Merry Christmas from Taos

Oh no, those chairs again!

This image below shows what it looked like in the old adobe a number of years ago when my wife was visiting for Christmas from Dubuque. It’s hard to say just when, although I’ll bet she knows. But damn, those chairs! They came from a college back in Maryland. I loved those chairs: you could sit in one for hours. We brought them all the way out here and then got rid of them in some kind of fit.

I think this was a case of my not speaking up, because I thought my wife was doing something healthy by clearing out artifacts from the past, and I was all for that. I also thought we were selling them, but in the end we simply gave them away. Dang. Some things make you feel good for a reason and you should celebrate. These got lost in my confusion. I don’t know which is more poignant, the missing beauty or my self-denying state of mind.

Christmas in Taos

At any rate, this is from my early days in the charming rented hovel on the hillside. No curtains on the windows, Lord! I can hardly imagine that today. The heat loss must have been tremendous. We don’t use that fireplace any more, either. It was like camping in the living room, primitive and smoky. The house is warmer with the chimney plugged, but I do miss an open fire.

This afternoon we had a fine visit with some older friends who left the hologram years ago—no hipster wannabes, but the genuine article. They live in a quirky, hand-made house beside a large pond in the shadow of a mountain, a place of great natural beauty and abundance. (I’ve never seen so many birds.) Make no mistake, though: if you knew them, you would absolutely call this living on the edge. Their situation is often quite precarious, and yet they mostly thrive. They grow a considerable amount of their own food and draw spiritual sustenance from their surroundings. They have a magic dog.

For some reason I mentioned a survivalist website I visited once that spoke of “doomsteads”—what I might call a bail-out house, a self-sufficient hideaway in which to weather the approaching storm, assuming one shows up. I had to explain what “doomstead” meant, of course. My buddy laughed and said, “Jesus, I’ve lived in doomsteads my entire life!”

Taos, ladies and gentlemen. Even if you move here, most of you won’t see it. I just got lucky for an afternoon.

Keep warm, stay safe, sleep well.

Merry Christmas!

  • Montysano December 25, 2011, 11:41 PM

    Excellent post.

    One of the things that originally grabbed me about north Alabama was meeting people who were practicing right-living and succeeding at it, and who are still succeeding at it 30 years later. It’s tremendously inspiring.

    • JHF December 26, 2011, 9:32 AM

      Thank you.

      I have a friend from there (Sand Mountain). But I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about. If I ever get my ass in gear before I die, I’m going to do like those right-living folks you mention, at least as much as I can. It would feel so much better.

      I saw people like that in the Ozarks in ’71, usually old folks who came to town twice a year. But one guy I met, a young fellow, grew three different kinds of wheat behind his little house, enough to make flour for all the bread his family ate. And that was 40 YEARS ago! He was also a magic, mystical Christian—the only kind I trust—with stars in his eyes. A goddamn kid with three children who even made HIS OWN LEATHER SHOES. Wonder what he’s doing now. Hope to God he’s not retired from Walmart, sitting in a fucking bass boat on the weekends.

      We’ve always known how to live. There’s just so much corruption and greed.

  • kenneth webb December 27, 2011, 10:38 AM

    The type of life you’re describing – self-sufficient and non-materialistic amidst beautiful surroundings – is definitely appealing, though for few people is it actually possible. I wouldn’t claim too much in the way of moral rectitude for it, however. It reflicts more an esthetic choice than a moral one – and the esthetic itself is one among many.

    You can work at Walmart and be a good human being. You might even be a better one just because you’re likely doing something unappealing for the sake of a greater good – such as supporting your family or maintaining your independence notwithstanding a bad education and poor skills. Doesn’t make you a saint to live in that way – but nor does living in most other ways, including up close to nature. Choose your path if you can (life sometimes chooses it for you), then take it. Truth to self comes in many different forms but always goes down best with a dose of charity for all the alternatives.

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