Marigolds and mums
Roasted green chile was still available at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market (http://www.santafefarmersmarket.com/) on Tuesday, but won’t be much longer. The Tuesday market winds down in November, although Saturday markets will continue on with root vegetables, breads, cheeses, and soaps. Besides the green chile, I bought a wonderful Amsterdam bread with all kinds of nuts and seeds, tomatoes picked before this week’s hard frost, fresh apricot chevre from goats at South Mountain Dairy, a fall bouquet of marigolds and mums, and of course a small pumpkin.
Sign of the season
Halloween, also called Samhain and Ancestor Night by the Wiccans, represents the final harvest, and is a time when the veil between the worlds of life and death becomes more fragile. In November, it always snows in Santa Fe and full winter blasts in. Our nighttime temps are already in the 20s. Seasons seem to come faster here. I’m holding onto autumn as long as I can.
Ryo in summer pasture
I woke up this morning and saw a spider first thing. Some Native Americans believe that when a spider appears in our path it symbolizes choice, and is a reminder that just as the spider weaves its web, so do our choices build our lives.
The last week of October is always deeply meaningful for me. It was on October 29 six years ago that my horse Ryo died. I remember driving out to the barn that morning, noticing the first scattering of snow in Tesuque. The barn owner and my vet had both advised that the kindest thing would be to put ailing Ryo down before true winter, when he would likely die a painful, freezing death one night in his deteriorated condition. That morning, I gave Ryo grain. He wouldn’t eat. We turned Ryo out in the pasture he loved so much, but rather than wander around, he stood by the gate. Other boarders drove up, unusual for 8am on a cold fall weekday. “What is this? A rock concert?” the barn owner muttered. I guess they cared for my placid little mustang, too. They brought roses and lavender.
My vet arrived. The barn owner thoughtfully ushered the onlookers away. “You want me to hold his halter rope?” the barn owner asked. “No,” I said. I stood there stroking my horse so he would know he was loved until the end. My vet did the deed in the most humane way, with a shot to tranquilize Ryo, then another to send him on his way. Ryo collapsed on the blue blanket I’d brought. I took that blanket home and slept with it for months. I’m sleeping with it again this week. If ever it's easy for spirits to cross over from one dimension to another, late October seems like the time.
Rarely is Santa Fe lush, but it was this morning with so many falling yellow leaves and the clouds clotted against the Jemez Mountains after the rain. I talked with Roberta Price recently, whose new photo book “The Great Divide” is about her years living close to nature at southern Colorado’s Libre. That reminded me of Iris Keltz’s fabulous interview book, “Scrapbook of a Taos Hippie,” about the Taos communes like New Buffalo and Morningstar.
Then I was at my friend Amy Sealove Lynn’s studio during the Galisteo Studio Tour (http://galisteostudiotour.org/), and Amy’s friend Drea reminisced about moving to Santa Fe in the seventies and applying for a job at what used to be Harry’s Roadhouse. “They asked me if I’d ever cooked for large numbers of people and I said, `Yeah, at a commune.’ That was my job interview. I was hired. That was Santa Fe in the seventies,” Drea laughed. Drea also handmade bohemian leather and suede clothes around then for a legendary store in New York called The Stitching Horse, where all the cool rock musicians shopped. She thinks Keith Richards bought one of her jackets. Nowadays, Drea is a fabulous facialist at La Posada (http://laposada.rockresorts.com/).
The view from Galisteo
On the Galisteo Tour, Amy’s studio attracted shoppers from as far away as New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Trinidad. Everyone remarked on Galisteo’s expansive views. Galisteo’s population is just 265, and it’s home to more than one former hippie artist-jeweler. With its strong community vibe and rural lifestyle, it’s easy to understand why. The sixties and seventies were such awesome decades.
The junior sunflower
It was dark when I set out walking early the other day. As I strode along, the eastern sky bleached white while the western sky transformed into striated pink and blue. Walking is a wonderfully grounding way to deal with what life tosses our way. Even before the sun rose over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains here in Santa Fe, I noticed the junior sunflower had its petals spread in anticipation.
Speaking of anticipation, singer Carly Simon hasn’t been blogging a lot lately but when she does it’s with a blunt honesty that resonates, like her candid reflections about how disappointments can immobilize us (http://simonspeaks.typepad.com/simon_speaks/2010/01/carly-simons-thoughts-on-the-new-year.html). A more active blogger with witty, experiential observations embracing her New York and Rhode Island lifestyle plus gorgeous photos is Dominique Browning (http://www.slowlovelife.com/). Browning went from being editor in chief of House & Garden to moving into her Rhode Island beach house, where she started baking muffins and wrote the memoir “Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put On My Pajamas, and Found Happiness,” in which she proposes that if you live in the moment and connect “with nature, the sea, the trees, the night cries of animals,” you can find joy in life, or at least your equilibrium. This is true.
The winsome alpacas
Taos is such a gorgeous outpost kind of town up in the mountains: it feels like Tibet in the Rockies. Two hours north of Santa Fe, Taos is more rural with dirt roads, more cowboy with ranchers, more bohemian with prevalent sixties values, and has more artists per capita with a population of just 5,000 (as compared to Santa Fe’s 70,000). I was in Taos for the 27th annual Wool Festival last weekend, and I’ll tell you, that was just the most perfect laidback little fest.
Alpacas, llamas, yaks, rabbits, goats, and of course sheep were the stars of this fiber arts show, and every hour there was a shearing demonstration. The alpacas (www.paradisevalleyalpaca.com, www.eyedazzleralpacas.com) were particularly winsome. They have teddy-bear ears, eat three pounds of hay or grass a day, and are shyer and smaller than llamas, which are more commonly used as pack animals. Alpacas hum in friendly communication and spit when distressed. They don’t like people reaching out to pet them, which they perceive as predatory. They’re native to the high Andes in South America. On Sunday, when the alpacas were led around the Kit Carson Park show grounds on halters, they trembled. They were happier in their pen.
Back in Santa Fe this morning, the giant sunflower has given up the good fight. It’s hunched over in decline. A block away, the bush of smaller sunflowers still looks sprightly.
On Saturday at the NM Women Authors’ Book Festival (www.newmexicocreates.org), Taos memoirist Phaedra Greenwood (www.phaedragreenwood.com) talked about slowing down to really appreciate a hillside that was a glowing mass of aspens and hear an elk bugling in the distance in southern Colorado. The amiable Judith Ryan Hendricks (www.judihendricks.com) copped to the fact that, “There’s no such thing as a good first draft. You’re just getting it out so you have something to work with.” And the dynamic Jo-Ann Mapson (www.joannmapson.com) revealed how her newest, “Solomon’s Oak,” was created by layering folklore like how oak trees were sacred to Zeus and the Druids practiced rites under oak trees, with such other inspiration as a Monterey newspaper crime story, the belief that “trouble’s always the most interesting thing in fiction,” and an Indian ghost tale. Web marketer Jan Zimmerman (www.watermelonweb.com) recommended finding eight search terms to describe your writing/business and using them everywhere. So great to mingle with these deep thinkers! There was genius in the air.
On the home front, the giant sunflower is hunched over and looking bedraggled. It’s still staring hopefully into the rising sun, but I can see that effort requires all its strength. Two weeks old, and already out of the youth market. When I walked by it today, I vibed it some encouragement. A block away, a bush of smaller sunflowers was looking better off.