Monday, November 12, 2018

Week 45 - Cottonwoods on the Rio Grande

Day 309
Where we used to dine at Embudo

When you live in the mountains the seasons come in stages. Fall can go on for weeks by just traveling down the mountain. First come the Aspens where I live and lastly come the cottonwoods on the Rio Grande. There are other stops along the way like Chama and Abiquiu but one cannot always get away to visit them all. For me my day trip down to the Rio Grande was the top of fall.

Day 310
On the banks of the Rio Grande

And these are just seven of the many photos I did take. Maybe not even the best but a good sampling. I made it to the canyon just as the sun was topping the walls and lighting up the cottonwoods. It was a glorious day. And the next day it snowed. So next week's blog will be white.

Day 311
Under the Cottonwoods

Aspens are tall and straight and whit with leaves just at their tops. Cottonwoods are explosions of trunks and branches in dark brown and the gold, and orange leaves are everywhere between you and the sun; turning the very light gold.

Day 312
The bend in the river

The Rio Grande runs through the gorge cut through the Taos Volcanic Plateau and emerges into the light in the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument close to Pilar. This is one of the first bends as it leaves the protection of the park. Water is low this year. Snow pack, which feeds the river, had just been about 40% this last winter. It did not dull the colors but it shortened the season of colors.

Day 313
Sun topping the canyon wall

Below the gorge and into the Espanola Valley there are still cottonwoods but here hemmed in by the dark volcanic and granite walls the colors seem more striking. Especially in the early morning as the sun tops the canyon walls.

Day 314
Let there be light
 I raced through the canyon to Embudo Station first and then waited for the sun. Once it was up there I worked my way back up into the canyon and met the sun as it topped the walls and streaked through the trees.

Day 315
All alone
When I photographed this last tree the canyon had broadened out and the sun was fully up. Still the dark shadows on the surrounding landscape made it standout, all alone and away from the others on the banks of the river.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Week 44 - 2018 in Photographs

Day 291
Wool Festival Jester

Noticed today I had forgotten Week 43 in my 2018 blogs. Considered going back and doing it before this week but then decided to just charge ahead. This week is better than Week 43. Or maybe that is just because I included two photos of Thicke, the prince of cats.

I usually do not put him in my weekly review of photos. But he is a frequent poser and the note cards I make with his image are best sellers.

When I began these photo a day postings back in 2013 I was religious about posting a photo I took on the day I posted it. Now I post a photo a day but sometimes I took them a week or two before. I do take photos daily but sometimes it is just to record my cat or the art work I am doing in the studio. And currently because of my active pursuit of fall colors I am a couple weeks ahead. And today I renamed a few of my files.

The viewing of my blog posts here on a weekly basis has diminished so I am rethinking them. Are they just for me?

Day 292
Zipper Dawn

Day 293
Shadows in the greenhouse

Day 294
Snow on the birdbath

Day 295
Frost patterns on the deck wind screen

Day 296
Thicke in a sunspot in the studio

Day 297
His favorite chair

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Playing Grasshopper

Outside Ute Park

There is the old fable about the ant and the grasshopper. The ant prepared for the approaching winter and the grasshopper fiddled on the glorious fall days. I played grasshopper with my camera as the fall leaves put on a fabulous show luring me away from winter preparations.

Fall colors against the Ute Park burn scar

Last of the Aspen Glory

Just as the aspens were shedding the last of their golden leaves the cottonwoods in the lower altitudes were in all their glory. And having not captured the best of the aspens I did not want to lose out on the cottonwoods. So when I should have been laying in at least a modicum of firewood to stave off the cold before my two cords were delivered I was off south along the Rio Grande with my camera.

On the Rio Grande
 I went down to Embudo Station where I know the trees well. It is part of my fall pilgrimage in search of colors. I had many a great brunch at the old restaurant there. I mourn that it is closed. 

