Benevolent Power

When the cotton flies on a summer day worries melt in the magic of rose bouquets presented by the Walking Stick Cactus. In the heat of sun and full life, time, age, and winter don’t matter. Swirling white cotton floating on the warm wind lifts my fanciful thoughts to go dancing in a summer-time blizzard. Feathery white stuff tickles my nose bringing me home to reality with a sneeze! This is June in the Bosque’ where the Cotton Wood is a benevolent King offering life with protection to every heat-stressed, desert creature beneath the cooling power of its shimmering leaves. Shelter for the deer and other four-footed animals is also, found among the Russian Olives, Salt Cedar, and other river-loving shrubs. The ancestral homes of many birds adorn the branches of the Cotton Wood and the lesser tree kinds of this deciduous, desert forest. During this yearly, ‘Summer Ballet of the Cotton’ all is well and at peace.

Suddenly, the cotton’s spell is broken by the sharp screech of a Magpie swooping low! He brings many of his beautiful black and white brethren with him but their dazzle is quickly forgotten in the cacophony of obnoxious sound made by these thugs bent on obtaining dominion of the Bosque’. Nothing in the trees or on the ground is spared as they swoop high and low in tacky pursuit of any creature that moves. The soothing tones of the song birds stop. A few brave parents stay in a valiant effort to protect their nests along with their young but every other bird flees. The land creatures hide beneath bushes and dive into their boroughs. An empty silence replaces the happy sounds of contentment but still the cotton drifting-twirls and the Cotton Woods are undaunted. They stand in silence offering their comforting green branches even to the likes of the Magpie who soon grow bored without the contention that defines them. In the empty, dead silence they’ve created, they begin to eye one another and soon the forest is filled with the sounds of civil war. Swooping, diving, and curling into a moving ball the great battle ensues breaking all from their assigned ranks as camaraderie is forgotten in the pursuit of personal power. Soon, the weakest among these invaders dart away and others follow until the warring mob shrinks to only two. This pair builds a nest and settles in as the other bird’s now wary, return to reclaim their home. Having revealed their true selves to all and being outnumbered, the new-comer Magpies fall silent, craftily subdue their contentious nature, and busy themselves with raising their young.

The Cotton Wood leaves quiver and quake offering their moisture to cool the hot, dry air; by wisdom blessing the righteous and the wicked alike thereby, maintaining balance in the Bosque’.




La Vieja and The Magpie

Way down in old Nuevo Mexico, as the Crow flies, towards the river,

La vieja sits under her Cottonwoods, never-to-mind bickering Magpie!

Contentedly painting images of crows in colorful high-top sneakers;

In defiance! Of Death, Crow is said to bring on a black-winged-quiver!

Small-round-old woman, tough-as-nails, true-blue as enchanted sky;

Worn by west-blowing wind she bends as east-leaning wind breakers,

To nurture, protect life growing in harsh desert; la vieja is a love-giver!

“Mi casa es su casa.” Ancient tradition of welcome for all passers-by;

Old adobe home, sky-blue door open, red chili ristras hung on cedars;

Ojos de Dios watch! Blessed Rio Grande home! Oh, Mighty Life-Giver!

Feast on tortillas, enchiladas, papas, frijoles; No green chili? We cry!

Enchanted by crows wearing sneakers to taunt the continuous Magpie!


Key for Non-New Mexicans: la vieja=“the old woman”, “Mi casa es su casa!” = “My house is your house!” Ristras are red, dried, chili pods strung together that are both purposeful and beautiful. Ojos de Dios=Eyes of God. Tortillas are an unleavened, flat-bread. Frijoles=beans, in New Mexico they are Pinto Beans. Papas=fried potatoes. Enchiladas are a casserole dish made of meat, cheese, and/or beans, rolled in corn tortillas, and baked in red or green chili. Green chili of course, is the staple of life in New Mexico, a common source of good health and happiness!