Trees and Traditions
An article on fig trees spurs a reflection on forgotten gardens and how they might change our experience of urban history.
Readying for Winter
With the arrival of a difficult winter, simple comforts and pastimes might provide much-needed support.
Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas
While sitting at my desk over the past several weeks, I’ve been listening almost exclusively to the local NPR-affiliate’s Christmas classical music stream. Although I won’t be celebrating the holiday season with family and friends this year, I’m embracing the season.
A Trip to the Green Market
A rainy morning trip to the Union Square Green Market instills surprise and solace. Such everyday experiences seem faraway and extraordinary during the pandemic.
Fall Writing Projects
The fall brings several new writing projects, including contributing to a digital non-profit and serving as a book critic.
Lovecraft & New York: My Second Book
After months and weeks of cryptic allusions, I’m excited to announce my publishing contract for a biography on seminal author H. P. Lovecraft and his time in New York City.
Although the pandemic has curtailed festivities, we can still celebrate Halloween at home with books and entertainment. Shared are several current favorites.
A View from Hudson
Last weekend, I traveled to the Hudson River Valley to begin production on a short film documentary. The view of the Hudson River from the train never fails to thrill and inspire me. This waterway and region holds such a mythic space in American arts and letters. In a small way, this film project initiated…
Moonlight and Sand
Watching the moon rise above the beach in Ocean Grove, New Jersey provides solace amid the ongoing pandemic.
An Autumn Break
Due to several work projects and writing deadlines, I’ll be taking a break from the blog for the remainder of September. Never fear, dear reader, I shall return in October. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy (and comment upon) some of my past posts.
A Paean to a City
The seemingly never-ending COVID-19 pandemic has shredded municipal budgets and tax bases. A regular cycle of news stories darkly speculate as to the health of the American city. Essential services–mass transit, public parks, schools–seem imperiled. The current presidential administration and its conservative allies delight at the situation. At best, the future of our cites seem…
A Different Spread
Wealthy New Yorkers fleeing COVID-19 set off a chain reaction of displacement and cultural loss in rural New York and other regions. Artists and the creative class might receive blame for the dramatic changes in their communities. However, artists seldom win in stories of gentrification.
Walking: A Re-Discovered Joy
Last week, I walked to the Village neighborhood in downtown Jersey City for the first time since the pandemic began in March. Although this slice of the city is only a twenty- or thirty-minute stroll from my home, I felt as if I was embarking upon a great quest or journey. During the past five…
Picks from the Hermitage
Like many Americans, my daily life has centered around my home since the pandemic began this past spring. I miss seeing friends and family and sharing traditions and moments with them. The pandemic has slowed life down for many of us, and that might be a welcome change. Rarely venturing beyond my own neighborhood provides…
Statues for Whom?
Statues stand as markers or symbols of how we publicly view history. They sit in our parks and and in front of our public buildings. Before the protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd, few of us likely paid much attention to them as we walked to work, returned a library book, or reported…
Founding Fathers: A July 4th Reflection
COVID-19 continues to rage across wide swathes of America. Necessary social distancing prevents traditional picnics and cookouts. Meanwhile, a national wave of protests spurred by the killing of George Floyd has initiated a discussion of our history, specifically our country’s legacy of racism and slavery. This Independence Day will be very different.
A Fig Tree in Summer
A backyard fig tree prompts a reflection on gardening, nature, and place amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and self-isolation.
Stepping Into the Past
Most summer weekends, I like to explore neighborhoods and sites throughout the New York metro area. Although states are easing COVID-19 restrictions, I don’t foresee my explorations resuming this summer. The laissez-faire attitude toward mask-wearing by much of the public does not leave me with a sense of safety, let alone adventure.
Solace in the Garden
Amid the distressing events of the past weeks and days–ongoing pandemic, massive unemployment, police violence, civic unrest, and horrible presidential leadership, I’ve found it challenging to concentrate and write. My subjects have grown smaller in scope and range, largely focusing on the happenings of nature in my wife’s and my backyard.
Happy Memorial Day
Happy Memorial Day! Although hosting a cookout with friends or holding a picnic with extended family might be impossible this year, try to make the most of the holiday.
Plants & Animals
One recent morning, I wandered through my small backyard in Jersey City, New Jersey, reflecting upon the sudden changes and transformations wrought by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The wheels of modern life have ground to a halt. All the while, the natural world continues with its cycles of birth and death, regeneration and decay. Blinded…
One Morning’s Impressions
During the past several weeks, I’ve commented upon the vibrancy and reassertion of nature in my urban neighborhood amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Most of my thoughts are drawn from my observations in my own backyard. Being largely home-bound like most of the country, my world has dramatically shrunk. That is not necessarily an unwelcome…
Springtime in the City
Every season brings particular pleasures and rituals. During the early days of spring, I always enjoy strolling through my neighborhood and observing buildings and streets waking from winter. Gardeners clean up their flower beds. Homeowners tidy their front stoops. Friends chat on park benches. You can feel the energy and expectancy in the air.
Nature Creeps In
Recently, I looked up from writing at my desk and spotted a cardinal pecking at the dirt in my yard–a bold movement of color on the dark mulch and earth. The site captivated me.
Wishing a happy and healthy Easter to you and your families. Although the COVID-19 pandemic might curtail your normal holiday traditions, I hope that you’re observing them in different and creative ways.
Sapientia: Another Blog
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, my office has been working remotely and we postponed a promising calendar of events. Prompted by social distancing and self-isolation, we’re developing novel content to virtually reach audiences. We’re still learning what works and what we realistically might accomplish. One experiment is our new blog, Sapientia.
Charles Burchfield: Nature & the City
A Christmas or two ago, my wife gave me a copy of Blistering Visions: Charles E. Burchfield’s Sublime American Landscape, a catalog accompanying a 2016 exhibition commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Burchfield Penny Art Center in Buffalo, New York.