The skies were turbulent and the landscape stretched. We could see what attracted painters to the area in the early 1900s. Northern New Mexico is mountainous and it is dark green with pines and cool blue with distant mountains. But the predominant color is a soft rosy taupe -- the color of all the buildings in Taos and Santa Fe.
It's the color of adobe walls, and it is not just the antique pueblo buildings, but all new construction too. Some walls are whitewashed, some are mud brown, but all of Taos is a soft earth color.
What a contrast to come back here. I suddenly see my garden with new eyes. It is so green, and the scale is so small and the sense of enclosure even outdoors is noticeable. And it is complex, with all kinds of plants stuffed together and with flowers and leaves and lawn and just a lot of busyness going on, in contrast to the open look of even the most traditional garden in Taos.
There are few lawns in New Mexico. Where open dirt has been exposed, it stays open dirt. Back east a patch of bare soil quickly becomes a weedy jungle. We always say that, by the way: back east. That's where we're from -- backeast.
The backeast weeds had a festival in my gardens while we were away. As I abandoned myself to tequila cocktails and Hatch green chiles, the weeds in my garden were partying too, while multiplying prodigiously. They are everywhere now, despite a week of rainless weather here.
I was glad to see the sweet autumn clematis is now in full frothy bloom and the fragrance welcomed me home with a blast of heady scent.
And . . . dare I hope? Lemons? Do these look ripe? Or at least riper? It's been 9 months since this Meyer lemon tree bloomed, and 6 months since hard green balls appeared. It's been 4 weeks since I noticed a little yellow on these baseball sized globes. Citrus takes a very long time to ripen, I have learned, and it needs heat and sunshine.
Well, it's been a very long time, and we had a hot week while we were gone, and the tree has been out on the sunny deck all summer.
I had a wonderful week steeped in fine art and Indian culture and vast landscapes, and after all the spicy northern New Mexican chiles I've tasted, I'm back east again and ready for some refreshing tart lemons.