friends, music, trees & an oven

sometime in the late 1970s, when I was seven or eight, my dad took us to a bluegrass festival in southeast kansas. the festival was only as old as I was at the time. we've pretty much attended every year since. 

more than a music festival (though the bluegrass makes us all happy), it is a reunion for us. old friends and every so often, new children, travel from all over to meet again in kansas.  we camp, cook & eat together. we spend afternoons under our coveted canopy of shady walnut trees. (sunny kansas days can still get hot in september) and then on our evenings we sit by the fire sipping drinks (unless a big rain comes through). or we go for walks around the grounds, seeing music played or just run into other friends from other places. 

it was this annual reunion which d. and I would always see each other, and which on year we finally started flirting & he asked me out on our first date. 

this year we spent a week at camp. the early days being quiet, with only a few of us. we set up our tents, and a community kitchen. no electricity or running water, but we went ahead and built a brick oven so we could bake whatever we felt like (zwieback, cinnamon rolls, pizza -- helps to have bakers in the camp). and when the larger crowd (& all the kids) arrived, we had the camp ready for them. (and though we love seeing the whole group, the quiet early days are always missed.)

really it is just the being there that feels so needed, and it is hard to describe it to folks who have never been. but our pop-up community, this september gathering, and the quiet afternoons under the walnut trees seems a necessary chapter each year. 


with the freeze

last pick before the first freeze. (though this morning the freeze forecast seemed more dire than it is forecasted to be now)

regardless, the freeze season is here.

we also picked a large bowl of roma tomatoes, which means more sauce--I really have to learn to trust canning over freezing because our freezer is stuffed full.

it is too bad neither of us would eat green tomatoes, in any of the ways they are prepared. I thought this as I lamented how many tomatoes we left on the vine. 

I also picked all the blooming zinnias. all those bundles of red & orange just make me smile. 

we carried over loads of wood from the shed, filling up the wood box by the stove, and stacking some by the door. though i'm not sure we will need a fire tonight, and hopefully a sunny day tomorrow will warm up the house. there is something about the first time you turn on the furnace (or in this case, build the first fire). it is the official goodbye to summer. 

we wait to hear about the truck. I wait to hear about a temp job and the insurance I applied for. tomorrow I attend a meeting with my art-show organizers. and also browse the squash & apples at the farmer's market. and I wonder what our valley is going to look like when the day comes it is all covered in snow.


waiting for the nasturtiums to go to seed.

and these poppies too. I have a goal of not buying seeds for next year, using only seeds I've gathered & saved.

cutting herbs to dry. thinking about winter meals. 

finding sunny spots indoors for the plants which were so happy outdoors.

earlier today we took a short walk. the sunshine is so warm, and the high desert oddly green. one of the rainiest seasons ever recorded. the chamisa is about to turn its brightest golden yellow, and soon the aspens will too.

otherwise, i've had far too many phone calls already in figuring out the expense and lingo of getting insurance. our truck isn't working, and so we wait to find out what the issue is and the cost. realizing I worry too much about money to enjoy unemployment. we're anxious to go up the forest for more wood. we have five cucumbers waiting to be eaten, and about 16 pints of sauce in the freezer. and occasionally, when outside, we can smell green chiles being roasted somewhere in this little valley. 

fall means preparing for what's next. getting ready for the winter days when the air is frozen & everything gets a little more still. 

driving colors

pretty colors of early Fall in Kansas. (pictures from from the passenger seat, on our drive back to New Mexico)


during september

new mexico is known for its green chile. in our restaurants you are asked, for every dish, is that with red or green (chile)? this is the time of year when all the chiles are picked & roasted. the grocery stores sells them to you by the bushel, and offers free roasting on the sidewalk outside. (roasting involves dumping them into huge barrels which are then rotated over high-powered propane flames)
the roasting smell is a part of Taos, where ever you go. it reminds me of wheat-harvest time in Kansas, when the air is full of the smell of the fields & the dust of the wheat.

I haven't picked up on the green chile love yet. I still prefer the red. but we bought a bushel (how often does one get to buy a bushel of anything anymore?) and had them roasted. then at home, they filled up six one-gallon bags, and the chile is all headed for friends in Kansas. 

we had 12 straight hours of rain overnight. which is simply odd for taos county. 

as the third week of september nears, so does our annual reunion of friends at a campsite on the walnut river in kansas. ostensibly for a bluegrass festival, but truly for the days spent together in our own pop-up community. 

we knew each other before we started dating, because we both went to this reunion, and we share this group of friends. and it makes us both happy (and so lucky) that we share this history & enjoyment of the festival. 

the truck is packed, all we need to do is sleep, wake up before sunrise, make coffee, tell the cat to be good, and off eastward we go.


forest time

it was a warm afternoon, and we knew a rain was coming in, but we decided to load up the truck and see what firewood we could find in an hour or two.

this time we drove just north of us, to the forest, and after running into a few gates on dirt roads we eventually found ourselves a spot. the key is finding dead, downed trees that haven't yet rotted.

we gathered only a small load, before huge raindrops began to fall. but in the meantime, we smelled the deep pine, I marveled at finding desert cactus next to tall forest trees, d. cut, and I carried.

it always occurs to me that this would go faster if I too had a chainsaw. but to have a chainsaw is to be brave enough to use one. reminds me of a video I once watched, of women who live in Taos discussing what it means to be a woman here, and one of them commented that you'd better know how to use a chainsaw.

we don't know how much wood we'll need to heat the house. this is because we are new to this house, but also because we don't know how cold or long the winter will be. so the best we can do is prepare & plan & hope that we've made the right decisions. 



we took a walk this morning up our backyard mountains. on our usual route, we noticed bear shit on the path. seeming fresh, it changed my mind about taking that walk. (well, we aren't just going to follow the bear, are we? I think is what I said) so d. suggested we take a turn we had not taken before.

we headed up our detour, until we hit a high flat spot to rest. a perfect spot, really, for camping if you wanted a view of the valley. we could see our house and the garden. and per usual we looked for interesting rocks at our feet. and I picked up a fragment of an arrowhead. 
and then our walk ended and became a treasure hunt.

we also began to find pottery shards, a grinding stone, chiseled rocks, and other arrowhead material. and we realized, with the view and all, that once upon a time this was a great camping/overlook spot for people who needed a view of the valley. and that these were probably the same people who hundreds of years, maybe 1,000 years ago, drew the petroglyphs on nearby boulders. we'd been told these remnants were all over our valley, and now we know it is true. 

this is what the two of us call, a great morning walk. 

and yes, I brought a couple mementos home in my pockets. but most of the treasure we left up there where we found it. 

picking up pieces of things once made, held & broken by people who exist now only as spirits in the these mountains & this land, almost makes me feel closer to this land I touch each day.