Taos in July–Pow Wow & Fiesta

I went to the Taos Pow Wow on the opening Friday night. I’d promised to deliver a small drum I’d recently painted to the Sweet Medicine Drums’ booth. By the time I took this photo around 7:00 PM the cloudy sky and the lateness of the hour began to compromise my ability to take good photos. This is one of the few that I can share. It shows the dancers circling the large dance area in a kind of random parade. In the foreground are the spectators sitting in their portable chairs under the shaded area built for the occasion with poles and tree branches.

Scattered at intervals inside the spectator circle are groups of drummers sitting around a large shared drum. These groups take turns according to some unseen plan and seem to know just how long to drum as well. Later they will be drumming for the various dancing contests which are the focus of the three-day Pow Wow. It is interesting to observe these drummers. They are very focused and use a lot of strength when hitting in unison with their drumsticks. The heart-beat sound penetrates the entire Pow Wow grounds and unifies everyone who is present in a non-ordinary world.

A week later we have the annual Fiesta in the Taos Plaza. Note the clouds that help keep our monsoon season temperatures lower and provide humidity, normally hard to come by here. My garden loves it and behaves differently, compared to the dry heat of June. This event is all about the Hispanic community. I’ve been told that families that are spread around the state and region use this Fiesta as an occasion to come together, like a family reunion. I don’t have a photo of it but there is a performance area with constant entertainment provided throughout the event. Lots of live music a la Mexico.

This Fiesta vendor is dishing up grilled fresh corn on the cob. Looked and smelled yummy. At the top of this photo you can see the top of the very large white tent that covers the performance area of the plaza, likely both for shade and for rain.

How nostalgic is this carnival style merry-go-round with it’s old fashioned wooden horses? Who has not experienced this somewhere, sometime? For me it brings back memories of the free one in Golden Gate Park back in the 70s. I took my young daughter there on trips to the city from Mendocino County where we lived. It was an institution at the time. I hope it’s still there.

Took this at last Saturday’s farm market. I admired the artful arrangement. I asked the farmer for a card and I think he handed me one but where it is now is a mystery. I promise to try him again. The apricots are perfect now and the harvest won’t continue for long. Apples are just getting warmed up, along with peppers.

I took this photo in Solstice a week or so ago. The piece on the far right is a Hopi kachina that was new to the store at that time. The other three objects are small art pieces of mine. Two of them are altar pieces, the far left made of wood and the Corn Mother made of paper mache with a 1/4 ” wood base. The framed piece in the center is 5X5″. I like to talk about Solstice because it’s a new store and my small art pieces really seem to sing among the other beautiful art the owner, Sheila, selects. I continue to invite my friends and acquaintances to stop by and give themselves an aesthetic treat.

Borage blooming in my garden

Lovin’ July in Taos

Yes, we have moved past the terrible heat and dryness of June into the glory days of the monsoon season here in Taos. We love the clouds, the thunder, the tantalizing drops of rain, the cooler temperatures. It’s the welcome flip of June’s weather.

A few days ago I went over and picked up ripe apricots that had fallen off the tree into the grass. I was surprised at how many I found that were not overripe or damaged by their fall. It’s been an apricot feast ever since at my house. While visiting a friend in Arroyo Seco a few days ago I saw she has a lush tree with larger apricots but they weren’t ripe just yet.

This is my bucket of bounty. There are a few small apples there too, and two sizes of apricots originating from two different trees. I have an ayurvedic recipe for stewed apples with dates and cinnamon that calls for dried apricots. Thought I might try the fresh ones? The recipe comes in handy when you’ve run out of ways to cook a big harvest of apples. That will be an issue here soon.

I’ve been noticing day lilies blooming all around the local landscape. These were photographed at the Hanuman Temple last Sunday. I love the wild look of these generous plants and the way a few original bulbs will naturally expand their growing area if they find a location they like. They are not demanding or fussy when it comes to care and bloom over a long period. A+

While on the topic of flowers…I took this photo out at the Overland Complex several miles north of Taos. Love those patches of blue reflecting the sky. And I’ll add that if you find yourself there take a look at the beautiful contemporary paintings in the Envision Gallery. Two of them are mine. Two other artists there I like, both as people and as artists, are Mieshial and Katie Woodall.

