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Posts Tagged ‘plants’

Friday night, around 9:45, I went out onto the terrace to turn on the security lights.  But, who needs lights when my cereus was glowing in the dark, beckoning bats and other pollinators of the night?

By 9:30 on Saturday morning, the curtain and petals had begun to fall.

Saturday night, oblivious and readying for the dawn of daylight savings time, I turned the motion sensor lights on early and never gave the cereus a first, let alone second, glance.  However, at 7:45 AM on Sunday morning, with coffee in hand, I went out on the terrace and couldn’t miss the show my night blooming cereus had staged while I slept.

Three hours later, the latest extravaganza had drawn to a close — but I see tiny buds waiting in the wings.

[There are] many other small joys, perhaps the especially delightful one of smelling a flower or a piece of fruit, of listening to one’s own or others’ voices, of hearkening to the prattle of children. And a tune being hummed or whistled in the distance, and a thousand other tiny things from which one can weave a bright necklace of little pleasures for one’s life.

My advice to the person suffering from lack of time and from apathy is this: Seek out each day as many as possible of the small joys, and thriftily save up the larger, more demanding pleasures for holidays and appropriate hours. It is the small joys first of all that are granted us for recreation, for daily relief and disburdenment, not the great ones.
Hermann Hesse on Little Joys

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Today, August 9, is International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, so designated by the United Nations.  This year’s focus is on the right to education — a timely and white-hot issue in Oaxaca and several of the other Mexican states with significant indigenous populations.  I can think of no better way to honor the day and native peoples worldwide, than to share yesterday’s adventure in the Zapotec village of Teotitlán del Valle.

As I previously mentioned, in my endeavor to single-handedly boost the local economy, I commissioned the weaving of a tapete (rug) from my friend, Samuel Bautista Lazo’s family business, Dixza Rugs.  The design is a Tree of Life, with a light moss green background.  Thus, yesterday, led by Sam, we (a young Aussie fellow staying at the family’s Airbnb, blogger buddy Chris, and I) ventured out near the far end of the village dam to gather yagshī, the plant to be used to dye wool the desired color.

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Sam is explaining that his mother wants the young bright green shoots for the dye bath, as she wasn’t at all satisfied with the color the older leaves yielded.

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Sam, about to hand off a bundle of yagshī to me to put on our pile.

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Into the cauldron of hot water, it went.  That’s Sam’s tiny powerhouse mother, Leonor Lazo González.  She was making that face because the smoke from the hardwood fire below really stung the eyes.

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Like strands of spaghetti, into the yagshī dye bath, the lana (wool) yarn went.

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Now you see Sam, now you don’t!

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Leonor stirring the pot.

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Leonor measuring the weight of the alum mordant to be used to set the dye.  Yes, she’s using a tortilla press as a table.

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Sam adding the alum (dissolved in water) to the pot.

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Pasta al pesto?  The yarn will marinate in the dye bath overnight.

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Mom knows best and seemed to be pleased with the day’s results!

Sam is a very smart guy and has a Ph.D. in Sustainable Manufacturing from the University of Liverpool.  However, being schooled in the traditions, language, and Zapotec way of knowing by his parents, grandparents, and elders of the community is an education that is just as valuable and should never be lost.

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I came out one morning to find buds had appeared on my night-blooming cereus.

April 5, 2015

April 5, 2015

As the days and nights passed, the blossoms grew and swelled.

April 12, 2015

April 12, 2015

After only a week, flowers burst open for only a night.

April 13, 2015

April 13, 2015

Cereusly, I love my garden!

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Pick a color, any color, and you will find it in Oaxaca, be it people…

Places or things…

Today, I choose orange.  Tomorrow, who knows???

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Yesterday, I walked through an enchanted garden…

Along with about 25+ other people from the Oaxaca Garden Club, I made my way to an orchid garden in San Andrés Huayapam.

What a treasure the privately funded, Orquideario “La Encantada” is!  For owner/gardener/collector, Octavio Gabriel, it is a 40+ year old passion and labor of love — and it shows.

The earthen pathways lead one up and down, through dappled light, along the slopes of a babbling brook.  The orquideario is sanctuary to about 1,200 species of orchids, along with companion epiphytes, ferns, bromeliads, and even a bamboo forest.

Orquideario “La Encantada” is located at the end of a dirt road off to the right, about 1 km beyond the presas (reservoirs), towards the village of San Andrés Huayapam.

The 100 pesos admission fee helps finance the orquideario.  I plan to return!  Octavio Gabriel’s book, Algunas Orquideas de Oaxaca is available to purchase for 350 pesos.

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Early last night, needing a break from working on the Lord of the Little Burro blog post, I wandered out onto the terrace to check out the full moon rising over the city.  The night was clear, La Luna was brilliant, and she was going to be putting on quite a show in 6+ hours — a lunar eclipse.

Silvery full moon

April 14, 2014 – 7:21 PM (CDT)

There was no way I could stay up until then, though I did have fleeting thoughts of setting my alarm.  When bedtime came, I decided to leave it up to the fates or Semana Santa cohetes and church bells, though I did leave the Canon on her tripod, just in case.  The fates had it (probably because I didn’t eat dinner until 9:00 PM); I awoke around 2:00 AM, got up, took the camera out on the terrace, and looked up.  There was La Luna dressed as the Blood Red Queen.

