The pits

             Here in Manhattan we have an amenity of great Joy and Delight;
        tree pits, the pits. They are the smallish (4' x 5', sometimes longer,
        4' x 8' or so) planter things that punctuate at regular intervals our
         sidewalks on residential blocks. I do not know how deep they are
         or if they reach down to the natural substrate of the island.
         Occasionally they support very large trees who's trunks you cannot 
         get your arms around or, they may attain a height of 4 or 5 stories.
              Along side these solo trees, often now, the pits support fabulous 
         little gardens tended by tenants disposed to gardening and loveliness
         or, are contracted out to local pro gardeners who propagate these 
         little miracles with panache and horticultural success.
                                                                                      Geniuses All !
              The pits, when tended are beautiful. Only some urgent matter
         prevents me from stopping and inhaling their glory. 
                    Here is the thing though; enemies abound, threats from 
         various sources, lurk on every block.
               There is a sign attached to a tree. The tree is surrounded by 
        plants and flowers. Sign says, “Please Have Respect”, with a 
        silhouette of a dog taking a leak in a circle with a line through it 
         thing. Can this sign make a difference? I don't think so.
                More likely at night than in daylight, a dog might be allowed
         to jump into the pit, defecate and then paw up the offended soil. 
         Hence the sign. I must note here, pro dog walkers of which there are
         many do not commit these atrocities. Nor do my decent and
         conscientious neighbors who live on this block.
                Next come the rats. And mice. If on a pleasant enough night
         I'm stooping with the neighbors, starting at twilight, our pit resident
         rodents come out of there holes and start scooting from 
         the pits to the buildings or, to the garbage neatly bagged and piled 
         by good supers for pick-up the following morning. Besides gnawing 
         on roots or spring flower bulbs, the rodents bring exterminators and
         their potions which keep the canines away but can't be good for the 
         plants or for the predators and scavengers who might enjoy rodents.
      
               Next comes the garbage. Garbage garbage garbage. How do you 
         see a beautiful thriving plot of plants and say “I'm done with this 
         cup and I'll just drop it here”. Or a beer can or a free newspaper,
          when there is a receptacle at either corner  you are headed for 
          and a few more on the way. “Not my block”.
               Next the cars. Do they teach parallel parking in sub-urban 
          driver-ed?, one must wonder. Some folks seem to think getting your 
          back wheels up on the sidewalk ( or in the tree pits) is a tolerable
         strategy for parking in N.Y.C. It is not!! Some pits have (had) little
         fences  round their perimeters. When run over and smashed or torn 
         out altogether, I imagine the driver cursing at that which they have
         destroyed.
               Weeds;  The last torment I'll mention here is a pedestrian one.
         The wind or some bird poop or even myself tossing an apple core
          might bring some invasive species into the  teeny garden, tourists
          contrary to the design or concept of the careful gardener.
                Writing this now, I sit in a park by the river. The sound of distant
          cars only mutter behind the poetic slosh of water on the rocks.
          And there are willow trees. I love a willow tree.
                 As a cook, I say, “I'll never make anything as good as a good
         ripe peach”. I feel similarly about a good weeping willow. They bow 
         to me and I bow to them. How could I ever hurt them?
                 Folks walking dogs, sleeping on the grass or pursuing their
          health at a jog or a run. Someone yonder is feeding ducks, maybe 
          geese. I don't see well and the light retreats.
                 Tree pits are like parks and versa visa. The only difference a 
          matter of scale. Pockets of Joy (closer now, they're geese) and 
          recreation ( to create again) bestowed upon us by civil society, 
          antidotes for the toxicity that can sometimes be super urban life. 
                 As aerobic beings we are at our worst, our most self-centered
          when we fail to respect and appreciate those beings who provide 
          of us, for our benefit and simple survival, the very air we breath.
          All of us.
                 The difference between a tree pit and a forest is only a matter 
          of scale. Disregard for those two similar and different things and
        everything in between, is the gravest of errors.
                 My advice here? Take care of those who take care of you. Of us.
         Some how the tree pits survive. Now and then you may find a pit 
          barren, untended. The soil dry and littered. A weed or two but 
          nothing more, sometimes there isn't a tree.
                 But these pits are only waiting for the right soul to come along 
          and show some love. Let's all hope the neglected pit is a snapshot
          of the past and not the future. On second thought, hope won't work.
          Gardeners work. Gardeners great and small, commend them.
                                     Paradise is a garden,
                                         Let's not burn this one down !!
          Now let's look at
                 Some pictures..........   

photo by:

            Jessica lazala