At the last light, well after sunset, a throng of wrens in the surrounding trees suddenly burst into song. I only see two or three of them during the day, but when they join together in the evening serenade, there must be hundreds of them hidden in the trees. They finally settle down when the light has completely faded. Then again, at the first light of dawn, the anthem begins again and continues until the sun has risen.
In the short life of a bird, I suppose the going and coming of the light is indeed a momentous thing. I need to learn from this.
As a teenager living in Wisconsin, Sundays were a challenge for me. At that time, all the stores were closed on Sundays. After morning church, there was a long wait for the roast in the oven. In the afternoon, there was nothing on TV except the polka parties. Elderly couples danced the polka round and around in circles for hours. I thought they would never stop, but apparently they did, since I am now older myself, and it’s been many years since I’ve seen a polka party on TV.
As an adult, like many people, I quickly succumbed to the busyness of life. Sundays became similar to every other day, filled with tasks, shopping, and distractions. It was sometime after my conversion to Catholicism that I began to consider the Sabbath again.
Now, I relish these long Sunday afternoons (even though there is still not much on TV). When I keep Sunday as a day of rest, I seem to have lots of energy during the rest of the week. However, when I busy myself with tasks and shopping, I seem to be frazzled for the rest of the week. It appears that the Sabbath was indeed made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
Just sitting in the garden – not as easy as it sounds, especially when there are duties of life awaiting me. I think it’s important, though. Most of the time I run from one task to another until I have to stop and rest. Are those tasks really that important?
This morning I saw a roadrunner running across the road. (In Southern New Mexico, we really only see them when they are running across the road. Hence, the name.) Almost impossible to get a photo. They are always running.
I think I will just sit here for a while and ponder the mystery of being.
The showy blooms of spring have passed, and the garden is settling down for the long hot summer. However, there is still some color to delight me, especially in the Desert Bird of Paradise shrubs.
In the courtyard, I planted some different annuals this year, since many of my usual choices were not available. The Zinnias began to look shabby as the days grew hotter, but they are doing better now under the Vitex tree. In this climate, many plants that like full sun actually do better in filtered shade. The Moss Roses, however, seem to be natural sun-bathers, even in Southern New Mexico.
Indoors, my plant nursery from cuttings is showing mixed results. Again, the dry heat seems to be a problem. The Mint, Rose Geranium, and Citronella are promising. Not so sure about the Salvia and Lantana. All of the cuttings seem to do better in water than in soil, but it takes longer for the roots to form.
On the back patio, my herb garden seems to do well in the morning sun.
If all else fails, I will still have my triennial Petunia to comfort me. It grows so fast and so profusely that I will have to cut it back several times this summer.
Today, I had my monthly meeting with my spiritual director. I needed this, Gentle Reader, more than you know. After our session, I asked Fr. Valentine if I could see his chickens. First, he showed me the babies. The blurry charcoal gray one (above – center bottom) hatched from his adult chickens. The rest came from the local feed store.
Next, he showed me the teenagers, still protected in a separate coop. When they are older, they will join the free-range community. Unfortunately, my photo of the teenagers didn’t turn out well. A few of the adults are pictured below. Fr. Valentine highlighted the different varieties. He even had a game hen (not pictured), who let her feelings be known when he took her eggs. I petted the babies and one of the teenagers (but not the game hen).
Fr. Valentine provides the eggs for his community of Franciscan Conventual Friars. He sent me away with 18 fresh brown and white eggs, a generous sample of the goodies in the fridge. Pictured below is the man himself, confessor and chicken farmer extraordinaire.
When our yard was landscaped over a decade ago, the new plants were so small that you could barely see them in the stark expanse of garden rock. Now the plants have matured to the point that the yard almost looks like a desert jungle. But there is still enough space between the plants to present a pleasing appearance.
If you have driven through the Oak Grasslands of California, you have seen my idea of perfect natural spacing. Here and there, the oak trees dot the rolling hills. Somehow they know not to crowd each other. One could easily imagine the Lord strolling through his creation and scattering the acorns that grow into trees. I am reminded of a stanza from “The Spiritual Canticle” by St. John of the Cross:
A thousand graces scattering,
He passed through these groves with haste,
And in gazing at them
With his image alone,
Left them clothed in beauty.
Here in Ruidoso, New Mexico, a herd of 50 to 60 elk sleep on the Links Golf Course at night. Upon rising, they spread out into the forest to begin their day, often blocking Hull Road. I love seeing them, but I am not usually out driving so early. This morning I was lucky enough to see a few.
I’ve enjoyed my week in the mountains, although it took a few days to adjust to the mountain sounds. Periodically, a strange thud would hit the house. Armageddon? Bear attack? No, it was just the Ponderosa Pine dropping another pinecone on the roof. The dance of the pinecones is definitely a springtime event. I’m not sure how they came to be associated with winter. Perhaps because they make such good kindling in the stove.
The forest floor provides the landscaping for much of the town. However, for those who must garden, the ‘Red Hot Pokers’ are in bloom. The deer won’t eat them.
Back in the mountains, I took my favorite walk along the river this morning. The forest showed no signs of Covid-19. New life was everywhere.
It took a while to find the wild sweet peas that I remembered from this time last year. They were few and far between on the forest floor, which made them all the more delightful when I spotted a few.
Above, enormous ravens and almost as large crows swooped from tree to tree. As I walked down the path, they called to their cousins up ahead: Beware of the human! They had an uncanny knack of avoiding the camera. I finally managed a fuzzy silhouette from a distance.
Honestly, I mean no harm.
As I retraced my steps, there was fresh scat next to the path, along with the faint scent of bear (similar to skunk, but not as obnoxious). The scat wasn’t there when I passed that way 10 minutes earlier. It was time to get my head out of the clouds and pay attention to my surroundings.