As you can tell, our weekend destination is NOT the Hamptons. We go to Tompkins Square Park and we "watch" the elm trees.
For one thing, it's cool. Quite literally. Same benches in Tompkins Square do not see sunlight until late September. For another thing, elm-watching takes you into an island of natural beauty.
The American Elm was widely planted in cities because it thrived despite the punishing conditions of city life and because its branches spread like a peacock tail at the height of preening season. From afar --the first position of the elm-tree watcher-- most elm trees look like rambunctious green carousers. Indeed it would be the case, except for the Elm trees' chief adversary, a fungal infection known to decimate entire parks of hundreds-of-years-old trees. That's the reason we're told to watch the trees.
But as my husband and I know, that's not the real reasan. From up close --the second position of the elm-tree watcher-- the tree's canopy fills the sky with an umbrella of dark blue- greens, sunlit yellow-greens and shocking bright greens. Study the branches weaving like lace. Watch the breezes tickle the leaves. Focus on this massive task and, soon, you will feel the rocking motion of a hammock or the rough hardness ofthe floor of a treehouse on your back.
- Oona Schmid, Elm Watcher
To join Elm Watchers, contact Jane Sturtevant.