Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Photo post: Mabel Dodge Luhan and Autumn Glory in Taos

Oh, what a glorious turning of the leaves in the Taos Valley these past several days. Two weeks ago I struck gold up at Taos Ski Valley


where the aspen glowed from greenish to bright yellow to red. These trees alight with warm colors set against the evergreen reminded me of some of  Ernest L. Blumenschein's paintings and his fascination with such contrasts in nature.

Lately, I've wondered what Mabel might have thought, and as I skimmed through her books Winter in Taos, Edge of Taos Desert, and even Lorenzo in Taos, what struck me was how much time she spent outdoors, how much she observed and wrote about nature. Mabel certainly felt the rhythm of the seasons. I wondered if she felt the same uplift of the heart as I do at viewing fall colors. She did and so I thought it would be fun to illustrate her words with photos.

Here, where we live, the autumn has come upon us imperceptibly and we have not noticed its gradual approach.

A yellowish tinge comes over the big cottonwood trees so slowly we do not see it until we go away and come back, then our eyes are fresh and we suddenly see that summer is over.

 The trees change color quickly now for there is frost at night and they are showing every shade of yellow against the dark mountains. The distance turns a deeper blue for all the yellow near us.

After the trees are fully turned and are like torches of fiery yellow, often with coral red tips, and others are big balls of radiant, sun-colored loveliness, they have a long quiet pause before the end. 

Day after day of Indian summer passes, breathless, when the whole valley is immobile and every leaf is motionless, shining golden and still. What days! One moves in a dream through the country, scarcely able to believe one's eyes, for the wonder of it.

Again the cottonwood trees were yellow against the dark-blue sky and there was no wind—not a breath of a breeze in the rich autumnal air.

This past Sunday I drove from Santa Fe to Taos, and all along the Rio Grande clusters and families of golden-glow cottonwoods loomed over the river as it snaked along the canyon. As evening deepened the color on the trees intensified from rich goldenrod to cadmium orange, morphing finally to rosy bronze. No camera could have captured this: I have it only in my mind's eye...and you must imagine it. When I arrived at the overlook onto the Rio Grande Gorge and Taos Mountain with the valley spreading as wide as the eye could see, it seemed that globes of cottonwoods festooned the sweep like so many tethered balloons looming over the landscape.

It's gone now. It's raining and the glow is gone. But not the memory and not the thrill of seeing nature wearing her glory coat of autumn.

With hopes that this has provided you with a feast for the eyes and a different view of Mabel Dodge Luhan.

Adios for now,



  1. I loved this post! I have been reading Edge of Taos Desert, and so love Mabel's words. She was a very soulful writer, she speaks of Taos, and of "home." I will share your post!

  2. we are nothing without nature. if only we could remember this and then live by it.


  3. Spectacular colors. Your image of the aspen leaves is outstanding.

  4. Beautiful post! Fabulous photos. Thank you for sharing your spectacular land. Wish I could be there. I'm missing New Mexico so much and these images remind us all of the special draw of the region. Looking forward to more.

  5. Finished Winter in Taos today.
    "Well-close all the doors and lie by the fire...Give up to winter and the sights and sounds of its season."

  6. New Mexico continues it's siren call, beckoning us in all it's seasons. Beautiful post. Thank you.