Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Bountiful Season

This has been the best growing season I've ever seen in Taos. I'd say it's true since I've first visited here fifteen years ago, though I might've missed something, but it's certainly true since we moved here in 2003.

Far and away. The late spring rains and relatively mild spring frosts have produced a bumper year for everything: first the cherries, then the apricots--my God, the apricots!--now, even the apples, pears, and plums. The Indian plums (generally inedible by humans, except boiled with lots of sugar to make jam) are everywhere--on the Pueblo lands, they're brilliantly crimson. Here in town, where there's more shade, so the sun is less than the 12 hours or so solid out in the open, they are not quite ripe yet. Peaches have been great, too, but they take more water and so mostly come from the valleys below, or from Colorado.

Nobody's complaining here--why would they? Instead, the discussion is about the meaning of this great season in the larger context, if there is one. Take, for example, the piece by Linda Kemper Fair in the Horse Fly of August 15, who shifts in mid-article as quickly as the weather changes
(practically daily, this time of year) from sunny praise of "The Divine Season" to thunder and rain and the politics of global warming.

Of course, we don't know whether this year is simply an outlier--there's plenty of reason to think so--or a harbinger of some permanent change. If we are going to get rain, and lots of it, every May/June, well, there are certainly worse fates. It would be a concern if we traded our winter snows for more reliable greening every summer, only because it would gut the ski season, and presumably thus the tourist trade, which might cut down the building of second homes and eliminate our one reliable source of income: building second homes and making real estate deals around that trade.

On the other hand, if the Upper Rio Grande changes and the downstream lands don't (there's no evidence that Santa Fe or Albuquerque is wearing the green like us), then they'll be coming up to visit us en masse in the future, the way the seem to be doing this summer. That means record traffic jams, people getting mightily annoyed with the town's lazy-fare approach to traffic management, and we'll be the new Espanola: A Town to Endure Driving Through! (start making the signs now)

Another sign of change, and not for the good, is the new football field with its shiny bleachers and colorful Astroturf (puky green, except for the Halloween-ish Taos Tigers' black and garish orange in the end zones). Personally, I can't believe the Horse Fly has come out in favor of this one, though it must be refreshing for their moribund sports department this time of year that there's actually some interest in the football team. What's the justification, anyway, besides money to spend and it's too hard to keep the grass green (or at least it used to be, before this year?)

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