My Bettna sweater made from Noro Silk Garden yarn came off the blocking board yesterday and I was able to wear it to Wednesday night knitting group. It was a cool, rainy afternoon and evening, unusual for Taos, so it was the perfect thing to wear.
The colors and style are a little different for me, so it will take some getting used to, but I love the yarn. It’s a combination of wool, silk, and mohair.
This week I began reading William DeBuys’s book, The Walk.
DeBuys’s book, River of Traps, coauthored with Alex Harris, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1991. I’ll have to read that one, too.
The Walk is interesting to me because it is about, among other things, DeBuys’s walk through the fields and forests around his home in Las Trampas, NM. Las Trampas is not too far from Taos, on the high road from Santa Fe, and is a singularly beautiful area. And, I love to walk, so it’s a good read combination.
Anyway, in yesterday’s reading DeBuys was talking about bark peels on the massive orange and black Ponderosa pines in the forest bordering his property. It seems that the Jicarilla Apache would make a peel of bark a little less than a foot wide and about four feet long and extract the inner cambium for a food source. These peels would not harm the trees and provided either regular or starvation food for the Apache people. He noted how he had never even noticed the old peels on the trees around him until a retired forester friend pointed them out.
I thought this was interesting enough, but he also told how legend says the tanager taught this method to the Apache. I wasn’t exactly sure what a tanager was, but I thought it was some kind of bird.
Lo and behold, this morning I was looking out my back door and on the wall between our yard and our neighbor’s was a most amazing bird. It was bright yellow with a brilliant orange-red head and dark black wings. I had never seen anything like it before, and it was colored so brilliantly it looked almost like a child’s toy sitting there. But then it flew down between the houses.
So I had to find out what it was. I looked it up in one of my bird books–interest in birds is another thing I get from my family–and, you guessed it, it was a Western Tanager. Wow! This picture is from Birdnote.org.
‘Turns out this is a species of bird that winters in Central America and Mexico in the shade forests where coffee is grown, then migrates to western North America for breeding.
You can hear the call of the Western Tanager and learn a little about the connection between the western tanager and coffee by clicking this link. Yes, that’s the beautiful bird call I’ve been hearing the last couple of mornings.
I think it’s pretty amazing that yesterday I was just reading about this bird and wondering about it, and today I see one in my own backyard. I think I may try to lean more about the lore of the tanager.
I wonder what this little bird has to teach me.