It's eyes down, here in Manhattan as the pavements get strewn with Autumn flotsam. Acorns, leaves, seed pods and twigs litter the urban floor. Sharp yellows of turning leaves decorate the dull gray concrete. The crunch of dry twigs and seed pods add an autumnal nuance to the urban percussion of foot traffic. I have some acorns left over from some twigs I picked up a couple of weeks ago. This morning I picked up a couple of seed pods from the many honey locust trees in the neighborhood. Their dry brown tones counterpoint the mauve blue flowers of the Plumbago that is now blooming quite profusely indoors.
Everytime I think today will be day I run out and indulge in a little garden photography, it clouds over or rains. My foster dog is highly dog reactive, walks in central park are out of the question but long walks are necessary since he is young and spirited, so recreation time is taken up by long urban walks where we can take refuge behind a parked car if we see other dogs. Work and volunteer work keeps postponing a day up in Mamaroneck.
I will settle for some small respite I tell myself, just a little tiny something, and on cue my Euphorbia Milli blooms. Small tiny exquisite yellow flowers. I move the pot closer to my desk so that I can gaze intermittantly at it. Outside on the fire escape my Chinatown Chillis begin to bloom. They have grown from the seed of small but fiery Thai Chilli Peppers from Chinatown. Cleaning out the vegetable tray of my fridge in spring I found a couple of stray shrivelled up peppers. Why not I thought and took them up to plant in Mamaroneck. I brought a couple of the seedlings back to NYC and they have grown into fairly interesting plants- tall and fine leaved with delicate white flowers.
The first signs of the approaching fall usually start with the arrival of Gingko leaves, delicate little yellow calling cards outside my front door announcing the inevitable. This year the signs were harsher, a week or so ago the pavement was littered with acorns and small oak branches ripped off in recurrung bad weather. Today, on the first day of fall walking around downtown Manhattan I noticed some crab apples on smaller obviously more recently planted trees. To be honest they didn't really look in the peak of health. Then there was the glimpse of a single red berry through a gap in a swathe of construction fabric. Fall is off on a slightly grim start this year and maybe all these visions of vertical gardens and skyscraper farms has made the actual reality of urban nature a tiny bit underwhelming.
I've discovered that late in the season, if I go down to the farmer's market late in the afternoon, I'm able to buy heirloom tomatoes at a great price. There's a particular vendor that sells of all his tomatoes at a dollar a bag. I'd say each bag is 2 to 3 pounds. I came home with two huge bags, I've been eating tomatoes every day and even made two jars of sauce to freeze. Two weeks ago when I came home with the half that amount from the Mamaroneck vegetable garden, the roundtrip train fare was fourteen dollars. Not exactly good economics and that doesn't factor in the cost of seeds or plants. Somehow it doesn't seem to matter but what's odd is price does matter at the beginning of the season as I usually refuse to buy the first tomatoes of the season which start off around 4.99 a pound and as high as 5.99 a pound. I guess it's not the price of tomatoes- it's the price of experience. I won't pay a high price to experience the taste of tomatoes early but I will pay an exorbitant one for the experience of eating one I've grown.
Two things tell me that the summer is ending in Mamaroneck. The Judge's Hostas bloom almost precisely on August 15 and there's a realization that the long days are numbered. Then the autumn clematis starts to flower. I just about caught the very tail end of the hostas, their scent is exquisite mingled with the phlox, but they had already begun to look a little raggedy. The clematis was a mass of tight buds with a few popped blooms. Where did this summer go? It seemed to start well enough, early even, as I got my gardening on a lot earlier this year, and then in the middle there was that wonderful week in Rhode Island but there seemed to be no momentum. It never seemed to actually take off, and here we are at the end.