the grid, figuratively, whilst on the grid, literally, of Manhattan.

My wife did take a rare personal day this past Thursday, so I did as well. After some mutual fun and adventure, I set off alone to enjoy the last hour of light before nightfall. I wandered down to Hudson River Park where I was rewarded with solitude, as a cold rain and wind had arrived, the vanguard of what may have turned out to be the final snowfall on this side of the year.

Inclement weather is the secret ingredient to a solitary outing in the city, and this one provided me with the opportunity to walk upon the compact damp tundra of the park’s grass and assume some of the odder observational poses of the nature lover – extended bends of the knees and stretches of the neck – without public embarrassment.

There was much to see. The steady rain had coaxed a lot of life from the slumbering ground of the winter season. Rich, pastel green patches of lichens covered many of the tree trunks and onion grass had sprouted around their bases. Along the edge of one small rise of ground I also found what I was most searching for – the first full blooms of the year; a patch of white feral croci of the family Iridaceae.

First flowers of 2013: feral Croci. (photo taken 03 07 2013)

First flowers of 2013: feral Croci. (photo taken 03 07 2013)

A few yards farther on, I found a single small Common Groundsel, Senecio vulgaris, in flower.

Common Groundsel at the base of a tree. (photo taken 03 07 2013)

Common Groundsel at the base of a tree. (photo taken 03 07 2013)

Near the end of my little hike, and the available natural light, I walked along a thicket of hedges and found one more hardy variety, a confident sign of spring: the Common Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, huddled at the base of some bushes.

Common Snowdrop in the bush. (photo taken 03 07 2013)

Common Snowdrop in the bush. (photo taken 03 07 2013)

I had only my smartphone available for photos on this brief, damp, and dimly lit outing, so the quality herein is not up to my usual standard, but the idea hopefully has been conveyed . . .

Once again there are wildflowers in the West Village.

– rPs 03 09 2013

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February’s Foliage

February’s Foliage . . .

Onion Grass (genus Allium) provides a small splash of color near Eighth Avenue. (photo taken 02 26 2013)

Onion Grass (genus Allium) provides a small splash of color near Eighth Avenue. (photo taken 02 26 2013)

The second month of the year has taken the “cold” portion of the phrase “long, cold winter” to an extreme: snow, some; wind, more; and cold, constant. This state of the air has locked the West Village and the rest of the region in hibernation. White, grey, and brown remain the dominant colors found in the parks and gardens of New York.

Absent this year are the blooming snowdrops and common chickweed often found in abundance along the mid-Atlantic during the latter half of the winter season. The only wild plant that has weathered the weather appears to be Onion Grass (genus Allium), which, as I reported way back in 2010, remains ensconced along the cobbled walls of Reggie Fitzgerald Triangle at the intersection of West Fourth and Eighth Avenues. The sight of this great piece of green sustains the fundamentally optimistic nature of my urban naturalist’s mood. I realize that the time and temperatures for the spring bloom should arrive by the end of March.

– rPs 02 27 2013

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The New Year: A Shuffling of the Cards

The New Year: A Shuffling of the Cards . . .

Climate change, as I have perceived it, can best be described by me in this way: Picture a pack of standard playing cards divided into the four separate suits. Now shuffle the pack just once or twice. The integrity of the pack remains mostly intact, but there are a few cards of one suit or another blended into all of the rest. So it seems with the once stable four seasons. The prevailing weather patterns of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter have been shuffled a bit so that we may see a week of eighty degree days during the middle of March, snow on a flowering May garden, a stretch of chilly rainy days in late June, and snow again; this time frosting the bright turning leaves of October.

January 2013 began cool and damp in New York City. Thick fog and rain segued into sunny days reaching into the low fifties. From the start, a small cluster of daffodil bulbs sprouted in our rear courtyard garden, grew to nearly half a foot in height, until subfreezing temperatures and snow arrived near month’s end. I documented this progress in the following photos . . .

In the Rain. (photo taken 01 02 2013)

New Year in the Rain. (photo taken 01 02 2013)

Taking off! (photo taken 01 12 2012

Taking off! (photo taken 01 12 2012

At its Peak. (photo taken 01 21 2012)

At its Peak. (photo taken 01 21 2012)

After the Snow. (photo taken 01 27 2012)

After the Snow. (photo taken 01 27 2012)

The climatic cards have certainly been shuffled so far this year. Perhaps there is a joker in the deck!

– rPs 01 29 2012

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Late Bloomers

Late Bloomers . . .

December Dandelion: a single Taraxacum officinale blooms in Hudson River Park. (photo taken 12 11 2012)

December Dandelion: a single Taraxacum officinale blooms in Hudson River Park. (photo taken 12 11 2012)

Hurricane Sandy did more than deprive the West Village of power. The late October storm also stirred up personal lives, including my own. First, there were the thirty block walks uptown to fetch a hot paper cup of coffee, followed by candlelit evenings huddled with my wife and two cats around a transistor radio. Later, there was the less dramatic resettling into normal routines, which for me included regular walks around the area to seek out and survey what flora might be growing wild in the West Village.

Today, set almost squarely in the middle of December, the city experienced daylight under a blue sky for the first time in more than a week. The good walking weather coincided with an abbreviated work day for me. I took the long path home, hiking about for over four hours with no firm plan except to pass through those spots where in the past I have found wildflowers: churchyards, construction sites, public housing green spaces, and Hudson River Park.

The results were surprising in their variety if not vigor. The fine lining to the overcast and wet weather is that this combination of environmental factors has pushed off an extended deep freeze, giving some of the more hardy perennials, both native and immigrant, some bonus time to bloom . . . late.

Along with the dandelion pictured above, I found:

Canada Thistle

Canada Thistle,Cirsium arvense. (photo taken 12 11 2012) (

Canada Thistle, Cirsium arvense. (photo taken 12 11 2012)

Carolina Horsenettle

Carolina Horsenettle, Solanum carolinense. (photo taken 12 11 2012)

Carolina Horsenettle, Solanum carolinense. (photo taken 12 11 2012)

Common  Chickweed

Common Chickweed, Stellaria media. (photo taken 12 11 2012)

Common Chickweed, Stellaria media. (photo taken 12 11 2012)

Galinsoga

Galinsoga, Galinsoga parviflora. (photo taken 12 11 2012)

Galinsoga, Galinsoga parviflora. (photo taken 12 11 2012)

Groundsel

Groundsel, Senecio vulgaris. (photo taken 12 11 2012)

Groundsel, Senecio vulgaris. (photo taken 12 11 2012)

White Snakeroot

White Snakeroot, Ageratina altissima. (photo taken 12 11 2012)

White Snakeroot, Ageratina altissima. (photo taken 12 11 2012)

Yellow Woodsorrel

Yellow Woodsorrel, Oxalis stricta. (photo taken 12 11 2012)

Yellow Woodsorrel, Oxalis stricta. (photo taken 12 11 2012)

Large, medium, or small; cool white, deep purple, or warm yellow: none of these wildflowers except cold-weather Common Chickweed displayed the rich green lushness of spring or high summer, but each one proved that, even in the urban northeast, there is more December color to be had than holiday evergreen, red, and white.

– rPs 12 11 2012

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