Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The October filter

October is about the Boston ivy doing its final best. It is a misunderstood vine (at least in the US, where it is often neurotically ripped from walls, ironically doing actual harm, then). Its overlapping, leafy layers are good for buildings and people, insulating them in summer, and catching pollution on thousands of five-pointed leaves. And the purple fruits feed birds on their way south. This building (a short walk from home) is a happy exception and it looks wonderful.

October is also when blewits appear. Slicing their stalks lets you see if they are buggy or not (in warm weather, they can be). No holes? No bugs. They are delicious.

And this October has been the best hen month, ever. Hen of the woods, or maitake: bad for trees (usually they appear on oaks, which they eventually kill) but very good for humans.

And it is the month for late grasses allowed to grow tall in Green-Wood Cemetery.

...where we spent a recent evening after the gates had closed, listening to an outdoor performance of Fauré's Requiem. None of the backbone of Mozart or Verdi, but it has a dramatic moment. Crickets and migrating geese and city lights made it an unforgettably beautiful experience. 

It is also a good time to visit the city's edges, like Hunter Island in Pelham Bay Park, where we walked and picnicked last weekend, identifying plants and mushrooms along the way.

Our group found hen of the woods and lion's mane and beautiful seaweeds and a brave few swam in the high-tide Long Island Sound, smooth as a swimming pool.

October is when the prickly ash on the terrace redeems itself. It needs to be root-pruned - the green veins tell me the roots are in trouble and can't absorb enough nutrients. But when the leaves turn orange they are gorgeous.

Late in the month flower sellers acquiesce to the hues of Halloween.

And we are all watched. 

All the time.


Chrysanthemum Pop-Up Walk, Central Park

2 November 12pm


  1. The Faure at Green Wood sounds lovely!

  2. I just have to tell you again that you write so beautifully. The photos are icing on the cake. Thank you.


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