Posts Tagged ‘Rio Grande Valley’

Green on Brown, the elusive frog in the big irrigation ditch makes a rare appearance on July 15, 2008, photo © 2008 by Jim. All rights reserved.

green marooned on brown
or is it my ship that’s wrecked?
i wonder as you leap

related to posts haiku (one-a-day) and WRITING TOPIC – TOADS & FROGS.

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sun flower, July 10, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy, all rights reserved

Sun Flower, Bi-color Pro-Cut from Majestic Valley Farms on the
Tittmann property farmed by Aaron Silverblatt-Buser, Corrales,
NM, photos © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

My mother is a simple woman.

She has thin lips, and for that reason she will put on lipstick if she’s going out. She hates her eyebrows, says they end too soon, at the midpoint. She actually went so far as to get tattooed eyebrows several years back.

When my sister brought Mom back from the tattoo shop, I was alarmed. It looked like someone took a Sharpie and cleanly marked a thick black line above each eye. I lied and told her they looked fine, that the tattoos were, in fact, a big improvement.

Fortunately, the tattoos soon faded into a more natural-looking gray, and so in the end, I wasn’t such a liar after all.

My mom loves the sun. Not in one of those sun-worshipper ways. She never sat outside on a plastic lawnchair until her skin turned orange-brown. But she does suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or so we suspect.

Even one overcast day and she becomes melancholy. She might read in bed or sit on the couch, occasionally looking out the window and wondering if the sun will make an appearance.

If you call her on one of our rare overcast days, she’ll say something like, “Ew, I just hate this weather.” She hates the wind, too. It makes her irritable.

  eye, July 10, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy, all rights reserved   eye, July 10, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy, all rights reserved   eye, July 10, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy, all rights reserved   eye, July 10, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy, all rights reserved

Mom’s favorite flower is the sunflower. Big dark center surrounded by bright yellow petals. Native to the Americas.

The sunflower plant grows tall, taller than my small mom. In the bud stage, the sunflower is heliotropic — at sunrise the faces of most sunflowers turn toward the east, and over the course of the day they move to track the sun.

This year Mom decided to plant sunflowers in their small patio-home yard. My parents have narrow flower beds in every available space, and in those beds they plant all types of perennials and annuals. They also grow spearmint for iced tea, rosemary for cooking, and three or four tomato plants. Mom’s favorite food very well might be a homegrown tomato sliced open, sprinkled with salt and pepper.

My parents made room for the large sunflower plants, bought seeds, and in May put the seeds into the soil. The plants started blooming this week. They are sweet. The blossoms are not many. Just a couple, not even enough to fill a vase. Still, they make my mom happy.

Someone, somewhere else grew more majestic sunflowers than Mom’s. A young organic farmer, passionate and hard-working, is cultivating an impressive farm — Majestic Valley Farms on the Tittmann property in Corrales, NM. Heart of the Rio Grande Valley. The farmer’s name is Aaron Silverblatt-Buser, and recently his Bi-Color, Pro-Cut sunflowers were ready to harvest. They came early in the week, days ahead of the weekly Corrales Growers Market.

Emails went out. Beautiful sunflower bouquets for sale, reasonably priced. Many people responded. I was one of them.

      bouquet, July 10, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy, all rights reserved  bouquet, July 10, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy, all rights reserved

Yesterday, at lunchtime, I called Mom from my cell phone.

“I’m in your driveway, and I have something for you.”

“What do you have?”

“Open the garage door and you’ll see.”

Dad let me in. “Wow,” he said, and he shuffled from the door back toward the living room. His arms have gotten thin.

It was overcast yesterday morning. Mom sat on the couch, near the window, like a heliotropic plant herself catching whatever light she could.

“Oh my God, those are beauuuutiful,” she exclaimed, laughing as she got up off the couch.

I set the vase on the fireplace hearth.

“No, no, put them here, where we can see them.” She cleared a more central spot.

     bouquet purple sky, July 10, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy, all rights reserved  bouquet purple sky, July 10, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy, all rights reserved

The flowers fit Mom perfectly. I think we all have a flower that is just our own. Just like how certain colors complement our complexions, or how we feel kinship toward one animal or another. Mom is the sunflower; the sunflower is Mom.

