Wild cherries also known as "choke cherries" are popular for making homemade wine or pies. Stands of these grow largely undisturbed along acequias and old orchards. Phot by Robert A. Naranjo with the Valley Daily Post


Robert A. Naranjo

July 5th – It’s the day after the United States of America’s Independence Day, and we are still in the holiday that celebrates and recognizes when the Founding Fathers of this nation declared themselves independent and free men. The Declaration of Independence was drafted and signed knowing that it could be considered treason. No charges of treason resulted but the Declaration triggered a War of Independence -– a war with England. Keep in mind that England was a world power at the time and the 13 U.S. Original Colonies were, well, not a world power!  The Americans proved themselves worthy opponents in their quest for independence and eventually beat back the English and gained their independence. General George Washington was installed as the First President and could have kept serving basically as long as he wanted to, but he wisely told his fellow patriots that a couple of terms is best to keep the Presidency from becoming a version of a monarchy. Exactly what they had successfully fought against. Henceforth, the President of the

Green apples are a favorite with a little salt to Valley residents.Moms
admonished kids not to eat too many or risk suffering a tummy
ache. The Espanola Valley was famous for its very sweet apples.
The sweetness factor is due to hot days and cool nights. Gerber baby
foods would send semi trucks to pick up apples here! Photo by Robert A.

United States, by law, could only serve two four-year terms.

The only time in history that the U.S. President served more than two terms was during WW II when Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt served two, then elected two more times while the U.S. was in the middle of WW II. President Roosevelt died while still in office on April 12, 1945 at his retreat in Warm Springs, Georgia. He was succeeded by Harry S Truman who closed out the war.  “Give Them Hell Harry” was the President and Commander-in-Chief who gave the order to drop two atomic bombs in August of 1945 on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Bad weather over Tokyo saved that city from the atom bomb.

Japan formally surrendered unconditionally on September 2, 1945 and aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan. The subsequent U.S. Marshall Plan pumped billions to rebuilt what the war had destroyed.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, a stone’s throw from where the very bombs were developed which ended the war, farm life continued on in the Espanola Valley and northern New Mexico.  By the war’s end, farmers in the Valley who had planted their corn on July 4th or in the few days before had corn that was ready or almost ready.

Sweet corn, as many in the Valley know, is planted in late May or thereabouts, but the ultimate last day was the 4h of July.  It largely depended on the “micro climate” a farm was located.  Planting corn late had its advantages but one in particular made it worth it – less critters making the ear of corn where the silk is located a bed and breakfast! When harvested for fresh corn-on-the-cob, freezing, chicos, etc., there was less waste as no Critter B&B’s needed to be cut away!

July is also the month that brought formal government to the Espanola Valley and New Mexico. On July 11th, 1598, “Capitan-General, Adelantado, y Gobernador” Don Juan de Onate and his advance group of soldiers arrived at the Pueblo of Oke Oweenge which he re-named

Photo shows Sweet Corn that was planted on nearly the
last day of June. “Independence Day  Corn” was planted
on the 4th of July assuring some time between harvests.
Farmers call it “staggering” the crops. Photo by Robert A.

“San Juan de Los Caballeros” or St. John of the Gentlemen. It became New Mexico’s first Capital and, indeed, pre-dates any Capital of what is now the U.S. A short time later, Governor Onate moved the Capital across the Rio Bravo del Norte (now Rio Grande) to the abandoned Pueblo of Yunque that he re-named San Gabriel and it became the second Capital of New Mexico. New Mexico’s Capital was moved for the last time, in 1610, to the La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Assis (Santa Fe) by the new Governor, Don Pedro de Peralta, and it became the third Capital of New Mexico. Governor Peralta did so under orders from the Viceroy in New Spain (now Mexico) and there it remained.

Interestingly enough, the Pueblo of San Juan kept the name Governor Onate gave it for over 400 years.  However, a few years ago, the Pueblo’s  Tribal Council changed it back to its original name but with a variation of the spelling: “Ohkay Owingeh.”  In a quirk of history, the Pueblo has been San Juan for a longer period of time than its original name. But time itself will change that.  Some area Pueblos have a feast day on

Grapes are still green in July but is one fruit that rarely
does not produce due to the vine budding three times
if frost damages the first two bud shoots. The Espanola
Valley produced wprld- lclass wine in the mid- 1800s.
New Mexico is the oldest wine grape (vinifera) growing
region in the U.S.. Mission grapes were planted in
1629 by priests near Socorro. Photo by Robert A. Naranjo

July 26th, on “El Dia de Santa Ana.”

Chimayo also celebrates it with a fiesta as do other Pueblos and Spanish New Mexican communities.

Yes indeed, July made history in the Espanola Valley, but allow me one last historical memory. On July 16th, 1945, the world’s first atomic bomb was detonated at the White Sands Proving Grounds (now White Sands Missile Range) near Alamogordo, NM. The bomb that changed the world forever and ushered in potential assured world destruction, was made in Los Alamos close to the Bandelier and Puye Cliff Dwellings.  Consider that within a period of approximately 700 to 800 years, man transcended from Cliff Dwellers to makers of weapons of mass destruction. Amazingly, a distance of only 10 miles separated these two opposite lifestyles.

You know something?  A cliff-side home with a view sounds a lot better than being vaporized by an atomic bomb that was created by splitting an atom using fusion and fission. Given world events in the last few generations, I’d have to say, “Atom, SPLIT!”

Hope you had a great Independence Day and enjoying your Sunday. Thanks for reading the Valley Daily Post.