Friday, February 9, 2018



The “Remarkable” Water Outlook for 2018 – from The Taos News

According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, there is “little chance of recovering snowpack for the coming year.” As of Feb. 1, snowpack stands at eighteen percent of normal. At this time last year, the snowpack stood at 158 percent of normal. Historically, large wildfires tend to occur in drought years that follow several wet seasons.

I remember real rain. Not the western “monsoon” you can see rolling in from a hundred miles away that gives you time to grab your laundry off the line. Not the huge gusts of wind that sway the young cottonwood trees, drum rolls of thunder and explosions of light that jolt your racing heart. A wild laugh and you're scrambling for shelter. A violent downpour with bouncing hail. A flash flood in the river. Then clearing. The sweet pungent smell of wet sage. Fifteen minutes and it's gone. Storms you can drive out of on the way to town. A regular blessing. Amen.

Connecticut rain precipitates, a cold mist on your cheek, then a grey drizzle from a laden sky. A methodical rain that soaks every pore in the thick, black earth, down through the roots and drives the earthworms out. A melancholy rain that patters on the shingles like a lullaby. A gurgle in the drainpipe, greenhouse gloom, the dampened dusk beneath the trees. The whizzz of water under the tires, the red streaks of light on the tarmac at night. The way rain clings to the holes in the screen. The wet smell of rust. A ubiquitous rain that spatters the night. Starts and fades. And starts over at dawn. Rain that soaks your shoes, drips off your umbrella into your collar. Rain that chills the air and freshens the lawn to an impossible green. On the broken sidewalk, red buds of the maple in pools of April rain. A robust, romantic spring.

Rain in Detroit from a leaden sky. (Motown gets more rain than Seattle.) Sullen rain. Stubborn rain. Brown roiling water sloshing the curb into the storm drain. Buses rolling by, splashing your legs with a muddy spray. Cursing and shivering. Sentenced to forever without pardon or grace. Day after day. Cold. Brown. Grey.

North Carolina rain that slicks the beaches; traces of foam along the tideline. Glimmers that rustle in the tilting leaves, dancing gentle down. Shining slickers hanging from wall hooks, dripping on the library floor. Racks of soaked umbrellas folded like bat wings. And one outrageous supercell night, exploding like bombs right overhead. Punishing. Personal. Vindictive. Chasing us all to the same bed. Parents and teens, dog and cat, cringing together under the quilt. By those million-megawatt flashes, the children's pale cheeks. Eyes like tunnels. Dilated circles staring at us. Our nervous laughter. Hugging, clutching. Our hearts double-tripping. Can lightning burst right through the roof? It can't. (I hope it can't.) But we'd never been caught in a hurricane. What did we know about rain?

Sunday, November 6, 2016


                     THE "WATER IS LIFE" BATTLE


1. ASK for the Army Corps of Engineers' permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline to be rescinded.

2. CALL: The White House: (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414

Army Corps of Engineers: (202) 761-5903

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple: (701) 328-2200

3. E-MAIL your Congressional representatives and Senators.

4. SIGN the White House petition:

4. SUPPORT the Sacred Stone Camp

Contribute to Legal Defense Fund:

Contribute via gofundme:

5. JOIN events in your area:

6. SPREAD the word. Over 200 nations demand that Dakota Access Pipeline must be stopped, Standing Rock Sioux must be heard and the United States treaties with them must be honored.

Saturday, November 5, 2016



Today was one of those sunlit, rain-dark blustery Taos days, a perfect day for the non-traditional jingle-dress dance at Taos Pueblo. Close to a hundred people stood in a circle in the heart of Taos Pueblo village. Sharp ululating from the women and the rhythmic boom of the big drum echoed back and forth between the ancient adobe walls of Taos Pueblo as the jingle-dress dancers, from age five to about seventy-five, danced in a circle around the sacred smudge that wafted across the spectators.


