Lauren McLean Iuppa Ayer

Poet | Artist | Optimist

Tag: santa fe

Synthesis: Imagine Your Future

Last night it snowed–somewhere around 7 inches. When I fell asleep the ground was bare. This morning tall walls of snow balanced on narrow branches, and our tiny patio table was piled into a white dome.

Winter Wonderland

Jeffrey Davis, creator of Tracking Wonder and leader of our Quest, just challenged us to look back on our week. To find the common themes between our future selves’ advice, our daydreams, and our review of who would miss us.

Looking just at words, I came up with three themes:

  • Make art
  • Connect–or more aptly, reconnect
  • Heal myself–in part by letting go and in part by reclaiming parts of me that I’ve misplaced

Travel and Home came up again and this time there was also a heavy dose of Play (Experiment’s more lighthearted little sister). And yes, we are beginning to see a pretty clear pattern here.

And then Jeffrey asked us to find a horizon and to sit in front of it for five minutes and let our discoveries steep for a bit.

Now it’s still pretty cold out and I had already had a good bracing walk earlier today to capture an image for my 365 photo project. During that walk I did what I always do when I head toward the river. I stood at the center of the footbridge and let my eyes rest in a south-westerly direction. I even snapped a picture.

Santa Fe River, looking south

 

So instead of heading back out into the cold, I looked at this. Really looked at it. And here’s what I saw:

  • A river that rarely sees or holds any water, except during heavy rains when it transforms into a torrent
  • Growing things that struggle to stay alive during times of drought and times of flood
  • A sky so wide and so blue that it is sometimes hard to notice anything else
  • And yet… I glimpsed tracks in the snow–two people walking next to each other, one person walking alone

Despite the walls of the river bank and the houses that line them just out of view, this vista feels, at least to me, hollow and alone. Sure there is water just below the surface, otherwise there would be no trees–especially not cottonwood and willow. But that water is hidden, protected, squirreled away for emergencies. There is life, and there is LIFE.

And I see myself as that river, as that empty basin that longs to be filled, to nourish, to be reborn. And I see in the brittle winter bones of trees a deep rootedness and will to survive, just waiting for abundance to be reborn.

And then I turned around and looked north…

Sangre De Cristo Mountains

And saw the Sangre de Cristo Mountains rising from the clouds, guarding the back of Santa Fe–the city of the Holy Spirit.  And there, in the distance, the white crown of Mount Baldy, covered in snow. Snow that come spring might just help our river run again. And I remembered that the river may not always be able to feed herself, but, whether behind or besides her, there is that strong presence watching over her. Taking care of her. And beneath us is a vast aquifer–one we can tap into if we just send our roots deep enough.

Those who will miss us are the mountains. We are the river. And whether we see them or not, we are never alone. And knowing that, we are free to keep our eyes on that transfixing blue sky, as long as we keep our roots in the ground.

In the Thick of It

I have never really lived in a place with winter. Not since I was a little girl and spent a couple of white, wet seasons in upstate New York. I never even learned to ski, thanks to a paranoid gymnastics coach, so I skipped all those Tahoe trips so many of my friends took, and still take.

I have to admit, I was afraid of it. Afraid of the way it might chill me to the bone, especially given how easily I have always gotten cold. Afraid of the slick sidewalks and icy roads. And yes, I was also afraid of what I might do, stuck here in one tiny room longing for my garden and for spring to come.

I have always been able to garden all year through. San Francisco’s temperate climate means there is always something to do — rake, mulch, plant, trim. The garden is always calling you. But not here. Here the garden is sleeping beneath it’s thick, white winter blanket. You can’t even hear it breathing the world is so quiet thanks to the snow.

I never believed I’d actually say this, but I am in love with winter. In love with the white. In love with the silence. In love with the way the world slows down. It is such an amazing blessing, all this space and time I never knew I longed for.

There is a whole world in this one room, free of the demands of the garden. I have found time to get back to hobbies and projects too long put aside. I have started making quilts again. I have been writing. I have this whole new old life that my lust for greenery had pushed aside, and I am loving it. And I want to share it with you. Because while I am reveling in letting the garden lie fallow, the blog shouldn’t have to. There is enough growth in this one room to keep this space thriving no matter how hard or how long it snows.

Of course that means some things will have to change. This blog will need to stretch out and make room. It will sometimes need to peer into cupboards. It will sometimes need to look out at the world. It will need to find the connection between plant and fabric and word and stone. And there is a connection. It’s called Home.

Opulence

Yesterday I returned from 12 days in California visiting family and friends. It was my first time back there since I moved to New Mexico in March. It’s amazing how just a few short months can completely change your view of the world.

First there was the water, flying into Oakland airport over the bay, lunching in Pacifica, spending an afternoon in Santa Cruz at a house that sat right on the beach… I had forgotten how the water just hangs in the air, suspended like mist even on the clearest day. I had forgotten the soft hands and the wild curls that I used to have before moving here. But mostly I had forgotten the riotousness of the gardens, the colors, the rich, wild scent of it, the abundance. I, who lived my whole life in that place, had begun to believe it was all a dream.

But there I was awake in my mother’s back yard, the one I learned to garden in, surrounded by an apple tree heavy with young fruit, rhubarb plants with leaves as broad as manhole covers, tomato plants peppered with yellow shooting-star flowers and the round, green beginnings of a rich bounty to come. It was glorious to bask in the colors, the textures of wide leaves, to stand barefoot in damp grass.

But the truth is, I missed these wide skies, the hummingbirds and rabbits outside my window, and the sheer force of will and determination that permeates desert gardens and the people who grow them.

Drought

Late last week I received in the mail a Stage 1 Water Alert for my area. This was not unexpected. It has been ridiculously dry here and despite the few weeks of intense winter snow storms, the snow pack was negligible. The key restrictions for stage 1 are as follows:

  • No new in-ground planting
  • Outdoor watering restricted to 2 days/week between the hours of 6pm and 9am

The bad news is that due to unseasonably cold weather, I did not have a chance to plant my veggie garden before I got this message. The good news is two-fold. First, I did not have a chance to plant my veggie garden before I got the message, which means I won’t have to watch it whither and die. Second, it specifies in-ground, which means I can probably still plant a few more things in pots. Probably only a couple though. This is only stage 1, and none of us out here can see it getting any wetter.

Hope Springs Eternal

According to Plants of the Southwest in Agua Fria (just outside of Santa Fe), the last frost date for this area is May 15th, but that didn’t stop me from buying a boatload of seeds on a little shopping excursion yesterday. I had a general idea of which basics I was looking for: the three sisters, of course, and leeks, but beyond that I had no plans. That is unusual for me. I am a big-time planner, but something about starting a new garden in a completely foreign environment, inspired me to leave at least some of my choices up to fate. I also decided that whenever possible I wanted multipurpose local or native seeds with short growing seasons that were tolerant of heat and drought and whose seeds I could save for next year. So here’s what I came home with (you may need to scroll to find the specific seed):

I am still searching for the perfect chili pepper (I’m leaning toward Chimayo) and a few more types of greens but I’m hoping to find some at upcoming seeds swaps. And now that I know what I’m going to be planting, I’ll be able to do that planning. And don’t worry, I’ll go into a lot more details on the process and the individual plants soon.