Just today I remembered how in our dining room growing up there hung a reproduction of Vincent van Gogh’s masterpiece Sunflowers. I hadn’t put two-and-two together until writing this post. Mom also adored a poster I bought years ago for my oldest daughter, Diego Rivera’s Girl with Sunflowers. It sometimes take years to realize deep in your heart that something is dear to someone you love.

By now Mom’s eyebrows are back to their original half-bald, cut-off-mid-way condition. I doubt she’ll get them tattooed again, although I bet she toys with the idea. I’d take her in if she wanted a touch up.

Hell, I’d be the first in line to take her in if she suddenly declared that she wanted a sunflower tattoo on her shoulder. She’d look gorgeous with one.

A-Not-Terribly-Authoritative List of Sunflowers in Art & Poetry

-Based on a Writing Practice done for the topic post WRITING TOPIC – NAMES OF FLOWERS.
-Related to posts PRACTICE – Sunflower and More Sunflowers.

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Snake Baby, Em holding the baby garter snake, which later bit me (see UPDATE
below) when I tried to hold it, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

green metallic me
how old am i in snake years?
children have no fear

***UPDATE*** — I thought it might be fun to show what a lively baby the garter snake was. He or she (how does one tell?) was hard to photograph for all the whipping about.

Em was so brave and nonchalant that I decided to also be a courageous baby snake holder. So Em handed me the snake, she took the camera, and BOOM, that snake really took to me. It latched right on.

Their little mouths can open “sooooo big.” They really are adorable, and even as this one was munching on me, I just loved it.

-related to posts haiku (one-a-day) and WRITING TOPIC – TOADS & FROGS.

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Elvis in a Bee Swarm, bees annoint a new queen in the Rio
Grande Valley, photos © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

I know. It’s a stretch.

No way the bee swarm in the above photo is formed in the image of Elvis Presley’s head. The chin is all wrong. Jay Leno with dark sunglasses, maybe, but definitely not Elvis.

Last week a few thousand bees in one of our hives revolted. As I understand it — from expert beekeeper Dr. Moses (pictured below) — the existing hive created a new queen. Of the thousands and thousands of eggs that the old queen laid before winter hibernation, a few were destined to become new queens. From the time they were larva, these special bee princess-pupas were fed a special diet. (It’s not known exactly how the adult bees decide which larva to make into queen bees, but I imagine it’s similar to how each new Dalai Lama is discovered, except for bees.)

Because the hive already had its old queen, the new queen and her followers had to split. So off they flew to one of our apple trees, where Jim noticed them and started jumping up and down wildly. Not really, although he did immediately call me on the cell phone and say, “Get out here, hurry, and bring the camera!”



Jim also called Dr. Moses, a local homeopath who keeps the bee hives on our property. Dr. Moses and his family have one of the oldest natural foods stores in Albuquerque. They sell local honey (great for allergies) and other natural products and pretty much keep a lot of Albuquerqueans feeling healthy.

A good friend of mine goes to Dr. Moses for bee stings to alleviate the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. She is a nurse who for years pooh-poohed the suggestion that she try bee sting therapy. Then one day she was riding her mountain bike along a ditch bank in Albuquerque’s north valley and got stung by a bee. By the time she got home from her ride, she felt different. Better. The constant achiness was gone. She’s been a bee venom advocate ever since.

For some people, however, bee stings can be deadly. There are many different kinds of reactions to bee stings, depending on the person and the type of bee (or wasp). Interesting fact: the honey bee can not pull out it’s stinger once it enters the flesh; it must remove the barb by ripping away part of its abdomen and venom sac. The stinging honey bee gives up its life, and so do four out of every thousand people with life-threatening bee allergies — they are so allergic to bee venom that they will die within 15 minutes of being stung.


It took him most of the afternoon, but Dr. Moses managed to get the new queen bee and her male drones and female workers into a new hive. The bees were somewhat accommodating, although in the interest of time he brought out smoke to get them into the box more quickly than they might have gone on their own. Unfortunately, we weren’t on hand to watch this part of the process, although next time plan to be there.

The new queen and her hive were relocated to a property two or so miles from our place. There’s always the risk that the bees will migrate back, which is why they were moved so far away. There’s also the possibility that more queens will emerge from our existing hives.

The bees in our hives are thriving, which isn’t the case with bees everywhere. Dr. Moses is so encouraged that he’s decided to bring several more hives to keep at our property. We’re thrilled, as the bees are essential to the health of our orchards. It’s a good relationship.

