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.

Arroyo Seco #2–Tour

This was taken a mile or so before you arrive in the small town of Arroyo Seco, looking to your right as you drive along. I did stop to take this photo and the dirt road into the Taos Pueblo has a name but I didn’t write it down. Yes, we’ve been having some rain/snow here and there lately. We’ll take the moisture any way we can and the snow does show off the Sangre de Christo mountains nicely. Once you get to Arroyo Seco you really feel the nearness of the mountains and you are in a zone that is no longer flat open mesa. There are creeks and trees.

Here I’m standing behind Santos Y Mas, the store that is now carrying some of my altars, cards and tree ornaments. You can see the relationship between the mountains and the middle of downtown. The famous Taos Cow is just across the street from Santos Y Mas and the place that sells the great tamales is there on the far right of the photo, Abe’s. The restaurant takes up the right side of the building.

Just a skip and a jump over and upwards from the main street to your left is a tempting stroll up to this church. And just about where I stood to take this photo there is a dirt road heading left that goes around the back of the buildings on main street and over to a little neighborhood that leads to the famous Seco Pearl and the newly relocated market, Sol Food.

I talked briefly a couple of weeks ago to the young owner of Sol Food, Cris. He said he grew up in Arroyo Seco. He was very up on all things Arroyo Seco and noted that there was a trend toward economic growth there, not to mention that through the past three years of hard times in the region Arroyo Seco has held steady. He mentioned that it’s a more expensive area to live in, generally, than Taos, so holds up the “high end” of the valley. He feels visitors seem to enjoy the scale and slower pace of the town, find it relaxing and refreshing.

As you can see Seco Pearl is a large place. I understand it wears many hats. Sometimes it’s a community center/dance hall, other times a place to display local wares and also a cafe. Definitely community events happen here and the people of the town feel very affectionate toward it. I read in the paper several weeks ago that it just changed owners. I pledge to visit it on one of my next visits to town and give a report on the latest incarnation.

Here’s one of my tree ornaments on display at Santos Y Mas. They keep a year-round area set up for ornaments. You can’t miss it. The Garden & Soul store in Taos also is keeping a small display of my ornaments year round. I was surprised but some have sold since the winter holiday season.



Arroyo Seco Y Mas

The main street of Arroyo Seco, located about 8 miles from Taos, and on the route to the Taos ski mountain, is lined with small shops. Some are practical and serve delicious food and/or drink. The Cow is famous for its ice cream for example, but is a good spot to bring your laptop and drink a latte or have a bit of lunch. And it’s a small town that seems to welcome you with that down-home kind of energy.

Last fall I took a visiting friend there. We were taking photos of the bright yellow leaves on the aspens up in the mountains and could get closer from Arroyo Seco. We had some delicious tamales as I recall. Just as we were leaving I spotted this shop in the photo above. I had read about its opening a month earlier in the newspaper. Since I was up to my ears making Goddess altars for the Christmas crafts fair in Taos I was interested in the name. Would they be interested in what I was making? So I made a brief tour of the store, talked to Ray Romero, half of the brother & sister owners, and left thinking they just might like to offer what I was making. Five months later I finally got around to taking in two of my altars for Ray’s sister, Patty, to see, and the response was positive.

This photo shows one of those altars, the Corn Mother. So after that great reception I was encouraged to bring in other craft items that would fit the store, including cards. The day this was taken I was delivering a box of my items and Patty was thinking about a spot for my products in the store. So, for now, I have my own tiny bit of real estate in Arroyo Seco and can only encourage my blog readers to visit Santos Y Mas and give things a look. Oh, and mention I sent you.

Later that same day I went over to the hot springs (Ojo Caliente) for a soak. On my way home I decided to take the route down through the Rio Grande gorge to Pilar and up from there on the main highway to Taos (68). Since I live on the side of town where this highway comes in, this is a real shortcut. It was 7:15 PM when I made the turn onto this gravel road which , as you can see, is a steep curving downward adventure. The lighting was not great, but hopefully you can enjoy the sensation suggested by the photo.

Here you can see the road coming toward the bridge over the Rio Grande from the left. Beyond the bridge to Pilar is several miles of road that closely follows the river and there are many camping areas with easy parking and access to the river along it. As you can imagine it’s a popular place in the summer with lots of people fishing and even boating in canoes and kayaks.

One of the surprises along the side of the road opposite the river is this mysterious water which comes out of a pipe stuck in the rocky side of the hill. Apparently it’s been there for a very long time and locals used to favor it for drinking water. You can just drive up with a truck and a large container and take as much as you want. I am personally fascinated by these long-held fountains of water known mostly just to locals. I would like to know how it would fare in a comparison to acequia water in terms of its mineral content and over-all life force energy. When you put some in a jar it looks very pure and clean. Just a few yards downstream of this flow there is watercress growing and that is also free for the harvesting. It is plentiful and if eaten would deliver much of the nutrition carried by this water.

7:40 PM