Witch hazel blooms in the fall, spidery, creamy yellow flowers clinging to the branches even after the vibrant leaves have fallen. But deciduous azalea is not a fall bloomer. Its flowers are a harbinger of spring, particularly eagerly awaited each April at the National Arboretum, a glorious reward for having survived winter.
It’s been a warm fall and on John Street in Kingston, a small purple azalea misread the signals and offered its lovely flowers in November. While evergreen azaleas can bloom in both spring and fall, the deciduous varieties (like this one, with its leaves turning scarlet) don’t.
Maybe the bush will set new buds for 2017. I don’t know. But unseasonably warm temperatures last winter destroyed most of the peach crop in the Hudson Valley– buds that had been cued to begin opening, withered when they encountered winter’s return.
Today is Giving Tuesday–following Cyber Monday, Brunch Sunday, Black Friday on Saturday (I made the second one up)–which, unlike all the getting and spending, is important. To combat the ignorance and lies of the president-elect (who, last week at his it’s on/it’s off/it’s on meet and greet with the publisher, editors and reporters at The New York Times, took a baby step back from branding climate change a Chinese hoax), I’m donating to the Kingston YMCA Farm Project.
And I would be donating to this wonderful program in a perfect world. But in ours, Myron Ebell, a notorious climate change denier, friend of coal, would-be privatizer of our national forests and lobbyist, is heading up the Environmental Protection Agency transition. And our next United Nations Ambassador, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, buried a report on the devastation unchecked climate change will bring to her state in the next 70 years, and refused to acknowledge the role of climate change in the furious floods in 2015 that killed 16 SC residents and caused billions of dollars of damage.
In 2013, the Kingston YMCA Farm Project, using organic methods, began cultivating a parcel of land in midtown, behind the Y. Goals included “instilling a lifetime of awareness in children and youth” of where their food comes from, how to nourish themselves, their families and the earth, and providing “accessible, heathy local produce to the community through a weekly Y farm stand and bicycle-driven mobile farm market.”
In 2017, KayCee Wimbish, project director and farmer, and Susan Hereth, education director, will continue and expand the youth development program, with hands-on work: planting seeds, tending and harvesting crops, preparing recipes with the fresh ingredients and working at the farm stand.
Y Farm participants, who also learn about just food systems, come from all grade levels at Kingston’s George Washington Elementary School, the Y’s summer camp programs, Ulster County Healthy Families and collaborations with the Center for Creative Education.