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

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