Innovation

on the Grand Concourse takes some interesting forms as winter approaches.

A fine new scooter (just the sight of it a torment to me since I crashed on an e-bike in August) sports a nifty add-on – custom mittens to keep a rider toasty.

The lime green paint that the developers slathered over the plywood surrounding their lot, no doubt to cover the “eyesore” of graffiti that completely covered the fencing, only lasted a few days until it was bombed again by artists. Looks even more dashing now than it did before, if you ask me. I like a little silver with my acid.

Peering with another arborist up at a street tree at 188 Street to see if it needs pruning, out pops something amazing. A new discovery: a timeline of store signs that had never been removed before the next iteration was hung. I love secret histories. 

The oldest sign dates to a time when the Grand Concourse was truly grand.

Newfangled Christmas lights, glowing purple day as well as night, entwining the honey locust right by where I park my car. Thank you, Four Brothers Discount!

If I’m not mistaken, glowing purple icicles just came into fashion this year.

Behold, fresh-dug and filled tree pits! Young trees will arrive soon for planting.

Takes a lot of men and a lot of large machines to prepare a good-size site on the new median.

Outside arboricultural circles people don’t know about structural soil, but it is the elixir of planting materials, along with good topsoil of course. Structural soil resembles gravel covered in mud, and in fact it is a bit like that in its composition, but is of course a bit more scientific. 

The best known type, developed at Cornell University, consists of crushed stone blended with hydrogel and moist loam; its magic lies in the fact that street trees’ roots are free to roam in the un-compacted material. Which is what trees like and need. You have to blend it like pancake mix before you place it in the tree pit. If you were to look under the sidewalk – now is your chance— you would find that all the best tree pits now feature structural soil.

Have you thought recently about what lies under the sidewalk as you amble along like the flaneur that you are? Do.

New stripes for Jimmy, the carpenter extraordinaire, who religiously builds and repairs tree guards. He likes to claim his house is decorated in orange snow fencing.

A new castoff at the beauty salon. Why would anyone throw this out?

A new store has popped up along the avenue, near Fordham Road.

The proprietors might be lying, of course, about their hours. “24/7” is just a concept to put on your sign while you’re sleeping it off in your cozy wintertime bed. The gate goes up at around 6pm or whenever they roll in. That’s when the hookah boys arrive for supplies. At last count this is the third hookah shop within a 10-block radius. The hookah boys liked to hang out in the new, empty concrete median in the warm weather, posturing and proudly puffing. Now that there is soil and plants filling their concrete clubhouse, not so much. The cool kids must be home getting on their moms’ nerves.

Finally, there’s a new dawn.

A new dawn every day, with real clouds that weren’t painted in your mind, to be followed by discoveries you couldn’t have imagined. Come for the workday, stay for the new day.

Don’t mind if I do.

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