The Perfect Fall Weekend

A snapshot of the perfect fall day in these parts, taken from the bridge heading into the Ojo Caliente parking lot. I was informed by a passerby that that’s a beaver dam in the foreground. On closer inspection I realized that could only be the case. The trees are cottonwoods, a common native tree that likes to live near water.

Staying with the cottonwood theme, here’s a close-up of the leaves in all their yellow glory. They are similar to aspen trees this time of year in their color. To see aspens now you just have to drive up some mountain or other for higher elevation than Taos or Ojo. Looking east to the Taos mountains now you can see patches of yellow aspens but I’ve been too busy to drive up for the gorgeous photo shoot that I’m sure would be waiting.

I took this photo near the same bridge. It’s a non-native species of olive trees which has adapted well here (invasive you could say). It has no fall color but is clearly in the process of losing its leaves. Note the little olive seed pods.

These cottonwood leaves have fallen from their branches and are well along in their process of breaking down into food for the soil. In this circle of life the cottonwood tree feeds the soil beneath it, it’s own source of nurturance. In the same way our own gardens can benefit from a winter mulch composed of the dead and dying plants we have enjoyed over the growing season.

I took this photo of pinto beans at the farm market on Saturday. They come from the San Luis Valley, which is mostly over the state line in Colorado, but close enough to Taos for a trip to its farm market. It’s a large flat valley with mountains on either side that provide good irrigation for the crops. The soil is naturally fertile. I believe it was covered with water back in ancient history.

This is Vicente on the left chatting with his helper who is cleaning up the beans that will soon be poured into a plastic bag, weighed, and sold to eager Taos customers. I love seeing the many local foods that have supported humans in this region for hundreds of years. Pinto beans must be close to the top of that survival list, along with corn.

I took this photo, on the same Saturday morning, an alfalfa field along my road, Maestas. It borders the Rio Chiquita, which you can sense by the presence of the yellow-leaved cottonwoods. Just behind where I’m standing is the acequia ditch that comes off this river and is heading left to right towards the property where I live. I will speculate that the dip you see in the green down the middle of the photo is a ditch that helps move acequia water into the field.

As I’m writing this four days later it’s cloudy and cold out and last night’s snow is melting quickly. I still have some cosmos, gaillardia and marigold flowers looking alive, though it’s hard to believe. I’ll go out now and pick a bouquet, perhaps the last of the season. Halloween and the Day of the Dead are peeking around the corner. The New Moon was yesterday. The veils between the 3D human world and that beyond are thin now, ushering us toward a more inward time, the “fruitful darkness.”

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