Alone

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, I’m thinking of all the people who will be alone during the upcoming holidays. After I was orphaned as a teenager, I was alone for many years, even when I was surrounded by people. I know how it feels to be alone. Holidays were the worst.

Whoever you are, and wherever you are, I will be praying for you. If hope eludes you, please know that I will be hoping on your behalf.

If you believe in God, I encourage you to pray for yourself and others. If you don’t believe in God, I encourage you to pray as if you did.

St. Teresa of Avila’s Bookmark:

Let nothing disturb you;
Let nothing frighten you.
All things pass;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
The one who has God
Lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.

Variety

A neighbor recently commented on the unusual patterns of color we are seeing this year on the autumn leaves in our neighborhood. She attributed them to our unseasonal snowstorm and freeze a few weeks ago. I hadn’t noticed the unusual patterns, but I was glad she brought them to my attention. I was reminded of the poem “Pied Beauty” by Gerard Manley Hopkins in which he gives glory to God for dappled things and…

...All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)

At the same time, there is beauty in monochrome. In our backyard, the ash trees simply ignored the snowstorm. The leaves were green before the storm, and they remained so after the snow and ice melted. Now, they have turned to their reliable shade of gold.

Indoor Gardens

The memory of our October snow has faded. Now in November, a few shrubs and plants are blooming outside — nothing to write home about — so I have turned my attention to my indoor gardens. At the grocery store, I bought yellow, pink, and orange Kalanchoe to grace the side table in our atrium. A five-dollar bouquet of lilies from Walmart cheers the living room, and a floral jigsaw puzzle dominates the dining room table.

Apparently, I am easily entertained — as long as there are flowers.

Wild Horses

The Lincoln National Forest in the mountains around Ruidoso, New Mexico, is home to herds of wild horses. The neighboring village, Ruidoso Downs, hosts a beautiful race track, so there are local horse owners and visiting horse owners in town during the racing season. Over time, some have released horses into the National Forest when the horses have passed their prime, and the horses, not being stupid, have gathered into herds.

Local advocates seek to help the wild horses. Today, some of the horses helped themselves to the greens on the Links Golf Course. I counted 14, including two healthy colts.

Pandemic Halloween

This year we planned to lock the front gate and turn off the outside lights on Halloween night. We normally get 80 – 90 trick-or-treaters, but this year with the pandemic, it wasn’t wise to continue the tradition. However, my husband couldn’t resist buying treats for the one family on our block with small children. They made our day by showing up in the best costumes we have seen in a while. Can you guess who they are supposed to be?

We wore masks too. (The other kind.)

October Glory

Most people who live in Southern New Mexico say that October is their favorite month. Blue skies, moderate temperatures, and almost no wind work together to bestow one beautiful day after another. I have begun adding violas to the pots of annuals that will die after the first hard frost. The violas should survive the winter. Even if we are lucky enough to get some snow, they will keep blooming.

The berries on my holly tree have turned orange. My summer watering paid off this year, so I didn’t lose the green berries during the hot weather as I did the previous year. Soon the berries will turn fiery red and remain on the branches until next spring.

In December and January it will be too cold to sit out in the courtyard. The lantanas and other deciduous plants will be dormant, but the color of the viola blossoms and holly berries will still cheer me when I look out from my library window or hurry through the courtyard with Emerson the Dog on the way to our morning walk.

Shadow and Light

Although not much is blooming at the moment, the shady side of the courtyard is looking rather nice.

The sunny side, where we recently created a new border, is looking bare. (See below.) The blossoms have fallen off the new Lantana plants, although some buds are forming. I am hoping the plants will put down good roots over the winter and spread out nicely next spring. In October, I will pot up some violas and kale plants to fill in the spaces over the winter.

The evergreen holly tree in the corner has only been in the ground for two seasons. It grows very slowly, but it is covered with green berries that will soon turn red and remain on the branches throughout the winter.

I am still experimenting with Pelargonium cuttings. In the summer heat, my cuttings from the Pelargonium graveolens (Rose Geranium) rooted well in moist soil. Even though they are related, all my efforts with Pelargonium citrosum (Citronella) utterly failed. Undaunted, I took some cuttings again this morning. Perhaps they will root in water during the cooler weather. The fragrance in my studio after I brought in the cuttings was intoxicating.

Citronella (left) and Rose Geranium (right)