The Criminal

Since the early 2000s, the Village of Ruidoso, New Mexico, has been on a campaign to eradicate every thistle plant that grows within village limits. In 2007, the Council passed an ordinance requiring property owners to remove these “noxious” weeds. Failure to comply can carry a $50 fine. The thistles are considered a nuisance because they don’t feed the wildlife, and they crowd out native plants. Volunteers tramp through the grasses along roadsides looking for signs of the offenders. They’ve done a good job of removing the thistles, but of course, this kind of battle is never completely won. I saw the criminal pictured above on a recent morning walk, appropriately behind bars. I won’t tell where I saw it.

I took a photo of the specimen below last year because I thought it was pretty — a redeeming quality to my mind. No living thing is all bad. Besides, the thistle has medicinal properties.

Last Day in the Mountains

Elk grazing near the road

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.

Fairies and Trolls

Along a walking trail beside the Rio Ruidoso (Noisy River) in Southern New Mexico, someone made a collection of little wooden houses filled with fairies (I like to think of them as angels) and trolls (I like to think of them as ‘trouble’), and attached them to the trees to delight children of all ages. A starry wand or a ‘T’ marks the path wherever there is a house hidden nearby. Some of the houses are not easy to find. You have to go off the path and wander among the trees to find them.

I’ve often wondered why we have to wrestle with so many trolls in our lives. Perhaps we need a few trolls to help us recognize the angels.