We’ll keep our eyes peeled for Elvis, Marilyn, or anyone else who might mysteriously appear in the pulsing, humming blobs that are bee swarms. In the mean time, let me know who or what you see in our first bee swarm of the season.

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This time of year in the Rio Grande Valley makes me think of:


The bluest skies,
misty mornings,
hot air balloons,
and days that make you sweat.


Unexpected rain.
Ditches running with muddy-brown water.
The most intense colors.
Light that makes everything look crisp.

Did I say apples?
And still mornings, the most brilliant skies.
Smells. I should mention smells.
(Green chile roasting, and hay warmed by the sun.)
The best yard sales.
Sweaters in the morning.
The color yellow, and green turning to yellow.
Not quite pumpkins. But definitely apples.

What does autumn make you think about?

This Morning, photos taken in the early days of October by ybonesy
and her Farmer Jonesimbonesy, © 2007 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

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Turkeys Wild among the Geraniums, letting the turkeys loose on the land one morning, photo © 2007 by Jim. All rights reserved.

It’s been about ten or so weeks since our mama turkeys hatched a bunch of babies. We call them “turklets” in our household, but they’re really called “poults.” They’ve grown a lot since the last post about them. I imagine they’re about 16 years old in people years.

For a few weeks we talked about giving them away to people who would raise them as pets and promise not to eat them. But it looks like we’re going to keep them instead. Jim has this idea that he’s going to let them run wild on the land. That we’re going to start a whole colony and that years from now, long after we’re gone, people will wonder where the wild gray-and-brown turkey flock came from. For all we know, books will be written about them and their fame will rival that of the wild ponies of Assateague Island.

For now we are working on making them as wild as possible. Every morning Jim shooshes them out toward the field. So far, they have learned to circle the house several times a day. Mostly they hang out on the back patio.

We’re hopeful. They all have learned to puff up big any time the eagle comes flying ’round. We know we might lose one or two before they are fully able to survive the wild. But some day, hopefully in our lifetimes, we will see gray-brown turkeys roaming the Rio Grande Valley.


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Today was irrigation day. Jim calls the Ditch Rider early in the morning to see if it’s OK to irrigate. We have to coordinate with other properties that draw from the same ditch. If everyone irrigates at once, the water level will drop and no one will be able to get water.

But today, a Thursday after good rains up north, the water comes fast out of the gate. It flows from a larger ditch, one of many that run throughout the Rio Grande Valley, into smaller acequias. Ours is lined with concrete, technology from decades ago.

It’s not an efficient way to water. It’s ancient, flood irrigation. It’s cultural. We are slow to change. Jim wants to participate in the latest water conservation methods, but we can’t do anything until after the season. The trees are full of apples, and we have to use what tools we have.

It’s labor intensive, too, working the land. Not many people do it any longer. We know old-time farming families in our community. The men and women, both, get hunched over. They look like they are walking sitting. They work harder than anyone I know. Their lives seem romantic. It’s the land. The land is beautiful, but its beauty (if it’s a farm) is often directly proportional to the amount of bend in its farmer’s back.

We’re not real farmers. Well, I’m not a real farmer. Jim is close. He works hard every day outside. He works with his hands. I tell people that if we both worked on computers, our lives would be sad.

Jim took these shots today with my camera. I loaded them into my Flickr account, just to save space on WordPress. I feel weird having them there. But he’d never create his own account. He just comes to where I’m working, shows me his shots on the small screen on the Canon. Then says, “OK,” when I ask him if he wants me to load them onto my computer. I look at them and realize, artists aren’t the only ones who see things a certain way.

Right now we grow apples. Some pears, too. And grass that can be turned into hay. We talk about farming. It’s true we might do it. A little patch, anyway. We’ll have to see. That’s what my mom always used to say. We’ll have to see.

I wouldn’t mind if we stick with pasture grass and the orchard. We could do so much more, I know. But we could do a lot less, too.



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I spent much of today on planes and in airports trying to get back home from a short trip. I was in transit longer than the time I spent at my destination.

It was dark and bumpy flying into Albuquerque tonight, but it gave me peace of mind knowing el Rio Grande was below me. (The photo is from last week’s daytime flight.)

Mighty Big River, all rights reserved, ybonesy 2007

-from Topic post, A Place To Stand.

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