Monday, May 17, 2010

Spring Clean-up Day 2010: When the weather was almost too good.

As New Yorkers, we are obliged by ancient and immutable tradition to find something to complain about, but it would tax even our famed griping abilities to fault the weather last Saturday. Balmy and sundrenched, with a refreshing breeze; not a drop of rain, and the pollen count had thankfully dropped down to a breathable level. Bits of cottonwood fluff floated through the air, lending a dreamlike quality to the scene.

It was, in fact, so beautiful a day, I have a sneaking suspicion it seduced some of our regulars away from clean-up duty--we've had bigger turn-outs when the weather was much worse. But still more than respectable--38 names on our sign-up sheet, and probably a few forgot to sign, so I'd guess the real tally would be over 40. That would be a big number for any other run in the city, but it's not a record for us.

If I were to complain about anything, it would be that our beloved run manager Bailea was unable to attend the proceedings this year, due to other obligations. She was still involved in the planning, and the big orange sign is her handiwork, I believe. Below, you can see Jerry Culligan talking to her--she called in to make sure everything was going okay.

We got all the tools and wheelbarrows we needed from the parks department this year--maybe a little later in the morning than we might have wished, but soon enough to equip most of our volunteers by the time they arrived. The wood chips were definitely much improved in quality from our last clean-up--still a lot coarser than ideal for dog paws--and full of odd bits of trash, glass, and assorted debris--I'm still waiting for our first human body part. But they were of a significantly better grade, and we had all we needed. We understand city budgets are exceptionally tight now, and the chips are provided free of charge--but fallen tree branches to toss in the chipper are not in short supply with the winds we've been getting, and grinding the chips a bit finer wouldn't seem beyond a great city's resources, even in tough times.

Aside from a bit of free swag from the Parks Department, we also got a nice extra surprise--doggy gift bags from our fantastic new local pet supply store, FURRY RASCALS, just a few blocks away, at 3915 Broadway, between 163rd & 164th Streets. Here's Christine Corda from the store--she'd like everyone to know Furry Rascals is going to be hosting puppy obedience classes soon--more on that later this week.

Pit & pitchfork.

"Hey, where are our refreshments?"


Bruce, Sunbear, & Co. cavort, in the grand old Rocky Run Clean-up Day tradition--humans work, dogs shirk.

A bit over halfway through clean-up, I asked Norma to call everyone together for a group shot--this is not all of the people who came, regrettably, since our volunteers come in waves, and many understandably can't stay for the whole four hours. Anyway, the workers present obligingly posed on a convenient mound of wood chips, the sun obligingly beamed down through the trees, and the dogs not quite so obligingly roamed in and out of the frame. I meant to use just one of the group photos I took, but I couldn't decide, so enjoy them all.

Officers Lamour & Simms of the NYPD dropped by to say hello--they've been our local patrol people for some time now, and love having the Rocky Run on their beat.

The Parks Department delivered, as promised, a new bench for the run--that's our good friend Danny Mercado on the left.

Andy suggested the northwest corner of the run as the ideal spot for the bench--it's the only consistently sunny area once our shade trees have leafed out. Cheyenne, the Rocky Run's #1 Benchwarmer, wasted no time in staking her claim.

I took this photo the following day--the new sundeck is already a hit.


Norma, Yolanda, and two other volunteers did about three hours of work on the run garden the next day, which is when I took the 'after' photos, as well as the above one. The weather was still great. Is there some way we can reserve this weather in advance for next fall? I'll look into it--see you then (I'll try not to break any more bones in the interim).

PS: Reportedly, NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe made a brief surprise visit to the run, presumably making the rounds of various It's My Park Day sites. I never saw him, nobody told me he was there until later, and I didn't get any pictures. But he was reportedly there, and reportedly impressed. And if he shows up for the next clean-up, would somebody please tell me? :)

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