El Farolito’s also has the best Biscochitos!

 

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Last night my companion and I went to the little adobe restaurant in El Rito for the first time since my return to Abiquiu. El Farolito’s is a family run business that serves delicious Mexican food.

 

Just seeing the small narrow building festooned with an array of colored lights makes me feel happy. Once inside the cozy building (it’s walls are papered with a multitude of articles/reviews/maps of interest) the simple wooden benches and tables and enticing scents create an invitation to join a family tradition – or that’s the way it seems to me.

 

I love Mexican food and here every dish is made from scratch in the kitchen just beyond the counter. Casual in the extreme, customers are invited to bring their beverage of choice to accompany the steamy dishes that seem to appear like magic even when the place is packed.

 

Every single time Bruce and I go to this restaurant I have the same entrée – Chiles Rellenos. This dish is believed to have originated in Central Mexico. The roasted Poblano peppers, are smothered with cheese and a medley of vegetables, and served with delicious rice and beans by friendly and courteous restaurant employees.

 

I consume every single bite with great gusto and deepest appreciation!

 

Last night I noticed that one of the specialty deserts happened to include Biscochitos, and my companion bought some, not recalling ever having had these cookies before.

 

We finished them on the fifteen- minute drive home!

 

I love Biscochitos, first having had them at the Feast of Saint Tomas at Abiquiu Pueblo a year ago last November. These delicacies are traditionally served around Feast days and even became New Mexico’s state cookie! A kind of shortbread in texture they are flavored with Anise and Cinnamon and the ones from El Faralito’s melt in your mouth.

 

I just learned this morning in a conversation with the Chef that he learned to make these confections from his grandmother before she became too frail. He remembers how he helped her work the dough. When I told him that I had never tasted such exquisite Biscochitos his response was that although he had been making them for 22 years he still felt that “something was missing!” Surely, not in the cookies! I imagine that his grandmother must be very proud of her grandson’s expertise.

 

From what I understand the confections were developed by the original inhabitants of New Mexico. They have both Spanish and Indigenous roots and have been adapted by countless family cooks to suit individual family palates. They are sometimes shaped as stars and crescent moons which suggests to my taste buds a celestial origin!

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The Healing Power of Birds

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(scrub jay on the railing outside my north window)

 

I recently arrived in Abiquiu, New Mexico after an absence of several months. That first morning I was struck by the light that gilded the mountain in gold at sunrise as I hung up my bird feeders, scattered corn on the ground, and put out a dish of water.

 

The first thing I do when I move to a new dwelling is to call in the birds. There is something about being surrounded by these winged ones that binds me to a particular place especially during difficult transitions.

 

Within minutes I was delighted to make the acquaintance of a number of raucous scrub jays who hungrily swallowed sunflower seed while Lily b, my collared dove, peered at them curiously from his hanging basket indoors. We have east, west, and north windows that surround us on three sides that makes viewing our new avian friends a pleasure. Our next visitors were mountain chickadees and a curved bill thrasher.

 

A week later I count twenty – seven species of birds! Among them were ravens, hawks, an eagle, towhees, magpies, curved billed thrashers, dark eyed juncos, flickers, robins, stellar jays, finches, nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, white winged doves, a flock of collared doves, and one single collared dove that comes alone. The smallest birds greet us at dawn getting a chance to eat before the larger birds arrive. The woodpeckers know just where to find the fat that I have attached to the rough hewn trunks of the Russian olives. The Great Horned owl awakened me one night at 3 AM serenading me with his low resonant hooting. Every morning I hear the sound of geese as they fly by at dawn and the eerie calls of the flocks of sand – hill cranes remind me that bird migration is underway. Is it any wonder I have named our little refuge the “bird room?”

 

My dogs, birds, and I are surrounded by scrub that lets in the stars at night. With a northern exposure I look for the Great Bear rising over the horizon thinking about my black bear yearling raking in bedding and entering his den to sleep in peace. Last night I saw a falling star not long after sunset.

 

I can’t decide if mornings or evenings are my favorite times of the day with glorious orange sunrises and pale yellow sunsets tinged with scarlet ribbons that can be witnessed from both east or west from this one small room.

 

During the day the sky is that deep New Mexican mountain blue, and even though it is almost December the sun still has warmth…

 

The river is running high and every day I go down to let the water move through me, helping me to return to this abandoned body after weeks of prolonged stress.

 

Water is Life. Not only are we made of water but for some, like me, water acts as a natural healing force. I am irritated with my body willing her respond to my command to relax her hyper-vigilance, even when she is indicating to me that she isn’t ready. I am distressed by this split I have created in myself with my impatience. I ask the river to begin to flow through me as I watch the birds soaring over my head.

 

I remember the words of Emily Dickinson:

 

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul…I’ve heard it in the chilliest land, and on the strangest sea.”

 

Hope is the bird that lives in me.

After the Fall

 

 

Blood red dawn

bleeds through bare branches –

Where is night Owl sleeping ?

A mad raven swoops low.

 

Too far away the river’s flow

sinuous jade serpentine

speaks a language

I do not know.

 

Unshed tears block my vision.

I am floundering in snow.

A pile of Magpie feathers tells one tale…

Loss of Trust murmurs truths I do not want to know.

 

Too far away the river’s flow

sinuous jade serpentine

speaks a language

I do not know.

Passionflower Muses

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When I pulled the shorn Passionlower out of her pot I winced, experiencing the familiar anxiety and grief because I have known for a long time that plants feel pain. I had already traumatized the Passionflower once the week before when I had clipped the plant’s graceful spiraling vines with their three lobed leaves close to the plant’s central stalk leaving only one vine and a few tendrils intact. By cutting her back I have made it possible for her to make the long distance trip to Abiquiu, New Mexico safely (She has to be covered in order not to freeze).