This powerful healing dance that originated in Ojibwe communities, done only by the women, is frequently seen at pow-wows. According to The Taos News (11-3/9-16) the dance is a fundraiser in support of the Standing Rock Sioux, called “the Water-is-Life” fight. Over 200 Indian nations have joined protestors at the Sacred Stone Camp in North Dakota to protest the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,172-mile pipeline that would carry crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois. This may well be one of the largest gathering of the Nations in a hundred years.

Spirits were high at Taos Pueblo as the clouds blew away and the sun shone on the gathering in front of the Pueblo. Taos Pueblo Governor, the War Chief and others offered prayers, blessings and thanks. Howard Bad Hand, a Lakota and long-time resident of Taos, also spoke, condemning the recent violence at Standing Rock as police in riot gear shot the peaceful protestors with rubber bullets. Volunteers from Taos are planning to caravan to North Dakota with supplies before winter sets in.

As we were leaving Taos Pueblo, we paused to look back. The light was lucid as it sometimes is after a storm. A thin veil of rain with the sun shining through it created a splendid double rainbow that arched over the Pueblo. Our prayers had been heard.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016



I've been out and about enjoying the fine fall weather as much as possible. Every fall while the color is good I spend hours wading up and down our acequia and the Rio Hondo looking for water patterns with the camera. My trusty SX 60 HS Powershot Canon has taught me to see things I don't normally perceive.  





WHEN the aspens turn I start close to home with a short hike up Bull O' the Woods. Then I usually take a two-night trip up to Colorado. I always return to what was, for forty years, my favorite camping spot, Shaw Lake, near Wolf Creek Pass, the South Fork of the Rio Grande. The lake, which must have been about thirty feet deep a decade ago, is still evaporating. Nevertheless, there were fish jumping, leaving shining rings of light, and fishermen sitting on the exposed rocks trying to catch them. After the fire the blue spruce sprang up everywhere; even the older trees look remarkably healthy with new growth. The aspen meadow I wallow in was undisturbed. I find the grove with the deepest yellow, lie down in a circle of trees and look up through the leaves to the crystal blue sky, saturating my memory with primary colors in preparation for winter when the land is drained of color.


I DIDN'T didn't stay at Shaw Lake long, but went west toward Creede on Highway 149, a dramatic drive that follows the Rio Grande between the tall cliffs on the right and the old railroad tracks on the left. I spent the night at the Freemon Guest Ranch about half way to Lake City. In the morning I stopped to film the meandering silver curves of the North Fork of the Rio Grande, then pulled over at a scenic stop and got out to take some shots of the distant headwaters of the Rio Grande.


NEXTstop, the clear gleaming waters of Lake San Cristobal, the second largest natural lake in Colorado, with camping spots where beautiful aspens reflected in the water. Yes, I am still looking for something approaching the perfection of the former Shaw Lake, now Shaw Puddle.



I DROVE on to Gunnison, spent the night at EconoLodge, soaked in the hot tub, and the next day followed the stunning Gunnison River west until I ran out of time. The Gunnison river gorge is steep and jagged, and in places 2,500 feet deep! The water was luminous as I explored the lookout points, clinging to the railing in the wind.

BACK in Taos, I still found plenty of color. I contented myself, between dentist appointments in PeƱasco, with short hikes in the aspens on U.S. Hill, which never disappoints me, and a long-anticipated hike up Santa Barbara Canyon about a mile into the Pecos Wilderness. That river is looking good. I even got a shot of a big trout catching lunch on the bottom.

Back home, to enjoy what was left of the fall color, I just stepped out the door and went down to the Rio Hondo. One more trip downstream along the Rio Grande, and it's all over, folks!

Sunday, April 17, 2016



What's at stake in the wetlands of Baca Park in Taos?

Seventeen birders, some from as far away as Los Alamos, gathered in Baca Park in Taos on Saturday morning, April 9, 2016. According to Meg Peterson, who writes a lively birding column for The Taos News, there is a lot at stake over the wetlands in and around Baca.

In her newsletter she writes about “many competing visions for the property east and south of Baca Park, which was recently purchased by Taos Land Trust. (Hurray!) 

