Two Land Art Projects

Well-known but new to me, and both, interestingly about planted areas:

Time Landscape

The first Land Art creation of Alan Sonfist; this oasis of growth in the midst of the metropolis, placing the ancient indigenous plant species of New York in the modern landscape of the urban island. Conceived in 1965 the Time Landscape was among the first prominent art works in the Land Art movement and functions today as inspiration to create Natural urban landscapes.

Location: New York CityCommissioned by Department of TransportationImage2_1



Denes Wheatfield

Constellation Poetry Competition

POETRY COMPETITION judged by George Szirtes on the theme Constellations. Closing date for entries: 5pm, Monday 8th September. The Ealing Autumn Festival 2014 is inspired by the 450th anniversary of the birth of Galileo. All ages are welcome with categories for 18 years and under, as well as for adults.
There will be cash prizes to a total value of £500 for 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize-winners. The winning poems will be published on the Ealing Autumn Festival website and their authors invited to read them at the presentation of prizes. George Szirtes will announce the winners and present the prizes at the Ealing Autumn Festival on Tuesday 21st October. Closing date for entries for the poetry competition is 5pm, Monday 8th September 2014. Entry forms and details about how to enter at:;
Further information:, 44 208 567 7623, 

Swimming in Five New Mexico Lakes by Terry Wilson



After our beautiful cat Sylvester’s recent death, I needed something to make me happy again. It seemed like nature was the only thing that could comfort me and being a Scorpio, that meant being in the water. Swimming reminds me of the best parts of my childhood—walking into Lake Erie on that soft sand and feeling those tiny crests in it, just like the auburn waves in my father’s hair. I stayed in the water longer than everyone else till I got yelled at to come out–I could never get enough of being held up by water.

I traveled to Abiquiu Lake in early June and as soon as I saw the shining jewel of water after the sign for the Piedre Lumbre Land Grant, I could take a deep breath again. I drove to the turnoff to the lake and then walked over the boulders to get to my favorite spot where the biggest and most flat rocks are. It was a blustery day so there were whitecaps but I didn’t care. Somehow being in that lake harmonizes my spirit and smooths out the bumpy parts. There’s no room to be depressed when I’m swimming. Though getting in that day was a challenge since I was cold. There were not many people, and I knew the water temperature was about 60 degrees, but then I saw a guy over on the next ridge diving in and he was naked. I knew I had no excuse then! Plus, I was wearing a shortie wetsuit, so I made my way across the slippery rocks and slid down into the deep. Damn, it was icy! And each time I turned my head to grab some air as I swam, I got a mouthful of water. When I emerged dripping a little while later, I was shivering and the wind made my hair stand on end, but I was no longer sad.


There is no way to get more “into nature” than having your whole body immersed in water: water in your ears, in your mouth, up your nose. You just can’t beat getting wet on a hot day!

I’ve lived here for 22 years, and if a body of water is within two hours of Santa Fe, I’ve taken a dip in it. If you don’t mind cold water, here is a guide for you, starting from my most favorite to my least.

1. Abiquiu Lake—As I mentioned above, this has become the place I’d most like to be on a sweltering June, July, or August day. Not only is the drive from Santa Fe spectacular in terms of scenery, but after you swim, you can stop first at Bode’s, a very eclectic neighborhood store that sells worms for fishing, cast iron frying pans and refrigerator magnets in the shape of farm animals’ butts. After Bode’s, the Abiquiu Inn is on the way home, so why not visit and get a lamb burger and salad or try on some jewelry in the gift shop if you’re feeling flush?

Back to swimming though—Abiquiu Lake is generally more full of water than, say, Heron Lake. Even in this multi-year drought, Abiquiu Lake has not receded much though many gallons of water were used from the reservoir to douse a fire in early July. Pulling off Hwy. 84 into the turnoff, I take the road away from the boat dock, though most of the shore is rough. The boulders are my diving boards. Swimming in June is a bit of a trial since the water can make your teeth chatter, so at least try to go on a calm day when the water is still and shining like a mirror. Though if that older guy is there in his birthday suit, he will inspire you to go in, no matter what the temperature!

In general, and especially during July and August, you will not be able to resist that bright turquoise lake, white puffy clouds and flat, toasty rocks to lie on after getting out.

