February Pregnant Pause

 

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Here in Taos we’re feeling winter’s weather softening. Yes, there’s still the occasional snowfall, but a couple of days in a row in the high 40s can melt that down to the mud that you run into everywhere now. I’ve especially noticed an influx of birds tweeting around my house and I swear there’ve been a couple of recent raven conventions in big trees in the hood. It’s still a little early to find signs of budding and greening which make for nice photos. I’ve done here what I can to show you some unexpected beauty for this time of year, the pregnant pause between winter and spring.

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I discovered this nest-looking arrangement on a walk around the property a couple of days ago. Now that I look at it again I see the grey rock in the “nest” looks like an egg.

Last weekend marked the half-way point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. So that can only mean we are officially gaining momentum toward that start of a new yearly cycle.

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Now this photo has no snow but gives focus to the beautiful shapes and textures of winter leaves, including some that never got the memo about their seasonal demise. I wish I could name the plant these soft furry leaves are from. Feels so familiar to me. This was taken alongside the pond at the Overland Complex. I pass by it often on my way to the Ancient Rituals Apothecary (I call it the Tea Shop) between the Envision Gallery and the sushi restaurant.

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I took a couple more photos there. These lovely leaves could be from day lilies I suppose. I was attracted to their color, helped by the angle of the late afternoon light.

Yes, the light here in Taos can be a topic. I don’t claim to understand it scientifically but I sure do experience it. It can transform the ordinary into the magical before your eyes. Not that we haven’t all had these kinds of experiences, say watching a sunset on a Pacific Ocean beach and allowing ourselves to be absorbed into the transformation. Here, that potential for  color therapy will enter your everyday environment and remind you that you live within a greater magical mystery.

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I found this cattail still in the process of releasing its seeds into the pond’s environment. I would have thought this seeding phase would have been complete, but it looked very much a happening thing.

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Remember the bright yellow chamisa bushes flowering in fall? This is what one head looks like at this time of year. I see the bones of a pattern of bursting star shapes enhanced by the warm light of the setting sun.

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And this last photo was taken in the orchard under one of the many apple trees in the same waning light of day’s end.

May we all know we ARE THE LOVE WE SEEK on Valentine’s Day.

September’s Equinox

I took this at last week’s farm market. That’s Daniel Carmona of Cerro Vista Farm, up near Questa. These flowers are all so typical of fall, a season that’s only a couple of days away as I write (Fall Equinox on the 22nd). I bought some great broccoli from his booth. I tried growing my own the first season I was here (3 summers ago now) and had to battle the cabbage moths for what little I was able to harvest. That ended my attempts. Easier to just buy it from Daniel.

There’s more variety of flowers in this shot of Kathy Moen’s booth. She has zinnias, cosmos and gladiolas, among other things. Her farm is near the Hwy. 68 down from Taos to Espanola, somewhere about half way. So she has a lower elevation advantage when that first night of freezing temperatures arrives here in Taos at 7,000  feet. I talked to a friend on the phone last week in Ketchum, Idaho, and he reported that they were going to have their first frosty night and he had picked all his marigolds and some tender garden fruits and vegetables. I’m happy to be gardening here in Taos where we can hope for a longer season. Gotta watch the weather news for low temps ahead though, starting about now.

I didn’t keep track of whose grapes these were at the farm market last week but I had to take a photo. Nothing says fall like picking grapes. Fifteen years ago I might have been doing just that this time of year. I was living in Sonoma County, California, on a spacious property next to a large vineyard. There were also some old vines on our place and some years those of us living there (and friends) came together in an effort to pick all the grapes and press them into juice. Not every year, mind you, could we muster the will. It was a big commitment of time and energy, but the reward of fresh juice was the payoff. Made for great sensory memories. We also did apples some years I recall.

Which brings me to the topic of Chamisa. It’s a plant very much like the wild sage that is indigenous here and they tend to grow in the same places. But sage never has a showy blooming period like Chamisa. She waits for late summer/early fall and throws up a yellow that is a joy to see. This clump was photographed along Maestas Road, the one I live on, but it could have been taken about anywhere along a road these days.

And where there’s Chamisa you’ll likely see these small purple daisy-like wild flowers. They’re called “purple asters.” If you wanted an area of wildflowers near your house this would be a good time to add the seeds to your mix. These were blooming near my driveway. Also you could consider getting a garden version of the same plant at the nursery in the spring. I had a neighbor in Ketchum, Idaho, who had large plants that also bloomed in the fall with purple flowers that looked similar. Just when other flowers are starting to fade they make a great fall show of color.

An heirloom tomato from Living Light Farm

 

 

Fall Excursions

This was taken in the parking lot next to the Tesuque Village Market (ta-sook-ee). The Tesuque Pueblo tribal land north of Santa Fe is bisected by the highway between Taos and Santa Fe, so anyone familiar with that route passes through signs for the three (I believe) Tesuque exits. This is where I met up with my friend for a jaunt to Santa Fe to get some needed art supplies and take a stroll down Canyon Road, a popular place for art galleries. Neither of us had taken that art walk for years and felt it was time to freshen our impressions.

