Monday, July 28, 2014

July Parades and Wildflowers

glorious chickory

The annual Fiesta Days celebration – shops close, alcohol is consumed, dancing is revived – is meant to commemorate the multicultural heritage of the area including Native Americans (you know - everyone calls them Indians here, including the Indians), Spanish Conquistadores, French Trappers, Mountain Men, the Catholic Choich, etc. It was a low key parade, political banners aplenty. According to the fella next to me, Taos went Democratic 88% in the last election, hence Repugs parade participation was, let's be kind, thin and listless; it comes naturally to them. The kids' Mariachi Band was a hit with me, along with the Sheriff's Posse folks (I think there's a gal in there) from the Rodeo.

These are the dog days of summer, but the heat is nada compared to places like Roswell and ABQ, where it's reaching into the triple digits this weekend. The local news is nightly fraught with tragic report of babies left in cars, window cracked open, while mum runs errands. Say what? So the Health Dept. etc. recommends, so parents don't mistakenly leave kiddies to boil (104 to 107 degrees is all it takes), in their carseats: When you get in the car place your hat in the backseat to help you remember there's a kid there.  So Hat = child ? If you can't remember there's a child on board, how the hell do you expect folks to remember to check the backseat for their hat?  Or even to wear one in the first place? Who gives such people license to procreate?

Nights here are blissfully cool, plenty of ceiling fans, nevertheless by noon one begins to thoroughly appreciate the siesta tradition. It's just too damn hot to stay outdoors. I tried about 40 minutes on the tennis court today at 11 and nearly ended up prostrate on the court. Lotsa water down the hatch and a nice dip in the pool; it's hard to believe they go to the trouble of actually heating the pool it as the couple of days the heating unit was broken I thought the water temp was perfect, certainly much warmer than a day at the beach in Maine!

hollyhocks hang in
The abundance of wildflowers is simply amazing, flourishing in the wake of monsoons. And, to top it all off, who knew sunflowers grew wild here? Towering sunflower plants line every thoroughfare and sidewalk on the verge of  bursting forth a la Van Gogh any day now. What a riot of color that will be.  The hollyhocks are still going strong, a constant and delightful distraction from the heat if I need to runout for something, like the daily Santa Fe paper which daily and weekends runs a syndicated version of the NY Times crossword. And then there's the wild chickory, massive fields of it spread just outside town near the mountains and their color, that French mignonette blue, blankets the fields of grazing horses. Fuschia pompoms, some kind of wild thistle, tall and graceful, hanging in, again growing with wild abandon wherever they can manage to find purchase in this stingy, sandy soil. Today a sea of lavender color, plant unknown, presented itself on the way back into town from the tennis courts. My crap camera couldn't do it. Just a short bike ride from the house are local sheep farms, goats, horses and cattle farms that run along the lush green tree-lined valleys of the Rio Pueblo and Rio Lucero – a short, pleasant and, most important to my mind, flat  ride without too much car traffic if you time it right.

evening stroll

It's Friday, so tomorrow is Farmers' Market, a weekly event I enjoy. Last weekend there, a rather good string band performed a crooning, soulfully Appalachian rendition of "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" that made my day. I came home and spent an hour reading about the history of that tune, looking for original lyrics, etc., generally nerding out about it, humming away all day. It suits my present state of mind; wish I had a guitar with me.

I filled the hummingbird feeder with 1/4 sugar to 3/4 water and those buggers came a-runnin.  One of the species migrates all the way from Mexico, up through California and over the Rockies to Taos. That one is mostly orange (there are others as well) and, for its body length, holds the record among all birds for the longest migration.  The orange ones are highly territorial.  I watch from the porch as the other species wait for him to leave so they can approach the feeder (as I cheer them on). Admonitions to share fall on deaf ears. The babies are tinier than your thumb and less watchful than the adults. We hear them all day, from sunup to sundown, whirring across the back yard, making a sound much like circus clown whistles. Temporary pets. I miss the cats.

park Santa Fe
We headed to Santa Fe for grocerias Saturday and to see the annual Spanish art show there. I 've become thoroughly taken with those small enclosed tin altars with religious figures painted in them, nichos, they're called. Sometimes the picture is simply a holy card, but they have utterly conquered my heart. We found a cool place for lunch, been open a year, Chez Mamou, in SF, the owner is French and the food is reasonably priced and authentically francais.  Sat outside on the tiny alley terrace and imagined we were in Nice. (below)

chex Mamou SFe

Last night we tried a friendly mexican resto in Ranchos de Taos, just south of here (a more authentic feel than Taos proper) and stumbled on a gallery tres charmante, stuff the owners had painted or sketched plus an eclectic collection of everything from Indian figurines to Star Wars collectibles,  to, yes, a lovely old nicho I wouldn't mind having. Nice folks there. Weird stuff, I  was charmed utterly. Every now and then you find something around here that has the ring of authenticity, that isn't trying to be something long since lost.  One thing I've noticed: you are much more likely to get genuine and friendly good quality service in restos and cafes with an ethnic (Mexican or Indian) staff than caucasian.
I'm just sayin'...  It's been true much more often than not.

tin altar, Spanish Market SF

Headed to local library today for more Steinbeck and maybe see if Martha's new tome has arrived. My brain is rubbing its hands in excited anticipation.

Oh, please take note: A friend's old beau of many years ago has just published an autobiographical novel that is, today, available on Amazon. It's called Who Quinn Became and I highly recommend it, especially for the Boomer cohort, based on a few snippets I read on his website.  It's third on my list of must reads at the moment. Check it, ya'll.

ciao for now.


early morning in the valley

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