Central Park West, The Climate, and the Crowd

ClimateMarchSept2014I didn’t have one of my nature walks Sunday, at least not the kind with solitude and a soundtrack of late summer birds and crickets amid a subdued Connecticut neighborhood. I did walk, very slowly, from 86th and Central Park West down to 34th and 11th,  and I had lots of company. Almost 400,000!

I prefer my walks alone, but Tom and Gavin, and another 399,097 or so others came along to say something about climate change. I’ve been reading about nature and the earth long enough to know that this is not just a passing trendy belief. The climate really is changing, and not in favor of living things. There’s no longer a credible debate that says otherwise, and I was happy to see a lot of scientists, complete with lab coats, in what one recently interviewed joiner, the highly credentialed Peter deMenocal (Professor, Department Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University), proudly called “a nerd parade”.

People had lots of solutions and motives on their signs—they marched for the birds, for the arctic, for their grandchildren, for simple living, for socialism, for radical revolution, for conservation organizations, with their churches—a huge variety from confrontational (although as far as I know there was no violence) to peaceful, from tree huggers to pragmatists. But the group was united in that they recognize a genuine problem and are trying to raise awareness and push for solutions. And there are some solutions–but we are at a point now where governments must act to effect real change, along with each individual doing his or her part. Here’s a good summary of broad solutions by National Geographic. And here’s a link about actions to consider at your own individual level. The march preceded the UN Climate Change Summit, calling for urgent action, globally, in response to the problem.

CLimateMarchBUGThe first arm of the People’s Climate Change March ran along Central Park West, and I liked looking up at the grassy hills, people climbing streetside boulders, and the ubiquitous pigeons, who seemed to be watching the noisy human display with great interest. A bug hitched a ride on Gavin’s sign for quite a few blocks, and I imagined him shouting “we are here!” (as in the iconic Horton Hears a Who), a microcosm of what the marchers were doing! We also enjoyed occasional trees and gardens perched atop some of the tony parkside buildings. Even in crowded Manhattan, nature has a way of inserting itself.

Pretty good stick imposter: my first sighting besides the indoor creatures at Audubon Glastonbury

Pretty good stick imposter: my first sighting outside of the indoor creatures at Audubon Glastonbury

Back in CT a friend at work pointed out a stick bug hanging out by our office entrance. I’ve never seen one in “the wild” before—surely because they blend in so seamlessly with the plant life! Today a coworker’s kids reported to me that they saw a parakeet flying around outside, and in return I showed them my pictures of the stick bug. 2014-09-22 13.36.51

Speaking of kids, they really are the future,  although I risk sounding like an 80s pop song when I say that. But see for yourself: the winners of this video contest got to go to the UN Summit.

The Call of Pick Your Own

We have an orchard within a long walk from our house. We’ve never walked to it, though, because how could we leave there without carting an abundance: bushels of apples, jugs of cider, prizes from the farm stand? Our haul wouldn’t mix well with the busy road and its narrow shoulder, although I still consider the adventure from time to time.

It was at this orchard, only a few years ago, that I first saw a pear tree. I was taken by its golden aura in the early autumn sunlight. Every year they put out a PYO (pick your own) sign when the berries come in, and somehow I never make it there—in fact, I don’t recall ever picking berries from a patch. This year, I am determined to make it to blueberry harvest and emerge, stained purple, happy, and ready for a pie.

I’ve been reading about harvests lately, a venture that goes so well with the spilling proliferation of summer, vines and stems laden with promise.

Anne Porter (who was artist Fairfield Porter’s wife) captures that spilling over in her poem The Pear Tree—here are the last two stanzas:

And every blossom
Is flinging itself open
Wide open

Disclosing every tender filament
Sticky with nectar
Beaded with black pollen.

In Early Spring, ecologist Amy Seidl mixes her scientific knowledge about climate change with her love (and worry) for her Vermont surroundings. Her words about berries make me want to garden ambitiously, perhaps even with an orchard in mind:

 …I walk the acre as if it were a hundred, planning the geometry for my fruit tree grid. I envision apple, pear, and plum, and of course the hardy Reliance peach. And in as many places as possible, berries: currant, gooseberry, blackberry, raspberry, and blueberry. The list of varieties reads like a children’s fairy tale, a version of “Hansel and Gretel” where visitors stumble across an Eden dripping in fruit rather than a cottage dripping in frosting. It is very much a gardener’s fantasy, one founded in the belief that life is abundant and the role of humans is to work with nature to manifest more abundance.

This triggered a memory of my own attempt to capture an orchard on a page, actually a specific, memorable day when Gavin was still quite young and  first learned to love apples:

Orchard Day

Miles of trees, Macoun, McIntosh, Empire
and then the illuminated pears

The perfect gild and form
made him lean from the wagon
grabbing for fruit

At home we leaned down together to core it all,
heard the breaking skin, split and crunch, squirt of juice

How solemnly he sought and sorted the seeds,
big plans to plant our own grove just outside

It was a little cold that day–didn’t know the right depth or soil or way to tend

Should have planted them anyway.