I'm sitting in the Carlsbad library and aware that except for a few subtleties, this could be the library in Saskatoon or Prince Albert. That's true of life here generally; American and Canadian cultures overlap considerably. I would say that Canadians on average are more knowledgeable about world affairs than New Mexicans, but I haven't been impressed with my fellow Canadians on this subject either. We place different values on certain things; for instance, New Mexicans generally seem to put their discretionary money into their vehicles as opposed to their homes. Games of chance are attractive to New Mexicans as they are to Canadians, but I haven't seen a single casino here: I'm told that Aboriginal tribes in other NM cities have gone heavily into the gambling business, however.
Every day, we pass through the vast Carlsbad cemetery on our way downtown. Stones are large and the entire cemetery is very well kept. In some areas, the stones all seem to be decorated with bouquets of bright red, plastic flowers, and it looks kind of nice. I've a feeling the resting place of parents and grandparents is treated with more reverence and solicitation than we're used to at EMC. I think it may be a Spanish tradition. Some days, we'll see a mother and children kneeling at a stone, placing some flowers, spending some time with a loved one.
Not surprisingly, food is spicier here than it tends to be in Saskatchewan. Spanish influence, probably, although we've been told that Mexican food is generally bland. I've got to figure this out yet, but since Agnes and I both like a bit of kick to our chili, we're enjoying the food. Tonight, the church ladies are putting on a Valentine's Day banquet, and we'll no doubt be treated yet again to their amazing cuisine - TexMexMenno. Agnes is making cheesecakes for the event.
Carlsbad has a large number of churches, some pretty large. Methodist, Presbyterian and Episcopalian seem to be the largest church presences here, and on some ventures, the Baptists, Presbyterians and Mennonites have cooperated. They have, for instance, purchased and are running several transition houses where victims of abuse, abandonment, etc, can live until they get back on their feet. They also figure in the running of the Community Kitchen, Carlsbad Association for Retarded Citizens, etc. I don't expect to get to know enough about non-Mennonite denominations as represented in Carlsbad in the short time we're here. CMC stated some 40 years ago as a combination of the presence of a voluntary service unit and a few Mennonite families that had come here with their work. At present, their average age must be well over fifty although there are a few young families and probably about 10 children. Their future is uncertain.
In a recent post, I said that I could now identify numerous desert plants, including Otillo. Hold the phone. Agnes read that and informed me gently that it was "Ocotillo" about which I was purporting to be the expert. Birds here also represent a challenge and I presume my sometime birdwatching friend Wally, who's in Arizona right now, is revelling in novel bird sounds. Where we are, there appears to be an epidemic of Grackles and Mourning Doves/White-winged Doves. The Grackles group together in large trees and scold, sing, banter - whatever their peculiar conversation is called - endlessly. the Mourning Doves coo "mournfully" day in and out, and leave their deposits on your car if you happen to park under a tree. Our favourite birds so far are the Roadrunners. They're shy, but occasionally we see one - surprise, surprise - running across the road. They fly about as much as barnyard chickens, that is to say, enough to get over a fence or ditch. Their preferred locomotion is on foot. I haven't heard them go,"Meep, meep" as they did on the Roadrunner Hour, and I don't know if they're particularly threatened by coyotes.
Seventeen of the eighteen Whooping Cranes in the Eastern flock died in the tornados in Florida on February 2. I felt like taking my hat off and observing a moment of silence when I heard that this morning. There's another larger flock wintering in Southern Texas right now, but this is a real blow to this endangered species.
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