Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A History of Surveillance

A history of our Friel Place garden, front and then side yard, over the last eight years or so as seen through the changing lens of the Google van-o-scope.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Final Touch

I hadn't been to the beach farm in two months. It was hard to go, out of busyness as much as emotion, but it was time, or rather time was running low, so this past Sunday, blustery, cool, and unfavorable to contemplation as it was, I went.

The buckwheat never got turned under which, in retrospect, appears a good practice given no other fall planting. The tangle of light carbon comes to be an effective mulch, keeping down weeds and shielding the soil from eroding winds. It should be turned under next spring.

In our other, short-lived plot, the unharvested fennel bulbs died back from frost and have since re-animated. I let them be.

Just down the row, under the blackened skeletons of tomato vine, speckled romaine has sprouted. The spring romaine must have successfully self-seeded, something I have yet to see in any lettuce I've sown.

Adjacent to graying, dry fennel stalks and the soggy flesh of decayed eggplant, our parsley is embracing a return to normal temperatures. I pinched some.

From the shed I collected some belongings, a bin, two types of spreaders. I left my wheel dib prototype hanging along with rarely-used garden tools and Wolf's jug of wine.

On this last visit to the beach farm, I was visited by what I think is a young eagle. I missed and will miss the autumn congregation of migratory birds and their electric cacophony. 

Finally, the beach farm was a great place to bbq with friends. I think this post by Marie, of 66sqft, brings it home. We had some great neighbor gardeners -Jimmy, Wolf, Joanna and others. They'll water your garden when you are away, rib you for your weeds, then offer you a cold beer, and they always took heed of my experiments and that is how I earned the nickname: the professor.

Two plots available. I recommend F12.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Taking Out The Trash

Our pails, a silent sentry, as instructed -three feet apart, at the intersection of the woods, road and drive. A hawk, circling high overhead, issues its gritty reeeeeeeahh. The road, here, is quiet and I am noise.

Downslope, down road, toward the late autumn sun, down low.

Removing the trash and recyclables is a journey by any New York City standard. I, for one, was fond of dropping my trash right out the window into the pails below, but not here. No, trash removal has several steps, one of which is rolling the bin down slope, toward the culverted passage between one wetland and the other, then upslope to the road.

To my mind, it is cold out, for November, maybe six degrees F, yet the empty-handed return along the tenth-of-a-mile drive frees my senses for seeing, and I found myself trailing farther down slope, into the wetland, along a deer trail.

The wet lowlands contain the most attractive sites on this land, but the green season mosquitoes chase me out too quickly. In the white (or brown) season, I take time.

The drainage opens up, like a park, onto the wetland, the edge of which is favored by deer, coyote, turkey, and me.

Although the ground has yet to freeze, the wetland is firm enough for walking. I've explored its perimeter, before this moment, in December or January.

The wetland is, by its nature an amphitheater, a concavity, surrounded almost completely by upland elevated fifty to a hundred feet above the occasional water line. On its western flank is the headland of an esker that carries southward to frame lakes that were at one time deeper and larger. Our (Rex's) house sits on land that was likely a small island or peninsula, long ago, near this lake's northern boundary.

Recent heavy rains have been quickly eroding the steeply sloped land to the northwest and northeast, washing out sediment that fills the small wetland due north of house island. Soil and organic matter have been filling this basin for thousands of years. Trees have taken root in drier spells, then were soaked out in wetter ones. Water enters the large wetland at three points -east, north, and west, converging, then heads south toward a pinched outlet that funnels the water to a small, nameless pond, then farther on to Dutch Lake, and finally into Harrison Bay.

The cattails (I haven't yet identified the predominant species) have exploded into their fat and furry season, regal and rough. Finally, my camera and fingers are beat back by the cold and I head back into the woods.

The bones of the land are most clear in winter. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Two Kinds Of Night

In the dim and deep grey-blue of early morning I saw the beast ambling along the tree line and thought myself silly for thinking two people could be running out there. Six points, eight? I flicked on the light, startling the animal then twisting its neck backward and up to come to terms with the sudden contrast. We stood absolutely still for a minute, then I turned out the light. He trotted across the creaking snow and I laid back in bed to wait out the last half hour before the four-thirty alarm.

Arriving home after two hours of airport, three hours of airplane, two hours of subway, and nine-point-five hours of work, under the red-yellow street lamps, a temperature fixed above fifty, a coat unnecessarily heavy for coastal, Mid-Atlantic December, I surveyed the garden. A rescue had taken place; a reader, a Hudson Clove customer, Toby, had come at some point to do the digging, the bagging, the carrying, and replanting in a new garden and I thought, good, one less thing.

I have since extracted the climber rose, climbing hydrangea, and my grandmother's tea, all hastily spaded and ripped from the earth, delivered to their temporary garden in Williamsburg, but not without acknowledging the irony of saving on the purchase of new plants by driving 2500 miles to attempt their relocation.

There are still several plants in the garden and they are free for the taking. Email me: nycgarden@gmail.com.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

In The Beginning

God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and God said, Let there be compost, to replenish the earth; and then God said, But you must choose it, and make it in all seasons, and you must site it appropriately, for ease of doing it, and for aesthetics of sight and scent. And God commanded it, so it was done, there, behind the wood pile.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Animals

In the absolute dark of early morning, along the tree line, coyotes were illuminated by headlights. Two hours later, as the light began to swell, deer browsed the leaf litter where Rex's bird feeder had been strung, and squirrels scamper about playfully all day, while various birds make appearances (although less so since the feeder has come down). 

Turkeys are plentiful, crossing the yard dutifully every day, but are hard to approach on the squeaky, newly fallen snow.