Sleeping on the job

With corridors of conifers, perfumes of pine and fabulous firs, NYC is dressing for the season. On street corners all over the city, Christmas trees that have been trimmed and tethered just for this occasion wait for their chance to shine. It may be transitory but it’s for more than 15 minutes and it’s organic, so by the time this year’s magic become next year’s mulch, there will have been much to celebrate.

Our local festive forest on 19th street is powered 24 hours a day by workers who have travelled from Maine to Manhattan for the season. Sleeping in mobile transport, these cheerful young enthusiasts know everything about Christmas trees. According to them the trending top seller is the Frazier Fir from North Carolina because it’s needles have the best staying power in the overheated apartments of the city. Good to know. And the reason NYC has such a profusion of pines this time of the year is because of the ‘coniferous tree exception’ dating from 1938, which allows vendors to set up and sell from the sidewalk during December without a city permit. All they need do is have the permission of the adjacent storeowners, and keep a passageway open for pedestrians.

The glorious unseasonal weather we are currently enjoying in the Big Apple ( it will be around 16*C this week! ) means it feels more like an Australian-style Christmas than usual. Not that I am not partial to hot cider and snow flurries. But for the itinerant workers selling Christmas trees, I suggested, moving forward, that there are more comfortable places to sleep on the job Down Under. The season for mangoes may be over in Darwin but the rest of the country is ripe for the picking…
empiresidewalk

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2 Responses to Sleeping on the job

  1. Peter says:

    Thank you for showing your followers another slice of life in Manhattan Gabrielle whereby even Southern Hemisphere residents may readily identify the different and similar approaches to this well practiced annual event that is Christmas tree shopping and etc. but I for one had no idea the tree merchants slept with their products. What an amazing culture/country! You manage to point out subtle differences in business and a way of life into your stories. Thank you for the quality of the pictures and the stories you capture through those photos. I was very interested in the curved edged building in the foreground of your first photograph above. Do you know it? Are they Apartments? Anyway all the best for Christmas. Don’t forget the mangoes or the Balfours’ green frogs!

    • Thank you Peter – how could I forget the Balfour’s green frogs?!!!
      That curved building is on the corner of Park and 34th, on the edge of your old stomping ground. There is a Duane Reade on the ground floor ( …next in line….! ) and then the building rises up to apartments. It is easy to forget to look up when you’re walking around the city because you are so engaged in the immediate. But there are some amazing buildings when you actually do. You have heightened my perspective for the week – again!

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