Transition Season at the Garden

Our Albuquerque Botanical Garden, part of the city’s Biopark, puts on a grand show for the holidays. The entire garden is lighted with fanciful figures and streaming lights through the trees. It takes weeks to get ready. I stopped by to take a walk as the fall season takes hold but we have not had a frost yet. My camera seems to be acting up so I took a bunch of pictures. I still don’t know if it is the camera or the photographer at fault. The last flowers are still cranking out blooms even as the workers are installing the holiday lights.

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The roses were particularly impressive even as we approach mid-November. There are several rose garden areas including one specifically for arid climate roses. I bought a new rose bush this past spring and it bloomed nicely at first but the sun did some damage. I had to move it to a more shaded position and that ended the blooms. My wild rose seems to do quite well but only blooms for a short period of a few weeks.

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There were other flowers still doing their best in spite of the calendar. Sometimes the seeds are as interesting as the flowers.

The late blooming mums are hanging on in a few places. The small flowers in protected places still are clambering for attention.

More of the seeds are grabbing attention.

I’m easily captivated by the large Prickly Pear Cactus. I have some wild varieties at home that are mostly thorns…but the rabbits still manage to eat them in the winter. The fruit produces a wonderful jelly if you have the patience and the proper gloves.

The Japanese Garden is always a treat and it seems a little different each time I visit. That’s true of any garden but particularly so of this garden, I think. My timing was right and I was there in the mid to late afternoon and the slanting sunlight was creating shadows and backlighting some of the views.

Regardless of the season the garden is protected by its own fire-breathing dragon standing at his post by the children’s castle.

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End of Summer

I had an out-of-town visitor this week and we took part of a day and visited the Albuquerque Bio-Park’s Botanical Garden. It has been a hot and dry summer and the monsoon season seemed late in coming and has stayed a while longer than usual. The late rain didn’t provide much help to the parched victims of Albuquerque’s sun…plants, that is.

That being said, there was still a lot to see and it was an enjoyable visit.  Here are a few pictures….

 

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The End of Summer – New Mexico

We only have a few days of summer left. Fall officially starts on September 23. Can flu season be far behind?  They are already playing football. Baseball is in the late season frenzy.  I thought I’d reminisce a little about summer here in our neck of the woods. (OK– you have to look closely for the woods but it’s there.)

Summer here in the Rio Grande valley is most often viewed as monsoon season and I’ve already written about that a while back  Thanks to El Nino we have had quite a bit of rain. I’ve never seen the desert so green. The rain comes and goes and usually lasts maybe a half hour. Sometimes it goes crazy…like when it washed out the railroad bridge and stopped the RailRunner for a weekend.  Flash floods are dangerous — there have been a lot of them lately and some fatalities. We have had some serious forest fires during our recent drought and heavy rain after a forest fire is devastating.  I found a video of a flood destroying Dixon’s Orchard following a forest fire up in the Jemez Mountains…this is from 2011.

I didn’t have to contend with a flash flood. My only problem was the rain-out of an Isotopes minor league baseball game. I was pretty lucky, I guess.   I got a rain check and was able to see a game on a dryer day. We still lost.  The Isotopes did not have a good season this year and attendance was down due to the many rain-outs.

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We still have the best green chile race in all of baseball.

I am sometimes critical of Albuquerque’s city administration and the way they do things but I must say that they seem to know how to put on a street festival. The city had four Summerfests scheduled around town and I made it to two of them…Route 66 on Central Avenue and the Westside on Ellison. The crowds were quite large and well behaved. There was good food and good music. I took a bunch of pictures but I missed having my camera ready when the topless women paraded down Central Avenue…dang.

