25 June 2013


Mugwort, bull-thristle, and catchweed, oh my!  I re-visited Randall's Island today to help the Park Alliance there with some weeding.  I took the #4 train to 86th Street, hoping to make a connection to the #6 train, from which I would get off at the 96th Street station for a short run to the 103rd Street Bridge.  Alas, the #6 train's doors closed in my face so I made a run for it.  I ran to Randall's Island, that is.  I would love to someday run a long distance along the East River, above 59th Street, but for now I'll just have to explore a section at a time.  Last time I visited Randall's, I ran back to Manhattan from 103rd Street to 96th Street.  It was raining, so while I didn't mind it, it was not as enjoyable, what with riding the subway home in wet clothes and possibly catching pneumonia.  Today it was the opposite, hot and humid, with a backpack full of water and reading materials (for the subway ride).  I ran east along 86th Street since I suspect 86th Street is a major street there should be a footbridge over the FDR Drive.  There wasn't.  Instead, there was a park when 86th Street ended, with stairs leading up.  I thought the stairs would drop me off on the other side of the FDR, i.e. the waterfront, but instead, the park actually hangs above the FDR.  Northward it descends to join the East River Esplanade and the 96th Street ramps for the FDR, further up I already run the last time.  So another section, from 86th to 96th Street, of the east waterfront, explored.  I made it to the Park Alliance site in time to listen to a brief intro then off we went.

Today's work was weeding.  There's a short trail that runs along a marsh, culminating in an opening adjacent to the water.  Over time, weeds started to choke the path and it was the volunteers' job to clear the path.  Mugwort was the primary weed to pull, but we also dealt with bull-thristles and catch-weeds.  Mugworts were easy to pull, you just have to have the patience to reach close to its root and pull gently.  No point of snapping the stem off to have them re-grow quickly.  Bull-thristles are nasty plants that have needles that pull through gloves easily.  The trick is to hold the whole plant down with foot then dig around the root, plus scrape away any needles near the root, then yank the whole thing out.  Catch-weeds are thus called because all along their vine length there are these round pods that cling, or catch, to anything that comes into contact with them.  The weed climbs all over the area, choking native plants as well as weeds, so we pulled them out and all of us got "caught".  Definitely not something we get to experience in a cube-farm!

A view of the path slowly overtaken by weeds.
A large bull-thristle that awed me into taking its photo before I worked on uprooting it.  I should have gotten closer to capture its sharp needles.
After about two hours the path looks better, wider and with fewer weeds.
After the run from Manhattan to Icahn Stadium to meet the other volunteers and park staff, my T-shirt was soaked and another two hours in the sun only made it worse.  Then I got "caught", as evidenced by all those dots on the shirt.


  1. Wow - you looked great Qap (not that you did not before). Here is to a job well done.
    It is a lot of hard work and I admire you and others for doing it.
    Currently in STL, cloudy, no rain, but expect thunderstorm here later.
    Have a good day,

    1. Thx, TOTA! Say hello to Benjamin's twin for me. And Ralphie, too, tell him he can have all the cakes he wants.