April Winds of Change

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We were longing for signs of spring and now we’ve reached the high time of encouraging proof. Still we’re contending with the unsettling roar of winds and the occasional day with a high only in the 40s. We’re trying to be patient, and feel grateful for our luck when we compare our weather with Denver’s recent snows.

Took this photo a week ago in the Taos historic district. Nearby, I noticed the big apricot tree on Bent Street was starting to bloom. Surely this starts a season that’s nice for visitors. It’s still relatively quiet but Spring’s charm is bursting out. Expect wind.

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Around the same time I took this photo of apricot blossoms in the orchard where I live. Those eager apricot trees just can’t wait to get started! They are the first of the local fruit trees to blossom and their beauty deserves a close-up shot like this. I don’t know the odds that they’ll bear fruit this year but you can always assume it’s an iffy proposition. Still they’re beautiful trees that will always shine with their early blossoms.

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I took this last Sunday when I noticed that the acequia water was running in the orchard. These are a couple of the old apricot trees I’m very enchanted with. I have of good view from my backyard of ravens sitting up high in their branches.

You can see the ditch that runs alongside them. This was the first time in our neck of the woods to get the acequia water and my landlord said that the flow was pretty good. My camera and I have had a love affair with the orchard landscape when the water flows and this day was special because it may be my last chance to take in the sweet smells and sights. I’ll be moving to the East Coast toward the end of the month.

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This shot exemplifies the patterns and juxtapositions that the flooding water can create. I especially love seeing the way the apples hold their color as they age and their contrast with the new green grass. Certainly this expresses the sentiment of Wabi-Sabi, the Japanese philosophy that values images that reflect on the impermanence of living things.

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This image offers more of a detailed look at the same elements, but gives more information about the water and the apples.

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This is my favorite photo of the day. Monet, the impressionist painter comes to mind. Just proves beauty can be found wherever you are living on this amazing planet. The part of the world I’m moving to will be a new experience for me, and one very much in contrast to the landscape here. My heart is being called there by my daughter and two granddaughters.

So when I continue to blog the scenery will change dramatically. I’ll be living in a more urban environment in Portsmouth, NH, located on the edge of the Atlantic, with a short hop up into Maine and an hour’s drive to Boston. Also I can direct my camera’s eye back to family members, as I have in the past.

Some of you will likely lose interest in this new direction my lens is taking. I hope to make good choices as I make this transition and assume that many Taos acquaintances will prefer to be dropped from the list receiving the links. I’m learning that some friends have past ties to the Northeast and they expect to enjoy the photography as much or more than they have seeing Taos.

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Newly budding willow branches blowing in the wind restoring color to our world. This willow tree is very old and large, still thriving in its location near an acequia ditch.

Thank you Toas for all your dramatic and inspiring beauty, your revelations of truth and the people who choose you for their home and became supportive friends. You know I will miss you.

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.

Taos–Day After Christmas

One thing I’ve learned about winter in Taos, you never get stuck for long with big piles of snow (if they exist). The rhythm of transformation from snow to ice to water (think mud) is a constant hum. At least that holds for the valley areas where most people live. This snow melt photo was taken in the alley off the plaza that leads to the Alley Cantina, likely taken in the afternoon when the temps reached their warmest.

For this shot I was looking into a display window in one of the many tourist shops that encircle the Plaza. The morning light accurately reflected the Plaza behind me. Those toy horses make me think of the bygone days when real horses were a real means of transportation to the people who lived in Taos–present-day horse spirits perhaps. Taos is full of spirits.

For 25¢ you can try a ride on this wild-looking guy and see where that gets you. There are actually lots of horses grazing around in open fields here and they would make for great photos. This is as close as I’ve come thus far. I’ll work on it.

Do I ever get tired of winter trees full of ravens? Probably not. This crew were hanging around the back side of Michaels, a favorite main street (Paseo) breakfast spot for tourists (and probably some locals). I have heard that this is the best place for photographing ravens in town because the restaurant shares their leftovers with the birds. I can’t verify that, but I pass by this area frequently (my back way to the post office) and most always see ravens. Today I actually stopped and took some photos. Was wishing I had that expensive telephoto lens that I don’t have…

 The rest of these photos I took on a walking loop around the property where I live. And yes, I waited for the sun to approach the horizon for the best light. The thinness of these aging leaves makes for a kind of glowing light this time of day. There IS color out there this time of year if you look AND mind the right time.

