essays

Made in the Shade     

I’ve been transplanting perennials, adding some new ones, and spiffing up the area around the pool where we have just rebuilt our sombra. Cabana is how we refer to it. Whatever you call it, it's shade. The structure, which consisted of six fat upright vigas with latilla roof, was listing to the north.

Last summer we fixed it because it was listing to the west. Well, believe me, I’ll be listing in both directions before it ever moves again. hummingbirdsIt is one solid structure now, and we’ve really enjoyed the shade while watching the grandchildren and the puppies play in the pool. The “terriorists” ride the raft AND great grandchildren Missy and Joe Joe’s tiny Chihuahua, Lucky, rides on Grandma Ruthann’s shoulder. He doesn’t like to be wet, but he does like to be with the kids and the terriers. It’s a bizarre sight.

Next door, Janelle’s sombra frames the mountains. She swings gently in her hammock, watching the hummingbirds swirl around her feeder and studies the shadows on the Sandias. A salubrious and aesthetic New Mexico sombra experience.

Meanwhile, despite the heat, everything is growing like crazy. The afternoon drizzles are cucumberblessed. The desert is greening up, and the garden just loves it. I used to think I could feed half the neighborhood with our vegetable garden, but the soil needs a lot of work these days and flowers have taken over. I adore flowers so I can live with that, although I do mourn for home grown. It’s so much tastier. We ate our first (probably $50) cucumber last night, two beans and two cherry tomatoes. Not a brilliant harvest. Other neighbors have got the vegetable garden that really makes sense. It’s scientific and a work of art. They have raised beds filled with compost two feet in depth, and exotic umbrella like coverings which can extend the growing season in both directions. In a very small space, and with very little water, they are producing cauliflower, broccoli, lettuces, eggplant, various other greens, squashes and hundreds of tomatoes.

It’s wondrous, and I’m both jealous and inspired. I think that might be my next leisure
time project — a massive dig-up and retry on the vegetable front. The next cucumber will be
a $100 one; I can feel it coming.

Lucy Noyes is co-founder of La Puerta Real Estate outside Albuquerque, New Mexico and has a million stories in her head, just waiting to get out.

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