Monday, July 16, 2018

Celebrating 50 Years

Talking with neighbors who are long time residents of
Santa Fe, I got a thumbnail sketch of the history of
the Farm Market: it has had many locations
until this permanent one, ten years in this location at the Railyard.
The Rail Runner's tracks run along one side of the market.

Brian DeSpain, a former dot-com executive, and now
co-ower (along with his wife Roxane) of Bodhi Farms in Las Vegas, NM,
grows greens of all sorts throughout the season in huge
greenhouses. Permaculture practices inform their farming.
I was first attracted to this "booth" since a few duck eggs were available each week.
Arriving early is essential since their 7 Khaki Campbell ducks are aging
and the crows often dine on the eggs and sport very shiny feathers.

Food is too often purchased to meet the cravings or simply the taste preference of the person shopping: blueberries in the midst of Winter, apples from New Zealand, beef from Japan, etc.  Those of us focused on buying organic and local food now have some scientific evidence that these choices make a difference in one's gut health.

From this vendor I buy the best
ever Baba Ghanoush
which we enjoy spread on organic,
sprouted seed crackers (no grain). m-m-m-m!

In February Eloy Trujillo, an Okay Owingeh Pueblo native, brought me a bucket of roots so I could grow my very own "Indian Tea," aka Pueblo Tea or Navajo Tea, (Theleperma gracile).
His instructions were to water every day, stressing the importance of every day.
He would not accept any money and said that this plant is extremely
difficult to propagate from dug up roots and impossible to grow from seeds.
I am extremely grateful that I have not one but two robust plants now blooming.

Dwight's favorite picture is below:
cuckoo bee (
Machaeranthera pinnatifida)on singular Indian tea flower.

The tea is made by bringing dried 
flowers and leaves to a boil and simmering for five minutes.
The natives use this flavorful beverage to stimulate the kidney and to purify the blood.
Delish! especially without any sweeter of any kind.

"Farm to Table" Sunflowers ☺️

As we make out our shopping list and go off to the market to purchase our food, may we each

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Local Petroglyphs and Deep Tradition

By guest writer, Dwight Sims

For over 13,000 years humans have lived in New Mexico and they have left records of their lives throughout the state.  I went recently with two friends, Bob and Carolyn Florek, on an archeologist guided tour of the San Cristobal Pueblo site in the Galisteo Basin, which was occupied from about 900 to 1600 CE.

The Galisteo Basin with the Cerrillos Hills on the left, 
source of most old Native turquoise, 
the blue Sangre de Christo mountains 
above Santa Fe in the distance,
and San Cristobal Pueblo just out of the photo to the right.
Because it is on private property and not usually open to the public, the Pueblo site is relatively undisturbed.  Its estimated 1.600 rooms are now just mounds
of eroded adobe, but its middens are treasure troves of 700 years of pottery sherds. 

Carolyn found this double notched arrowhead, beautifully made,
 and returned it, reluctantly, to the midden 
where it remains part of the archeological record.
In the large rocks above the Pueblo its inhabitants left a spectacular record of many thousands of petroglyphs, images pecked into the rock, many of which are enigmatic.  But they still have much to tell us.  In them we could recognize often images of the hunt, food animals, and snakes:

We saw several panels containing deer or elk that seem grander than mere food:

And there were images of the horned serpent god known among the Pueblos as Awanyu, a bringer of rain and related to Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec god of death and resurrection.  The activities of the beings next to the vertical snakes are up to you to interpret!

And here is an eagle captured by another being, human or otherwise.  The Hopi today still capture eagles for spiritual ceremonies and then release them.

We saw pictographs also, paintings that survive under rock overhangs, this one likely of  shamans or medicine men:

More dramatically, this shaman is in full regalia with an arrow through his septum:

Perhaps the most impressive panel we saw was this one, probably added to over centuries, that portrays the natural and spiritual worlds undivided.  There is corn, the food of life, a rabbit (sitting upright on the right), a turkey, two pronghorn and other animals and birds.  There is also a spirit bear with stars, traditionally called on in healing ceremonies, a horned serpent facing the corn, and several kachinas, some with one or two horns.  In one way or another all these spirit beings connect heaven and earth and in Pueblo tradition maintain the cycle of life.

