“Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend”
Sarah Ban Breathnach
Within our garden in the high mountains of New Mexico is a 150 year old Pinyon tree. Our first few years here we made a twice daily pilgrimage to sit beneath this beautiful tree — folding chair in one hand, espresso in the other.
We end up here in time to see the sun rise and the night’s mist vanish. And in book-end symmetry at sunset we sit silent observers of the distant mountains set beneath an O’Keeffe sky of crimson, orange and purple.
One day a question arrived. How about more permanent ‘season ticket seating’? How about an old-fashioned tree swing? How about that branch there? But it’s old like us and might break. Perhaps an arbor to support it – a little insurance.
Arbor done, swing hung, but something was missing. It needs some color doesn’t it? Many colors had potential. All were considered and it took some time to settle on just one. The final choice of vibrant yellow worked perfectly, poetically.
All elements in balance now and for 310 days a year (give or take), this swing seems to levitate in the rising and setting sun, like a magic carpet….two performances daily.
In my New Mexico home the wildflower known as Indian Paintbrush found just the right conditions to take up residence. It’s no easy feat to cultivate the growth of this wild scarlet and orange flower that, in fact, does resemble a free-form paintbrush. Good luck propagating this flower. Seeds are available commercially but it is anything but guaranteed to succeed.
It has very specific requirements and is a true wildflower requiring no human intervention to grow where it wills. Transplanting an Indian Paintbrush does not work as it is a parasitic plant attaching its roots to the roots of other plants and deriving water from them. So it was to my amazement that my specimens spread prolifically all over my land, increasing its range each year. Here is one of several artworks I’ve created on this unique, complex and truly wild botanical wonder!
There are multiple legends about the origins of this remarkable beauty. One such legend is shared in Tomie dePaola’s children’s book the…
…’Legend of the Indian Paintbrush“. This is the story of a young Indian boy who did not fit in his society’s assigned role as warrior. Today I suppose he would be labeled “special needs“. Eventually, he finds his place as an artist. (Hooray for that!) And as you might guess, this eventually leads to the origin of the Indian Paintbrush flower. But I’m not giving away the punchline! Here is a 5 minute version of the story by Tomie dePaola:
This striking perennial is honored by poet A.V. Hudson,