The Last Stand…
Apple trees in full bloom at sunset in Nambé, New Mexico. My orchard of approximately 300 trees is now dead, and my next door neighbor’s orchard, once with thousands of apple trees, is now just a handful of surviving trees. Warm winter days result in the sap rising up into the trees, well before it is time for spring. When the cold nights and freezing returns the sap freezes, expanding, and cracking the core trunks of the trees.
Clouds and Moonbeams
Each month I attempt to photograph the moonrise. Weather plays an important factor in my planning. Clouds can scatter the light from the moon, or completely block it from sight.
For this moonrise, the skies in Northern New Mexico were crystal clear and the air was cold and crisp. For some reason, I was motivated to photograph the moonrise over Blanca Peak in Southern Colorado that evening (March 1, 2018).
On the two-hour drive north, I watched the Sangre de Cristo, Taos Mountains, and Latir Peaks light up nicely in the golden hour. There was not a cloud in the sky. Things were looking perfect!
When I arrived in the San Luis Valley I was surprised to see clouds on top of Blanca Peak exactly where I had planned my composition! How did that happen?
It was windy that afternoon. At higher altitudes, the winds aloft were enough to form lenticular clouds on top of Blanca Peak.
As the moon climbed behind the thick lenticular cloud layer I could see its glow increasing. When it rose high enough to peak over the clouds the marshes of the San Luis Valley lit up brightly in front of me as I listened to a pair of Great-Horned Owls calling and the distant sounds of Sandhill Cranes heading to the ponds where they would roost safely for the night, away from the coyotes.
The Four Sacred Mountains of the Navajo
The four sacred mountains of the Navajo culture are shown on this map.
Navajo culture follows that the creator placed the Diné (The Navajo people) on the lands between four sacred mountains located roughly at the four cardinal directions:Read More
- Sisnaajiní — Blanca Peak
- 14,351 feet elevation, located in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of Southern Colorado.
- Blanca Peak is the sacred mountain of the east,
- Also known as “The Dawn” or “White Shell Mountain”,
- Blanca Peak is associated with the color white,
- Blanca is gendered male in Navajo culture,
- Blanca Peak said to be covered in daylight and dawn and fastened to the ground with lightning.
- Tsoodził — Mount Taylor
- 11,305 feet elevation, the highest point in the San Mateo Mountains located by Grants, New Mexico,
- Mount Taylor is the sacred mountain of the south,
- Mount Taylor is referred to as “Blue Bead Mountain”,
- Mount Taylor is associated with the color blue,
- Blue Bead mountain is gendered female in Navajo culture,
- Mount Taylor is also sacred to the Zuni, Hopi, Acoma, and Laguna people,
- The Navajo supernatural beings, “Black God”, “Turquoise Boy”, and “Turquoise Girl” are said to live on Mount Taylor.
- Dook’o’oosłííd — San Francisco Peaks
- 12,633 feet elevation (Mt. Humprheys) located by Flagstaff, Arizona,
- Sacred mountain of the west.
- The San Francisco Peaks are associated with the color yellow,
- They are gendered female in Navajo culture,
- The San Francisco Peaks are considered to have abalone inside them by Navajo legend,
- Their Navajo name translates to “The Summit that Never Melts”,
- In addition to the Navajo, the San Francisco Peaks are also sacred to the Hopi, Zuni, and Havasupai people.
- Dibé Nitsaa — Hesperus Mountain
- 13,237 feet elevation located in the La Plata Mountains by Mancos, Colorado,
- Sacred mountain of the north,
- Hesperus Mountain is associated with the color black,
- In Navajo the name translates to “Big Sheep”,
- The peak was named due to large numbers of bighorn sheep on it.
Limited Edition Prints
Blanca Peak Moonrise Reflection
“Blanca Peak Moonrise and Reflection” (c) Ed MacKerrow / In Light of Nature. ( 8670:5636, 3:2 )