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Labor Day weekend snuck up on us pretty quick. For the past 27 years the city of Bernalillo has hosted the New Mexico State Wine Festival and it has been pretty popular. It’s not just about wine…there are crafts and lots of food and music. I went last year and enjoyed it — so you can imagine my surprise and disappointment when they announced that they would no longer be holding the annual wine festival.  Accounts vary but it seems that attendance has been dropping and there are other wine festivals in the area. Isleta Casino picked it up and hosted an indoor wine and jazz festival — which I went to. It was very nice but I like outdoor events if the weather is good.  I did buy some wine and tasted my share.

Meanwhile, Bernalillo decided to replace the wine festival with the Mountain West Brew Fest…going from wine to craft beer. I was skeptical — we have a lot of craft beer festivals all year long. Almost every other weekend you can find a beer festival somewhere nearby. I didn’t quite know how this was going to turn out….but it was great. Unlike some places, Bernalillo is very laid back and has a very casual vibe and that set the tone for the Mountain West Beer Festival. I really didn’t know we had so many breweries. I admit that I’ve not been able to keep up with the two or more that open each month…Albuquerque is awash with craft beer. This was a chance to get a taste from over thirty local breweries and a bunch from out of state. Now, I’m a home brewer and I know something about making good beer. I have a medal and a trophy to prove it. I did not have a bad beer during the many tasting booths that I stopped at. I had some that were not to my liking…style-wise…but they were still good at what they were trying to do. Of course I took some pictures…  It was another beautiful day.

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The Monks at Christ in the Desert monastery have been very busy

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Nothing wrong with the camera — friend Stu was getting blurry

The Monks at Christ in the Desert are the makers of a line of beer called Monks’ Ales. They are in a pretty isolated place up on the Chama River so some of the actual brewing has been contracted out closer to town but they are very much involved. They have been propagating and growing native Neomexicanus hops.  New Mexico has it’s own variety of wild hops and the monks are pretty much it as far as acquiring any…unless you want to scour the mountains on your own looking for hops…which people do.  I finally got to taste a beer made with Neomexicanus hops and I have to say that I liked it but it was a little unique….mostly in the lingering finish.  These are not bittering hops — they have low acid levels, I think — so they are finishing hops, I think.  I also think that there is a lot of mythology out there on these wild hops because not many people have any experience with them.  I’d like to get my hands on some but the monks are pretty stingy.

By now you might have the impression that I drank my way through the summer.  I can see how that might have happened but, I assure you, I was sober and righteous most of the time.  Well, with the exception of Tuesday nights. Tuesday is Vinyl Night at Kaktus Brewing in Bernalillo and Stu (you’ve seen his blurry picture above) and I try to keep some music going — mostly music that is on vinyl records or first appeared on vinyl. We make some exceptions. The range of music has gone from surfer music to The Doors to lots of Jazz to The Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker, Willie Nelson, The Who and a little bit of Donovan. We were able to squeeze in Mark Knopfler’s Shangri La CD (not vinyl) this week. We are heading toward a western swing night before too long.

But — I’ve done other stuff. The Volcanoes and the BioPark show up in this blog pretty often as does Sandia Peak.  I really, REALLY, want to go fishing so I’m hoping that happens soon.

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Monday at the Zoo

Mondays are the same all over.  They start slow and sometimes go downhill. Other times they seem to get better if you hang in.

I took a walk through the zoo last Monday and the usual suspects were doing their thing.

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Mondays…ughh
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Baby O — always play time no matter what day it is
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Always a phone call when you least expect it…
One happy elephant
One happy elephant
Checking out the neighbors -- male elephants are over there
Checking out the neighbors — male elephants are over there
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Ducklings in the Hippo pool — not as calm as it seems
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Newest baby — first day out
Lunch
Lunch

Wednesday Roam — A Warm and Lazy Day

Some time ago I bought a membership to the Albuquerque BioPark – the zoo, aquarium, botanical garden, and Tingley Beach are the four components of the BioPark.  Tingley Beach is an open natural space area with access to the Rio Grande. I spend a couple days a month at the BioPark and the membership has been a good investment — lots of blog posts have come out of those visits.

