Saturday, February 26, 2011

Must Read: The Wave by Susan Casey

"The Wave" by Susan Casey, Doubleday publishing, copyright 2010

This was a gift from my boss back during the holidays, and I can't tell you what an informative and enjoyable read it proved to be. In The Wave Susan Casey talks about our fascination with the ocean and waves and how we ultimately have no idea of the real power that is out there. Usually surf writing can be pretty lacking but in this case I thought the book to be smart, well-written and scientific enough to be captivated the whole time. From personal insights into living legends like Laird Hamilton to the research trips deep within the depths of Lloyd's of London Casey paints a complete picture of the ocean as it really is, vast and complicated and more powerful than we can imagine. Certainly I would recommend this to any of my fellow surfers but more I would recommend it to anyone who has ever stared in awe at the sea, swam in it's strong embrace, or wondered what the ocean is capable of. The Wave begins to give us a little 21st Century glimpse, and you can practically smell the salt spray. I needed a good read to get me through the frigid winter months when my 4/3 just isn't warm enough and this was just what the doctor ordered. Definitely check it out.

video inspiration

I'm not sure where my friend found this video. But knowing my love of surf and surf photography Diane was quick to have me check this out at work a few days back. Since I've found myself revisiting it every day. ...beautiful imagery, fabulous mantra, and all in all a wonderful way to start the day.

I apologize I do not know the film maker for I would like to give him proper kudos, but the credit acknowledges Astray Films. Bravo, Astray Films, bravo!

DARK SIDE OF THE LENS from Astray Films on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

sunrise headphones

"Without giving anything away,
I can say it's by the sea.
It's a house that used to be the home of a friend of mine.
Without giving anything away,
you'll find ships inside of bottles,
and the garden's overgrown,
the house is white but the paint is coming off.

I didn't know if you wanted to,
when I came to pick you up.
But you didn't even hesitate,
and now you and me are on our way.
I think I've brought everything we need,
so don't look back,
don't think of the other places you should have been
it's a good thing that you came along with me.

Gold in the air of summer,
you'll shine like gold in the air of summer."

Clearly we are still far from summer but this sounded amazing on the way to work this early morning. This is the Kings of Convenience song "Gold In The Air Of Summer" off their genius, chill album Riot On An Empty Street (2004).

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ulmus americana at dusk

The American elm tree is a magnificent creature. Walking across the north end of Central Park to a meeting on the west side I found this guy standing strong against the cold evening skyline. Plagued by Dutch Elm Disease it's wonderful to still find these trees around the northeast.

not in the mood this morning

...or the alternative title, would rather be surfing.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Malus floribunda and snow

This Japanese flowering crabapple tree is one of the largest, if not the largest of it's species in Central Park. Planted during the original installation of the Conservatory Garden which opened in 1937, this beautiful specimen is at least 75 years old, if not a few years older. ...and clearly fabulous in every season.

another sunwashed morning

I just can't get enough of these bright mornings with that low sun. In this case I really love the glowing lamp post. ...that little taste of city in an otherwise natural shot.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The First Taste: Galanthus #1

If you are a New Yorker you know how much snow we have contended with these last months and it's reluctance to dissipate, especially in the shadier parts of the garden. Mid-week the temperatures reached the 60's and finally we began to see some ground for the first time since December. People began to come out of their offices and classrooms excited to shed the extra layers and eat their lunches basking in the sun and the premature warm spell. Coworkers and fellow horticultural minds spoke of their first floral sightings for the new year. I had yet to see the first signs myself, and then I spotted this white speck at the base of a fabulous old Cornus mas while excavating another buried staircase. Upon closer inspection I realized I had finally had my first sighting for 2011, in the form of a perfect solitary little Galanthus.
Galanthus are commonly called snowdrops. As I have mentioned before, there are basically two kinds of snowdrops that we see in the northeast landscape this time of year. Both Eurasian species in the Amaryllidaceae family the quick ID characteristic are the green spots on the inner petals of the tiny, pendulous white flowers. This guy having two green markings means he is likely Galanthus elwesii and not his close relative, the one-spotted Galanthus nivalis. Galanthus elwesii is also known for it's more glaucous leaves, meaning they have more of a waxy coating to them. Lastly as you can see in these closer shots the opposite leaves are folded inside the other which can be another ID characteristic as you begin to train your botanical eye. Galathus nivalis is quite similar looking but upon closer inspection you will see those leaves are still slightly glaucous but flatter in nature, without the overlap you see among G. elwesii. So there you go, your horticultural factoid of the day.

