Welcome to "The Last Leaf Gardener," a blog by Patricia Youngquist. I am a photo-artist, bird-lover and urban gardener living in NYC. My website includes my non-nature themed images (Black and White as well as Kaleidoscopic). Click on the second image in sidebar (Right)) to visit. I also have published a three volume book series, "Words In Our Beak," in which the stories are told by Cam, the bird pictured above. Click on the first image in the sidebar (also Right) for info.
Please read the press release for the soft-cover version of Words In Our Beak Volume One.
ADDENDUM FALL 2018:
The digital versions of Volume One within the Words In Our Beak book series that are mentioned in this entry may only remain available for a limited time, but hardcover versions of Volume One, Two and Three can now be found wherever books are sold.
Please click here to go to my blog post that provides details as to where you can get these books.
Additionally, I have rendered some images from these books into other formats and they are available viaFine Art America(FAA). Some of my other photographs (Black & White Collection, Kaleidoscopic Images and the famous Mandarin duck who visited NYC) can also be found on my FAA pages.
The image atop this entry is from the Facebook Page for Gowanus Nursery in Brooklyn. It is one of the places where I have gotten some of the flora that grows in my rooftop garden, which is something I mentioned in a post that I published here on Blogger on March 22nd, 2017.
My visiting American robin is honored to learn that his bird type is the one whose been chosen to be part of their announcement. And, I'm honored that an American robin still visits me,
and even did so during snowy times,
as evidenced in a number of my entries here on Blogger.
In any event in the aforementioned entry re Gowanus Nursery, I discuss the fact that they had to delay their opening on two occasions because of wintery conditions; and I also stated that I had to postpone my garden de-winterizing two times for the same reason.
The two photos atop this entry features European starlings spending time in my urban garden. In the first one, a starling is alighting upon the branches of my kiwi vines; which, as you may recall, are a flora type that inspired my first garden themed movie, The Kiwi Speaks! Fifteen Minutes of Fame...almost; which can be within my Vimeo channel, by clicking here. In the second one, starlings are having a heated discussion at one of my bird feeders. Both of these photographs were taken in bygone years. As you may know, this bird type has been the subject of a number of my entries within my cyber-venues, and, my post recent post regarding them was published here on Blogger nearly two weeks ago (March 23rd 2017).
In any event, the European starlings who visited my rooftop garden yesterday, and who can be seen doing so, in the following pictures,
are the inspiration for this blog posting. The images directly above, features a shameless male starling checking out (if not leering at ) a female starling as a possible mate. The female pictured here seems a little uncomfortable (as evidenced by the way she is holding herself) at being scrutinized.
Today, March, the twenty-eighth, marks the thirty-fourth anniversary of my Tuesday's Truths series here on Blogger. It is also eight days since the official onset of spring.
And FYI, the herb known as Allium schoenoprasum (Chives), pictured above, where it is making a come back from winter in my rooftop garden, is considered by many, to be the first harbinger of spring. I wrote about this in 2010 here on Blogger, where I included a picture of a greeting card that I created which was inspired by this herb (seen below),
and I stated, "Seemingly, nothing better announces the end of winter than the sight of sprightly chives. Their bright green grass–like appearance is the very first harbinger of the long awaited season. Chives become the guest of honor at Rites of Spring soirées. Their finely cut leaves enhance cheese spreads being served on a Tom Cat baguette with a goblet of Pinot Gris. When swirled into a Vermont cheddar cheese omelet, they add pizzazz to a brunch — especially if there are flutes of champagne to drink with it. "Additionally, chives are often added to Vichyssoise, another soirée favorite. The thin wispy leaves of chives can be used to make a flavored ribbon when tying bunches of raw veggies such as carrots. If they are not being grown for harvesting, beautiful and long–lasting lilac–colored flowers develop at their spears! These make elegant centerpieces and when tied into a bouquet with strands of chives, they make a unique hostess gift."
I now confess that, even though it's been over seven years since I published the aforementioned blog post, I'm no longer sure if chives are the FIRST harbinger of spring. This is because I came across a mini essay THE ARRIVAL OF SPRING, by E.B. White (posted below),
As you can see, White's essay was published on this day, sixty-four years ago today. I do appreciate how White saw the onset of spring with the strengthening and lengthening of light!
But, rather it is chives coming back from their long winter's nap, or the strengthening and lengthening of light, it's nice to know that the spring season for this year of 2017, may be about to begin here in NYC!
