Posole has become one of my favorite foods of all time. A hominy stew thick with New Mexico red chiles, it will warm you up when nothing else can. Posole is a traditional food here during the darkest, coldest time of year (though this week the weather has been sunny and unseasonably warm, but I can't help that), and it's served at New Year's to bring good luck through the coming months.
|The Sasebo Japanese Garden at the Albuquerque BioPark|
I was thinking about luck at the Albuquerque Botanic Garden the other day. I'd been admiring the red stems of the dogwood in the Japanese garden when my eye was caught by a sudden movement: a roadrunner hunting among the rocks. (It's almost in the exact center of the photo above.) (Also the one below.)
It had found some snails and was enjoying quite a feast, breaking the shells open against the pebbles so that it could get to the meat inside.
|Roadrunners are fast enough to kill rattlesnakes and hummingbirds. And snails.|
Roadrunners aren't rare around here, but they aren't exactly common, either, not like sparrows or pigeons. Usually when I see them they're in a hurry, running (believe it or not) across the road. It felt like a bit of luck to be able to watch this one at its leisurely meal. (It also felt a bit like cheating, since the roadrunner wasn't really in the wild, even though it certainly wasn't tame.)
|When they feel cold, they turn their backs to the sun...|
Speaking of luck, how lucky did this bird get, to have hatched at the Botanic Garden in the first place? Acres of naturalistic plantings providing habitat for its natural prey; acres of lusciously watered, less xeric plantings, giving snails and other delicacies a niche; shelter that is protected from the worst ravages of weather by a staff that keeps the gardens in good trim; an absolute lack of predators, except perhaps for the Biopark's train, which putters along slowly enough that even I can get out of its way; handy landscaping pebbles on which to break open the occasional escargot... Really, how much luckier could a roadrunner be?
|...and fluff up their feathers. Their skin is black and soaks up the sun's heat. |
(Some dignity may be lost in the process.)
Well, to the roadrunner it's luck. To the garden staff, not so much. They've done the labor to put in the acres of naturalistic plantings and to water the thirsty ones; they've pruned and nurtured even the prickly pears, run the trainlet (it's such a little train) at slow speeds, and spread all those pebbles around...and lo and behold, there are roadrunners. The gardeners have created the situation from which this particular roadrunner's good luck could emerge.
I'm not big on New Year's resolutions. If I were to make a gardener's resolution, though, a lifelong one, it would be to do the work that makes some goldfinch's or lizard's or toad's lucky day possible—to create the garden that lets them hit the jackpot and thrive. (Note: rabbits, squirrels, voles, moles, and leaf-rollers need not apply.)
When you think about it, even posole, amazing as it is, doesn't rely on luck alone to get you through the new year in style. It has vitamin C and iron, and the kick in the pants the chiles give you, to galvanize you into action and make luck a little more likely to happen. All those robust nutrients and warming spices help you buckle down and do the work so that you, too, can make the most of good fortune when it comes along.
I'd better have another bowl...