Aztec Dancing in Taos Plaza

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in the Taos historic district and a friend and I had just parked in the lot in front of El Gamal. Getting out of the car we heard the sound of drums coming from the Plaza so walked the block away to see what was going on. I took my camera. There was a sign that said “Huitzilopochtli Traditional Aztec Dance Group.”

I searched online but couldn’t find an official website for the local Aztec Dance Group but learned that there is such a thing and that they perform at special events in the region. You can see some YouTube videos of their dancing. They are also part of a collective of groups in this country, all of which serve to connect both the dancers and their audience with the ceremonial roots of Mexican culture.

A week back I took a friend for her initiatory walk around the property I live on. We followed a loop that starts at my house, heads back through the alfalfa field with its view of the three next-door-neighbor llamas, then cuts west across a little bridge over the properties main tributary of the neighborhood acequia ditch. This direction leads to the horse barn and reveals the old orchard to the south.

This is my favorite tree in the orchard, an apricot. These trees have survived long lives thanks to the care of humans who’ve over the years distributed the available acequia water to them. I was once told (and I’m repeating this I know) that they are as old as I am, more or less.

This somehow relates to the fact that I just celebrated my 70th birthday last week. Perhaps this photo symbolizes my honoring of the way these trees have survived and even thrived by the grace of their nurtured location. I seem to have had a similar lucky destiny in life and I feel gratitude to everyone who loved and nurtured me along my way.

And here’s the venerable horse. Wish I could remember his name. He gets to eat the alfalfa that is grown and harvested on the property. As you can see from the way my friend is dressed, it was not a very cold day. This warm winter trend continues. The high today is expected to reach the low 50s. We are starting to have a windy day here and there. Wind is a typical pattern in the spring and it feels like we’ll be entering that territory soon.

My friend and I continued our walk through the orchard and took an easterly direction on Maestas Road after that. Here’s an old postal box. I don’t think they deliver mail to these here anymore. I liked its Wabi-Sabi aesthetic, proud marker of a more trusting time.

A new flower painting delivered to Gallerie Corazon

Rio Grande Gorge–February?

This is the spot where the Rio Pueblo flows into the Rio Grande. All that water flowing down from the Taos Pueblo’s sacred Blue Lake, and through the pueblo, for who knows how long, ends up here. All the little creeks and rivers that accept and channel the melting mountain snow (many divided into acequia ditches), join the Rio Pueblo and become part of this convergence. This place, the certain geography of this concept somehow captures my imagination. So this past Saturday I took a friend new to Taos along the path that dead-ends here allowing our view.

 Along the path I looked for visual interest in the desert monotony of a dry winter. I’m no cactus expert so can’t offer a name, but this one appears to be reacting to the exposure to sun and cold with a lovely purple skin color.

Here’s how to find this trail. From Hwy. 68 out of Taos take a right turn at Pilar and proceed along the river until you get to the bridge (several miles). You can either park along the road on the right just after you cross the bridge or you can park in the lot just before the bridge and enjoy the walk over it. Finding the path is easy.

This interesting rock formation is one of the sites along the path. My friend seemed to know what type it is but all I recall is the word, “black,” which is pretty obvious. She got closer to photograph it herself. As you can tell we were not dressed in the down jackets that we left in the car. It was probably in the high 40s/low 50s and mostly sunny.

As I type this several days later it has been snowing on and off (lightly) for two days. We took advantage of the warm weather when it was available. This winter we are being lulled into the belief that these warm days will be back soon. Hope it’s true.

I mentioned a few blogs back that there was an unexplored “other” old truck on the property of the Overland Complex in El Prado. This is one of the shots of it I took last week.

I like this complex of businesses for several reasons. It includes Envision Gallery, an admirable gallery where I have a couple of paintings now, and the Tea Shop (Ancient Rituals Apothecary), where I hung 5 paintings last Friday, one of my favorite stores in Taos. Plus the complex has a scenic location next to the Taos Pueblo, thus a good spot from which to take those mountain photos in all seasons and weather conditions.

And not that far away this photo was taken on the grounds of the Taos Pueblo farm market which has been providing greenhouse-grown produce for the public this winter. They are generally open on Wednesdays and Fridays, but the Wednesday I was there they were closed for some reason. This agricultural complex has sprung up in the past several years and shows everyone that growing food in winter can be done with the right equipment and determination. Kudos to the Pueblo for leading the way!

I have decided to be available for astrology readings at OptiMysm Wednesdays from 2 – 5 PM. On the 22nd, though, I’ll be at Ojo celebrating my 70th birthday.

Look for a new Owl Woman card where my cards are sold in Taos.

Frank Waters & the Spirit of Taos

I am almost finished with “The Man Who Killed the Deer,” a famous book by Frank Waters that was published the year I was born, 1942. Some long time ago I read it and liked it, but at the time had no reference to Taos, not like I do now. I can say it has helped me imagine how things were then, both different and perhaps much the same as in present time. It’s clarified for me many of the things that have attracted me here, most importantly the fragile but firm continuity with the pre-conquest past that lives and breathes today among descendants of native Americans living in the Taos region.

By the way the first photo was taken the October, 2010, at the Taos Pueblo and and shows Willow Creek, potable water that comes directly from Blue Lake and divides the pueblo into two parts. This sacred lake, and the pueblo natives’ desire to gain it back from the US government, was one of the themes of the book, “The Man Who Killed the Deer.”

The photo above was taken around the same time, obviously the Rio Grande. Many times in the book the author mentions the fact that once one has climbed some distance up into the Taos mountains it is easy to see the west side of the gorge cutting through the landscape.

This view of the Rio Grande gorge is familiar to anyone who has driven by on Highway 68, but I include it now to illustrate my mood of fresh appreciation for the dramatic topography and history of the place many of us call home.

I would like to recommend another Frank Waters book I recently discovered in the library (yes, they have a dog-eared copy of “The Man Who Killed the Deer”), The Woman at Otowi Crossing (1966). Though not about Taos per se, this book sheds light on many fascinating aspects of New Mexico’s remarkable history. The main fascination for me was the history of Los Alamos, how it abruptly sprung up from what was a boy’s school campus in an otherwise pristine landscape. But there was also an  established pueblo village nearby, the life of which was also important to the story. The main protagonist is an aging Anglo woman whom I found easy to identify with.

One more book by Frank Waters I can suggest is “Mountain Dialogs” (1981). It’s a collection of essays. The first part talks about Waters’ experience living in the mountains above Arroyo Seco when there were few Anglos doing so. He talks about being able to ride his horse across the mountains and down into the Taos Pueblo and was invited and encouraged to do so by his Pueblo neighbors at the time. His neighbors were there by virtue of Spanish land grants and at that time few had allowed their land to be purchased by Anglos. Anyone living in or near Arroyo Seco would likely find this early part of the book enlightening.

All three of these books I was able to find at the Taos Library. I had to wait for a copy of  “The Man Who Killed the Deer,” but the other two were on the shelves.

A year ago a long-time woman friend of mine passed. She is the first peer of mine to do so and it took me a long time to feel my way through the experience. I created a small collage to honor her passing, which I cropped (to make a square) and put here at the end.

Ada’s Passing