A little while back, I wrote about the decimation of the Monarch butterfly population in my garden at the hands of a Chinese Mantis. Well, behold the lady in question, all three inches of her. With huge spiked claws 1/3 her body length and wide-set eyes with a binocular field of vision, this non-native, invasive lady is built to kill.
And so, as much as I hate her for her impact on the already struggling Monarch migration, I must admit, she’s terrifyingly cool to stare at…especially given the hair raising way she stares back.
I have been accused of being earnest and an idealist. The implication being I’m some sort of shiny-eyed optimist who believes we can mitigate humanities ravages of the planet by making everyone plant milkweed for butterflies. But I promise, get a few beers in me and I’ll happily launch into a dark rant about the genocidal and suicidal leanings of humanity. No animal on earth is better built for self-destruction than us. But, focusing on oblivion is not a healthy use of this sensitive Pisces’ time. And now, with Niko in the mix, it would be downright selfish. Seriously, only an asshole would bring a kid into the world without focusing on, and trying to create, tools for a sustainable tomorrow. Because I own a home in environmentally challenged Los Angeles, I tend to focus large and small scale projects that have the ability to radically impact our overall quality of life, promote biodiversity and rebuild greenspace wherever possilible. So logically, I’m thinking of Staten Island…
My wife writes on a TV show that shoots in New York City. Twice a year or so, she needs to be on set for about 3 weeks. Up until Niko was born, this meant I got to wander Manhattan and Brooklyn, eat a lot of food, and meet old friends for drinks. Post-Niko, I can’t wheel around so freely. Luckily, the 26th street entrance to the High Line Park is three blocks away from where we stay, and I’ve taken to walking the length of it daily. I’m not alone. The staggering success of this post-industrial eyesore turned iconic city park is renowned world-wide, and evident from the throngs of locals and visitors alike wandering it’s 1.5 mile length, cameras pressed to faces, shooting in all directions, rain or shine.
Floating above Chelsea, The High Line sublimely removes you from, and gives you a richer context for, the city you are in. It reminds me of the utopian designs imagined by Buckminster Fuller, of a city living in balance and harmony, saved by smart, conscious design. From its forested start at Gansevoort Street all the way to wild weeds of 31st Street, The High Line has a singular ability to constantly reframe Manhattan historically, architecturally and, most important from my perspective, naturally. Among all that the High Line is, an often overlooked thing is plant and animal habitat on a scale I didn’t think was possible in Manhattan. From spring into fall, the flowering plants of the High Line are vibrating with pollinators like honey bees, wasps, Monarch butterflies and Swallowtail butterflies, to name a few.
At the age of 42, I was a single guy who’d lived in the same apartment for two decades, riding around in a 1984 Land Cruiser wagon with his 6o pound mutt, Burt. I had no ambition to own a house, no intention of having kids, and lived only to make enough money to load up my truck, go hiking in the mountains, surfing in the ocean, ride my mountain bike and take pictures. And serial date women. I was an LA based, Peter Pan who tolerated protracted and ridiculous battles with his land-lady in order to enjoy doing whatever I wanted, when I wanted. I eschewed commitment like a dog avoids a cattle grate. Then I met my soon-to-be wife, Sian. The gig was up three hours into our first date. Continue reading Enter, Aniko…→