2. Heron Lake–this used to be my top spot for arid summer days because of its cleanliness, azure beauty, and (unlike Abiquiu Lake), no speed boats. But three years ago, while swimming to the middle of the lake, the Los Conchas fire had just begun and when I looked up, there was a gigantic , smoky, mushroom cloud in the air. Sobering, but that wasn’t Heron Lake’s fault. (There was also that small, drug running plane that crashed into Heron Lake a few years ago, leaving its store of cocaine in the middle of the lake. After that, Heron Lake became a lot more populated, and not just by the osprey.) Last year, though, was the clincher because when I went to take my plunge there, because of the drought, the lake had withdrawn (and this was early August) by 85 feet! So getting in there can be tricky unless you appreciate foot sucking mud up to your knees for several minutes before you actually reach water. Once swimming though, the lake is gorgeous. Again, cold, but August into September is perfect. By then the water temperature is close to 70 degrees, and the no-see-ums are gone by July 4th. After you swim, you can either have dinner in Chama (just about 10 miles away) or, if it’s getting close to twilight, you may see a mule deer or two in the woods around the lake. Your other choice for seeing mule deer that you can actually feed is to drive back toward Santa Fe on Hwy. 84 about 10 miles to Los Brazos, a mountainous area that has been privately developed (though there is an excellent restaurant there). On the way up the forested road at dusk, mule deer come out from behind the trees for food! Drive slowly! And bring oats for them to eat if you can, but they have been known to eat graham crackers and small pieces of fruit out of your hands. Sometimes they even pose for photos!


3. Cochiti Lake–I don’t know if this is really my third favorite, but lakes to swim in around Santa Fe are few and far between, and Cochiti is the closest, only about 45 minutes of driving from Eldorado, where I live. Abiquiu Lake takes 90 minutes, and Heron Lake about two hours and 15 minutes, though driving past Ghost Ranch and Cathedral Rock is not exactly punishment. Still, Cochiti has gotten some bad press in the past 10 years. Apparently dead bodies have been found in the water there. I also saw a young man drown in Cochiti one sunny day while his wife and children were on shore. I helped dive for him along with several other people and he soon was found, but it was too late. Those were the days when the swim area was near the boat dock and there was a 20 foot drop off. There is a ranger but no life guard which is true of all the NM lakes I have gone swimming in: it’s the Wild West. I received my pollywog badge when I was 5 or 6, but since NM is mostly desert, many residents never learned to swim. Sometimes young people used to party during the night at Cochiti and then after drinking several beers, decided to jump in the water. In past years, there was a steel flip chart on the road into the lake which showed how many people had drowned there since 1974 when Cochiti Dam was built, but that seems to be gone now. And the beach is better; it started with no sand, just sizeable boulders, but now it’s sandy and bigger and has been moved down to an area away from that 20 foot drop off, so many children play on the shore and in the water and it’s safe. There is an actual area roped off for children. It’s a friendly neighborhood beach now and even though I hadn’t gone there since the fires and floods of a few years ago because I heard there was a lot of the ashy runoff in the lake, now it’s cleaned up. In late June, I had a refreshing swim there; the water was already about 69 degrees. It’s not crystal clean but it’s no more dirty than the Rio Grande. It was calm and I swam out almost to the breakwall and got nearly run over by only one boat. Cochiti, like Heron Lake, is a no-wake lake which means boats have to travel very slowly and they don’t really bother swimmers. I ended up having conversations with several New Mexicans that afternoon, one a Native American man who worked for the state and promised to come back that Friday to show me some of his jewelry.

4. Santa Cruz Lake–this lake is near Chimayo and like many others (except Cochiti) is in a wooded area. I used to swim there quite regularly, but then a new sign showed up which said, “No Swimming, only Wading.”