Another panel shows a two horned kachina bringing rain down on the earth 
as they are believed to do today in response to the frequent Pueblo dances
 that help to maintain harmony in the world:

Being in place with all these wonderous communications from the past was a powerful and moving experience.  These and the many other panels we saw project a wide range of feeling - awe, joy, anger, reverence, humor; their creators had a different world view than mine but similar human concerns and responses.  Their images show too continuity with the traditions and daily experience of the Pueblo people who live here today.  And they remind us immigrant Americans that the land we use here is not ours, but has a long history of use by countless others before us with lives and beliefs as rich and full as ours.  It was a great privilege to visit San Cristobal and experience a little of the life and world view of our predecessors in the Land of Enchantment where I now live. 

Regenerating and Restoring

Dismantling the front and side "yards" of 6790' MuRefuge is moving along.
This blooming White Tufted Evening Primrose 
(Oenothera caespito, Santa Fe)
was planted just a few days ago after cardboard
and organic compost from Reunity Resources
covered the narrow space between the walkway
and the smooth river rock "swale"
designed to catch rain water from the two front canales.
"Cross Currents," paintings by Penelope Gottlieb are presently on exhibit at the Gerald P. Peters Gallery, the former Bandilier House, on Paseo de Peralta. With her painting, this Santa Barbara, California, artist is making a "political" statement regarding the primarily, as she sees it, human impact on the rapidly declining biodiversity and hastening "the Sixth Extinction" here on Planet Earth. Her theme is painting invasive plant species onto copies of John James Audubon's fine bird prints. A local friend when she saw the coverage in the local paper thought the art works "grim." And that they are.

Plants seem to be purchased and planted by humans to suit their individual preferences without regard to consequences for Mother Earth and all her inhabitants. Globalization is rapidly happening not only in the economic and political arenas but in the animal and plant kingdoms as well. Perhaps it would behoove all of us to entertain a view of what is extraordinary in the local plant community rather then exotics from other parts of the world.

Purple Prairie Clover ( Dalea purpurea)
Slender, airy perennial growing to two feet.
The bright purple flowers tare wonderful when dried since they keep their color.
This plant is a nitrogen fixer as well as very drought tolerant.
This picture was taken along the dry Santa Fe River bed
on one of our morning walks.
One has been planted in the front into the sheet mulching.
The local plant community is part of the local habitat providing food, shelter and respite for the animal and birds. Last week while leaving from a delicious lunch at the The Kitchen at Plants of the Southwest, we noticed that a different female Sage Thrasher was sitting on eggs in the middle "condo" in the cholla cactus.  Several weeks prior the Sage Thrasher family in the upper condo had departed after the babies fledged. One of the workers commented on the crucial importance of the cholla to the local birds that nest in these prickly plants. He went on the say that fewer and fewer Santa Feians are planting cholla in their gardens and many are removing natives that have been growing in their gardens. However, as I move along with restoring the habitat at 6790' MuRefuge, I am amazed at the increasing awareness people in this region of our country are having of the loss of diversity and its effect.

Back to the topic "regenerating and restoring:" Reactions from neighbors and others passing by to the gravel and exotic plant removal in our front yard are pretty amazing to me. Two men bicycled by with one saying to the other, "That woman knows what she is doing" as I was removing landscape cloth, mulching and planting native plants. As I began the cardboard and wood chip mulching, a male neighbor asked as he drove by, "Do you want any more cardboard boxes?" "Yes," was my reply and he dropped off his extras. And just a few days ago, two women neighbors across the street were sitting on the low adobe "fence" chatting and greeted me with, "We were just talking about you and its all good" in reference to the labor intensive but simple process of sheet mulching, which regenerates the soil. 
12 cubic yards of freshly chipped mostly Spruce and
Apricot, recently delivered by Coates Tree Service.

Sheet mulching is a way to reuse items like worn out natural fiber clothing (jeans, underwear, tee shirts, etc.) so they do not go into the landfill. Moving boxes of which we had many with our recent move or cardboard boxes picked up from local appliance, hardware and grocery stores, straw, raked up leaves and tree trimmings that are usually available from local tree trimming companies can be layered on top of natural fabric, if using, begin with layering cardboard next to the soil. This practice is a way to suppress weeds as well as regenerate the soil by providing microorganisms and worms an ideal place to thrive. Native perennials, shrubs, trees and annuals love BEing planted into regenerated soil. An added benefit here in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the soil that has been regenerated using this practice of sheet mulching is much cooler than the temperature of the prevalent naturally occurring adobe which gets really hot with daytime temperatures in the 90's and the extremely low humidity. 

It is common practice here to use landscape cloth which is made from plastic (petroleum based) is usually laid next to the ground with loads of gravel or rocks are placed atop. As you can imagine the ground beneath this prevalent landscaping technique which uses no water is pretty devoid of any types of living BEings. 
The many truck loads of Santa Fe gravel are slowly disappearing from 6790' MuRefuge. A delightful man who answered the Craigslist posting for "free Santa Fe gravel to anyone who wants to remove it," is using it to cover a 1000' long dirt road. A Win-Win for both of us. 

