Thursday, January 2, 2014

The first day

The beautiful canes of  invasive blackberries (Rubus fruticosus) in Central Park's Ramble yesterday, the first day of 2014. I recognized this patch from a walk I led for the Peninsula Hotel in late summer.

A tree creeper (Certhia americana) doing its thing: creeping.

I had been invited to join Wild Metro's second annual New Year's Day "romp"  in Central Park. The founder, David Burg, is a friend of mine.

We were hoping to see some owls, but the owls had moved on. So we saw winter, instead.

After the romp (more a very slow ramble, really) I decided to skip the subway and go home on foot, walking the 55 blocks between the Ramble and 127th Street fast to undo the knots that slow walking and standing encourage in the oft-quoted region of my lower back.

These icicles were along the rock faces of Central Park West. Close to home, still at the park, I spied some future pokeweed and knotweed foraging spots, in neglected regions that herbicides had not reached.

And saw some January snowdrops (exotic Galanthus). Climactically-confused flowers, about to be shocked by a snowstorm. I like snowstorms.

When I got home, warm for the first time that day after the fast walk, there was a pretty white package waiting at our apartment door. Inside, a note wishing us a good New Year, and a bottle of olive oil, pressed from our upstairs neighbour's olive orchard in Italy. I tasted some in the palm of my hand - deeply green, rich and fruity, with plenty of peppery heat.

Harlem has its advantages.


  1. A friend and I were talking just before Christmas about the controversy regarding the "extra virgin olive oil labeling," and she told me that we have olive trees growing and producing in Georgia! (The Georgia north of Florida, that one.)
    My friend had bought some for $35 or so as a (yes, just one) Christmas present. She doesn't know yet how the recipients liked it.

  2. What a nice neighbour.Is this the one who bakes sourdough?

  3. You get olive oil and snow. Lucky devil.

  4. How do I find olive oil with peppery heat? Most olive oils are very fruity. In the last century while I was growing up my Mom used Pompei Olive Oil - pretty commercial, but it had that elusive peppery green taste. No more. Lucky you to have a neighbor with an olive grove!!!

    1. Hi Shelley - I don't know enough about olive oil production to know what conditions produce the pepperiness. A lot of the South African extra virgin olive oils we tasted had it. And yes, we do feel lucky, especially as he is generous!

    2. I'm wondering if it has to do with the harvest time. Fruity might be very ripe. Peppery might be just ripe or almost ripe. Something to investigate for the new year!

  5. I hope you found some space heaters and stay warm during the very cold weather!
    What a useful present to get direct from the grower olive oil! Maybe homemade soup and bread are on the menu at your home?

  6. Did you find a slipper source yet? Have you considered the Lasso? They look
    I also came across these lovely linen ones: but they look too skinny for the temperatures the east coast is getting this winter. Today Nova Scotia is enjoying the blizzard you sent us. Thanks for the winter wonderland!

  7. I too spent some time in Central Park on New Year's Day-two laps around the reservoir, (hadn't been in over a year! The reservoir that is, not the park) great way to start off the new year.
    Shelley-if you like peppery olive oil, my chef husband said Tuscan olive oil is the way to go.


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