Dark nights come soon as the mountains hide the fading sunset light. Out here in our rural community, the only light comes from neighboring porches and the visible moon. At 5pm last night, already pitch night, we started down our driveway, and quickly noticed deer in our way. A few were in the drive, a few by the fence, and as we slowly drove down, in awe we noticed even more. Filling our pasture, were the silhouettes of the herd. Their long ears perked up, the antlers still, and their white tails shining in what little light was out. They all stopped to watch us, and we stopped to see them. Then we continued along our road to see even more. It was one of those magical moments, when you are reminded that we live among wild herds, and that the countryside we love living in, is home to creatures that wait until dark falls to come out. It felt like we were witnessing a secret of the night.
Our purpose for going into town was to visit the annual Lighting Ledoux celebration. Ledoux Street is home to galleries and museums, and on this night the glowing farolitos are set out and lit for the first time. Galleries stay open late, offering cider and cookies, and many light bonfires in their yards, so that people can stop, sit and chat by a fire. The smell of pinon burning, the flicker of the lights and the coldness of the fresh air.
This is a Taos tradition which I hadn't gotten to experience yet. Even though I'm still uncomfortable and need to sit, often, it was something I didn't want to miss this year. We had fun, stopping many times to chat with friends also walking the street.
Snow has been falling on the high peaks, but for us in the foothills, we've mostly had rain rather than snow. The rain brings out the brightness in the browns & golds.
Recovery has gone well, though I've been frustrated many times. Overall though, I've improved and continue to do so. It feels like an accomplishment that I can mostly bend over and that I can walk around without feeling so fragile and unstable.
I've noticed that my emotions on the tipping edge. Feeling like crying comes easily. This experience has changed the way I view what life is, and what life can be. And it has further cemented the closeness and love I have in my partner. I look at the foothills and mountains, and I have a desire to climb them. And my goal in the next year is to regain my strength, and more so. I want my body to feel strong with each step, not just for climbing mountains but for encountering life, living and the challenges in them.
a week ago now I was coming out of surgery. my hysterectomy, which had been scheduled for months, and known to be inevitable for years, finally had to happen.
my post-op recovery took awhile longer than expected, worrying D. who was waiting. but when I woke, in the dark blur with a nurse named Jason talking to me, all I felt was pain deep inside. the spinal I'd received was surely working, but just not that well. so it took awhile to get enough morphine in me to move me into a room.
eventually in a private room, which other than having to listen to a woman in labor/giving birth in the room next to me, was quiet. ironic that women who are losing their ability to birth recover in the same ward in which women are giving birth.
i've been home now for almost six days. with at least six pillows propping me up in various ways. with a cat allowed to sleep on the bed next to me. and with a constant supply of hot tea and loving attention.
today when I first woke up I was thinking about how I can't go back and undo it. it is done. and overall, I'm very glad. this morning I was just tired of feeling the pain.
for me, getting through surgery heavily relied on one thing. my loving partner, who didn't want to leave my side. he was there to listen to the nurses, ask questions, sleep two nights on an uncomfortable roll-out chair, fill my ice cup and each time i needed, he helped me get out of bed, walk me to the bathroom, helped me sit on the toilet and then he pulled me back up.
it does feel like something is gone from my insides. it is almost surreal how much I can tell. but I hope I won't miss it, or what it represented, too much. as I have so much around me to fill me up. so much to keep pulling me up.
I'm am at the point of posting monthly now. Amazing what working full-time away from home can do to your blogging. Writing about work isn't any fun, so it all comes down to weekends. And sometimes weekends are just washing dishes and baking bread. Though lately I've been cooking up tomato sauce too. And in preparation for surgery I'm having in two weeks, I've been baking up pasta and fixing up burritos for the freezer. Somehow it makes me feel less anxious if I know there will be food I made for D. to eat during my recovery.
The garden faded in a lovely way, and it became a home for the rabbits (safe from the coyotes). The aspens turned gold in a week, and now are beginning to lose their leaves. Fall in northern NM means seeing golden patches on the mountains appear and disappear, bushes of chamisa turn bright yellow, the smell of pinon burning, mornings hazy over the valley from woodstove smoke, deer tracks in the yard and truck beds either piled high in wood or showing the tops of antlers, a tell-tale sign of a recent hunt.
In late September was the Taos Fall Arts Festival, this time including the idea of a friend of ours, incorporating street art & performance. Called The Paseo (for the street it lined) it was a long walk of different street art, from huge mechnical robots and displays to adobe walls lit up in papercut projections. We were lucky enough to get our tintype photo taken by one of the visiting artists. Though it took forever, since the plate had to be exposed and processed one at a time, we love that we held out.
It also means sunny, warm days and crisp, freezing nights. The pleasantness of the weather here.
