Living & Eating on Long Island's East End 
            Reading Rhododendrons and the Temperature

My name is Monique.
I'm a 2-time Emmy Award winning TV Producer.
Having been in the business for over 20 years,
I always wanted a website where I could share my thoughts and interesting information, so 
here goes.

Last year when I got married, I moved out of New York City to the East End of Long Island, to ...wait for it...The Hamptons.

Now before you roll your eyes, there's more to the Hamptons than mansions and celebrities.

The Hamptons have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, miles of productive farmland, plus a rich clamming history that continues to this day.

When I moved out east and realized I was surrounded, not just by the bounty of the sea, but also local farms and vineyards, I couldn't wait to explore and sample my new environment.

That's what this blog is about.  Living, exploring, discovering, news, food, history and sharing those experiences.

You'll notice that my blog is a little of this and a little of that, kind of like a potluck meal.


What's the temperature outside?  That's a question all of us have asked our friends or family members at some point these past frigid weeks. It's the first thing we want to know waking up and probably the last thing we want to know before heading to bed.

With so many outlets to access current temperatures at our fingertips, I had to do a double take the other day when my husband wanted to know the outside temperature and asked me to check the rhododendrons.

I was gazing out the window one particularly frigid morning, when he asked me, "What are the rhododendrons doing?".

"What are the what doing?" I asked.

"What are the rhododendrons doing?" He repeated himself.  "You can tell how cold it is by how tightly the rhododendrons are curled up."

Can a plant really reveal the temperature?  My husband, who majored in horticulture, says their leaves are a fairly accurate way to tell how cold it is outside without having to step outside.

       Rhododendrons for a short period in the summertime

Now I know that rhododendron leaves curl up when it's cold. I'm not particularly fond of the plant myself.  I find the stark bush with it's stringy leaves unattractive year-round and the flowering period during early summer is woefully short.

But my husband likes them and our property has several rhododendron bushes. One large bush sits right outside our kitchen windows, so I immediately looked down at it.

The leaves were curled up so tightly into themselves, they looked almost like long, green cigars. "They're pretty tightly closed."  I answered back.

My husband joined me at the window and examined the plant.
"I would say it's about 26 degrees outside", he estimated.

I was now interested in testing his theory, so I turned on the television, turning to our local 24-hour news channel, which always shows the temperature in the lower right screen. It read 24 degrees, two degrees off from the rhododendron's reading.

                   Rhododendrons at 24 Degrees (F)

I was impressed. As a fomer city dweller, the closest thing I had to an outdoor barometer was looking out my apartment window to see what people were wearing, as they passed by on the street.

The process that causes rhododendrons to curl up is called "Thermotropism" and is believed to give the plant certain survival advantages under harsh conditions.

If the leaves are open, laying flat, that usually means above freezing temperatures.

If the leaves are curled in, then its below freezing and if the leaves are really curled tighter, then the temperature is dropping even more.

Now results may not be as accurate if the plant sits in the sun or out of the wind.

So far I haven't learned of another plant that can reveal the temperature as closely as the rhododendron, if I do, maybe we'll re-plant.

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