Archive for June 4th, 2009

Warning: insect and spider content follows.

Yesterday I was sitting on the back steps in between rain storms, and admiring the mix of plants that are currently thriving.  At the base of the steps, a 5′ tall specimen of sneezeweed was being visited by at least 5 different species of bees and small wasps, a large dragonfly was perched on a fig leaf, to my right a dandelion relative sported several stages of tiny yellow flowers and white seed puffs, a large daring jumping spider was eyeing me from the peony bush, and what I thought was a pesky gnat near my arm turned out to be a small green spider, with little red palps — it also seemed to be a jumper, but from another, less wooly, side of that family.  Further research, which led me to the link I gave for it, suggests its common name is the Magnolia Green Spider.  Typically they live a bit south from here, and I was glad I hadn’t crushed it!

I know I’ve got ‘weeds’ in the yard.  If all the sedges up and died, I would not miss them, nor the paper-cut-like injuries I get when I’m trying to uproot them.  But the weeds that bloom [other than creeping charlie and traditional dandelions] get to stay on for a little bit if they’re native, so the local winged creatures get an oasis of “real food” amid the more manicured urban gardens in the area.

Another side effect of letting things be a bit wild is that I’m discovering some things that I wouldn’t have dreamed would make it though the winter seemed to have done just fine:  there are marigolds sprouting from last years’ seeds in the nearby churchyard, and some of my Victoria sage twigs in the front yard actually have basal leaves starting to fledge out.  That’s absolutely mad, although I won’t complain right now.

…except perhaps to note that if a zone 9 plant like the Victoria sage and a spider from North Carolina are happy in my yard, that whole climate chaos thing seems to be doing a demo in my yard. Hmmn.

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I think there are fine lines between artistic exploration and dangerous impracticality.  So when I read about a group planning to live ‘sustainably’ on a barge anchored off docks in New York City, I am a bit skeptical.  What do they plan on growing for food?  What will they do for fresh water?  I’m not encouraged to be optimistic when the project leader is noted for things like:

For her part, Ms. Mattingly didn’t seem too concerned. “I can’t wait to get on board,” she said, noting that she had already boxed up her books and artwork, and although she still has her apartment in Queens for a few more days, is basically living out of three tote bags, which she calls her “mobile office.” (Then again, in an earlier project, the “Wearable Home,” Ms. Mattingly proposed the idea that an all-weather jumpsuit equipped with solar panels and a water purifier might be all the shelter a person needs.)

and later in the article:

Ms. Mattingly has been growing tomatoes and onions on her windowsill (as have other crew members), but they won’t be ripe by next week, and she acknowledged the possibility that the onboard gardens and the eggs laid by the chickens won’t provide enough food to feed four people for five months.

“We worked out a deal with the Union Square Greenmarket, where we’re going to barter for food,” she said. She hadn’t yet figured out what to offer in exchange. But she didn’t seem particularly troubled by that, or by the fact that supplementing the food supply meant that their community wouldn’t actually be self-sustaining.

As for the lack of personal space, she and Ms. Ward seemed equally untroubled.

“I’m not worried at all,” Ms. Ward said. “I mean, the Waterpod has a guest room. I don’t think any New York apartment I’ve lived in has had a guest room.”

I wish them all the best, though I suspect a big ol’ case of Clue would be the best possible barge-warming gift…

What does your vision of the Clue Fairy look like?  And what is he or she carrying?  Discuss.

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