Paradise Calling

old adobe scene in Taos

Vanished neighbors’ hovel from our kitchen window

Another pack rat in the trap beneath the sink! That’s three in a week without changing the peanut butter bait: just toss the carcass outside for the magpies and coyotes, reset the trap, and put it back right where it was. Economical and efficient.

Moving right along, I heard a gopher two nights ago on the other side of the wall—that would be the tiny bathroom in the dead landlord’s apartment—while I was taking a bath in ours. (Sounds like a bit of gravel dribbled in a box.) The gophers burrowed into the closet-sized space last year. What I think they do is excavate some more, push the dirt ahead of them into the room, and exit through a tiny open window that I thought I’d closed when I first discovered them. A gopher conveyor belt, if you will. At the time, the debris was piled up almost to the level of the toilet seat—not kidding here—and spilled out into the studio apartment when I opened the bathroom door. It was one of those things you’ll never see again. “My God, where did all that dirt come from?”

That was then, but I knew what I’d heard. I walked around the outside of our building to check the window, hoping against hope that I was paranoid, and found that it was open once again. The little bastards. The only way to latch it was from the inside, where I wasn’t going to go without a magic amulet or gun. Instead, I grabbed a dispenser of Elmer’s Professional Carpenter’s Wood Glue, squeezed the whole thing out into the window frame, jabbed a screwdriver into the window to pull it almost all the way closed, and glued the motherfucker shut. From outside the house, no less. What will happen now, see, is that any gopher entering the bathroom via the secret tunnel won’t be able to leave without running into another gopher headed in the other direction with its own new pile of dirt. I guess they either work that out or one of them gets stuck and dies. How many times has this occurred, I wonder, and do you see what I just wrote? Oh my. This place, hoo boy. The inner and the outer.

I have a cyber-buddy who rails at me when I go on like this because we haven’t moved and he’s allowed. But we’re out of here already in our hearts and minds. I’ve even started “packing”—the dusty boxes by my desk attest at least to good intention—and begun to say goodbye. I appreciate the mountains and the privacy but don’t identify as much with the “predicament.” Instead, I focus on the view, clean floors, and central heat of wherever we’ll be living next with all our things, financed by the books I know I’ll write. Getting to this point has been “the reason,” obviously.

Perhaps you’ve noticed I’ve been quiet. That’s because I really don’t want to write about my life the same way any more. Maybe not at all! Feeling good now, in the moment, is a real thing one can do, and here we are.

Moving Right Along


Acequia at the bottom of the hill

Things are not what they pretend to be in dreams, but lately mine have been intense. Last night they were in full color and had smells. I met a ten year old boy in a little boy T-shirt with horizontal stripes who showed me a place I thought I recognized. It was the interior of a dwelling or an office, cramped, a little dark, seasoned like the dusty dead socks presence of an old adobe. (This might have been in a museum.) There were two other individuals, tall young men dressed like Mormons, looking after things, who saw us enter but ignored us. I told the boy I’d spent many years there in the past.

Saturday at 3:02 P.M.

Rio Grande view

Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

This spot is only about half a mile down the trail. Of course you’ve seen this view before. It’s always different, though, and alters my consciousness every time. The air on Saturday was so clean and cool (about 16°C/60°F), it burned my throat. We went three miles, and that was plenty—funny how it sometimes is and sometimes isn’t. But we were pumped for hours afterwards. Just knowing that you did the thing can make you come alive and whoop.

Barking and Moaning

downed tree in Taos

This giant dead aspen fell down recently. I’ll burn up what I can.

What in the name of all that’s holy is that? The sound outside our bedroom window woke me up at 4:00 a.m. on Thursday night, the same loud bark-bark-moan, half a dozen times. An animal? A lunatic? An entity spawned from bloody karma on this ancient hill where arrowheads and spears pierced human flesh? The “barks” were gruff and hoarse, as if from someone who thought he were a dog, the moan that followed like an uninflected bellow:

“[bark-bark] Aaaaaaaghhh!”

“[bark-bark] Aaaaaaaghhh!”

I slipped quickly out of bed and grabbed my flashlight, careful not to turn it on unless I saw some movement in the waning moonlight, lest whatever or whoever it was become aroused and end up pounding on the door or worse. But there was nothing to be seen. Last night it happened again, two hours after midnight. More than anything else, I thought it sounded human, maybe twenty feet away, but I saw nothing in the gloom.

A bear? A barking cow?

Every word of this is true. I wonder if we have a ghost.

Where They Live

Bighorns by the side of the road

Again, not a telephoto shot but simply through the open car window with an iPhone 6s Plus

This is the context shot for the herd of bighorn sheep referred to in the previous post. I don’t know how high the top of that cliff is in the background, but 800-900 feet might cover it. Too high to jump off and play tricks, anyway. (Lord have mercy!) The Rio Grande itself flows right to left in this view, just beyond the light reddish brown vegetation behind the bighorns.

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