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Winter Walk

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After the big snow there seemed to be more gray days than usual for our area.  But some days the sun shone, and such bright winter days are the best days for walks in nature.  These photos come from a recent walk on the Sierra Vista Trail. ocotillo

The desert has a rather muted palette in winter, and there are plenty of dry branches.  I’d like to learn more about photographing, close up, their complex intercrossings.twigs697

Some of the plants are looking very healthy, thanks to the extra moisture this year.prickly pear

The prickly pear above is in better shape than average.  Most look more like the ones below.PP and house701

The house in the background is one of several scattered between the trail and the mountains, a reminder of the ever encroaching presence of humans in the area.  This is one reason there has been a (successful) campaign to designate several parts of the area as the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks National Monument.

The last picture is of a less common kind of cactus along this trail, a pincushion (I think).pincushion702

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Salinas Missions, Part 1

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On a trip to northern New Mexico last weekend I stopped to visit two of the Salinas Missions.  The Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, established in 1981, consists of three separate sites.  Each was once a native American pueblo, inhabited by people who spoke Tiwa.  Each became a Spanish mission site, with a big church and a number of outbuildings.  At only one site, Gran Quivera, is there much of the pueblo to see.  I visited that place quite a few years ago, before I had a digital camera.  Now that I’ve seen the other two, I am eager to go back.

This post is about Quarai, located north of Mountainair.  The church there is the best preserved and is often photographed.

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Below is an attempt to photograph a grass I don’t know the name of, which has quite large heads for a grass.  I wondered if it is edible.

grassQuarai has a one mile “primitive” trail beyond the once settled area, where the “trail” is paved.  It becomes clear that the stone for building did not have to be brought from far away.

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Looking from the trail toward the green near the entrance to the ruins I had complicated thoughts: this green is neither natural nor a reconstruction of what was there when the Spanish mission was operating.  How hard the park service works, simply for our enjoyment!  Our tax dollars at work.

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Two pictures show how different plants share space.  The first shows the orange flowers of desert globemallow, a plant which grows six feet tall and blows in the breeze in my back yard.

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This second picture was an attempt to capture the sense of fall: red berries on what I believe is a sumac.  It is so intertwined with other plants that it is hard to tell.

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My next post will have pictures from Abo, the third of the three Spanish pueblo mission sites in the National Monument.