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

 

 

Flowers of May

This photo could have been taken in Sun Valley, Idaho, where I was living before moving to Taos two years ago. Mountain towns seem to be the perfect home for this extravagant showy poppy. I’ve been noticing the local hollyhocks are starting to reach for the vertical and some are budding already. Won’t be long before they will dominate the Taos historic district with their tall beauty.

I found these perfect Bleeding Hearts in a flower bed in front of Moby Dickens book store in the John Dunn Plaza. I once did an oil painting of Bleeding Hearts, which I think I still have. I’ll see if I can find the file to add here…

I don’t have a date for this painting but it would be somewhere around 2005. I had just started painting in oils on wood panels and was like a kid in a candy store. I was looking for things I loved, pure and simple, and didn’t have much of an identity as a painter or knew what my style might turn out to be. I was all over the place, and it was all just for the pleasure of doing/exploring. I eventually turned away from flowers as subjects and really hadn’t looked back until this fall when the Gallerie Corazon in Santa Fe found my flower paintings on my website. Seems I’m spiraling around back to them for now?

This local scene in the historic district is along the north side of Bent Street.To the left is a local artisan co-op. My focus was on the tree which was dropping little green fruits which turned out to be baby apricots. I was pleased to find this contented old apricot tree flourishing in its location.

I’d be remis if I didn’t include this photo of a bouquet of peonies taken at last Saturday’s farm market. When I was growing up in Oklahoma we lived next door to an older couple who seemed to specialize in peonies. Their backyard would come alive with them for a brief time in May with variations in size, color and types of this showy flower.

The same couple also had many beautiful and large crystal clusters setting out on a wall around their front porch. I loved visiting those crystals. I remember being told they had come from Arkansas. I recently read something far-out online about deeply buried crystals beneath areas of Arkansas starting to re-activate after some very long time (Atlantis?). My family took little vacations to Arkansas when I was very young. When I was older we went to the mountains of Colorado instead.

Meet Daniel Cordova, owner of Cerro Vista Farm, located near Questa (north of Taos a ways). I think of Daniel as the “big daddy” of local “truck” farms in the area. You can see his truck there behind him. Later in the summer you won’t see him much. He has a big contingent of products and a crew of able and affable folks exchanging the farm’s beautiful food for cash. Personally I think they have the best lettuce.

I’m hoping this summer to have my own cutting lettuce. I’m off to a fairly good start thus far, but the wages of high elevation sun, wind and lack of humidity make it a challenge for me to do something here I thought I understood from years of interest and experience elsewhere. I do have pea vines starting to flower now and am cutting a green mix of kale, arugula, parsley, chard and baby lettuces every day.

Stopped along Maestas Road on the way to town the other day to photograph our acequia ditch as it flows northwest toward the property I live on. The source of this water is the Rio Chiquito which comes off the Sangre De Christo mountains and eventually flows into the Rio Pueblo which joins the Rio Grande. A well near this river supplies the drinking water for our neighborhood (tests drinkable without added chemicals).

Taos Farmer’s Market booth