As of today, March the 27th 2017, it will be one week since the "bombogenesis" nor'easter (snowstorm) named, Stella, did her (ahem) "magic" in many parts of the northeastern part of the United States. The snow which fell during her time in NYC, where I live and have my rooftop garden, was not our first snowfall for March of 2017.
The picture atop this entry, which was taken in my place, shows an American robin alighting upon the branches of my kiwi vines, during a snowfall that occurred here on a little over three weeks ago on the10th of March. Some folks in NYC found it unnerving because during the month of February, we had some very warm days, which followed our groundhog's prediction of an early spring.
However, that aforementioned snowfall during the month of March, when an early spring had been predicted, was not a first for NYC.
In his mini-essay, TOMORROW SNOW, (which was published on March the 20th in 1948), E.B. White discussed this phenomenon.
Because I grew up in Illinois, I'm no stranger to snow occurring during the month of March. And, I do recall some severe snow storms happening in this month. However, I never got to observe the antics of wild birds as I did during Stella. I've written about it in my recent entries here on Blogger, which I posted on March 14th, March 15th, March 16th, and, March 18th.
Today I'd like to share something new that I learned re the small songbirds (who are also called perching birds or passerines): "They have very little feeling in their feet because their feet have few nerves and blood vessels. This adaptation allows songbirds to land on cold perches such as wires when the weather is frosty."
During Stella, I certainly observed a number of small songbirds (including an American robin), who seemed to cope well in terms of having their tootsies tolerating the elements.
This continued to be the case five days after most of the snow from Stella had melted, but stubborn patches of frozen-snow remained.
The poet, Robert Frost, was born on this day of March 26th in the year 1874, which would make him 133 years old if he were alive today. The photograph atop today's entry is of him on his eighty-fifth birthday (according to Wiki where this image is from) in 1959. He died four years later. When I think of Robert Frost, I recall his quotation, "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."
According to a web-page (which Google Images referred me to for the image which is atop this entry), "Raisins coated in a shell of either milk chocolate or dark chocolate have their own special day of honor each March 24th on National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day."
And another web-page re this holiday explains that "in some countries, chocolate covered raisins are known as Raisinets. (and they also claim that 'more than 1 million Raisinets are produced per hour'). Raisinets were the earliest and one of the most popular brands of the product. Currently made by Nestle, they are the third largest selling candy in United States history. The Blumenthal Chocolate Company introduced the Raisinets to the United States in 1927, and then in 1984, the brand was acquired by Nestle. There are also a large number of other brands of chocolate covered raisins on the market."
Moreover, there is a web-page which describes ways on how to celebrate chocolate covered raisin day! They state that "Chocolate Covered Raisins by the handful is just the beginning of the best ways to celebrate this delicious holiday! Those who truly love Chocolate Covered Raisins reach their innovation into the kitchen, and find new ways to enjoy them. For the truly dedicated, there’s nothing like sprinkling a handful into chocolate cake batter before cooking, and then adorning the top of the cake with them to add a sweet bite to a rich chocolatey cake."
And they announce that "there are those who take the most amazing cookie the world has known (Or the devils chocolate chip to those who aren’t fans) the Oatmeal Raisin cookie, and use Chocolate Covered Raisins to turn this healthy cookie favorite into the pinnacle of decadence..."
The holiday may sound to some as a good excuse to indulge; but it is not an occasion that should be celebrated by sharing one's chocolate-covered raisins with the birds. For while it's true that a number of wild birds (including Northern mockingbirds, blackbirds, song thrushes and American robins), do enjoy raisins; as evidenced by the Northern mockingbird,
who is eating plain raisins while atop the ledge which surrounds my rooftop garden, they should not be fed the chocolate-covered variety. This is because (according to a number of sources) it contains a compound called theobromine. Theobromine is toxic to dogs and cats as well, but birds, again due to their smaller size and more rapid metabolism, may be even more susceptible to its toxic effects.
Therefore, if you celebrated yesterday's holiday by nibbling on chocolate-covered raisins, I hope you did not share them with any birds, for as the song goes their "... will be here to stay."
So, you get the idea, dear reader, share your non-chocolate-covered raisins with your feathered friends. However if you do this in the spring and summer make sure you soak the raisins in water over night before serving them. And I guarantee that you will get much pleasure in watching these creature eat them!
