Opinion: A Tree Grows in Harlem

Remington Write

We hope....

Our beautiful new birch treePhoto byTammy Remington

It’s a great mystery to me why anyone works so hard to become mayor of this city because all eight million of us hate on the winner of every election with great exuberance and commitment. I got here just as Giuliani was making his exit which he enjoyed prolonging courtesy of Nine Eleven (America’s Mayor anyone?).

As a shiny-faced newly arrived Ohioan I was ready to jump on the Giuliani-is-a-jerk bus. He’s spent the last twenty years proving that abundantly.

Then came Mayor Moneybags, aka Michael Bloomberg, who snorted at the thought of living in Gracie Mansion. That man sure did enjoy being hated by a certain segment of the population but to his credit he didn’t raise any ridiculous fusses over controversial art. The addition of 400 miles of bike lanes to the city didn’t endear him to the car set but here in The City we blew raspberries at those whiners.

Miles of bike lanes, numerous new pedestrian plazas and generous support for the arts couldn’t completely insulate Mayor Moneybags from the hatred of his constituents. He’s loaded so it stands to reason that he’s a slimeball.

I’m as offended by enormous wealth as any good socialist, but then the guy went and started planting trees. Not just a couple hundred thousand trees. A Million Trees. Did he succeed? Who knows? It’s not like anyone’s out on the streets counting trees although I guess that since there is an annual squirrel census that happens in Central Park I could be wrong.

The day did come, however, when our modest block-long street in Harlem got its trees. And by then Mayor Moneybags had finally gone back to making money and we had entered the de Blasio era.

And, yes, de Blasio was the newest most hated mayor in the history of the city by the time we got our trees, but there they were. And they truly did change the character of the street if not exactly changing the characters hanging out on the street. Still it was nice having the trees.

What was not nice was the way the previous owners of our building slapped scaffolding up to comply with Local Law 11 and then just left it standing without doing a lick of work for three years. For a solid eight months or so the scaffolding was made even nastier by the addition of one gigantic construction dumpster that magically filled with construction garbage while no apparent work was being done on the building. Another mystery for the ages.

This all sucked for those of us living in the building but it was fatal for our tree.

Eventually, the scaffolding came down not because any work was completed but because the building was sold. We’re on a third new set of owners — I think — and thus no one has put the scaffolding back up and I just hope I’m not the one that gets conked on the head by falling building façade.

As the other trees matured and stopped looking so vulnerable our blank patch of dirt sat there looking forlorn filled with empty Fritos bags, chicken bones and dog do.

Two years ago we called 311 and asked for another tree. This request was duly registered and we were notified that another tree would be planted sometime in the next two to three years. Thank you for your call. Now it was just a matter of waiting.

Even though de Blasio packed the Rent Guidelines Board with his cronies and managed to get two consecutive years of rent freezes for those of us in rent stabilized apartments, he was still the Worst Mayor Ever. Unlike Mayor Moneybags, de Blasio didn’t try to run for a third term in direct violation of The Will of The People. He finished his second term and went his way.

Our new most reviled and despised mayor, Eric Adams, just announced that he’s considering building tent cities in Central Park for the busloads of migrants arriving daily. I’m guessing you can hear the howls of outrage from where you’re sitting this minute. I certainly can and I’m at least fifty blocks from any of the real pearl-clutchers.

Is this our new birch tree's better angle?Photo byTammy Remington

Who cares about any of that? Yesterday when we stepped out for our once-daily trip outdoors — that’s what having a totally dead elevator when you live on the fifth floor will do for you — there it was! Slender and about ten feet tall and so beautiful, our brand new birch tree complete with a generous bed of mulch and two sturdy support poles to help protect it.

Now, of course, we have to hope for the best. Her fate is in the hands of the gods.

We’ve already lost that one tree but the sturdiness of the other trees on the street give me hope. The one in front of our neighbor’s building had several major limbs basically ripped off for the fun of it last summer, but there it is flourishing in the new season (it’s the one behind my partner who is doing his part to protect the new birch tree from the many dogs of the neighborhood).

Worth the effortPhoto byTammy Remington

So, we don’t have a reliable elevator — although we hear the techs working on it every day — and this current bonehead of a mayor really is something to behold, but we have a tree. Right there outside the building so we get to see it and say hello every time we leave and again when we get home.

It’s the little things, ya know?

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Covert dilettante with an omnivorous capacity for wonder. Writing because I can't not write. Always watching for the hidden patterns and connections. I don't know I cannot fly..........and so I do.

New York City, NY

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