Say you were creating a miniature holiday diorama, and you were in need of something to represent a Pink Christmas Tree. Wouldn’t this flower, which is a variety of Cockscomb, be just the thing? These little pink blooms have been spotted in the public flower beds around First Avenue and 16th Street during the transition into early fall, although the bright pink color fades as they come to the end of their lifecycle.
The original vacation plan for Summer 2020 called for me to fly from New York City to Barcelona on June 4th. There, I would meet up with my Los Angeles-based sister, and we’d spend two days site-seeing and recovering from jet lag before departing on an adventure-packed, seven-day cruise through the western Mediterranean. Sigh, I fucking love to cruise.
Obviously, those plans changed. In May, our sailing was predictably canceled by the cruise line due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While I was relieved to receive a full-refund on my paid fare — and overjoyed with the bonus of nearly $1,000 in onboard credit for a 2021 rebooking — I was also super bummed to know that I would likely not be getting out of Manhattan this summer. First world problems: they are a thing.
This Glass Holds The Remains of a Very Stiff Gin and Tonic
It cannot be overstated then that my summer was miraculously saved by friends who own a home the Berkshires, where they’d been quarantining since March. They generously offered to host me for a week of doing basically what I do in Manhattan — eating and going for walks — but with way better food and immeasurably more awe-inspiring scenery, not to mention (but you can see I am about to) air that smells like honey, and the absence of blaring sirens. It was the best week I’ve had in three months. Please enjoy a selection of photos from my many nature walks taken during the vacation that restored my sanity.
The Berkshires: Stunning Even When It’s Overcast
My friends live in a private community accessed from a narrow road set about a mile off of a rural thoroughfare. On summer evenings (during any normal year), you can sometimes hear faint music drifting over from Tanglewood, where I saw a fantastic concert by Squeeze with these same friends last August. Sadly, Tanglewood’s 2020 season has been canceled.
Instead, the soundtrack includes choruses of bullfrogs hiding among the marsh reeds, and a rush of wind through the endless trees that can make you look over your shoulder to confirm that no cars are coming.
This marsh and pond are just across the road from a private beach. There, you can take colorful kayaks out onto a lake, which is called the Stockbridge Bowl.
At the end of the Ice Age, the last ice sheet began to melt back from the New York City region about 14,000 years ago, leaving behind a layer of clays, sands and pebbles, as well boulders known a glacial erratics. Glacial Erratics are made up of rock materials not generally found in their immediate surroundings.
This large boulder, found in the Native Plant Garden at the New York (Bronx) Botanical Garden — known as Split Rock — is a glacial erratic.
Split Rock is composed of Yonkers gneiss, which is different from the local bedrock. The split in this boulder was likely caused by an ancient freezing and thawing cycle thousands of years ago.
Photographed on New Year’s Day, 2020!
Update August 15th, 2020: We just got home from visiting the NYBG, which has recently reopened after being closed since March due the Covid 19 Pandemic. It was great to be back! I snapped a couple of new photos for this post which show the Split Rock amid the summer flora! Enjoy!
One of my favorite sure signs of Spring in NYC is the presence, however fleeting, of Pink Trees! The tree pictured here is not even the most beautiful Pink Tree I have seen, but it is the one closest to my home. I am glad I snapped this photo of it before the rain we had the other night took all the pinkness off.
When I was a small child, growing up in southern California, my parents used to take the family on camping vacations to Yosemite National Park. I probably went there four or five times up to the age of 8 or so. While these vacations are many decades in the past for me now, my very vivid memories of the park and its many tall and fragrant redwood trees, crystal clear shallow streams, majestic mountains, tumbling waterfalls, and other uniquely beautiful natural sights and smells stay with me to this day. Yosemite is breathtaking.
British artist David Hockney must feel similarly, because he has created a new series of vivid iPad drawings featuring the wild landscape of Yosemite that you can see and enjoy now at Pace Gallery in Chelsea. When I stood in front of these uncomplicated yet profoundly compelling drawings, I felt like I was back in the park again. Everything looked so familiar to me.
You can almost smell the trees.
Happy Little Trees.