“That’s no good,” I thought, and proceeded to swim across the lake which barely tired me out. I’m not a fast swimmer, but I’m dogged. Anyway, I was so proud of myself for going all that way and decided to rest on shore for 10 minutes before I started back. But no sooner had I gone about 1/8 of the way back when the ranger showed up in his little boat and told me I had to get in or he would fine me $200. I was not happy about it, but I did as told. He admonished me for swimming (instead of wading) and then motored us back to a dock near the shore where I’d gone in. Except someone had broken a coke bottle on the ramp to the dock, so when I got out of the boat, I cut my foot pretty badly. I would have done much better just swimming back on my own! I have not gone back since because wading is frustrating (plus the shore there can get very muddy and attract mosquitos). I decided that if I did go back to Santa Cruz Lake, I would go in disguise and then make my way across the lake again. I do have an old nun outfit I have not used in awhile, and no one in New Mexico is going to yell at a nun, even if she hates wading.

5. Storey Lake–I’ve only been swimming here once and I don’t recommend it. It’s near Las Vegas, NM which is a long drive. And not only is it very muddy, but it’s super shallow! I trudged through the muck to the middle of the lake, hoping for more depth, but it wasn’t even up to my waist! It was also quite windy, so much so that people were wind surfing. But I’ve heard that some valiant souls do the Polar Bear Swim here on New Year’s Day, so it’s possible the lack of deep water makes the surface a bit warmer than other lakes would be. At least that’s what I will tell myself if I show up on January 1st, 2015!


Even though I swam in the neighborhood pool every summer day in Buffalo when I was a kid, I don’t like pools so much now because I have that thin Irish skin that chlorine dries out, especially now that my 50’s are only a memory! Plus, if I ruin my hair color, Hector, the high priest of hair, will never forgive me. But there are still warm days left to dive into a lake, and I’m going again today to Abiquiu. If the weather holds, I figure I can swim outdoors till early October!

Bearproof by Bibi Deitz


“Pardonnez-moi,” Molly said, but she said it Par-donny, like what you’d say to Donny if he got par on the golf course. Moi was right, but she said it the way you’d say mwah, like the sound of a kiss, so she couldn’t really be credited for either one. Then again, my sister was fourteen so I couldn’t fault her for it, though I did.
We lived in Kansas. We went to school in the same brick building, our mother drove us from the farmhouse in a Jeep. I carved soapstone and sold my figurines at the swap meets and flea markets in nearby towns: White Cloud, Hiawatha, Highland. I rode horses, read John Steinbeck and thought I could see myself on a ranch. On a camping trip to Texas the summer after high school graduation with my mother and Molly, I started thinking, Hey, I could really make it out here.
The pardonnez business was about cows versus cemeteries. The game fit Texas rancher country: count cows, and whoever has the most at the final destination wins—but if a cemetery passes on your side, you start back at zero. Molly’d wanted to know whether a little graveyard in the side grounds of a church counted and I said, “Of course,” and blew all the air out of my lungs through my nose.
My mother said, “Now, girls,” and turned up the radio. “Ramblin’ Man,” green Texan cement roads, shade from every bald cypress and river birch cast against the car. I was at a hundred and two and Molly at ninety-one. We’d both hit a boneyard and reset.
I think my mother liked to drive that fast. I think she didn’t miss my father. I think she liked thinking of him in an apartment on Hampton Street back in Lawrence while we sped south. Molly just counted cows, but I think all three of us thought, Phew, as though we were relieved to be on the road alone.
Cow piles. The shadows of leaves left constellations of maples and gingkoes in the sun on the road. We took curves close. We blew through Mason, the library sign crooked and the only place we wanted to eat, a diner, dark. The sun on the cleft of the road ahead.
The Llano River followed the land on Molly’s side. It put her at an advantage—less likely to build a cemetery on the banks of a river—but I didn’t say anything. We’d crossed the river in Junction and we’d probably cross it again. The first cross was little more than a paved bridge with red barn-y slabs of wood around the arch like frosting.
“Ninety-two, ninety-three, ninety-four,” I heard Molly count under her breath. My mother fumbled for her cigarettes in the side compartment and opened the ashtray from the dash. She pushed in the lighter; it sprung from its clutch, poker hot, and she plunged the paper tip of her cigarette into the heat. With a sizzle and smoke, the tobacco leapt alive and she rolled down the window. “Ninety-seven,” Molly said. “Ninety-eight.”
I was at one-seventeen, counting in my head and making a list of things I’d want with me in cowboy country. It was late June and it was nice enough to keep all the windows down and let the smoke funnel and whirl out to the treetops. Sleeping bag. Some clothes.
We found the state park between two small towns. It was on the map, a tent stamped on the area like an emblem, and we pulled into the parking lot long after dark. Crickets, cicadas. A porch light, of all things, clicked on from an RV at the trailhead and a balding guy with spectacles came out and took my mother’s five dollars. He pointed us toward an empty tent space and climbed the cinderblock steps back to his trailer. The woods smelled of citronella.
Molly and my mother and I pitched the tent. It gave off a scent of attic must. I pushed the metal stakes into soft ground. I heard bits of grass ripping under the stakes and I liked the way it sounded. Molly unzipped the tent, got in, took off all her clothes and put on a slip. “It’s so hot,” she said.
“Why are you wearing Mom’s slip?”
“She doesn’t care,” Molly said, and our mother said, “I don’t.” She was smoking on the hood of the car.
The sign on the dirt road by our camp said, Bear Country: Store All Food in Bearproof Containers. A small stencil of a fat black bear floated above the text. “See the sign?” I said. Molly was lying on the nylon tarp of the tent floor, head propped on her elbow. She poked her head out the mosquito netting and read it.
“Killer,” she said. “Hope we see a bear.”
“Is bearproof a word?” I said.
I threw a couple of pillows into the tent and Molly and I shook out a blanket. I fell into the woodsy black sleep of the outdoors, my mother’s silhouette willowy and dark in the shade of the jacaranda.
Sometime after midnight it cooled off. I woke and my back wasn’t cold with sweat. My mother had crawled in with us, by our feet. Her hair glistered pale silver in streaks. I heard something close by, crunching around.
Molly opened her eyes and I told her, “Shh.” She looked at me and I said, “Look.” We pushed our faces to the mosquito netting and saw the same as before: dirt road, bear sign, the car. “I heard something,” I said.
Molly curled up and put an open hand over her eyes. On my back I saw hundreds of stars. My mother let go a long breath. I heard a cluster of laughs from a neighbor camp. It was quiet for a long time.
“Two-hundred and eighty-nine cows,” I said. I nudged Molly’s foot with mine.
She didn’t say anything, and then she said, “Three-oh-one.” On her cheeks I could see the moon.

