Sunday, September 29, 2013

Revisiting Harlem Roses. Twenty Three Miles on September Twenty Ninth

Almost two years ago, through a fantastic organization known as NYCares (, I volunteered to begin a beautification/restoration process on the Harlem Rose Garden.  The HRG, located on 129th between Madison and 5th, is one of a ton of public green spaces in NYC.  It was my first day of volunteering through the site.  On that 2011 afternoon I was tasked with sawing/chopping down a relatively small cherry blossom tree that was dead and rotting (like most of the other plant life in the garden).  It took several hours. I learned a thing or two about orchestrating the correct cutting angle to direct the tree's fall, and working down whatever sort of stump you're left with.  It was a tiring and satisfying day, and there have been many more similar afternoons in various other parks around the city since then.

This morning I woke from an odd dream that I wont bother detailing here, but the Harlem Rose Garden played a part.  The garden had that unrealistic and glamorized dream sheen on it.  I was drawn back there today, and the space has been completely transformed to a point not far from the ideal my mind dreamt up.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised, given the extremely dedicated botanists who manage these spaces and the nearly two years that have passed, but I was deeply moved.  My contribution to the current state of the garden is minuscule in the scheme of things, but seeing a living and thriving tree in the spot that I had cleared out was exactly what I didn't know I needed to see today.

I traveled 8.5 miles up the East River and over in returning to the garden, and then another 14.5 after a brief rest.  I was fueled by water, a banana, sweet tunes, and amazing weather.  I came away from today realizing with new clarity that when looking to plant something new it is just as important to completely clear, dredge up, and discard that which has passed.

This post is dedicated to my Harlem Rose. You know who you are :)

Quira Ba

Friday, September 6, 2013

Consecutive 2AM Half Marathons

Classic scenario: it's after 1 AM and a sibling approaches you (understandably) lamenting the fact that they didnt get any exercise during the day.  Your sibling also resides roughly 6.5 miles from your place or current location.  Logically the only real solution here is to head out on foot to satisfy the craving for movement, avoid minor mass transit expenses, get some bro (or sis) chatting in, and then return from whence you came.  We've all been there. This is what occurred on back-to-back nights this week.

Running in the dead of night: first of all let me say that if you are female I would advise against it unless you are armed, trained in some form of martial arts/self-defense, or not alone.  Secondly, it's pretty great.  This city might not sleep, but it certainly chills the fuck out extremely early  on a Thursday or Friday morning.  There's much more of a serene quality to everything, the air is normally cooler, and you get to run around pretending to be a super hero patrolling the streets while most others are off in slumberland (eg Pedestrio, or The Insomniest idk you get it).  As long as you're okay with an increase in open air rat activity, and more than a few cabbies treating certain red lights as stop signs then you should be able to extract some unique enjoyment from the activity.

I'm not suggesting that this become routine or commonplace for you unless it fits within a nocturnal schedule, and I do not see myself getting back in to it with regularity.  My motivation for these two nighttime treks (beyond spending time with a brother who is more and more understanding why I live as I do) came mostly from near perfect weather conditions and giving first listens to new anticipated albums.  However, what I felt and gained most from them was a powerful rush of nostalgia.  Several years ago during a period of under-employment I got in to the habit of running twice each day.  One of those runs would often be a bit after the witching hour.  This was a period in which I was beginning to fall in love with the practice, running for little other reason than sheer joy.  I've never stopped feeling that way, but I felt as though I was right back in those older shoes reveling in the fact that I had such astounding ability for locomotion that I had never fully acknowledged, and an essentially limitless span of earth to traverse.

Nostalgia is an unbelievably powerful force for better and for worse, and it's triggers are as varied and random as it is powerful.  Make sure to stop in and visit, but don't take your shoes off and put your feet up.  Go forth and be safe out there.

Almost entirely unrelated gif of an owl stuck in a car's grill:

Quira Ba