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.

Neighbors

The table and chairs are just out of sight on the right.

In the mountains, my husband and I have a small vacation townhome. The patio is just large enough for a table with an umbrella, four chairs, and a few flower pots. The ponderosa pine just beyond the gate is the main attraction, but even here, I must have a little garden. When I came back this time, to my delight I saw that my neighbors had kept my petunias and marigolds alive in my absence. Good neighbors are so precious.

On my first day back as I was sitting on the patio, a bee appeared out of nowhere and buzzed around my head several times. It was clearly angry, and it was clearly trying to chase me away, but I held my ground. At home in the garden I move among the bees as they pollinate the flowers, and they never seem to mind my presence. However, this mountain bee was seriously upset, even though I was minding my own business. The next day on the patio, it returned and buzzed around my head again, but not as many times, and not for so long.

I haven’t seen it since. It has apparently accepted me as a neighbor.