Nancy, Taos

Nancy is a graduate student in the Master of Liberal Studies program in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. During summer 2012, she is participating in a course on New Mexico wildflowers at SMU-in-Taos.

What a wonderful week!

This class has been inspirational to me in so many ways. Who knew that the pine nut from the pinon tree is the perfect food? It has all the essential minerals a person needs, as much protein as a steak and all the essential amino acids. Or that flowers have designs drawing insects and birds that can’t be seen by the human eye? Pollinators can see the designs but humans can see them only with an ultraviolet light. I am leaving with 14 new friends who have inspired me with their kindness, intelligence, resilience, senses of humor and fun. We already are planning a reunion and a Shutterfly book with our photos and memories. I’m also sporting a suntan without getting hot, [...]

2012-07-09T19:55:44+00:00 July 8th, 2012|Nancy, Taos|

Soaking it up

Soaking in the Iron Spring I didn’t think our last day at SMU-in-Taos would top the hike to Williams Lake, but I was wrong. Today we went to Ojo Caliente spa and resort, home to geothermal mineral water that has flowed from a subterranean volcanic aquifer for thousands of years. It was first used by Native Americans more than 1,000 years ago. In the 1500s the Spanish soaked in the springs, and we continued the tradition today. At the spa, adobe buildings surround a courtyard filled with flowers and sculptures. Soft Native American music playing in the background set the tone. Our group was challenged by the signs that said, “Whisper,” but soon we were so mellow we [...]

2012-07-09T19:40:03+00:00 July 7th, 2012|Nancy, Taos|

Hiker’s paradise

Many of us have decided that this is our favorite flower - the Columbine. Our hike today to Williams Lake was a highlight of the week (so far, each day gets better and better). In spite of a few complaining hips, knees and feet, we did it. We are young, but we are not undergraduates. We climbed the Williams Lake trail near the Taos ski valley into the Alpine zone in the shadow of Wheeler Peak,  at more than 13,000 feet the highest mountain in the range. On the trail we saw elderberry, thimbleberry, wild strawberry and twin berry. Besides berries we saw new flowers: Old Man on the Mountain, California Corn Lily, Delphinium, Blue Bells and Columbine. [...]

2012-07-09T19:22:41+00:00 July 6th, 2012|Nancy, Taos|

Natural beauty

Elephant Nose: See how the tiny flowers look like an elephant's trunk? Today's field trip ranged from Sound of Music moments in the La Junta valley of the Picuris mountain range to a good old-fashioned Dallas hail storm. First we traveled 10 miles on a gravel road to a meadow at about 9,000 ft. elevation at the junction of the Canadian zone and the Alpine zone. We madly photographed wildflowers as if we were paparazzi at the Academy Awards: Elephant Head, Columbine, Indian Paintbrush, a white Indian Paintbrush known as Wyoming Paintbrush, Osha. Leaving no plant unphotographed, we climbed back in the van for a trip to the top of the ridge, cleared more than 70 years ago [...]

2012-07-06T19:09:39+00:00 July 5th, 2012|Nancy, Taos|

Happy Fourth, from Taos

Today we left the desert behind and headed for the Italionalis Trail near the Taos Ski Valley. The trail was once a mule trail leading to a gold mine. We hiked alongside a clear stream, which we got to know quite well each of the 14 times we crossed it by jumping from rock to rock. Thanks to the helping hands of Doug and Dr. Ubelaker, the only casualties were a few wet hiking shoes. We learned that the roots of the wild geranium can stop bleeding, as can the liquid in the stem of the dandelion. And beware of tasting any part of the monk's hood, a purple flower on a tall stem. It kills more hikers [...]

2012-07-05T15:24:14+00:00 July 5th, 2012|Nancy, Taos|

Cool waters

Today was about water, its power to carve the Rio Grande Gorge, how plants have evolved to rely on very little water, and how a homeowner can design a home to be completely off the grid, including water. We started our morning at the Rio Grande Gorge, a dramatic gorge carved by the Rio Grande River. It is the same age as the Grand Canyon, but it is carved from much harder volcanic rock rather than the sandstone in the Grand Canyon. It is still spectacular and a testament to the power of water. Many of the plants we saw today look like something only a mother could love. They are covered with needles and spikes. [...]

2012-07-05T14:43:22+00:00 July 3rd, 2012|Nancy, Taos|