"As birders, we have a unique opportunity to communicate the special conservation values of this jewel of a wetland," she says. She's planning a column for the April 28th issue of The Taos News on why Baca Park wetlands are special for birders. The Taos News is also planning an article about the value of conserving the area for wildlife, including the newly-acquired adjoining 20 acres by Taos Land Trust. She invites the public to comment on “how you envision stewardship of the adjoining property.”

The Rio Don Fernando meanders through the park. On the edge of the mown grass where children play on the swings, the beavers are hard at work to create dams that deepen the flow of the river. Though the water looks murky, the dams create great habitat for not only huge bullfrogs, but many aquatic nesting birds and migrating species. Peterson mentioned that on a previous visit someone heard the endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher.

The park is surrounded by huge old cottonwood trees. One of the first things we noticed were a couple of Turkey Vultures hanging out in the trees, probably waiting for the thermals to rise. Later, when the sun came out four vultures soared in slow circles above us, then returned to the cottonwood tree to stretch and warm their wings in the morning sun like giant butterflies.
Some photographers also took pictures of what they believed was a black-crowned Night Heron which is rare for this area. (To be confirmed.)

Vultures warm their wings in the morning sun.

The highlight of the morning was what Peterson called “the cacophonous Virginia Rails. Though only a few of us actually saw them, their loud clacking in various parts of the cattail marsh declared their presence, perhaps two nesting pairs. We're looking forward to seeing those photos," she wrote in her newsletter. "Weren't they something!? Isabella reported hearing the rails from three distinct areas of the marsh."

We followed a raised walkway into the marsh to a lookout point where we trained our binoculars on a blue-gray belted Kingfisher perched on branch, a pair of Yellow-rumped Warblers flitting through the trees, song sparrows, siskins, a darting flock of American Goldfinches, and Black-capped Chickadees. The air was sweet with the sound of warbling Red Winged Blackbirds and long-tailed blackbirds, and I finally got the shot I wanted of one of them, perched on top of a dried cattail, pumping out it's vibrant red wings with each trilling, seductive call.

Redwing Blackbird


For the three-minute video of birding in Baca see:

For a full list of sightings, posted on eBird see:

Peterson plans to post more info on possible bird walks on Migratory Bird Day, Saturday, May 14. 

Taos Land Trust ( is actively seeking community input about their new property that adjoins Baca Park. You may e-mail any comments you have to Kristina Ortez de Jones:

Also, see Meg's blog at:

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Tonight my spirits rise in hope for a better world. The Paris climate talks have finally produced an agreement! I've been following the climate talks since the 1992 Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It's taken two decades but we can finally admit that climate change exists and we may actually have something to do with it. Therefore, we can do something about it!

I've been following Alan Vaughn, a journalist for The Guardian (the who recently wrote: "I've just returned from Paris, where exhausted delegates from 195 countries agreed on the first ever universal deal on climate change.

There was no end of superlatives for the Paris Agreement. It would be a turning point in human history, transformative, momentous, historical, according to Francois Hollande, Ban Ki-moon, Al Gore and many other dignitaries in the French capital."

They are actually talking about abandoning fossil fuels and going green with renewable energy! Hurray! After twenty years of negotiations! It seems like a miracle.

The task we are asked to take on now is far more difficult than going to war. We, the human race, are being asked to come together in peace, to honor an agreement that recognizes that we are all connected, part of this beautiful planet, the veins and capillaries of a delicate ecosystem. We are called on to unite, to serve one global cause that will save our one and only home. We can do this. We have to! It's the next step in our moral and spiritual evolution.

Thank you, NASA, for this stunning image of our home planet. We are in this together!


