It Happened Again

dusty Pontiac Vibe in Llano Quemado

Sunlight and mountains and blue sky and dust

The thing jumped down from coincidence and jerked a rope around my neck: “Uukkghhh…” I think I said, or something like it. Remembering the lovely green life o’ me pasts (leaving out poison ivy, multiflora, deer flies, and sweat), I cursed the day I ever set out for the moon! An old tale with me, I’d do it wherever I was. But that’s not what happened again.

I drove out to Taos Valley Overlook for another hike. The air was clean and cold with a good stiff breeze under a strong sun. I walked three-and-a-half miles as fast as I ever have, breathing great gouts of that incredible stuff: the AIR! It alters your consciousness, I swear it does, and carries mysterious energy. By the time I got back to the parking lot, I was sweaty and wrung out but still shooting sparks. On the way back to town, I saw Taos in the sun at the base of the mountains and thought, well damn, it is beautiful. (Now, how did they do that?) And then I realized it wasn’t Taos per se but the setting, of course: the unfathomable space, the valley, the mountains, blah blah. That which goes BOOM in you somewhere and changes your settings. In the distance, Taos itself looked like someone nuked a great big ole shantytown, and all the shacks and lean-tos and dead cars and wealthy old white people rained down from the mushroom cloud as it spread, all of a tumble with rusty sheet metal, realtors, chunks of adobe, 10,000 horses and too many dogs.

Other than that, though, I liked it.

As I drove into Llano Quemado through a blue-and-tan world with that air and the sun burning down, I went into a hungry New Mexico zone where you see more than what’s at your feet… The rubble of Taos was there but not there, blending into the face of the Earth, and I rolled down the window some more. I was doing exactly what I’d set out to do, and the worst thing would be it could end.

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  • Ken Webb February 19, 2013, 6:00 PM

    Do you ever ask yourself a question something like the following: “If I look at Taos and my fellow Taosenios and see all this human wreckage and dreck obscuring and disfiguring the landscape, could there be anyone looking at me and my life and seeing pretty much what I see in these folks?”

    Once one starts down the path of privileging everything natural against everything human one is eventually left with no one at all – perhaps not even oneself if one follows this logic to its conclusion – to witness these beauties. No human deserves to see them, maybe no human even deserves to draw breath in their presence.

    I’m as taken by the beautiful in the natural world as the next man (well, maybe not if the next man happens to be JHF), but I’m somewhat more interested in the lives of these people living in their shacks and shanties, even the rich folks in their air-conditioned cocoons. Why must we choose between human beings – with all their infintely varied ways of living their precarious and limited lives – and the mighty, changeless and implacable forces of nature surrounding those lives?

    • JHF February 19, 2013, 8:21 PM

      No. 🙂

  • Mike Walsh February 19, 2013, 9:01 PM

    I ain’t “privileged”. I didn’t work hard nor try hard. I don’t mind that some people did. Though when I think about it. I am privileged to have had the opportunity of being “privileged”. I blew it. Just sayin.

    • Ken Webb February 20, 2013, 6:23 AM

      Mike, you sound like a guy with a pretty clear-eyed view of yourself. That’s worth a tip of the hat in my book. Maybe you didn’t blow it as bad as you say.

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