A trip to another rooftop

sunrise view from our campsite

formations on top of the mesa

Markings from both 17th century Spanish Conquistadors and 12th Century pueblo peoples

stairs carved into the sandstone

nature is amazing.

takes will power. 

Atsinna Pueblo ruins atop the mesa, the "desert's rooftop"

We don't always have time to travel too far from home, but we managed a 4-hour drive to El Morro National Monument. Out in a desert of scrub brush and ancient pinon trees, with majestic sandstone cliffs jutting into the sky and towering above. Along the cliff walls are centuries of petroglyphs combined with inscriptions of the Spanish conquistadors (stopping along the way to conquer the Zuni) and early American travelers (wagon trains and military). Then a climb to the top of the mesa, you find ruins of the Ancient ones, who lived high above the world and nestled into amazing rounded sandstone nooks & crannies. We camped nearby in a peaceful, tree-shady spot, and listened to the wind in the trees all night.


winter so far

its been snowy. and often grey. the puppy loves the snow, she runs and jumps and dives into it. and eats it. there are days when I'm entirely over it. and other days, when it seems lovely and pretty.


remembering this space

When I drove  to work this morning my view was of the dark, cloudy mountains with newly snowy peaks. It was lovely, but it tells us that winter is coming. Then it began to rain, and has just rained & rained all day. I got an email from a friend last week and she was reminding me that some people do pay attention to this blog, and were wondering where I was. 
I think that my work day drains me a little bit, and so I lose touch with this form of expression, and I think posting photos on instagram, expressing thoughts on Facebook, having also been distractions.

Today I came home to a dark house shrouded in heavy rain, expecting it to be cold. But I found that D. had started our first fire of the season, & our little house cozy in the wet.

At the end of the summer we drove up North, and visiting some mountaintop old mining cabins up on what is called Midnight Meadows. Up high, in the deep meadows, far from people and walking in wide meadows. It was beautiful and serene, and reminded you of what quiet is. 

We traveled home to Kansas for our annual trip to Winfield. And we had a long, relaxing time, with a lot of laughing,  many Wisconsin-style Brandy Old-Fashioneds, and time with our family & friends. The kids showed us they are all old enough not to need us much, they had afternoons of imagination and kite-flying. And since a lot of us brought our bikes, we were able to ride around together. Oh, and tick bites. Many of us also got bitten by ticks, which was new for the Winfield experience. 

This past weekend, in effort to tire out the puppy and get a little nature time before the cold sets in, we took a hike up Manzanita trail. We were discussing how much stronger I am than I used to be, and how much better I feel than in the months after my surgery. We had gotten up a couple miles, and then I slipped in a creek, and water gushed in over my shoes. And it was time to turn around. The aspen trees are turning yellow, the oak trees are turning golden and soon they will all fall to the ground. But Fall smells so lovely here. The pinon burning, the aroma of leaves as they crunch underfoot, the damp air settles into the pine & cedar trees. 

D. has a new best friend with Sasha. She can hike up a mountain for miles without being tired, and the whole time be simply joyful as she runs & sniffs & explores & splashes in the cold streams. 


with July past and the monsoons visiting

It seems to us like we've seen quite a few double rainbows this summer, from Kansas to NM. And then this one happened, only a single, but in a full arc over the sky...from the mountains to the mesa, against the cloudy sky over our adobe. It was so bright it didn't seem quite real...

A lot of my feeling fortunate moments are around my garden. This morning I was in the garden cutting handfuls of thyme, in order to dry them for the winter. The aroma of the cut thyme, and the sage (a bush of sage with flower stalks coming up to my waist) which sits next to the thyme, along with the smell of the wet rained upon dirt...and I felt lucky to have such perfume in my life. Then cutting my bouquet of flowers, which I could do each day if I wanted...thank goodness for land and gardens. 

The flower bed just outside our house is now in its second year. I knew when I first planted it, that it would mean I could see blooming flowers from the living room couch, and that it would make me smile. I was right, of course.

Now into August, the warm sunny mornings turn into cloudy afternoons, with monsoon rains sweeping through and drenching the forests and desert. The smell of wet pine, sage & chamisa fill the air. 

Having injured my foot a few weeks ago (no more hopping over the acequia in flip flops for me) I'm still limping and having some pain. (One of the ladies I work with saw me on crutches and said, oh you hurt your pata! -- I love learning spanish words from hearing them used rather than reading them in a textbook -- if only I could go back to college and have this understanding--"pata" by the way really means "paw" it is just used as an cute nickname for foot)  So walks have been on hold, as well as any late summer hikes. It is a too bad way to spend the end of summer. But I have to remind myself it is better than how I was feeling this time last year.


high desert garden on August 1


Garden update: Here in the high desert the tomatoes are still green, but have happy marigold bushes. Have been picking cukes, green beans & peas and have been making pesto to freeze. We had a few weeks of hot days, but monsoon season is officially here, which brings heavy afternoon rains & cooler temps...this is when I have to practice some patience with NM, patience for red tomatoes. 
The cosmos are spreading lots of happy pinks though...and look lovely from our living room window. 


july 3

Our fortune of not having a heating bill is not free. But we mostly enjoy the tiring work involved in cutting wood for burning...and I've seen some of the prettiest spots thanks to our wood "hunts". We recently drove up past little Tres Piedras, turned onto a mountain road, and kept driving up. We were acting on a tip from a friend, knowing a crew had been up there cutting trees for fire prevention. 

In less than two hours we were loaded up with Aspen and Fir. All wood that will sit in our shed and cure until it is ready, this load we will likely burn next Spring. 

The forest we were in was just tall graceful white Aspens and the orange/brown Ponderosas. High into the sky, a roof of leaves. Sasha ran around and discovered all kinds of things. And other than the occasional sound of another person's chainsaw miles away, so quietly away from people and things.

Since we were up in the area, we took the highway over to the Brazos. Cliffs and high meadows, everything green from this bounty of Spring rain. Eventually we turned onto the last dirt road before the "leaving Carson National Forest" sign, and bounced our way up until we found a good picnic view. A picnic in a mountain meadow on a warm, Saturday afternoon is a very peaceful way to be.

Estan floreando las chollas. The chollas are blooming. The hot pink seeming especially bright this year. Our usual "backyard" walk is quite colorful right now. Sasha is good about avoiding the cactus thorns, having only occasional issues. 

Our garden is growing slowly and very green. Slow gardening and small plants will just be the way it is here. I think I've resigned myself to it. And I'm quite fine too. My salads are still full of freshly picked lettuce, spinach, basil, thyme & dill. They just don't have freshly picked tomatoes & cucumbers in them yet. Overall, having a garden, even a challenged NM one, makes me feel happy & lucky. 


june 16

sun setting reflection on our mountains.