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Drinking from the Stream: Women's Prose & Poetry About Nature


I’m proud to announce the publication of a collection of women’s stories and poetry about nature: Drinking from the Stream: Women’s Prose & Poetry About Nature, published by Rebecca Lenzini at Nighthawk Press in Taos. Thank you, Rebecca! Sales have been good and most of these authors have had a chance to read from their work. (See Writing Life in Taos:

April, 20014

I scheduled five readings over the summer for the authors included in DRINKING FROM THE STREAM: Women’s Prose & Poetry About Nature. The first, “The Dark Side,” was held April 26, 1-3 p.m. at the Taos Public Library. The second was on International Migratory Bird Day, May 10, 1-3 at the SOMOS office in Taos with Linda Fair, Michele Potter and Meg Peterson. The third, “Women, Water and Trees,” is planned for Saturday, May 17 at Taos Public Library with Elaine Sutton and myself. The fourth reading is Friday evening, June 27, 7 p.m. at SOMOS. The fifth reading was August 9, at Moby Dickens, one of our local bookshops.

As the time grew closer for the first reading The Taos News gave me an interview with freelancer Savannah Rodriguez. I was pleased because she sent some interesting questions over e-mail. I had a chance to think about them and reply in writing. Here are her questions:

1.             How long has this book been in the works?
2.             When was this book first published?
3.             Tell me about the title of the book, “Drinking from the Stream.”
4.             Why did you choose to use nature as the main focus for this book?
5.             Tell me a little about the women writers and your experience in working with them.
6.             Besides nature, is there another reoccurring theme throughout this book? If so, what?
7.             Where can the book be purchased and for how much?
8.             Is there anything else you would like to say about “Drinking from the Stream” or about the authors? 

Here are my answers:

At least a decade has passed since I first began to gather stories and poems from my women friends and writing students. Nature was the magnetic lodestone that drew the stories together. I did not exclude men’s nature stories – I just never came across any. Many of the men in my creative writing group were–and still are–writing about the devastation of the Vietnam War. That is their path and I totally respect it.

Drinking from the Stream, recently published by Nighthawk Press, (thanks to publisher Rebecca Lenzini!) is about sacred water–the life force. (All water is sacred. As they say around here, “Agua es vida.”) So the title is a metaphor for drinking from the stream of life. In the beginning we all drank from the living waters; in the end we all return to the Source.

I did not choose to use nature as the main focus of the book. The creative process was not deliberate but intuitive. The intuitive is always right on because it knows more than I know by my lonesome. I merely collected the stories and the themes shaped themselves.

Many of the authors in this book are old friends whom I have loved, admired and hiked with for many years. Others shone like beacons in the tempest as they read their poetry and prose, so I asked for their stories. The casual way they handed them over, the patience and trust they invested in me inspired me to slog on in the face of many rejections.

Working with a cross-cultural mix of sensitive and talented women as a mentor and friend, I reveled in their natural skills with language, rhythm and description–even some who had never published before. Their courage, bedrock honesty and willingness to reveal themselves continue to amaze me. Some of these stories and poems are laced with wry humor. Others express a deep love for the earth and its creatures. A few offer a Zen-like embrace of opposites. Several are tales of revelation and transformation. I love the way these brave and hearty women wrap their arms around darkness and plunge into light.

A few stories were so quiet or so outrageous that I wasn’t sure if I should include them, but in the end I saw how they helped connect the whole work with a cohesive rhythm.

As I proofed the final copy, I sometimes burst into tears at the last line or whispered, “Wow! Well done!” What I gained by reading the collection straight through from beginning to end was a certain resonance that echoes back and forth between the authors. A call to consciousness. Almost like the voice of Mama Earth herself pleading for sanity, unity and communion.

And if unique writers were not enough, I was also blessed with the chance to work with two intelligent, perceptive women: the artistic designer Barbara Scott and stalwart publisher Rebecca Lenzini. This gentle, collaborative process has been not only an exercise in mutual respect, but a celebration of creativity itself.  Coaxing talented writers out of self-doubt into works of strength and simplicity has expanded how I experience my own life and deepened who I am. Thank you! All of you. Gratitude and love!

This collection may be purchased from any of the authors or from myself. The going price is $15.00. Contact me at or better yet, come and enjoy one of the series of scheduled readings with a variety of authors.