Early November

As I sit down to create this blog about early November the weather here is finally heading  the way of something more like winter. And so the photos in this blog reflect the mild temperatures of this year’s lucky, lingering fall.

I took a quick shopping trip to Santa Fe recently and as I approached Taos on my return I stopped to take a photo of this iconic single tree which gets a lot of attention by photographers. This was my first time and the late afternoon sun helped make for a pretty good result. If you know the site you’ll recognize the dark shadows of the gorge running through the middle of the frame. In another mile toward Taos you can get better views of that. This site is alongside a tricky curve in the road and you take your risks just crossing it. The tree says “you’re almost there.”

This is a small fraction of a large Day of the Dead altar set up in the lobby of the Taos Inn each year around Halloween and early November. It was truly a vast display of notes and photos honoring deceased relatives of Taos residents an especially featuring photos of former Taos residents going back in its long history. There were similar altar spaces set up in locations handy to the public, but this had to be the largest.

This was a lucky shot taken along the Rio Grande gorge on a return trip to Ojo Caliente Hot Springs around dusk. The overcast sky turned the scene into an old fashioned sepia print and the wary deer makes it special. When I first spotted the deer she was drinking from the river but as I got out of the car she watched me attentively but never moved away from view.

The deer is a spirit animal for me so this was an amazing way to end what was already a beautiful day.

Took this several days ago. This is the acequia ditch that runs under Maestas Road and winds around to the back of the property where I live. It’s source is the Rio Chiquito River that can be accessed nearby. One of the charming plants that likes to grow along this ditch is the wild rose (the orange leaves on the right) which makes it fruit, red berries called Rose Hips, known for high vitamin C levels and used often as a tea. I have been known to string them for decorating a Christmas tree when I lived in places where they were plentiful.

When you’re looking at this photo the ditch is beyond that slope on the left side. You can see the bit of bright green at the end of the dirt road. That is a small corner bit of a very large flat meadow planted in alfalfa (watered by the acequia in season). This you can see as you’re driving by on Maestas Road which goes by my driveway.

And once you enter the alfalfa field you can keep going straight and there’s a small apple orchard in the corner. If you walk to the right you’ll find access to the Rio Chiquito River. I did this walk with some visiting friends not long ago and we ended up in this area and noticed there were little piles of bear poop (mostly poorly chewed apples) scattered under the trees here and there. I found it a little scary to think we were sharing the same space as a family of bears. This harvest of apples must have been a high point in their yearly migration?

Sadly due to technical issues I can’t put my little square photo at the end of this blog as usual. Hopefully I can resurrect this pattern in the future? I’ve got Wabi-Sabi photos on my mind. Could be a theme to my next Taos blog.

July 4th Weekend

With some imagination this sunflower could stand in for fireworks. I took this photo at the farm market a week ago. It seemed at the time almost miraculous. It certainly was the first of the local sunflowers to appear at the market. It was grown by Ezequiel Martinez at Alcantar Farm in Espanola, a couple thousand feet lower than Taos.

Due to the high fire danger the annual fireworks display in Taos has been cancelled this year. Late this afternoon I was out in the back garden picking peas and I could actually feel humidity in the air. There was a very light sensation of wet sprinkles on my skin. This could be life-saving good news for slowing down New Mexico’s forest fires. Let’s hope the condition continues…

This truck and all the baskets belong to Bob Allalunis, a locally famous red willow basket-maker who’s been practicing this art locally for the past 20 years. He says he learned it from people at the Taos Pueblo originally. Since willows love wet land it’s natural from them to grow along the acequia ditches, but in spring those ditches have to be cleared for access and and good water flow. This situation creates a natural harvest of the basket-making materials.

This is Bob on the left. He told me that he and his wife, Pattie, have been instrumental in encouraging the continuation of traditional red willow basketry in the Taos community. The artistry of their work has been honored over the years by such museums as the Millicent Rogers.

Fresh harvests of garlic is starting to appear around Saturday’s farm market. These braids were offered at the Mergirl Gardens booth. The couple, Ron and Debora, hail from La Vallita, near Espanola. I got my corn seeds from Ron, who enjoys growing valuable historic varieties of it and seed saving.

Here’s the status of my corn now. If you look closely you can see small bean plants sprouting up around the circle of corn and on either side a winter squash plant–a small dark orange variety. I mentioned in a previous blog that this traditional combination is called the “three sisters.” I had a lot more corn come up but a day before taking this photo I thinned it. Bob suggested 5 or 6 ” apart. For my climbing beans I chose Kentucky Wonder, a type I’ve grown before.

I took this looking down into the protective tunnel created by the “walls of water” around three of my tomato plants. As you can see this plant is about to pop out of the top. I’ll have to start figuring out how to support the vertical growth to come. Last summer I was kept busy adding to a support I built out of sticks tied together with twine. I did manage to keep up and was more than pleased with my harvest of the fruits over a three-month period. This year I’ve added two more plants near these, up next to the house.

I hate to toot my own horn but I’ll admit I’ve been getting lots of compliments lately on my flower photography. Just to keep up the reputation I submit this shot of a wild variety of sweet pea blooming today in a flower bed at the Hanuman Temple. Speaking of the temple I noticed they had a booth at the farm market on Saturday. On Friday evening I’d attended a Dark Moon women’s circle and met one of the woman gardeners working there this season, so was able to recognize her the next day at the market.

I really liked the monthly women’s circle, my first time to attend, and plan on going back each New Moon. It was held at the newly opened 2Wolves Center and led by Nicole, one of the 2 partners. They have a website and are ready now to launch their offerings of classes and healing consultations.

Happy Independence Day!

Orange Poppy pod