Has to Be a Lady

female Canada goose

Location: Rio Grande del Norte National Monument a few miles north of Pilar

There isn’t any doubt. Her mate stayed close by on guard duty while she ate. We watched her grazing with her head submerged off and on for maybe fifteen minutes and then drove off to the end of the paved road where we cross the river and turn around. On the way back, the two Canada geese were still there, and she was still eating! Eventually she stopped and stood on a rock, when I got this highly-cropped telephoto shot. All this time the big guy was craning his neck and swiveling his head, never got to eat or rest. I wonder how that all works out.

But damn, just look at her. Could that be anything but a female? I mean, seriously. That is one beautiful goose.

Helpless Something

old Taos scene

See the Thing?

It ought to be easy to climb out. Everything is in place, even the elm tree trunk that broke off and fell, nearly hitting the house. I’m going to leave it there. The crash was like closing a dead man’s eyes. When we finally have our feet on the ground in a place that feels like home, it’ll all come back, I know it will. The way it felt, pulling into a driveway where I had every right to be, next to flowers and trees that we had planted, and a house that felt like someone, somewhere cared. I know this isn’t complicated. Not letting it happen is.

[click to continue…]

Present Tense

old Taos scene

Here we are and this is what we do, both feet flat on the ground. You just put one foot in front of the other, her father told her. We just go until we stop, she said.

Another Omen

downed tree in Taos

Yow! I mean, YOW!

They don’t come more obvious than this! (See previous post.) The wind has been unbelievable today, simply horrific, fifty miles per hour at least. I’d just finished posting about “leaving Cheyenne” when I heard (or felt) a very large “thud.” Thank God that’s all I heard. Half of one of our big elm trees is now lying on the ground beside the house, but no broken windows, skylight, or roof. We could so easily have been rendered homeless, too.

Well, son. What does this mean?

Comforting. Clean. Cold.

winter scene in northern Taos County

About 45 miles from Taos, looking west near the Colorado line

I pulled off the highway at a certain spot near the foot of the mountain so we could pee. It’s maybe a hundred yards down this little dirt road to a big sign with all the regulations. Beyond that, the road continues into a wide, shallow valley and then disappears over the edge of the Taos Plateau. In seventeen years I’ve never been any farther down this road than to the sign (which I stood behind while my wife dropped trou beside the car) because I am an idiot.

This was eight thousand feet above sea level. The measure works because the world is mostly water—you might spend your life in the middle of a land mass, but still you know. The last time I stood next to the ocean was a few years ago in Maine. It was impossibly immense and terrible, a living thing that heaved and breathed and thrilled me to the core. Here no tenemos agua but there’s an ocean of air, and the high desert landscape rolls from the mountains to the horizon like a sea.

The wind was gusting over thirty miles per hour. Ragged snow clouds raked the plain below blue sky and sun. The drama and the scale was overwhelming. (It’s almost always like that here if you just get away from town.) The emptiness—in human terms—was comforting, and I didn’t want to leave. This is what I came for, I remembered. A window to the Unnameable.

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