2020-12-03

Recipe: Maple Sugar Cookies

Leaves of Acer saccharum, sugar maple, Inwood Hill Park, November 2015

Living in New York City most of my life, I'm not in what one would think of as "maple country". But the northeast is rich with sugarbushes - the forests of maple trees from which sap is harvested and boiled down to make this nectar of the gods. And probably every NYC Greenmarket (farmers' market) has at least one farmer that sells maple syrup and other maple prodcuts, even if it's not their primary business.

2020-11-30

Extinct Plants of northern North America 2020

Wanna know what's really scary? Extinction. #ExtinctSymbol #Resist

As in past years, I'm limiting this list to northern North America for two reasons:

  1. Restricting this list geographically is in keeping with my specialization in plants native to northeastern North America.
  2. There are many more tropical plants, and plant extinctions, than I can manage.

In past years, I've only been able to find records for 6 plant species that have gone extinct. This year's list is a major update: 59 extinctions, and 7 extinct in the wild. This is largely due to the research presented in this August 2020 paper:

Vascular plant extinction in the continental United States and Canada

The summary is terse, and grim:

2020-09-30

Mary Kreussling, 1931-2020

If you want to read these in sequence:
2020-09-23The Night's Watch
2020-09-25Waking Up From Death 
2020-09-28The Last Goodbyes



My Mother's Deathbed

My mother passed away peacefully at home this morning around 5:30 am, Eastern Time. She'd been in home hospice for the past week. She'd been living at home with my sister since 2009, where she moved after our father passed away. She was 89 years old.

2020-09-28

The Last Goodbyes

20200926_213307

2020-09-26 21:50

I said my last goodbye to my mother today. I don’t think she heard me. I whispered, because I didn’t want to disturb her, and she’s hard of hearing as it is.

I don’t expect her to rally again. I don’t expect any more lucid minutes, or moments. I believe our mother is gone, but her body doesn’t know it yet.

2020-09-25

Waking Up From Death

Goodbye #2

We’re nearing the end. Mom hasn’t eaten anything, not even a popsicle, in two days. The “comfort” drugs are powerful, blunt instruments that can only do so much to relieve her pain and discomfort. She is sleeping more and more. Her breath is shallow, but – thankfully – untroubled right now.

2020-09-23

The Night's Watch

Raja

While the world burns down around us, I am sitting in a darkened room, with just the sounds of a small table fan and an oxygen concentrator, watching over my mother. My only company is Raja, one of the house cats in my sister’s house, keeping watch over my left shoulder.

2020-05-14

Home of the Wild

A month ago, Carrie Seltzer (@carrieseltzer) created the "Home Projects" iNaturalist Umbrella Project - a Project of Projects - for "personal" Projects of people's homes, gardens, or yards:
As we all more closely inspect our immediate surroundings as of April 2020, it seemed like a good time to pull together some projects that capture biodiversity in homes around the world.

- Carrie Seltzer on iNaturalist

Growth of a Garden

I've been gardening in New York City for four decades, over four different gardens. I've incorporated native plants in each garden, though my knowledge, understanding, and focus, has shifted and grown over time.
Bombus citrinus, lemon cuckoo bumble bee, on Helianthus in my front yard, August 2018

2020-05-11

Greater Celandine v. Celandine Poppy

2020-05-13: Added comparison of seedpods (easiest way to distinguish the two) and sap (not reliable).

I've been seeing a lot of misidentifications - or perhaps wishful ones - of the invasive Chelidonium majus, greater celandine as the Eastern U.S. native Stylophorum diphyllum, celandine poppy. Here is a visual guide for distinguishing them.

2020-05-06

Grief and Gardening: The Defiant Gardener

Rhododendron periclymenoides, pinxterbloom azalea, blooming in the backyard, May 2020

Normally, this time of year would be busy with garden tours, workshops, talks and lectures, plant swaps and sales. In past years, my garden has been on tour for NYC Wildflower Week. Two years ago I spoke at the Native Plants in the Landscape Conference in Millersville, Pennsylvania. Last June I hosted the most recent of my Pollinator Safaris in my garden.

I had multiple engagements planned for this Spring, and into the Summer. I was going to speak on a panel about pollinators in NYC. This past weekend would have been the 10th Anniversary of the Great Flatbush Plant Swap, of which I was one of the founders. I would have been doing hands-on workshops on gardening with native plants in community gardens.

This year there is none of that. The reason, of course, is the global pandemic, COVID-19, caused by the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV2.

As I write this, I have been working from home for 8 weeks. The same week I started working from home, the first death from COVID-19 was recorded in New York City. Now, less than 2 months later, nearly 20,000 are dead.



We still have 200 dying every day. This is not anywhere near "over".

The language and lessons of trauma - and recovery - are what we need to embrace right now.

2020-04-13

Correspondence, April 2020

I received an unexpected, and much-welcomed, message from a colleague, asking how I was doing. My response ran a little long, so I thought I would reproduce it here. Annotated with links, where applicable.

Double-flowering bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis, blooming in my backyard, April 2020

We are doing well, as well as can be expected. My husband and I have both been (lucky enough to be) working from home. It's 5 weeks for me this week.

2020-04-06

Grief and Gardening: A Feast of Losses

It's been barely a month since the first handful of COVID-19/SARS-CoV2 cases were reported in New York State. On March 4, there were 6 confirmed cases.

As I write this:
  • There are nearly 5,000 dead in New York.
  • Nearly 3,500 have died in New York City alone. If NYC was a country, it would be 6th in the world in deaths.
It's not over. We face the worst in the days ahead. But an end - for New York, at least - is in sight.

Projected COVID-19 Deaths per Day for NY as of 2020-04-04

2020-03-27

Drumbeat

2020-04-21: The McSweeney's piece was picked up by YES! Magazine. Search for "Flatbush". or "AIDS".
2020-03-30: I adapted some of this blog post, and several of my tweets on this subject, for a short post on McSweeney's:
Do Not Deny What You Feel
2020-03-29: Updated


As a child, even as I watched rockets launch from my bedroom window, the news kept us apprised of the ever-rising (American) casualties from the Vietnam War. As an adolesecent, I was fascinated and appalled by old issues of LIFE magazine published during World War II. Every article, every ad, devoted to the war. That terrified me the most: that there was no escape from it.

That's where we are: at war.

2020-03-19

Grief and Gardening: A Dissetling Spring


"The Return of Persephone", Frederic Leighton, 1896 (four years before his death)

The March Equinox - Spring or Vernal, in the Northern Hemisphere - occurs at 11:49 PM Eastern Daylight Time this evening. It's the earliest it's occurred in over a century. It seems fitting, given the warm, nearly snowless winter, and the quickened pace of everything else.