 

For the second time in a week I apologized to the plant profusely for the trauma explaining that I had to re-pot her in the same size pot because I couldn’t lift anything heavier. In order to create enough space for new soil, I had to rip away tender roots. The plant responded almost instantly with drooping leaves and wilted tendrils. My plant was in shock. I silently begged her to forgive me as I quickly packed new soil around the remaining ragged roots, watered, fed, and placed her back in her window, noting how similar her bent posture was to my own when I am grieving… I told her I loved her.

 

Four hours later I returned to see that my Passionflower leaves were spread out plump and evenly, shimmering emerald in the late afternoon sun. A few tendrils were climbing through the air searching for purchase. I tenderly turned them towards the center trunk in a spiral fashion knowing that this would keep them safe during the trip but also aware that these vines had minds of their own and would try to thwart my attempts to control them even for a brief moment in time!

 

When my impossible bird, Lily b. ripped off a tasty leaf to eat I hid the new growth behind two cactus plants that I hoped would deter him from creating further damage. With two days to go until we leave, I hope my bird continues to behave himself.

 

Now every time I inspect my Passionflower I feel gratitude that she seems to be thriving and relief that the trauma is over for both of us.

 

Most folks find my relationship with plants very strange, and yet plants grow for me in ways that are sometimes astonishing even to me! I treat plants with the same respect I accord to animals, believing them to be wise ones, teachers, and guides. After all, plants have existed in some form on this planet for 450,000 thousand years, animals for 350,000 years and in my way of thinking, they are literally our “elders.”

 

For most of my life my “anthropomorphizing,” that is attributing human characteristics and feelings to non – human beings, has brought me skepticism and ridicule, but my feeling/sensing body has not lied.

 

Recently, groundbreaking research informs us that trees in an untouched forest experience pain, have memories, communicate extensively with each other, develop close relationships between parents and children, and in some cases when the elders are cut down children continue to send the stumps sugar nutrients and water to keep the remnant of a once proud and stately tree alive for generations. In a natural forest community trees and plants need each other. The prestigious science journal Nature has coined this interdependence of forest species the “wood wide web.”

 

I feel vindicated at last.

 

My intimate relationship with plants stems back to my earliest childhood years. Plants and trees seemed to speak to me through my senses without the use of words. As I matured I never lost that sense that plants/trees and I were engaged in relationship even though I didn’t know the specifics. Eventually it became clear to me that they thrived on being loved. I trusted plants, much the way I trusted animals and unlike humans, they have never let me down.

The Abuser was someone I loved

Dedication: I dedicate this writing to all animals, women, children who have been violated, brutalized or murdered by men.

 

The Abuser was someone I loved.

 

I will never forget

the look in her eyes

when he kicked her

the ugly brown shoe

smashing the domed

brown skull –

the daze – vacant

uncomprehending

falling to the floor

her eyes glazed

still find mine

“What did I do?”

 

Is death stalking us both

Will she die?

 

I scoop her in

my arms

and flee

slamming a door

to get away

from him –

my terror – her fright

a matrix of confusion

 

Is death stalking us both

Will she die?

 

I cannot comfort her

or me

shock waves

pass through this animal body

rocking her in my arms

keening,

I beg her for forgiveness.

 

Is death stalking us both

Will she die?

 

I scream into the silence

He will never

touch her again.

My thundering heart

replays the scene in my mind

how could he?

In seconds he shattered

the bond between us.

I believed.

I’ll never trust him again.

 

Is death stalking us both

will she die?

 

I cradle six

pounds of silky fur

and fragile bones

in equally fragile arms,

 

she growls

shaking convulsively

shivering with fear

tears of white anguish

fall on soft skin.

“I’m sorry

I didn’t protect you”

The fault was mine.

 

Is death stalking us both

Will she die?

 

Carved out of stone

raging with fury

I spit out words

a fiery forked tongue

“If you touch her again

I am gone”

Her life is my life…

(And this he doesn’t yet know)

“I would rather

you murder me than harm her

DO you understand?

don’t get near her again”

In a frenzy

Truths tumble incoherently

filling a dead room

(that moments ago seemed to be filled

with peace)

But the promise I make

to us both,

this dog I love

more than my life

is one

that I will not break,

this much I know.

 

Is death stalking us both

Will she die?

 

And meanwhile

concussions take time

To resolve – or not

I can’t wait

I must get her into the

Night, let her walk beside me

feel her body

moving against mine

let the air calm my

racing, rabid heart

let the stars return me

to the woman

I was before

I witnessed this threat

to her life.

 

Is death stalking us both

Will she die?

 

When I look up

at the stars

I see the Great Bear

circumnavigating the sky

feel Nature’s arms

close around me,

the only real comfort

I have ever known.

 

When I return to the house

she jumps up next to him – the man

who could have killed her

with a single blow –

circling back to her abuser.

I know, I once did this too.

 

Is there a concussion still waiting

to strike in the wings?

 

The Sphinx is silent.

 

My god I am sickened by the specter

of bullying, violence, abuse.

 

But I will not live with it.

This I know.

 

 

Working Notes:

 

Veterans Day Weekend 2017 – the weekend we celebrate having “almighty power over” at the cost of human lives.

“Plant Your Gun”

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Working Notes:

When I first saw this powerful image I thought “That’s exactly what we have to do.” There is something about containing a lethal weapon under glass and earthing it that speaks to the need to bury these guns once and for all before they destroy  us.

A deeply moving memorial to the death of gun violence and war.

My companion Bruce notes that bullets are made of lead and even if the gun is discharged, lead is being returned to its source.

Thank you Iren for creating images that speak to us from the depths of our hopeful hearts.