Thanks to my dear friend Sarah Carter Roberts as well as the great reference book Bulbs by Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix, copyright Random House, 1989)


On a woodland slope in Central Park one of my favorite late winter bloomers is once again coming to life. Hamamelis vernalis is commonly called winter witchhazel, a fabulous medium-sized native shrub and the latest of the North American Hamamelis species to bloom.

Every year I seem to take the same shots of these first shrubs and bulbs to throw some color into the late winter landscape. And so as I was approaching my reliable friend for the "hort porn" macro shots I thought to myself, "how can I change it up this year and make these more interesting". Not that the shrub and it's unique spidery flowers aren't amazing in their own right, but you might know what I'm talking about. Well, luckily for me nature stepped in and decided to rock my world. Bees!

As I sniffed the medicinal fragrance that I have come to love about this plant I heard the buzzing. Pulling back I realized the witchhazel was loaded with bees doing their wild dance among the clusters of yellow and maroon flowers. The first bee sighting of the year my focus quickly shifted to these magnificent little pollinators. A few great shots came from the series. Remember, the more native species you incorporate into your garden the more you also support and provide for local bird and insect populations, all good things.

Enjoy, and Happy Almost Spring!

I think this one might take the cake:
(love the sun glowing through the bee's abdomen!)
For more info on Hamamelis visit last years post here.

Friday, February 18, 2011

it begins

We made it to late winter. The weather gave us a few freak days in the 60's and it did wonders for the psyche and for the garden. At the start of the week I uncovered some small barberry pinned down by the snow and ice. Today I looked underneath the line of rounded shrubs and found these guys. Galanthus are commonly called snowdrops and for good reason. As the last masses of snow finally melt and dissipate these fabulous little late winter bulbs waste no time reminding us that spring is just around the corner. Well, a month and two days but who's counting?!?

Pic of the Day: Pimp My Ride

You gotta love the pimped out Buick Estate Wagon, complete with faux wood siding. I pass this car every day and it continually makes me chuckle. "Grocery getter gone bad!" Ah, another testimonial that you can't take life too seriously. Or in other words, Harlem rules. Happy Friday all.

(horticultural posts coming soon)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tonight's Wine Selection

When I met my now wife I learned quickly about her love of all things Malbec. These years later we have discovered an organic Argentinian wine that we love. Oko I.P. Mendoza Malbec (2009) rings in at about $12 and is a great go-to vino the next time you have a date night, throw together a good tomato sauce or just need a drink. The label boasts aromas of plum, spice, and red fruit with hints of mocha. I am no wine connoisseur, I don't know about all that stuff, I just know the price is right and it never lets us down. So cheers,

(oh, and the snazzy wood siding and wallpaper is a mini glimpse into our killer new kitchen. more pics to come soon)

February, at dusk

the sunsets and sky and clouds have been sensational this month, I just can't help myself

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pic of the Day: Sun Sliver

For a brief moment in the morning the sun beams through the buildings along Fifth Avenue creating a spotlight on the Wisteria covered pergola in the central section of the Conservatory Garden in Central Park. What a fabulous visual, fleeting, no photoshop required.

(this is a test, my first foray into the world of mobile blogging action - let's hope it's the start of many good things to come! Cheers, aef)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pic of the Day: Sunrise in Queens

I'm definitely having way too much fun with my new iPhone 4. My first plunge into the world of the "smart phone" and I gotta admit I'm buying the hype. This thing is awesome. Starting the new commute to work, Queens, 6:40am.