Meanwhile, until you get a chance to offer birds the proper raisins, I hope you enjoy the following photos of a Northern mockingbird induldging in this snack as he sits on a bouncer-style chair in my urban garden.
It came from the FB Page for Gowanus Nursery in Brooklyn; a place where I have gotten a number of the trees (as well as other flora varieties) that grow in my rooftop garden, which is still in a state of winter-to-spring-limbo, as evidenced by the following image.
This photograph was taken by Kreshnik Vushaj. It is a picture which I included in yesterday's entry here on Blogger.
Like the folks at Gowanus nursery, who had scheduled a re-opening (after their winter hiatus) for March 18th 2017; I've been anticipating de-winterizing my rooftop garden; and I had planned to do so with Juan V, a few days before Gowanus's intended date.
However STELLA (the "bombogenesis" nor'easter), decided to visit our area causing all of us to rethink our gardening plans! Juan V and I have rescheduled the date to de-winterize, and Gowanus has rescheduled their season opener, which I saw in my newsfeed; and have posted below.
As you can see, they now hope to open one week later than planed. Juan V and I have also opted to reschedule one week later than planed! We hope to de-winterize a week from today, but from the looks of my garden, as seen in Kreshnik Vushaj's photo, I'm not sure if the weather will be in line with our plans. And last I heard, we are ruled by weather, it is not ruled by us!
So, while I'm hunkered down as far as gardening is concerned, let me take the opportunity to show you some aspects of my garden. I am thankful to Kreshnik Vushaj for my being able to do this, for he surprised me by emailing me a few more views of my wonderful garden.
Here are the copies of Kreshnik Vushaj's photographs, which I've marked up with arrows and numbers in order to tell you what's what.
The arrow marked with numeral one is referring to my Canadian Palm Tree, seen in a solo photo-op below.
The picture of my Canadian Palm Tree is an image I've included in a number of entries here on Blogger, but thanks to Vusha, you can now have a sense of where it stands in relation to the flora and objects which I have here. But getting back to the aforementioned image taken by Kreshnik Vushaj, the arrow indicated with the numeral two, is my bird bath. I have to really monitor the conditions of the water in that bath, for as you can surmise, frozen temps might crack the bird bath; as it is a ceramic piece.
Numbers three-five indicate where I have some of my bird-feeders, while number six indicates the location of much of my flora, huddled together near the building's wall, where they are somewhat protected from the high winds. The next picture by Kreshnik Vushaj,
shows my place from a different angle. Once again, numeral one indicates the Canadian Palm Tree, the number two indicates my bird bath, and the number three indicates one of my bird feeders (the one which accommodates whole peanuts). However in this image, the number four indicates a small bowl holding water for my visiting birds. The water in both the bird bath and this bowl can easily freeze over in these conditions, so I have to monitor it carefully, which I do, as water is very important to a bird's survival. The number five in this image, as well as in Vushaj's other image, indicates my bird feeder that I call a Monopoly Feeder. I gave it that name because it looks like one of the trinkets from the infamous board game. And, again, as it did in Vushaj's previous image, the number six indicates the location of much of my flora, huddled together near the building's wall.
In Vushaj's next photo,
the ceramic bird bath is noted by the number one; and one of my whole peanut feeders is referenced by the number two. Number three is referencing the birds' water bowl; number four points to the Monopoly feeder; number five indicates my huddled plants; and, the number six is pointing at my Canadian Palm Tree.
And with that, I'll leave you with an unmarked photograph by Kreshnik Vusha,
and a recommendation that should you ever need any painting done or interior construction contract related services, contact Kreshnik Vushaj's company Tani & Nick Painting Corp.
I live in a rental apartment, so I have not personally seen Kreshnik Vushaj's work close-up, but I've seen it from the distance of my rooftop to the building he has been working on. Moreover, if Kreshnik Vushaj can take such detailed photos, as evidenced in his pictures here, I imagine his attention to detail in assignments is unsurpassed.
Upon reflection, had Juan V and I been able to do our de-winterizing when we had planned, I might not have had the opportunity to ask Kreshnik Vushaj to take some images for me. I did on a chance encounter, knowing he has access to interesting vantage points of my garden; as evidenced here.
Therefore I cannot be too disappointed re postponements for as Robert Burns knew, “The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft a-gley.”
You can most likely imagine the consequences of a storm of such magnitude, and they pretty much left me homebound, where I spent my time making sure my avian visitors had plenty of water as well as food to eat.
