What World is This

Rio Pueblo gorge

Our little white car is in the shot. (Look hard!) The road along the cliff is closed & blocked by a landslide.

Maybe I’ll wake up and that’s what I’ll think. For everything to be completely fresh, how wonderful, when all the old myths fall away and nothing drowns me in the morning!

A time when I was out here (not this time) I saw a smallish bird I’d never seen before. Some kind of flycatcher, I’d say. Small and predatory in a soft-shimmering gold, as it bobbed atop a sagebrush in the breeze. Again, I’d never seen one like it, yet I sort of gathered what it was. Moisture, you see. There’s a whole different ecosystem down there where the Rio Pueblo flows. Insects, bugs. It must have flown up from the gorge.

The bird stayed put as I walked by. It’s good to know there is a jungle somewhere, I thought. The desert seemed less limiting, and there was space between my fears.

Terrible Beauty

Rio Pueblo gorge

Mesa to the right is Pueblo land. Bighorns, lions, eagles down below.

Behold the Rio Pueblo. Just beyond and around the bend the river joins the Rio Grande in an even bigger gorge (of course). I hiked out here Wednesday evening for the first time ever, which in itself is loony. Within fifty yards of starting this trail, you plunge immediately into one of the most spectacular landscapes I’ve ever seen. It’s simply stupefying, and scary, too, with long stretches just a few long steps from the cliff. Not a place to take a crazy dog or little kids or kick a soccer ball. I can’t believe I’ve never been before.

There’s a house about a mile from here that one could buy. Talk about your chthonic spirits! That would be like letting them use your body (probably keep it running for a long, long time). These things aren’t human and don’t care.

Fire in the West

forest fire smoke as seen from Taos

Heavy smoke from out there, somewhere. (Looking back into the plume.)

I keep thinking she’s in the bedroom asleep, and then I remember I took her to the airport in Albuquerque this morning. She landed in Minneapolis at almost the exact moment I hit the last stretch of bumpy dirt road on the way home. I cried a little on the freeway. All my sins, you see, the ones you think you’ve outgrown but you haven’t. The madness of my mother, the volatility of my dad.

It was the hottest day in years, too, not to mention being the summer solstice. I even ran the air conditioner, something I almost never do. According to the car thermometer, I saw 107°F on I-25 just north of the city. Española was at least 104. Coming out of the canyon south of Taos near the end, it was 97. I stopped to take a picture of the smoke from forty miles away that was blowing across the gorge.

Aging Badly But with Style

yers trooly

It’s all right Maw

Oh, I am a piece of work. God must be keeping me alive to see just how the story ends. You know how when you drop your guard and trust the world, the universe provides exactly what you want, and then you run away? You don’t? Anyway, I caught myself in time, but it was tense. It’s been tense with me for at least a hundred years.

There might be a house near here, more or less. From which one could walk to there, in fact, with a little gumption. Just by using trails, I mean. No roads. And here I was ready to move to someplace green and maybe with an ocean.

Can’t scheme it out no more. It doesn’t work like that, this stacking toothpicks in a gale. No wonder I have been so lost. There are other forces. A surfing analogy might work by sticking to gigantic waves. Sharks and swimmers in the backlit crest, oh my. See me hanging in the air before I’m slammed into the sand.

My wife is off to Minnesota for a week. I will shave and lose ten pounds and vacuum.

Carry on.

Chance of Love

San Antonio Mountain

The grass is full of volcanic rocks exploded into the sky. ( Getcher mountain info here.)

We had lunch in the car at the foot of the volcano and watched a lone female elk trot across the vastness. It felt much more special than seeing an entire herd. I spotted her at a great distance. Obviously an animal of considerable size—elk cows can go five hundred pounds—I couldn’t tell what it was at first and felt a shot of primal strangeness as the image shimmered in the heating air. That in turn reminded me of African nature films. The animal wasn’t proportioned correctly to be a giraffe, but for an instant there, I thought of one.

I handed my wife the binoculars. After a moment she said, “It’s headed in our direction.”

By now we were sure it was an elk. She came closer and closer, stopping every once in a while to look around and sniff the wind, then trotting on some more. Eventually she crossed the road about a hundred and fifty yards ahead of us and vanished out of sight behind a rise. I drove down the rocky trail a ways to see if I could find her, but of course I didn’t. I’ve always wanted to go farther on that road and never have. A great valley lies just beyond another rise. The views must be stupendous.

I’d taken a different route out of town this trip as an experiment. The road was mostly in terrible condition, with sections of broken asphalt and deep potholes. Just driving on it made me angry, and where it smoothed out, there were speed bumps! I knew there would be. My story is that I’d forgotten just how many.

Somewhere there’s a me who has it easy. I wish he’d come and help us find a home. The husk of those who raised me scratches as I dream. I wake up at 3:00 a.m., my head all full of lies. Sometimes now I talk myself straight out of them and fall right back to sleep. Other times I pull on the old dog blanket bathrobe and read online news until the sun is up.

“You wouldn’t be sitting there in that chair here in New Mexico if not for me,” she said this morning without malice. “I was tired of repetition. I was fearless.

Raised her head to sniff the air and trotted on, she did.

“I know, and I was scared to death.”

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