Thursday, January 24, 2008

Parisian Color for a cold, gray, New York day

These are some shots of a flower shop in Paris, near the Place de la Bastille. Of course, I am biased, but in Paris there seems to be more reverence for flowers, much like the way the French revere food. Why? A greater connection to an agrarian culture? More passion for beauty? Who knows, but it was great to see Proteas and Poppys along with the standard Chysanthemums.

There are almost 100 species of Protea, which is why the genus is named for the Greek god Proteus, who was able to change his form at will.

Poppys, more specifically, Papaver commutatum.

Finally, I loved the combination below of Eucalyptus and Spider-Mum - they set each other off beautifully. They are also easily found in florists and delis here in NY, they aren't pricey and also have a decent shelf-life.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

When to visit the Literary Walk in Central Park

Gray, overcast winter days are the best days to walk down the Literary Walk in Central Park. The broad promenade is accompanied by an allee of American Elms (Ulmus americana), with more Elms planted beyond these two rows. The branching habit of these Elms are twisty - they remind me of Medusa's head.

Because it's overcast, there are no shadows to add depth to the view and the perspective gets warped. Also, the trunks of the trees appear darker so there is a flatter, bolder silhouette. To me, the place feels enchanted on days like this.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Gauche Caviar

I was watching the French news last week (trying to maintain the little French I know) and saw their coverage of the upcoming Iowa caucus. They went through the leading four candidates for the right and the left, enumerating a few pluses and minuses for each individual.

One of John Edward's negatives was that he was "gauche caviar." I got a sense of what this idiom must mean, but had to look it up on wikipedia:

Gauche caviar (Caviar left) is a French term to describe someone who claims to be a socialist without feeling the need to espouse an appropriate lifestyle. It implies that the person is less than sincere in their beliefs.

Similar terms in English include limousine liberal, chardonnay socialist, champagne socialist. Hypocrisy is implied.


Gauche means left in French; Rive Gauche is the left bank of the Seine (specifically a tony area along the left bank of Paris). But in English, we can also call something gauche if it's inappropriate or vulgar. That's an exaggeration of gauche's second meaning, awkward.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne was written by Scotsman Robert Burns.

I had looked this up, considering it as a post on New Year's Eve, but then passed on it.
Yesteday, I was in Central Park and finally recognized the name of one of those memorialized on the Literary Walk:

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Central Park Today

So, though it's only been winter for little more than a week, spring really is coming. I took a walk in Central Park today and saw a few things in bloom, such as Witch Hazel (Hamamelis vernalis):

In addition to the Witch Hazel, Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) was just beginning to bloom, was Forsythia:

Cornus mas will be blooming in a matter of weeks, which is also a bright, sulphur-y yellow. Why early-spring plants often have blooms in this shade of yellow, I don't know. I would guess it's to attract early-spring pollinators, but I really have no idea...

Happy New Years!