I spent Monday afternoon at the zoo. It was a sunny and warm day…about 88 degrees…and not crowded, being a weekday. The zoo residents were taking it easy…mostly. Those with water access and a willingness to get in the water were staying wet but the others were mostly taking naps.

 Falling asleep playing with a twig
Falling asleep playing with a twig
 Barely awake
Barely awake

We all need naps from time to time….

 Mountain Lions need naps too
Mountain Lions need naps too
 Bengal Tiger napping
Bengal Tiger napping

 

Some of us struggle to stay awake….

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He’s trying to stay awake
hanging out
hanging out

 
And then there are certain family obligations…. We have a new baby hippo who is the star attraction. He stays close to mom but she is not shy about showing him off. He has learned to swim so will swim with her in the pool.

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 Baby boy hippo less than 2 months old
Baby boy hippo less than 2 months old

 

 

 

 

 

Still have some pool time

 

 

 

 

 Polar Bears float
Polar Bears float

The Polar bears were having a great time. It was snack time and they were doing belly flops into the pool going after fish. They would leap into the water from about seven feet up on the rocks and chase after the fish thrown by the attendant. Sometimes they’d catch it with their paws or mouth but they seemed to enjoy diving into the water after the snack.

Spring Peeper

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThat’s me…a Spring Peeper. I can’t get enough of the many different shades of green that start to show as nature comes alive again. Even in the desert where I live we have many different shades of green. It is still early so I took the plunge and went back to the Botanical Garden. Here are a few pictures…..nothing too exciting.

Japanese Garden

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Ro0adrunner stare down…willing to stand his ground

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In the conservatory

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The cactus nursery

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We seem to be well into spring but there is a lot more to come. Lots of birds have returned and are living in my saltbush and sage thicket. The quail are more active and the cranes have been heading north for several weeks already. Lizards are out as evidenced by the Roadrunners hunting for them. No Hummingbirds yet…still too cool. We’ve had a couple days of rain so things will start to pop soon. My Goldfish in the pond are as excited as I am with the change of seasons. My Mountain Mahogany is budding out. I’m seeing signs of the Wild Heliotrope (AKA Scorpion weed) coming back again so everything will be accented in blue once it starts to bloom.

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Good things come to those who wait but better things come to those who get off their butt and work for it. I bought a package of native plant and flower seeds as well as a bunch of milkweed seeds so I’ll be out planting my seeds this week. Bring on the butterflies!! I also found out (after a year and a half) that my sprinkler irrigation system actually does work. My neighbor is astonished because it hasn’t been used in over ten years….not since the first owner moved away.

Wednesday Roam — Motherhood

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI took a couple hours and visited the Albuquerque Zoo a few days ago. It was a nice day and not too warm or too cool and a little bit cloudy. Apparently those are the best conditions for the animals to out and active because everyone was up and roaming around their (too) little enclosures. The Hippos were in and out of the water and doing slow lumbering re-entries into the pool. They usually seem to stay in the water but not that day. The Giraffes and Zebras were all parading around. The Tree Kangaroo was as busy as he could be. The Tasmanian Devils were busy. Only the Cheetahs were back in their usual cuddling position…it was close to Valentines Day, after all.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Chimpanzees have a pair of newcomers. Elaine, the 38-year-old momma chimp, gave birth to twins back in November. There might be eight or ten chimps in the “community” by now. Elaine was out walking around with both of her babies clutched to her breast but clearly wanted to show them off. She methodically approached several other chimps but they showed no interest or turned their back and ignored her and the babies.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHer next plan was to take the babies around to all of the visitor viewing areas so the zoo visitors could see her twins. She methodically made the rounds to each of the viewing spots where the visitors congregated with cameras and appropriate ooohs and aaahs as she paused and showed off her babies.

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Apparently baby chimps cry just like human babies but I never actually gave it much thought before.

 

It might have been nap time.  Elaine looks like she might be a good mom.