Last week at the farm market I found these members of the Fred Martinez family selling the first peaches I’ve noticed this summer. Their orchard is in Dixon.

Took this photo a couple of days ago while visiting the Arroyo Seco home and gardens (Living Light Farm & Plant Nursery) of Kathy Fenzl. She and her husband have taken the concept of turning a home lot into a farm to new heights. After my extensive tour I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by all they are doing, and so successfully. Kathy told me that there would be an article about their Living Light Farm in Thursday’s paper, so if you want to see and hear more check this week’s paper. I am making short work of what could be a much longer and more thorough tour and commentary.

Here’s a glimpse of the “home” side of the equation. Just off to the right are the two greenhouses of the previous photo. When you’re inside the house looking out the windows to the back of the property the mountains seem big and close. I felt they had found a beautiful location for their project, with a feel of being both sheltered and nurtured by the mountains in an up-close way. And they are showing us the amazing possibilities for growing a wide variety of food plants right outside our “door.” Kudos!

First of my sunflowers.

Mable Dodge House Lives On

By some luck I was invited on a tour of the Mable Dodge house/complex. I had been scheduled to give a talk to a group staying there for a class on travel journal sketching but the group got a chance to take the tour at the same time. Thus I was included and gave my talk after. This photo shows the main part of the house as it was designed by Tony Luhan,  Mable’s Taos Pueblo native husband. He did a lot of beautiful and creative things with the adobe style of building.

I particularly admire the playfulness of these two square rooms at the top, the bedroom with windows all around, which I was able to visit last summer, and the room with the painted glass, which I’ve never been in.

Seeing this painting on glass 2 years ago gave me the practical idea that I could use the same technique to paint my two glass-paned front doors. The tour guide, Jane, mentioned the glass painting and said several different people, some famous artists, did the work, each pane an original.

This is the kind of charming detail that captures my imagination, part of a row of cut-out spaces in a wall that gives lightness to it, as well as a tantalizing view into an area of the house that I believe was for guests. Our tour was mostly outside. At the end we all sat around in what was the living room listening to our guide tell her informed version of the story of Mable and Tony’s life in Taos.

We were taken around to the back of the house, along the wall with the green lattice windows in the wall, to discuss the border line between the property on which the house sits and the Taos Pueblo land. According to the Pueblo the assumed property line was originally calculated incorrectly and there are special arrangements by which some of the  guest houses continue to be bought and sold and occupied. There was a road along this fence which allowed trucks to drive up and unload at a back door entrance to the main house, but that use has been discontinued due to conflict with the Pueblo over the property line.

While most Anglos feel Mable and Tony’s story is a valued part of Taos’ history, the people of the Pueblo were never very impressed by it for their own reasons. In some way we can see this boundary conflict as it moves along into present time as a symbol of the complexity that remains a part of Taos.

I mentioned last week the hollyhocks having their day in the sun here in downtown Taos. Well, as it’s turned out the sun has been brutally consistent lately, with daytime temps in the 90s. Here we see plants that are doing fine in the heat. They’re located beneath the innovative and new El Gamal sign across the lane from said restaurant. Beyond is a large parking lot that serves the shops on Dona Luz as well as the central Plaza a block away.

I believe this is a close up of one of the flowers in the previous shot. In the house where I grew up there were hollyhocks growing along the back fence each summer. No doubt this influences the emotional reaction I get when I see them to this day.

This is an unexpected siting of a very happy mullein plant growing in one of the beds at the Hanuman Temple. Mullein is more often found in the wild, ideally in places where it gets plenty of water. It has medicinal properties. Is good for lung issues. The leaves are softly hairy and can be used in lieu of toilet paper, or so I’m told. I’ve never tried it.

Happy first birthday on July 4th Charlotte!