Our private superbloom: Navajo Tea in Navajo!

Seven years past the first time I witnessed a superbloom here in the foothills of southern Colorado, we are having an even bigger one again, right around my home. We live in the Navajo Ranch area smack dab between the towns of Walsenburg and La Veta Colorado.

This is Navajo Tea also known as greenthread, the common names given to multiple species within the genus Thelesperma. This species is a native of the Great Plains and mountain states.

Thelespermas are used by a number of the southwestern Native American peoples as herbal teas, earning the plant common names like Navajo Tea or Hopi Tea. The plant can be boiled whole until the water turns a rusty color and used as a tea. Historically it has also been used as a medicinal remedy and for yellow dyes.

Here are a few local views of our superbloom:

Here is a hillside of flowers with the Spanish Peaks as a rainy backdrop…

Fields of flowers with Mount Mestas in the distance…

And just plain fields of flowers! What a grand spring surprise for us!

Mid-June Colorado Foothills Garden Notes

WOW, it was plenty HOT here yesterday! We got over 90 degrees, which almost never happens up here at 7,000 feet. My new plants were not pleased, but those that have been here for the past few years were fine. Here’s a photo summary of what is happening in my garden.

First of all, this is what my “sky garden” looked like in June 2019. We had just completed the hardscaping at this point!

These day in the far east end I am nursing a new plant, an Icelandic Poppy, and so far so good in spite of all the wind we’ve had lately. My Jupiter’s Beard at the end is struggling but still hanging in.

Lavender absolutely loves it up here! And that large Jupiter’s Beard on the left is thriving too.

I forget the name of these cute little yellow flowers, but they sure are tough! Then I have a couple of different penstemons in this grouping near one of my lavender plants. The Blue-mist Spirea bushes with start blooming in July.

This is a view of mid-garden with the steps. Yarrow dominates this area. It seems to be pleased with itself. My native Four-O’Clock is slowly creeping out from under Buddha and that big Catmint plant. It got hit hard by the big snow we had the end of May, that almost froze all the flower heads off! My green shamrock is in the foreground. Thanks Mike!

My west end is mostly new or native plants. So excited to see that yellow Evening Primrose start to bloom this morning! The native sunflowers are everywhere over there and I just planted a “Little Kim Lilac” bush over there. Sure hope it survives the wind! Check out a few of Mike’s creations, the metal sculpture and his horseshoe wind chime under the Bluebird’s box.

I should also include this central square of flowers, the first place I planted anything about four years ago. Can you find my metal coil dog? That’s one of Mike’s more recent creations.

Happy to be home!

After just two days up in the northern Colorado cities, Mike and I are always so happy to come home! Speaking as someone with a brain injury, cities increase my stress level immediately, even as we drive north through Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver. In summary, being there exhausts my brain energy so quickly. There is also the stress of staying in a different house with different people. All I know is that I need to sleep a lot after I get home to “catch up” on my mental comfort level and health. Of course, psychologists have known for years that:

“City living can chip away at your psychological immune system, which can be precarious for those with a family history of mental illness. According to psychologists , this environmental stress can increase their risk of developing a psychiatric condition, such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder.”

As we drive south out of the metro parts of Colorado, we both breathe a gigantic sigh of relief. We love to return to the life that we love in one of the least populated and developed counties in Colorado. We find slow, quiet, and peaceful is great for our sanity! Our passive solar home always stays cool for free while we’re gone. I miss my garden and Mike misses his cat Rosie when we go on trips.

This is our reward for moving down here six years ago now… Try to beat that view from your back porch! When I first met Mike he said he wasn’t moving again unless it was to somewhere where he wasn’t looking at the house across the street. Success at last!

I immediately go outside and check on my plants. Luckily nobody got eaten while we were gone 🙂

And yes, I do have some native plants coming up too, like this yucca, a transplanted Cholla cactus and some evening primrose. I sure hope the Cholla decides to bloom this July! It’s flowers are a bright magenta color.

Postscript: The funniest thing I witnessed on our drive through Denver was a trucking company named: “Follow me to Jesus, Inc.” No shit!

