Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tree of the Week: Hardy Orange (Poncirus trifoliata)

 Poncirus trifoliata is commonly known in the Northeast as hardy orange or bitter orange.  It's a member of the family Rutaceae, like all of it's other citrus and citrus-like relatives.  This is a shot taken now, as the fruit begin to form.  You can see the formidable thorns that hardy orange are known for.

It's a big oval creature, whether you consider it a shrub or tree is up to you.  They tend to grow 10-20' tall and often two-thirds as wide.  On the eastern end of Long Island they bloom late April.  As you can see the white five-petaled flowers are fantastic, and this year very prolific.

 When the flowers pass it begins to leaf-out with the three-part leaves from which it gets it's specific epithet, trifoliata.  Ultimately it's a gnarly, thorny thing that requires a lot of maintenance to be kept really picture perfect but just the same I love it. 
The thorns and hardy acidic fruit make it a fun conversation piece here in our Zone 6b or 7a.  It's safely hardy in Zones 6-9.  Native to China and Korea it was introduced to the US around 1850.  
 It's one of those rare trees that are fun to observe in every season.  The spring flower is sweet and wonderful.  The stems of green and serious thorns mix in well with the summer landscape while still giving it plenty of character.  Not to mention the great fuzzy fruit that begin to form.  By fall they will mature yellow, loaded with lots of seeds and very, very sour.  According to Dirr if you let the fruit set for a few weeks it develops a nice acidity, as well as the peel worthy of being candied, but can't say I have ventured that far with my love of this small tree.  Perhaps I will experiment with a few of these fruits this fall.

Monday, July 16, 2012

"the stoke"

post-work post-surf sunset
Montauk, NY
end of June

Last night I was watching "Step into Liquid", one of our favorite surf videos.  Throughout it they talk about the fun and thrill of riding a wave, the energy and the rush that is like no other, what they call "the stoke".  This morning we woke up and headed east to a spot where I knew we would find waves.  Sure enough we arrived to find our spot totally quiet, the first car in the nonexistent lot.  We walked over the dune to eye hefty lines of waist to chest-high waves coming in and went down to set up camp.  The next two hours was the most fun I've had in a long time.  It was the first time we had good sized surf in a little while and I had nothing else on the agenda for the day.  I relaxed and got into the rhythm of the sets as they rolled in.  I dropped into a few waves which were definitely the biggest I had surfed on this new board, the orange board, and it felt fantastic.  It is a sensation like no other, feeling the energy of the ocean and rising to your feet, dropping down the face of a wave to see that beautiful arc of water coming up to greet you, carving back and forth to enjoy every second of that ride.  And it doesn't matter if you are a pro or if you suck, how big the wave is, or where it is.  It's all about being in that moment and that pure bliss that takes over you.  Not about anybody or anything else, it's about being with yourself and loving that experience.  I needed that today, and am so thankful.  Eventually the lot would get filled up and so would the lineup of surfers in the water.  We retreated to a seafood feast on the Napeague stretch and then home to go about the rest of our day off.  Now evening-time I'm still thinking about a few of those waves, with their perfect slope and clean little barrels.  Still grinning ear to ear there is no question, totally stoked.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

March pics (the transition)

March 14th
My last week in the city the cherry trees around the neighborhood were coming into bloom.  This one is on 30th Avenue, and I'd pass it every day on the way to work.  Behind it is Dillinger's, which was our favorite local spot to go grab a beer and great meal for cheap.  I had no idea during my last week off in Astoria that I would never return for any length of time because I would be so busy with the new job.

But we know we will always have Astoria, Queens, only a couple hours away. 

March 16
This is Puck, aka the fat man, and the wonderfully dated kitchen floor in our apartment. It was a great home, and our landlady Pauline was the best.  The kids had gotten pretty comfy there too. 

March 17
Last Saturday at the apartment.  Mandatory afternoon NASCAR and suds following final packing session.

...and Melvin, aka the fuzz, reminding me it's time for food.

March 19
First day at the new job in the country I wake up to trees and fog, no concrete or skyline in sight for the first time in 9 years.  It's so quiet, almost surreal.

Krissy took me to work that morning and took a few hours before eventually hitting the road and heading back to Queens.  She left me notes all over the house where I was staying for the six weeks we had to be apart.  They made my day, and would for weeks as I kept finding them.  Following my first day at the new gig and new life back out east this was the first one I found.  What can I say, she is loving and very smart woman, and knows me all too well.

March 20
There's an ocean out there somewhere.  Indian Wells before work.

March 22
Headed to Shelter Island to be introduced to a wonderful couple and their most magnificent property. 

A lot different looking than the north end of Central Park.

In the chicken shack rocking and rolling.  Officially back in Bonac.  Definitely a long way from Queens.

March 24
A couple pics from the new office

March 25
For the next weeks Krissy came out on the weekends with another load of stuff from the apartment.  This was a Sunday afternoon trying to relax before I had to see her go back to the city for another week.  We knew the transition was going to be tough, but we just focused on the end goal.

March 29
The end goal: being able to have any kind of day, good or bad, and always being able to go to the water's edge and breath and put it all in perspective.  Invaluable.

Well, that, and checking out the surf. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

koi series

 Today I went and planted a young 'Bloodgood' Japanese maple at an amazing property.  The two men had over three acres and had put in a large beautiful pond in the back yard.  If you stood at the edge for more than a minute the koi would appear.  They were good-sized fish, and obviously very used to people.  I shot these quickly before wrapping up and heading back to the ranch.
 Their movement was fantastic, roiling the water with wonderful energy.
 They just kept coming out of hiding, slowly, each one showing off their unique coloration.

 koi koreography?
The botanical name of koi is Cyprinus carpio which I never knew before.  Cool name, at least to this nature geek.  And though I have never met them a big congratulations and best wishes to J&M, the two men, today celebrating their marriage.  Hope they like their surprise wedding tree.  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

twilight tour at LongHouse

LongHouse Reserve is the 16-acre residence of designer Jack Lenor Larson which over the years has been converted into a most amazing public garden right here in East Hampton.  Loaded with fabulous plantings and thought provoking artwork, LongHouse is tucked away in a nearby residential part of town and is such a treat for me given my love of horticulture and art.  The other evening we went and joined LH staff for an exquisite Twilight Tour which they are now offering on Mondays from 6-8pm.  As advertised it is a perfect time of day to see the gardens and grounds and various pieces and collections in a beautiful light.  Check out these sheered hornbeams (Carpinus) and sculpture by Izumi Masatoshi.

Fuyu, 2008
Swedish granite
H. 59, L. 59, W. 33", 6,600 lbs.
courtesy of Koichi Hara, Gallery Japonesque, San Francisco

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

totally fell off the blog train, ouch.

I get befuddled when trying to figure out how to catch up on this blog. 

I don't know where to begin, or how to encapsulate it all.  Ultimately I will come to the realization that I will never be able to.  The last four months has been the most life changing time of my life, and easy to say the same for my wife.  We moved over 100 miles, left friends and jobs and took a chance.  We bought a house, got great gigs within our fields, and changed our lives completely.  It's been such a whirlwind, but a fabulous one.  ...definitely all for the better.  The start of our new lives together back in the country where we belong. 

This is home now.  The stand of trees going up Old Stone Highway that I have forever loved, now part of my evening commute home. 


Time to hop back on the blog train.