Red colored eclipsed moon

April 15, 2014 – 2:20 AM (CDT)

That little spec below and to the right of the moon is Spica, the brightest star in the Virgo constellation.  It’s extra visible because of the eclipse.  In addition, about 10 degrees west of the moon, an even tinier reddish spec could also be seen (though not in this photo) — Mars came to the party, too!  And, if this weren’t enough lunacy for one night, I happened to remember, earlier in the day it looked like one of the blossoms on my Night Blooming Cereus might be ready to bloom.  Sure enough…

Flower of Night Blooming Cereus

April 15, 2014 – 3:05 AM (CDT)

What a spectacular night!  Though, how I made it to my 9:00 AM breakfast appointment, I’ll never know.  Definitely, early to bed tonight.

 

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We are in the middle of the dry season; the mountains surrounding the valleys of Oaxaca are golden.  It’s still winter and my African tulip trees remain leafless against the sun and blue sky.  However, Mother Nature is hinting that Spring is coming; time for you guys to shave those winter beards.  And, this time of year, la madre naturaleza supplies the brushes — the Pseudobombax ellipticum.

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According to the Oaxaca Garden and Nature Club website, its common name in English is the Shaving Brush Tree.

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As you can see above, the flowers can be red or white.

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By the way, one of its common names en español is Cabellos de Ángel.

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Angel Hair or Shaving Brush?  You decide!

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A mile or two from the city are fields of corn; a recurring reminder of where the masa used to make tortillas, tamales, and other mealtime staples, comes from.  Livestock roam the hills and are often seen being herded down the streets of local villages.

Goats being herded down dirt road

And, at the foot of the stairs of my new apartment is a coyuche bush — the brown cotton plant that has been cultivated in this part of the world for thousands of years.

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The ripe buds of the coyuche have been harvested, cleaned, spun, and woven into huipiles and cotones (men’s shirts) by countless generations.  However, like many textile traditions, industrialization has taken its toll.  The cultivation and use of coyuche is literally hanging by a thread, mostly confined to the Mixteca and Costa Chica regions of Oaxaca.  As a result, besides just liking the design and color, I have a profound appreciation for and treasure this old huipil that was given to me a couple of years ago.

Embroidery detail of huipil made of coyuche

It’s in desperate need of repair.  My friend and Mexican textile collector and chronicler, Sheri Brautigam, advised me to take it to Odilon Merino Morales, who is from San Juan Amuzgo and leads an effort to revive the use of coyuche.  I will ask him if he knows of someone who could give my huipil some tender loving mending.

Living close to the source — there is something wonderful about the coyuche plant’s daily reminder of the origin of one of my favorite huipiles.

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Today, the truck arrived, the wheelbarrows were loaded, and the gardening crew began filling the flower beds of Oaxaca’s zócalo…

Truck filled with poinsettias

Workers with wheelbarrows filled with poinsettias

Worker digging up flower bed, with poinsettias in pots in background

Mass of red and one white poinsettias in flower bed.

Navidad is coming to Oaxaca!

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At long last, and with not much fanfare, the Atzompa archeological site is open to the public!

Panoramic view of Atzompa archaeological site.

The winding road, cut into the side of the mountain, has been visible for a while and we could see platforms when we were up at Monte Alban (about 5 miles away) two weeks ago.

Winding road on side of mountain.

It’s a bit of a hike up a newly paved road from the small (temporary?) parking area under the pine trees, but we eventually reached the site and the ball court.

Ball court with mountains in background

It is small, but the setting is spectacular.

Ruins in foreground with mountains in back.

One can see a recreation of the 1,000+ year old Zapotec kiln that was uncovered 8 feet down — offering proof of continuity to today’s renown potters of Santa María Atzompa.

Kiln with shade covering.

Then there is the vegetation….  The architecture of native trees adds to aura of this ancient site.

Tree in front of side of pyramid

And, the white flowers of one of the trees has attracted the tiniest hummingbirds I’ve ever seen.

Hummingbird sitting on branch

Nopal cactus, in full fruit (tunas) at this time of year, dot the landscape.

Nopal cactus loaded with red fruit "tunas"

Archaeologists and their crews continue their work excavating and restoring, and much is blocked from amateur exploration, including the 1,100-year-old burial chamber.  Darn!

Workers restoring a building

The only “facilities” available at the site, thus far, are bathrooms (which were a trip, but I won’t go into it).  Lest you worry about comida for the workers, it arrived by motorcycle and was waiting in insulated boxes in the parking area.

6 motorcycles with soft insulated boxes.

Aside from those working at the site, we had the place to ourselves… no tour groups and no vendors.  We were left alone to listen to the birds and insects and imagine a highly developed culture, alive with the ancestors of the energetic, creative, and spiritual people we are privileged to live among.

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Fifteen hundred years may have passed since Monte Albán was in full bloom as the center of Zapotec civilization.  However, the flowering continues…

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Monte Albán on an early October morning.

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Just before this afternoon’s rains came, Casita Colibrí’s first African tulip tree blossom of the season.Orange red African tulip tree blossom .

And that means, colibríes (hummingbirds) won’t be far behind!

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Returned from the mercado this afternoon to find…

Garden pot breaking on top of the garden god

… a crack in the pot.  Garden god bursting with pride???

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Torrential rain by night; brilliant blue sky by day…

Garden god surrounded by succulents and cactus

This is the way the garden grows during the rainy season in Oaxaca.

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