Spring Gardening in the Colorado Foothills

I truly do pity those who don’t have a garden to observe in the spring! Every new day is an adventure out there. I put in new perennials every year and so I must then remember where I put what, and go out and see what made it through the winter. Sometimes very subtle signs at first!

My earliest bloomer this spring were some miniature irises. Regular irises to bloom later in May or early June…

The irises even beat the tiny creeping thyme flowers (Turkish Veronica) this year!

We had a small but wonderful rain last night and so all the plants look refreshed and ready to thrive...

…and the rain also cleared the smoke out of our skies for a lovely view of the Sangre de Cristos this morning!

Mike’s been busy with his new welder too. He made a cute, little wiener dog puppy for me yesterday!

Find A Healing Environment For Retirement

In my last post I wrote about healing relationships, relationships that truly saved my life. But I have not yet shared one of the most important transitions I have gone through in the past eight years. I hear so much these days about Boomers who are trying to find the best place to retire. Of course, that will be different for each of us, but for me, retiring as close to nature as possible has transformed me. And the irony is that I was not certain at all whether I wanted to come here in the first place.

Eight years ago at this time, Mike and I was crazy busy preparing to sell our beautiful home in the Fort Collins suburbs so we could build a passive solar home on three acres west of Walsenburg, Colorado. Mike was always convinced that this was his ideal retirement plan. I was not so sure. Still surprised that I would even be able to retire by age 60, our options still hadn’t struck me. Then, after we moved into a rundown old miner’s home in town while we built our new home 13 miles west of there, I became really worried. I could not figure out where I was for a while. You try moving from a big cosmopolitan city to a tired old town of less than 3,000 souls, then you tell me if you don’t feel a whole lot of culture shock.

Our first year down here was difficult. So many disappointments and worker slow downs in construction, not to mention health concerns. But we did prevail and moved into our brand new home a little over one year later…

Oh, did I mention the view of the Spanish Peaks and the Sangre de Cristo Range from our new home?

When we first moved in, nothing seemed real. I felt like I had moved into a fancy foothills resort and the management would be coming soon to kick us out. After living in cities and suburbia for most of my life, this felt a bit like make-believe. To finally live in a naturally warm, energy-saving home that we had designed specifically for our needs and up to our standards with a view like that? Wow! But the best was yet to come.

The escape from the frenetic energy of cities was the best! I don’t know that I can properly describe exactly how peaceful this place felt after living with all of that crowding and traffic my whole life. The silence was astounding! I loved to go out in the morning, sit down and just soak it all in; the sunrises, the bird songs, the trees, the mountains. How did I end up here?

In the years since, my love of this place has grown and grown along with my sky garden, dedicated to my brother. How was I ever so lucky? With many new health challenges including head injuries and the need for permanent supplemental oxygen, I still feel so content to watch the sunrise each morning and look out over that tremendous view, knowing that I have finally found the place I belong.

In June 2014 we packed up or got rid of most of our worldly goods, sold our home in Fort Collins, and took off for an ancient rental in Walsenburg, Colorado. It was then we named ourselves the “NEW Old Farts” because we were barely 60 years old. I have been sharing our retirement story here on this blog since October 2014; the year long passive solar construction wins and losses, the big move in and our gradual adjustment to life in rural Colorado. We have fallen in love with living in tune with the sun and seasons, waking up each day amazed to find ourselves in such a beautiful, quiet, natural place. Good luck choosing the perfect place to make your own retirement dreams come true!

Please contact me at MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com to purchase copies of any of my books. Thanks!

The sunrise west of Walsenburg CO this morning!

I could tell when I first looked east around 6AM this morning that it was going to be a good one! The clouds were lovely…

First I saw the very beginnings of the sunrise…

Then a bit more with sunrays just beginning to show…

Next the early sunrays began to light up the sky!

Spreading colorful light over the Spanish Peaks to the south…

and then BAM, the full light of the sun appeared over the horizon!

Now do you see why I love living here? Magical surprises almost every day!