Embudo Station Remnants 

Lazy River on a Glorious Fall Day

Sun streaming through the Cottonwood

Reflections at Countyline landing

Solitary Cottonwood
And then came the ten inches of snow, an eight hour power outage and accepting offers of firewood from friends and neighbors. But I got my pictures. The ant could learn something from the grasshopper.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Week 42 - A Week if Aspens 2018

Day 277

It was an early and short season of fall glory of the aspens but it was also very intense. Having only 40% of the normal snow through the winter and a dry spring was blamed for the early and abbreviated colors but it did not lessen the colors like a summer drought does.

Day 278

All these photos were take up the back Ute Valley road. It was the road most traveled during that time. The Ute Valley has some very tall aspens which seem to grow to top out of the valley.

Day 279
 And it also has a lot of groves of very young aspens.

Day 280

Day 281

Day 282
 And there are the panoramas with the aspens in all shades of turning from the intense green to the rich frost kissed orange.

Day 283

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Week 41- The End Days of Summer

Day 270
 Even the skies change as summer wanes into fall. And the schedule becomes busy with the list of to do's before the snow flies. So all these photographs are taken in the studio or on the deck.

Day 271

Day 272

Day 273

Day 274

Day 275

Day 276

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Week 40 What Remains When a Forest Burns

Day 263

 The Ute Park Fire, in what I considered my neighborhood of Northern New Mexico, began on May 31, 2018 and was not contained until June 19th. The fire burned around homes of friends and closed a major road in and out of the Moreno Valley. The smoke columns dominated the skies, isolated us from friends in neighboring towns and required major detours to conduct any business in our county seat. And after a difficult winter with little snow and visitors it put quit to the summer season.

The fire fighting crews and equipment were based at the local airport and Eagle Nest Lake served as a source of water for the helicopters to dump on the flames. Tourism was essentially shut down while 36,740 acres of beautiful forest was burned. Rains began on June 3rd and helped stunt the fire but it also began the flooding along the watershed of Cimarron River. It seemed as if the destruction would never end. I did not get an opportunity to travel the road through the burn scar until September 19th. The sight of a once very familiar forest transformed by flames and water are burned into my mind. These are just a few images I recorded. But how do you adequately record what was done to a once green and lush place with clear rushing stream?

What I picture here are just the skeletons. Skeletons which are not visible when dressed in green as they should be.

Day 264

Day 265

There is a beauty in the bones. I found when I got home and uploaded the pictures - a step removed from the reality of what was lost - I loved the photos of scorched trunks and limbs in black and white. The fire burned fast through here and the trees seem to leave a promise they would green up come spring. But there was no spring. Spring and summer were gone as well as the life in the forest. The Philmont Boy Scout ranch had to cancel its season, Cimarron Canyon State park escaped damage but it was also closed much of its season. And the monsoons of summer continued to reek havoc on the essential watershed system.

I find the photo below most depressing with the cloaking mud and ash smothering the vegetation on the banks and the water no longer clear and blue. A total of 604 personnel fought the fire. There are still people fighting to restore a once vital river and ecosystem. They are less visible than the heavy lifting helicopters carrying buckets of water or the brave hot shot crews. But they will be working for far longer. There is no vegetation to stop the rains running down the steep slopes of the canyons.

Day 266

Even the rock cliffs seem to have been burned. They are still blacked after heavy monsoon rains for three months rushed the ash to the stream below.

Day 267

Day 268

But oddly the bones of the forest are still beautiful.

Day 269

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Week 39 - 2018 in Photographs

Day 256
One of the last sunflowers

Last week in September. My efforts have been getting ready for the Angel Fire Studio tour. And now I can get back to making photography more of a priority. And back to putting the garden to bed and prepping for next spring. Fall in New Mexico is a wonderful season but a bit unpredictable. We still have not had a killing frost for which I am grateful. A friend told me that the first snow is 6 weeks behind the last thunder in September. That was produced by the clouds captured below. So first snow will be November 6th. And that is late. History says snow is usually on Halloween.

But the thunder prediction could be wrong. But I do know the huge beautiful clouds are soon to vanish for the year. And clouds like those in Day 261 will be more common. Regardless of what type of clouds produce the moisture and whether it is rain or snow we are hoping for a wet fall and snowy winter. Followed by a wet spring.

Day 257

Day 258

Day 259

Day 260

Day 261

Day 262