This is the season when the peppers ripen to reds and oranges and find themselves strung into ristras. We spotted this decorative use of fresh ristras on an archway leading to one of the galleries on Canyon. Note the use of marigolds strung together as well. The gallery was called Galerie Corazon and was set back a bit behind another place very near the street. The owner seems very set on creating a beautiful atmosphere both inside and outside the gallery. You could feel the “corazon” (heart).

The next day I drove over to Ojo Caliente (hot springs) after turning in the SEED3 paintings I’ve been working on more or less intensely for several months. My reward.

The stretch from West Rim Road over to Hwy 285 was magically strewn with Chamisa in full glory. I stopped briefly for this quick photo just so I could talk about the wonder of the drive right now. Make me think of the “yellow brick road.” I find Chamisa very uplifting, the way it blooms with such enthusiasm, a bright yellow, just when other plants are slowing down.

This is a view of Ojo Caliente from the direction of their hiking trails, west looking east. The building with the scalloped front faces is the original/historic main building which now houses the restaurant, wine bar and guest rooms. Soon all those Cottonwood trees to the east of the buildings will be a solid brush stroke of yellow.

Just had to add this dramatic photo I took on the way home down through the Rio Grande Gorge leading to Pilar. This was taken soon after I crossed the bridge and on the side away from the river. I could tell there was ample moisture there because there was a group of cattails nearby. Yes, I picked one of them, just starting to explode with its seeds, for the SEED3 show. In any case this is our friend Chamisa blooming next to a Cottonwood–nature’s authoritative description of the color yellow. At first I thought the Cottonwood was an Aspen, but definitely not, judging from the bark. That will be another, later blog–Aspens up on Taos Mountain.

These fallen Cottonwood leaves have found their final resting place just under the Chamisa plant in the previous photo.

And just to prove that I really did drive along the Rio Grande today I offer this river shot reflecting the bright blue sky of the day. The weather could not have been more perfect. When I got home I had a short visit with my landlord and he said yesterday it rained on the property pretty hard for a brief time. I would never have imagined it. He said he was in town coming toward Talpa and could see a big rain cloud over it, and sure enough it rained pretty hard for awhile, but not in town and certainly not at Ojo. So much for weather in the mountains of New Mexico.

Home again! Gotta love the Heavenly Blue Morning Glories next to those sweet blue doors I painted a year ago.

Mystery mandala plant I saw on my Ojo hike

Last Dance for Plaza Music Nights

This was the last of the summer’s Thursday night “music in the plaza” events. When I first heard about them back in June it sounded like such a good thing, but I admit I failed to follow up, until just this last time. As it turned out the music was all Hispanic flavored and difficult for most people to dance to, so I made it a photo op and didn’t stay very long. Still the event and the plaza setting had an impressive sense of Taos community.

This youngster was really enjoying himself and the amazing face painting added to his sense of excitement and adventure for the evening. With his grandmother’s permission he posed for me to get this photo. I was told there were lots of different types of music all summer and so this evening’s focus on Hispanic music and songs, anticipated by most of the audience, was not typical.

Meanwhile all around the region we see along our roads a sage-like plant blooming: Chamisa. It seems to grow right next to the ubiquitous sage, and I suspect the less showy bloom of the sage is also happening simultaneously. I come here from sage country in Idaho and always have bad allergies from mid-August through September which I blame on sage pollen. I guess I can blame its companion, the Chamisa, too.

I spotted these pots of Chamisa for sale in the nursery section of YArt, an inspiring Taos business specializing in yard art, thus the name. I really like this Taos business and plan to blog about it sometime. I was there briefly a week ago Sunday as they were sponsoring a gathering of healers, there to give readings. Some were astrologers, some psychics or tarot card readers.

I came by to check in with my friends who offer the Oneness Blessing in Taos, Joanie and Mariah, but they were too busy to even notice me. I sometimes attend the weekly blessings and find them very helpful, especially in the way of staying calm and peaceful while meeting life’s challenges. If interested you can call Joanie, 758-2192.

And who could blog in early September and not mention Hatch chili roasting at the local grocery stores? Being a Taos newbie this is all, well, NEW to me, but I did bravely buy a little sampling of the product at Cid’s a week ago. It tasted way hotter than I was hoping, but by removing all the seeds and the roasted skin and running it under cold water for a bit, then chopping it up in tiny bits, I’ve managed to incorporate these much prized chilies into my diet.

At Smith’s one day last weekend there were people waiting for the burlap bags of chilies they had purchased to be roasted. The line of bags sitting in supermarket carts was very long and people looked like they were patiently settled in for a wait. I learned that the bag(s) of chilies are intended to last for the season. The purchasers freeze most of them for later use.

And where or what is Hatch? I’ve heard it’s a town in southern New Mexico. Get out your maps blog readers and see if you can enlighten the rest of us. All I know is the good chilies come from there and that is that.