My posts that covered STELLA and her aftermath can be found here on Blogger, they mostly deal with the impact that STELLA had on my rooftop garden as well as my feathered friends who frequent it. The garden is on a roof extension, and a partial view of it can be seen below,
beneath my string lights, in an image which was taken yesterday, March the 20th, by a workman (who is named Kreshnik Vushaj). He is on assignment at a building two doors west of me.
As for the photo atop this entry, of a Common Grackle, it was taken by yours truly, this past Sunday when I was in Central Park. That was the first time I'd been there since the storm. The temperatures were still cold and frozen snow covered non paves surfaces; but the sun's heat, and the antics of a lone Common Grackle warmed me up.
Today, March the 19th, is the eve of the onset of the Spring season for 2017. March the 19th is also the day many observe The Feast of Saint Joseph. I have a small statue of him on a shelf above my desk.
It can be seen in the picture atop this entry in the company of Saint Francis and Saint Jude, who are standing to his right (or lefthand side of the image).
Two days after the "bombogenesis" nor'Easter named STELLA did her stuff in NYC (and other parts of the northeastern portion of the United States), two songbirds, an American Robin and a house sparrow, were having a conversation in my rooftop garden. The robin listened intently as you can surmise from the photo directly above.
Suddenly, for no apparent reason, the sparrow took off, leaving the dumb-founded robin to question the situation by murmuring,
"Was it something I said?," and my overhearing the robin wondering this aloud, caused me to think of a Mutt's comic strip which I've posted directly below.
I featured this strip in a prior post here on Blogger and if you'd like to reference the entry, please click here.
In any event I was subsequently surprised to learn (by chance) that "Was it something I said?," is the name of a British comedy panel game show.
Be that as it may, my learning of the name of a British comedy series did not give me the answer as to why the robin took off so suddenly.
In any event when most folks hear references relating to two birds, the idiom, "You can kill two birds with one stone," often comes up.I don't particularly like the wording of this idiom: the idea of killing any bird with any thing is repulsive to me. Still this idiom has been around since the 1600's.
According to a webpage, "the phrase appears in a 1632 book by J. Morgan Gent and a 1655-1656 exchange between Thomas Hobbes and John Bramhall. Though its precise origin is unclear, the earliest English appearances of the phrase date back to the 17th century."
The aforementioned reference goes on to say, "Some experts date the origins of the phrase back even further, to Greek and Roman mythology and the story of Icarus and Daedalus, who constructed wings to escape from the Labyrinth in Crete. Daedalus is said to have obtained the feathers used to make the pair's famous wings by killing two birds with a single stone. Another common theory attributes the phrase to the Roman poet Ovid."
Regardless of the story of Icarus and Daedalus, or maybe because of it, I have a distaste for the idiom, and prefer to associate two birds with the following nursery rhyme.
"There were two birds sitting on a stone,
Fa, la, la, la, lal, de.
One flew away, and then there was one,
Fa, la, la, la, lal, de.
The other flew after, and then there was none,
Fa, la, la, la, lal, de.
And so the poor stone was left all alone,
Fa, la, la, la, lal, de!"
But all of this analyzing of two birds has not helped me to learn why the sparrow took off so suddenly, leaving the robin to wonder "wth" happened?
In honor of Saint Patrick's Day, a couple decided to re new their vows in the presence of their Irish friends. The event took place at a wooden church, which they posed in front of after the ceremony took place, as seen in the photo atop this entry. A close-up of the happy couple can be seen below,
and, if you follow me on Blogger, then you probably see a lot of familiar faces in the first image.
The photograph atop today's entry was taken during this past Tuesday's nor'Easter; a "bombogenesis," winter storm named STELLA. It's a picture featuring a representative of one of the dozens upon dozens of dozens of European starlings who spent the entire day in my rooftop garden, eating and squawking (not sedate like the one seen here) while the blizzard raged on (as evidenced in the following images).
This bird type that I'm speaking of is a member of the Sturnus vulgaris family whom are also known by the common name of European starling. Evidently this variety of bird was brought to NYC from England by Eugene Schieffelin in March of 1890, and he subsequently released them in Central Park.
Now, in preparation for today's throwback Thursday post, I've read other interesting information re Eugene Schieffelin's "responsibility" in bringing starlings across the pond, as well as interesting facts re this ubiquitous bird type, all of which I'm sharing in this entry.