Taos Splendor–September

It all comes together now as we approach the fall season. Everyone’s gardens have been nurtured by the monsoon rains and the temperatures moderated by the clouds most days. The fruits of nature are bursting forth, be they coming from orchards, wild bushes, home garden plots or local vegetable farms. I love this photo from the farm market last Saturday, illustrating the originality of nature when it comes to tomato varieties.

These necklaces of marigolds look at home decorating a special place or shrine and will  show up again for Day of the Dead altars and memorials in early November. Whatever your vision this way of using marigolds for sacred decoration feels so right here in Taos. The photo shows the booth of Cosmos Farm run by Barbara and Larry in Dixon. They are newcomers to the Saturday market, but seem to be ahead of the crowd when it comes to success with lots of marigolds. I did pretty well last year and did some marigold stringing of my own. We’ll see what comes of this year’s plants. They are definitely blooming now, but I’m not sure about quantity.

One plant that has exceeded my expectations is lemon cucumber. I planted a couple of seedlings from the nursery and they have produced copiously for my salads.

This is Chris, both a new, and a noticeably young, farmer at the market this summer. As you can see from his sign, he’s also farming in Talpa, the area when I live. He says he learned what he knows about growing here from Jeff at Talpa Farms, who lives up the road from his place. Both of these farm locations have access to acequia water, which is remarkable for its purity and adds something special to their produce.

I want to help spread the word about the new art supply store in Taos. If you haven’t already done so stop in and introduce yourself to the owners, a nice couple. They have a handy location along Ranchitos on your right just past the Harwood (if you’re coming from the south end). Sculptures from Melissa Serfling’s Red Cat Antiques, across the street on Dona Luz, add to the artful ambience of the location.

About this time of year I have plenty of Cosmos and branching sunflowers around my place. At this point (their third summer) they’re pretty good at seeding themselves. Seems they like everything about the Taos climate and I favor them for their wild and casual look.  I’m also am fond of zinnias and marigolds. They seem to demand a bit more intention on my part, but are good for cutting whereas Cosmos are not.

I recently painted 6 new small (8X8″) flower paintings for the Gallerie Corazon in Santa Fe. I notice I’m enjoying working with the flowers on the small size panel. The owner of the gallery had a vision about 6 months ago of having a display of a grid of 16 of the 8X8- size flowers. I think I might be getting closer to that number, which originally seemed high.

I’ll end with a photo of my favorite, a white poppy.

More Spring Marching

Yes, this is a tulip I discovered at the Hanuman Temple last Sunday. I was a little shocked to identify it. I love the mandala arrangement of colors. The day was perfect for eating outside. A friend of mine even brought a blanket for “picnic style” dining. It was a good day for counting blessings.

This is the temple property’s vast garden area. It looks like preparations for the new season are at hand. The greenhouses to the left are part of the garden but the property line to the north ends just before those residences visible on the upper right. Not only are the food and flowers grown here used “in house” but when there is sufficient excess the garden staff have a booth at the Taos summer farm market.

Wish I could remember the name of this flowering bush that blooms in early spring. Not the greatest photo, but it reminded me of my Oklahoma childhood home. I was in Santa Fe on Monday delivering some new paintings to the Gallerie Corazon and saw lots of bright yellow Forsythia bushes also blooming, another bush I recall bloomed around Easter time.

This is my favorite Taos tree, an old apricot along Placita near the turn down Ledoux. The first summer (2010) I lived in Taos it even bore fruit. Last year, sadly, there was no fruit to be had anywhere. I can only wish this tree the “luck of the draw” this spring. At 7,000 feet it’s hard to be overly optimistic.

Just a week ago I took this photo of the aspen tree near my house. No one would be surprised to see some nighttime snow again before long. Our night temperatures have been consistently just below freezing, while the daytime temps this week are in the high 60s and low 70s. I’ve been taking advantage of the warmth and spending more time outside getting ready for the gardening season. Today I transplanted several early annual flowers (bachelor buttons) that are coming up from seed. And speaking of changes I attended my first tennis clinic of the season on Tuesday morning at the Southside Taos Spa.

Taken yesterday– the very old apricot trees in the orchard just to the west of my house. They too are hearing the call to make fruit. Notice the s-shaped acequia ditch in the grassy area just to the left of the trees. Like last year there is not much snow up on the Sangre de Christo mountains so we can’t expect a good year for water from the acequia system.

One of the new flower paintings–White Rose, 10X10

Aztec Dancing in Taos Plaza

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in the Taos historic district and a friend and I had just parked in the lot in front of El Gamal. Getting out of the car we heard the sound of drums coming from the Plaza so walked the block away to see what was going on. I took my camera. There was a sign that said “Huitzilopochtli Traditional Aztec Dance Group.”

I searched online but couldn’t find an official website for the local Aztec Dance Group but learned that there is such a thing and that they perform at special events in the region. You can see some YouTube videos of their dancing. They are also part of a collective of groups in this country, all of which serve to connect both the dancers and their audience with the ceremonial roots of Mexican culture.

A week back I took a friend for her initiatory walk around the property I live on. We followed a loop that starts at my house, heads back through the alfalfa field with its view of the three next-door-neighbor llamas, then cuts west across a little bridge over the properties main tributary of the neighborhood acequia ditch. This direction leads to the horse barn and reveals the old orchard to the south.

This is my favorite tree in the orchard, an apricot. These trees have survived long lives thanks to the care of humans who’ve over the years distributed the available acequia water to them. I was once told (and I’m repeating this I know) that they are as old as I am, more or less.

This somehow relates to the fact that I just celebrated my 70th birthday last week. Perhaps this photo symbolizes my honoring of the way these trees have survived and even thrived by the grace of their nurtured location. I seem to have had a similar lucky destiny in life and I feel gratitude to everyone who loved and nurtured me along my way.

And here’s the venerable horse. Wish I could remember his name. He gets to eat the alfalfa that is grown and harvested on the property. As you can see from the way my friend is dressed, it was not a very cold day. This warm winter trend continues. The high today is expected to reach the low 50s. We are starting to have a windy day here and there. Wind is a typical pattern in the spring and it feels like we’ll be entering that territory soon.

My friend and I continued our walk through the orchard and took an easterly direction on Maestas Road after that. Here’s an old postal box. I don’t think they deliver mail to these here anymore. I liked its Wabi-Sabi aesthetic, proud marker of a more trusting time.

A new flower painting delivered to Gallerie Corazon