From the late 1800s through most of the 1960s, Yosemite used to have a summertime evening ritual in the park called the Firefall, where visitors could gather to watch a ball of fire get tossed off the side of the one of the mountains, Glacier Point: like a waterfall, only with fire. They stopped doing it because of the danger of a forest fire, and because it got too popular and folks were trampling the meadows to try and see it. It was pretty cool to experience in person though. I’ll never forget it.
David Hockney’s The Yosemite Suite will be on Exhibit Through June 18th, 2016 at PACE, Located at 537 West 24th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.
Azuma Makoto is a florist and botanical artist, known for incorporating nature into his fantastical and often surreal work. This Bicycle, from the artist’s Botanical series, is covered in AstroTurf, but still functions as a ride-able bike. Each Bike is unique and sells for about $5,000.
Botanical Bicycle, Spoke Detail
Botanical Bicycle, Seat Detail
Botanical Bicycle By Azuma Makoto is on Display Through April 30th, 2016 at Chamber, Located at 515 West 23rd Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.
Geoffrey and I took a walk on the High Line (aka The Highlands) this past Saturday evening to get from his place on West 30th Street down to the Jonathan LeVine Gallery on West 20th Street. We definitely saw a few signs of Spring. Check it out.
I love the purple tree against the detail of the brick wall.
It is true that New York State is one of the best places to live if you really want to see the fall change of colors in nature. But here in Manhattan, the reality is that the leaves change from green to brown to dead without much color spectrum in between. Fortunately, I had the chance to spend a few days in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts over the Columbus Day weekend and snapped many fantastic photos just as all of the leaves were approaching full fiery glory. Please enjoy!
This one was taken near a big lake.
This row of bright red bushes was near the main road walking up from the lake.
From a distance, these looked like huge pot leaves to me. But they were not.
I realize that these are blooming flowers and not leaves, but aren’t they gorgeous?
I took this one on the grounds near the house where I was staying. With all of those pine needles on the ground, the air smelled just amazing.
I love this one, lone red tree among all the green.
This Clock Tower, officially called the Dudley Field Memorial Tower, is right across the road from the Stockbridge Cemetery.
This one was taken at place called Naumkeag, the family estate of Joseph Choate, a leading 19th-century attorney, and a co-founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
And last, but not least, this one was taken in the parking lot of a Stop and Shop. Happy Fall Everyone!
If you are like me, you are trying to cram as much summer fun into the remaining few weeks of summer as possible; and it’s always rewarding to take advantage of the nice weather by spending time outdoors while you can do so wearing as few items of clothing on as possible! Outdoors, yay!
If you are paying attention to my personal activity schedule, as chronicled on this blog during Summer of Fun 2015, then you might recall that Geoffrey and I went to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden earlier in the season, and had just ridiculous amounts of fun. But the garden is very huge and we only managed to see less than half of the grounds before exhaustion set in. So, we had to go back again.
One of the areas we had yet to explore is called Lily Pool Terrace, which sounds very posh. As the sign above indicates, the Lily Pool Terrace is home to many shimmering pools and fountains, featuring nearly 100 kinds of sacred lotuses, and hardy and tropical water-lilies which bloom in July, August and September.
So, you know what that means: if you want to see the Lily Pool Terrace in action, you have to go right now!
Here are some photos I took, to get you excited!
We saw lotuses of red, yellow, pink and purple on our visit.
All of the glass buildings you see in these photos have plants in them as well.
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is Located at 150 Eastern Parkway, with entrances also at 455 Flatbush Avenue, and also at 990 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11225. Take the 2 or 3 to Eastern Parkway if that train is near you! Otherwise, get other directions, plus more information to help plan your visit, at This Link!
NYC’s very-fun-to-visit Museum of Sex has an entire gallery dedicated to a exhibit entitled The Sex Lives of Animals. It is, to say the least, quite enlightening. Aside from an informative kiosk on “Homosexual Necrophilia in Mallard Ducks” (I can’t believe I just typed that), one of the more bizarre exhibits represents an activity that Amazon River Dolphins apparently find time to enjoy, which is banging another Dolphin’s blowhole. You can’t make this stuff up. Let’s take a closer look.
Oh look, here they are swimming gracefully along side each other when suddenly . . .
The peen quite clearly goes into the blowhole! Convenient!
See it up close for yourself at the Museum of Sex, located at 233 Fifth Avenue, Corner of 27th Street, New York, NY 10016.