Thursday, October 14, 2010

10, El Arbol

A tree does grow in Brooklyn!

When looking for the house I live in now the most important thing was actually whether it was on a block with trees. Our block, where the houses were all erected in 1907, is one of those blocks in Brooklyn still full of trees. From the look of them they're probably not the original trees of the block. I'm imagining long-gone elms. Anyway there's a big plane tree that rises up by the top-story window I look out of as I type away on my computer. In summer its leaves remind me of green life and block the worst of the sunlight. In winter, coming soon, it's a little stark but the branches rock wonderfully during a storm. When we moved in there was also a sad little empty spot where a thin tree's sawed off stump remained. This past spring the city came and ripped out that stump and planted a small cherry tree, the first on the block to bloom this year, which seems to be so far doing fine.

Out back the neighbors have a northern magnolia, a wonderful huge tree that bursts into pink bloom the minute a whisper of spring is in the air. It took a hit with all the snow last winter, a big bough crashing to earth with the weight of snow, but the amputee seems to be holding up well despite its loss.

We haven't had frost yet in Brooklyn, so the leaves out front are mostly green, though a tired, brown-at-the-edges, read to give up color. The cold is coming soon I'm sure, and I imagine it will be a quick burst of red and yellow before the leaves all fall to the street below.

I can't bear the thought of not seeing trees outside my window. As much as I love cities, this city, I need that connection to the world below the concrete. I'm not sure how they survive here, but they do.

Thanks, Tree!


  1. One of the things I loved about Detroit. It is a city of trees. As the city empties out it is rapidly turning back into a forest. Deer and pheasants roam the streets. A legacy of Detroit when it was the workers paradise, sort of. Every MAN could aspire to a decent union job and a little house and yard of his own. (where he could beat his wife and kids in private). Millions of empty little houses have been torn down leaving vacant lots and trees. Young hippies have even been moving back into the city and homesteading empty blocks, planting gardens and orchards. Reminds me of Ken MacLeod's science fiction. As capitalism collapses he imagines open, three way class war between the old working class, the capitalist state and the greens. The workers and the greens form alliances and split for tactical reasons but they are hostile to one another.

  2. I keep reading about Detroit with a sort of fascination. Houses are so cheap there I fantasize about retiring in a small house, letting the entire block around me revert, doing exactly what you describe. Have you been there in the last few years?

  3. plants in general are nice.

    i'm trying to coax some morning glories to grow inside, but it isn't working. i also have a peace lilly and some standard, generic house plants, plus a flower that has been hanging on to life for months now.

    my neighborhood (a converted army barracks = cheap and easy to service housing) has tons of trees. since i moved, we have had two big storms, and the branches have fallen and displaced some families for a few days, but the school (yay for grad student housing!) fixes them right up. i have to go saw done a wobbly branch this weekend that threatens the roof over my kitchen!

  4. freebones I once had a terrific green thumb for indoor plants; my last apartment in Chicago was practically a green house. It really does make a difference, especially if you live in an urban area, to have a little bit of something growing inside. I don't keep that many indoor plants any more...Morning glories are quite lovely. Good luck with that.