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.

Cherries, Peas and Hollyhocks

Cherries, a special offering of the spring season (until the Summer Solstice June 20) appeared at the farm market last week, along with more fine local peas. Radishes are also abundant, along with the first of summer’s beets. I noticed this morning on the online “Weather Channel” that our Taos temperatures will start creeping up into the low 90s for the first time this season. I guess that’s right on time for the start of the summer season. Peas don’t like the heat so they will scurry to finish up their  seed-making task and step off stage left. I’m just starting to harvest my peas. I’ll make sure to keep up the watering.

More cherries here from Mary Campbell’s farm in Dixon. To her left is Harvey, who is a farming neighbor. He was claiming to be old so I asked the year he was born and he said a number that was before 1930. Old enough to qualify in my book. I mention it because Harvey is still in the game. He and Mary seemed to be sharing a table. And the handsome fella to the right is from Oklahoma, working and living this summer on Mary’s farm to learn the trade. There is an official name for this exchange which I missed, but it’s good to see young people’s interest in farming.

Speaking of beets! These look young and fresh and I’m sure packed with nutrition. My favorite way to cook beets is to drizzle an oil and Balsamic vinegar mix over them and bake them in the oven in an aluminum wrapping. Brings out the sweetness.

My peas, the photo taken a week or so ago. I wanted to show illustrate how beautiful the flowers are, as well as the tendrils clinging to the sticks that make up the tipi they like to climb.

Also thought I’d mention how my pea growing experience each spring brings back memories of the ten years I spent as a nanny to my granddaughter (now 12). She loved my peas from the time she was old enough to pop them into her mouth. It feels good to know I leave behind that legacy of her knowing where food came from before supermarkets. She also loved the seeding time in the garden when I first turned over the soil with a trowel, revealing a world of earthworms. Loved those worms!

This shot was taken in the orchard on the property. Looks like there will be some apricots this summer. All this grass you see has been mowed the past couple of days, along with the alfalfa field. Some of this grass will get bailed and reserved for Barney, the horse who lives here.

And these are the wild plums that never had a chance to evolve last summer due to a late freezing night when they were flowering. What a beautiful sight. They grow on plants that are more bushes than trees and they are small in size when ripe, but delicious. They remind me of picking wild blackberries in California back in the day. Wild fruit=gifts of nature.

This is farmer John, half of the married couple who own the property where I live. He’s using this small tractor to pull out old fenceposts near my house. He is proposing to build a new latia (coyote) fence along the side of my back garden that runs along the road to their house. Now that would be nice.

Here come the hollyhocks. They make the OptiMysm metaphysical store look very inviting.

Happy Summer Solstice!

August Splendor in Taos Farm Market

Seems everyone agrees dailias took the prize as queens of the market last Saturday. But flowers were abundant everywhere you looked, making for high splendor and a giddy feeling of joy. Even the vegetables looked brighter and were often displayed so beautifully you felt they were flowers too.

Case in point, this cascade of carrots. This came from a display on the far side as you enter the market run by two young men. They seem to be in the spirit of vegetables as the stuff of art. I can’t say I’ve asked, or know, where all these growers call home but I had a conversation with a young man who is farming in Las Trampas on an acreage that has asequia water. This is his first year there and he is planning to continue. Las Trampas is about 45 minutes from Taos on the High Road, and is famous for it’s beautiful adobe church built in the 1800s.

The photo above shows one of the two young men I liked for their artful displays of produce. Another place I’ve noticed farmers are from is Dixon, south of Taos down the 68, Dixon has a notably lower elevation which probably helps lengthen the growing season. I made a detour off 68 to see Dixon a couple of weeks ago for the first time. I was with some visiting sisters and we were making the loop around the High Road through Espanola and back up to Taos. I could see why people like it there. It felt sheltered and fertile and very quiet. Artists and farmers seem attracted to it.

No blog about the Taos Farm Market would be complete without mentioning Jeff and his partner, whose charm and reliability are only matched by their offerings. When I got there Saturday they had already sold all the tomatoes they brought, 32 pounds I think it was. They have a one-acre place where they live and garden intensively called Talpa Gardens. Their place is on the acequia and talking to Jeff I got the impression he knows how special his water is. They often sell out early so my advice is to be prudent and shop there first and “get it while you can.” Saturday I passed them by in my enthusiasm for taking photos and stopping for a short session with Bonnie, the palm reader. I later regretted my careless attitude. By the way, the reading with Bonnie was amazing! She’s there every Saturday. Take advantage.