I was lucky enough to be able to accompany my friend on her initial hike into the Manzanos to do research for one of her upcoming refugee wilderness program hikes. It was a beautiful drive a little more than an hour outside of Albuquerque, with mist laying in the low spots between trees and the sun shining a beautiful cerise halo through the smokey clouds as it showed its face to us for the first time that day.
The hike itself was lovely - up into the mountains through heavily wooded trails, with plenty of new plants to identify along the way. It was the first time that I'd seen so many maple trees in New Mexico, and look forward to re-visiting in the fall time when the trees will be brilliant shades of vermilion.
Read more about the refugee wilderness hikes here:
I love my urban homestead. Planting food crops, fruit trees and pollinator plants has been a rewarding practice over the past several years. However, there are drawbacks to every situation. Yesterday started with a bang - literally. Woke up to our dogs going crazy in the yard. My husband got up to see what was going on. I was still in bed when there was a huge explosion and bright burst of light. I didn't know what time it was (just before 4 a.m.) and thought it was people shooting off more fireworks. (As much as I love fireworks, I really don't love people using them irresponsibly. We had them land on our roof this year, and had neighbors out at 1:30 in the morning lighting up firecrackers, the smoke wafting directly into our bedroom window. Sigh.) Turns out, there were at least two small raccoons checking out our place and the dogs got into a fight with them trying to scare them off. Two dogs are super sad and bit up right now :( One of the young raccoons climbed up the nearby power pole and proceeded to electrocute himself - that was the explosion and flash - and knocked out the power to our whole block. We called PNM and they came and got the power back on pretty quickly. The shocked raccoon had fallen into our neighbor's yard but was still breathing, so we called Game and Fish to come and pick it up. It lay out there for hours, scooting itself into what little shade there was until the warden arrived and grabbed it and put it into a cage. Even electrocuted and hurt it still growled and acted ferocious. The warden listed off things that attract raccoons - ponds, fruit trees, pet food - we have all of them... Raccoon heaven. Hope they wander somewhere else next time, though.
Some recent photos from the homestead ;)
In my ongoing efforts to heal any remaining psychological and emotional birth trauma, I've been working on a new series of paintings. I'm not going to share any of the artwork here at this time, however, the work has also inspired my photography in some aspects. The photo series, of which two are shown here, below, is entitled "RED" and mostly reminds me of all the blood that was shed in the act of bringing my child outside of myself. It was a struggle, and is still something I struggle with at times. One of the things that most strikes me now is the fact that the natural act of pushing a child out was the complete opposite in our case, as the doctors pulled him out of me through a new portal that was cut into my flesh. It was disturbing and it felt completely unnatural - the pulling rather than pushing. I felt like a failure as a woman, in my inability to naturally birth my baby. People will tell me it's a silly thing to be stuck on, as we're both here and healthy now, but just because I didn't suffer something worse, or have the absolute worst-case scenario happen doesn't mean that my feelings aren't valid. The creative process helps me to move through the many layers of grief, confusion, blame, and healing.
RED - Fear: I felt like a super hero with this band of red makeup on, but in this shot I look less fearsome than I felt. It is a metaphor for my birth experience. I went into it feeling like a super woman, like it would be easy. I came out of it broken and fearful. Cut and bruised (and scarred). It's taken me a while to find that warrior within once again, but she is still there.
RED - Vessel: The setting sun was reflecting off my neighbor's window and making a spotlight just on this red glass bottle on my windowsill. It highlighted the importance of the vessel. I felt broken for quite some time, but am growing whole again. I like to envision my cuts and imperfections being filled with golden light, filling up my darkness and mending my broken pieces with light. Just like Kintsugi, where broken pottery is put back together, the pieces joined by gold.