Here’s another example, a marigold still holding its orange color but enhanced by the warm light at the end of the day. I grew an abundance of marigolds this year, meeting one of my goals, and was able to string them together at the end of the garden season into garlands that now decorate the interior of my house. I love them.

For many of you familiar with my blogs this will be a recognizable scene, the old orchard of trees on either side of a road. The road leads to a fine adobe house at the back of the property near the acequia ditch. On the left is an apricot tree that is one of two favored by the local gang of ravens. I’ve been told the orchard is 60+ years old. You can see the secondary ditch that keeps this tree happy.

Not much to say about this small fallen branch that must have come down in one of the many intense winds we have here sometimes. Without the snow for contrast it would hardly attract attention.

This nest is very near my house but I can only see it when I’m walking the orchard road. I’ve been told it’s a magpie nest. I’d like to catch some magpies nesting in it some day just to prove the theory. This is definitely the best time of year to see its structure.

Cosmos seed flower

April in Taos

This is the closest thing I have to an April shower photo. Taken at dusk it demonstrates how that lovely late sun can sometimes find a highly contrasting dark sky. It happens and always makes me want to run outside and take photos.

I was talking to my landlord this morning about the drought concerns of the area and he said that by watering as much as possible now, early, with the acequia he is hoping to insure at least one good early crop of his alfalfa. Generally alfalfa is mowed twice. He said that the trees in the orchard have the most need for water now, which they are getting, so they will fare OK.

Took this photo of Eric and his dog Buster this morning. Yes, it’s a Sunday again and two weeks since the previous (and first) acequia watering. One topic that Eric likes to go back to when talking “water” is the precious high mineral content and vitality of the acequia water. Obviously if you can use it for growing food it adds value to your produce. In our case I guess the fruit from the orchard is our “produce.” I know that the Talpa Gardens growers up on Morada have access to it for their garden. They are popular vendors at the Taos farm market, both Saturdays and Sundays.

Speaking of farms, I visited Squash Blossom farm on Este Es last week for the first time. Gael Minton was kind to show me around. She and her husband bought their two acres some time ago, when it was all grazing pasture. They have made themselves very comfortable and self-reliant there. They are a CSA farm and have earned a CNG (Certified Naturally Grown) certificate. At this early time of year the most spectacular thing to see was this mature Tom turkey. There were others, male and female that didn’t make the photo. The breed is native to New Mexico. I told Eric, the water man, about seeing these turkeys and he said that at one time they were endangered but have made a good enough recovery to be hunted legally again. I think Gael said she has been keeping them for 7 years now and is now considering switching to chickens, but admits she has loved the turkeys. I plan to return to Squash Blossom farm in a couple of months and take photos for a blog focused on just that.

The prize for most lovely early blossom in the orchard today goes to the pear trees. I was also able to photograph blooms from my favorite plums and the cherry tree which is fairly near my house (so I can keep an eye on the progress of that flashy and delicious early fruit). The apples are thinking about blooming but the apricots are holding back, perhaps wisely so? I realize there is always tension in an orchard this time of year, especially at our high elevation. One really cold night can end the hopes of an entire tree’s worth of fruit. This orchard has a lot of apple trees and a lot of varieties so one way or another there are always apples, but maybe not from your favorite tree.

This unnamed wild flowering shrub was attracting a lot of bees and made a nice contrast with the very blue sky we often see here at 7,200 feet. If the wind is fierce the dust will create a haze. I read that there is high danger of forest fires already in New Mexico. A little smoke will create haze as well.

The places where my friends and family members live, Southern California, the mountains of Idaho and the East Coast, have all had lots of moisture this winter. Not here, and that is not unusual in the Southwest. There will be a ritual blessing of the corn fields at the Taos Pueblo May 3. I’m planning to attend. Could be some prayers for rain also?

Last photo is a budding out cluster of apple blossoms…