The landscape fabric is leaving as well, as you can see from the picture below which shows the exposed adobe soil.

The area between the two sidewalks in the upper part
of this picture has now been completely mulched.
"Looking beautiful," was a comment by a friend recently dropping by.
And the plant on the left side of the lower half of the picture
has now found a "forever home" along with the 6 other remaining plants.
Earlier, before it got so hot, two other people took plants,
so now all the vegetation that was planted through landscape cloth
to prepare this property for sale are gone. Before the monsoon
rainy season - all Santa Feians are hopeful one will happen -
all the Santa Fe gravel will be gone as well.
Most all of those humans walking by comment on "the hard work" I am doing, to which I reply, "I love regenerating the soil and restoring the native habitat,"
then I

Thursday, June 21, 2018

HOT, DRY Summer Solstice, First in Santa Fe

Sun sculpture, created by Dwight Sims,
 now hanging just to the right of

our front door at 6790' MuRefuge.

"When the true light appears,
The entire planet turns to face it.

The summer solstice is the time of greatest light. It is a day of enormous power. The whole planet is turned fully to the brilliance of the sun.

This great culmination is not static or permanent. Indeed, solstice as a time of culmination is only a barely perceptible point. The sun appears to stand still. Its diurnal motion seems to nearly cease. Yesterday, it was still reaching this point; tomorrow it will begin a new phase of its cycle.

Those who follow Tao celebrate this day to remind themselves of the cycles of existence. They remember that all cycles have a left and a right, an up side and a down side, a zenith and a nadir. Today, day far surpasses night, and yet night will gradually begin to reassert itself. All of life is cycles. All of life is balance.

So celebrate, but be not proud. For whenever you celebrate high achievement, the antithesis is also approaching. Likewise, in misfortune, be not sad. For whenever you mourn in grief, the antithesis is also approaching. Those who know how to reach the peak of any cycle and remain glorious are the wisest of all."

365 Tao Daily Meditations, Deng Ming-Dao"

Celebrating Rose:
Commemorative vase created by Chris Boyd next to
Leadplant (Amorpha canescens #3)
which is delicate looking but a very tough plant
growing natively here in the high desert.
Rose was delicate looking too with a constitution of steel
celebrating life and death to the fullest.
As we celebrate cycles by letting go of sadness, grief, elation, joyfulness may we

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Flora and Fauna, Santa Fe River

From May 25 through May 29, Katie (Dwight's oldest daughter
who lives in San Francisco, California) visited us.
Below are some of her lovely pictures
she took during our morning walks
along the dry Santa Fe River :
Sun shining on cottonwood leaves.
Fremont cottonwood, aka Rio Grande Cottonwood
(Populus fremontii).

There is also a gorgeous stand of
Narrowleaf Cottonwood 
(Populus anguvstifolia) as well.

The seed pods of the ubiquitous cottonwood.
Before the leaves develop these female
trees have yellow or red flowers.

Scorpionflower (Phacelia integrifolia)
which is one of the first plants we saw flower this Spring.

My favorite local bush, replacing MuRefuge's Twinberry, is
Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa).
First the bush is covered with white flowers
(the first picture) which gives way to awesome pink plumes.
"Backlit, this is truly a breathtaking sight," says Sally Wasowski
Native Gardening in Northern New Mexico.

This striking flowering plant
Stemless Evening Primrose 

(Oenothera caespitosa) 
is a nectar and a larval plant for the
White-lined Sphinx Moth.

Rocky Mountain Penstemon (Penstemon strictus)

Sacred Datura, aka Jimsonweed (Datura wrightii)

The two above pictures are of Chocolate Flower,
aka Green Eyes (Berlandiera lyrata)
Palmer's Penstemon aka Balloon Penstemon
(Penstemon palmeri)
All along the sides of the dry river bed these willows
have been planted to stabilize the sand soil.
Blue Chamisa, aka Rubber Rabbitbrush
(Chrysothamnus nauseous)
which many people here in Santa Fe
have an allergic reaction to in the
Fall when the bush is gloriously covered with yellow flowers.
Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia phaecantha)
Buffalo Gourd (Cucurbita foetidissima)
which produces poisonous fruit.

Prairie Dogs in the large field at Frenchy's Park above,
and below a lizard of which there is an abundance everywhere
in the park and along the dry river bed.

Thank you, Katie, for allowing me to share your pictures on this blog!