I was reminded in a comment here that newcomers to my blog might, as a result of recent posts, land themselves in Carlow expecting to see massive canyons and unusual critters.
What a surprise then to arrive in our little county and find old trees and small villages, hills and green fields, long flowing rivers with bubbling weirs, large bales of hay and boney bottomed cattle plodding their way along tiny lanes on their way to milking parlours. Quite different from my recent travels in New Mexico and Nevada and not a hummingbird in sight!
This is primarily a gardening blog with a few recipes, green tips and home life thrown in. It’s about growing your own food, cooking and living in communities or in a manner that has as little impact on our planet as possible. But nature’s nature, no matter where we live. Whether it’s by the coast or on top of a mountain, in a desert or a valley, there’s always something different to see and hear.
So as we drove to the top of Sandia Peak in north eastern Albuquerque, a mountain 10,800 feet above sea level, we were to view nature in a different form.
Unlike the flat desert area surrounding us, the peaks are covered with trails and felled or fallen trunks, bleached white rocks of various sizes are scattered everywhere and roots clutch on to the side of the mountain like knarled, wizened old hands.
There are several trails around the forest, but with three children in tow, the eldest of whIch was a reluctant participant, we chose a short one that led from the gift shop and cafe on top of the mountain.
If truth be told, for all his whining and winging, I kind of agreed with our 13yr old as I too was slightly reluctant to venture too far from civilisation.. I’d been chatting to the assistant in the shop about the likelihood of seeing a black bear and was cheerfully told that it was quite possible! There had been quite a few sightings recently – she’d seen four this year on the road to the top, including a mother and cub. I picked up a guide paper to see how to keep ourselves safe should we come across one, only to read there are cougars in the woods too! How excited Mr G and the children were at the prospect of seeing these wild predatory creatures! As a mother however, they were the last things I wanted my family to come across on our short stroll!
Nevertheless, the forest that stretched before us was too enticing to miss. The trail wound us around the edge of the mountain where the views were breathtaking before leading us to a well crafted stone stairway – an unexpected sight at 10,800 feet!
Although a short climb, the steps left us slightly breathless as we weren’t used to the altitude. It was with relief that we stumbled over a few scrappy tree roots and into the delightfully scented pine forest (not least because our middle daughter was intent on finding out whether the path we were walking along overhung the interminable drop!)
I adore walking in forests (even with threats of bears and cougars) there’s just something about the light and shadows don’t you think? We tried to encourage our children to hush for a brief while so we could hear the unusual birds or look out for chipmunks, but sadly not to be. The girls chattered their way around, joyful to see the pretty wildflowers and chased after the grasshoppers whenever they spotted them. Maybe the noise was a good thing though as it was sure to have prevented a bear from accidentally bumping into us.
The path was well travelled (though we only came across a couple of other visitors to it) and not too lengthy. The cooler mountain air was a refreshing change from the stifling heat of the city and before long we found ourselves back at the cafe where we were able to watch hummingbirds at close proximeity. The clip doesn’t catch the load hum they make as they buzz around, it can be quite startling when they whiz past your ears!
I’ll be back to my normal vegetable gardening blogging soon, most certainly with a new perspective, but in the meantime I hope you’re enjoying the flowers, trees and wildlife 5,000 miles from our usual home.