A few weekends ago we started out on a drive to see fall colors, with a walk in mind. We drove through little Truchas, where I found some awesome roadside graffiti. But we ended up heading south to Chimayo, to visit El Santuario. A site of pilgrimage, famous for the healing dirt upon which it is built. It was a spiritual place of healing for the native populations before the Catholic populations began living here & built a chapel. Now the courtyard is covered in altars of rosaries, candles and homemade crosses. And as we visited the simple adobe chapel full of believers. People praying in spanish, and people weeping at the altar. A moving place, you can feel the belief, the hope, the sorrow, the relief and the ancient ways. We brought home a little wooden replica of the chapel, and in it we filled with some of the healing dirt. This is a part of what you do when you live in New Mexico.
We've reached that time of year, time to prepare for winter. The cat hunted/caught two mice, we are collecting newspapers, calculating how much wood we need to cut & burn. It is soon time to fill the propane, clean the chimney and start wearing slippers again.
We spent the last week camping near the Walnut river, in Kansas. Our annual time to see & spend time with many people we simply love to be nearby.
Picking the flowers which are slowly fading and will soon freeze.
Warm temperatures alluded my tomatoes this year. Picked my first big batch today, and made some sauce. Quite a change from last year's bounty. But since we still have sauce from last year in the freezer, we didn't really need as much.
The Statice I grew has come out in blues, pinks and purples. I've been cutting it & hanging to dry on the back porch. Thinking it will be welcome color in the winter depths.
Working full-time in town has been rewarding, but a new perspective for me. Suddenly my time is no longer mine, it belongs to work. And I'm not sure I'll ever be convinced that is really how I want to live. Am glad the job I have now is one I feel good about.
though the garden has grown more slowly than last year's did, it has grown. and I picked my first red cherry tomato this week. and last night the colors of the garden were fading in a lovely way as the sun set in brilliant orange & pink.
the garden hasn't had my usual devotion this summer, a combination of my working full-time away from home, the cooler temps which have made for slower growth and my also just not being up to my physically best for the past few weeks. but these things will fade with this summer. I have marveled at how well the marigolds did this year.
d. is returning today from a few days away in the mountains. the house is especially quiet, outside the window the sound of aspen leaves rustling the the breezes, and the occasionally mew of the cat. she & I will both be happy to have our companion home. with out now different schedules, we don't see each other as much as we used to, and that's been an adjustment.
and now with Fall coming, we have wood to cut and a trip to Winfield to plan.
Last weekend we attended the Taos Pueblo Powwow for the Grand Entry (opening ceremony). The crowd seemed more subdued than our last visit, but it may have been the rain and cooler weather. We stood near the circle's entrance, which meant I got to watch each dancer as they came into the entry's dance.
I thought about how this ceremonial tradition brings together people from tribes all over, of different faiths, languages and communities. And yet they gather together for ceremony, remembrance and unity. And do any other groups of people (from different religions, communities and languages) in this country do this?
Just as it began to get dark, the clouds broke, and a very full moon began to shine. The announcer of the Powwow stopped what he was introducing, so that he could tell everyone to look up at the moon. The moon, he explained, plays an important role in Pueblo tradition, and there it was, blessing the Powwow with its brilliant light.
Our monsoon season has begun. It clouds up and rains just about every afternoon & evening. I think we had a hot Summer for about a 1 1/2 weeks. Because our Spring was cool, and our warm weather pretty short, the garden is not as flourishing as it was last year at this time. But it is growing, and very happily green. It is also just a bit stunted. A little bit shorter than last year. And it will probably be weeks yet before I have a ripe tomato (this altitude!). But I did pick our first cucumber today, and we munched it as I made dinner. I've been picking little bouquets of flowers (my favorite sign of summer) every other day or so. And I try to throw fresh chives, thyme, cilantro or oregano into dinner each night.
I spent my week learning my new job. Overall, I feel pretty good about things. I'm a little intimidated by all the people I need to meet and know, and I have a lot of work to learn and to do. I'll have some challenges ahead, but challenges are good for me. And I'm doing a kind of work I've been wanting to do for years.
Last weekend we took a morning hike up the Canoncito trail. It is a tree-covered, creek-crossing abundant trail. We had sandwiches at the end of the trail before we headed back down.
I get a little bit claustrophobic on these tree-covered trails. And I find that what D. loves about these walks (the time to quietly walk & think all your thoughts) is what I have a hard time doing. But me leaving myself alone with my thoughts isn't something I've been very good at in a long time.
The garden is filling up in colors. Pink hollyhocks, orange & yellow marigolds, yellow blooming cucumbers and all kinds of green.
And I'm quite in love with the flowering sweetpeas. Hot pink and reddish purples, fairy-like petals on delicate stems. Glad I decided to grow these.
This morning we took a walk up our backyard. The morning sun was already quite intense, and it was a relief to drop down into the canyon and walk home along the water. The chollas are blooming impressively, and have filled the desert mountains with bright pinks.