Duende Poetry Series

The Duende Poetry Series Sunday, September 14, 3 p.m., Anasazi Fields Winery

The featured readers will be James McGrath and Lauren Camp. Following the featured poets, there will be an open reading, as time permits.

James McGrath, poet is known for his narrative poetry in the PBS American Indian Artist Series in the 1970s. He has four collections of poetry from Sunstone: At the Edgelessness of Light; Speaking with Magpies; Dreaming Invisible Voice; and Valentines and Forgeries, Mirrors and Dragons. McGrath was poet-artist-in-residence with the United States Information Service, Arts America in Yemen, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of The Congo in the 1990s. In 2010, he received the Institute of American Indian Arts Visionary Award. He lives in La Cieneguilla, Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he hosts poetry readings in his apple orchard.

Lauren Camp is the author of The Dailiness (Edwin E. Smith, 2013), winner of the National Federation of Press Women 2014 Poetry Book Prize. Her third book, One Hundred Hungers is forthcoming from Tupelo Press. Winner of The Más Tequila Review Margaret Randall Poetry Prize. She hosts “Audio Saucepan,” a global music/poetry program on Santa Fe Public Radio, Sundays at 6PM.

For all Duende Poetry Series readings, free snacks and non-alcoholic drinks are available. Anasazi Fields wines are available for tasting and for sale by the glass and by the bottle. Although Duende Poetry Series readings are free, donations to provide small honorariums to the poets are encouraged. For more information, contact Jim Fish at 867-3062 or The winery is located at 26 Camino de los Pueblitos in the historic village of Placitas, six miles east of I25, Exit 242. WELCOME WE HOPE TO SEE YOU!

Bear poem by Gary Lawless

A note from poet Gary Lawless shares a good poem and also the mysterious life poems can have…

One of my old Bear poems has shown up twice on the internet in the last week, both times as a surprise to me, once from the US and once from Italy. This is a poem that was on a wall in Central Park Zoo, at the polar bear exhibit, until recently when the last polar bear there died, and the exhibit was shut down. Both of the new versions have wonderful photos with them, and here are the connections:
and from Italy: