Frozen Musings (Very Local)

front door of an old adobe in the snow

What force of will to melt a frozen brain?

Here we go again. Not Thanksgiving yet, and two snowstorms already. The first one was bigger. Snow, snow, snow. Just means I have to stay home. Maybe I even want to at first, with a wood stove six feet from my chair. Then comes the pressure. It feels so confining inside thick adobe walls with winter settling in for six long months, especially after vowing I’d never do it all again, at least not in this house.

I had a visitation from a lunatic the other day. (I know I’m crazy, but I’ve only been here fifteen years, comprendo?) He drove up in the mud and slush while I was walking back from the mailbox as the sun went down. I was looking at an extra from a Wild West movie: cowboy hat, long hair, and beard. Friendly fellow, though. Voice like a cement truck. Former tenant in the same house as us, lived there ten years before the heroin addict. I wish I were making this up. He was looking for the people who used to live next door because he needed someone to help take care of his two horses, or maybe I got that part wrong. How would they have been of any use? Like leaving a dead van with flat tires parked out front “to show that someone’s there” (a neighbor’s innovation), there was no logic to the tale. It was getting dark, and I was sinking deeper in the mud, standing by the open driver’s window, trying not to stare at the giant silent devil-dog in the back seat. Did I mention he was friendly?

“Say, if I come back here again, would it be all right for me to knock on your front door?”

Oh sure. I waited a few beats, but fine. What else am I going to say, freezing in the dark? Who are you? Just please don’t ask to see the old place and what became of the “improvements” that you made, because it ain’t a-gonna happen.

“What do you do? You don’t work. You’re old.”

Why was I even there? Jesus Christ. The guy was sucking data from me like a vacuum cleaner, not to mention I was standing in the mud, holding important mail for fruitcake offers from Corsicana, and the wind was picking up. I also didn’t want the Ghost of Ancient Hippie Madness running loose around the place again, not after exorcising so damn much. What did I have to do, sacrifice a goat? Dennis Hopper used to live around the corner, down a dirt road where he roared out wasted once in a big sedan and nearly ran over a dog belonging to someone else who doesn’t live here any more. This stuff is everywhere, it’s in the dirt. Fucking pot shards, arrowheads, old bones. Everything is so damned over but it never goes away.

Just then my apparition’s cell phone rang. To my surprise, he picked it up (“Hello, honey!”), oh holy intervention. I waved good-bye and slipped away. As if. Even in this little neighborhood, I feel the weight from way down under. Sometimes I mistake it for an inspiration. Every now and then, it is!

As someone told me recently:

You’re one of the few who arrived and immediately experienced the spiritual imagination of the place and appreciated it in an articulate and instinctive way. What intrigues me is how many people move here and are tone deaf. I can’t figure out why they are here since they might as well live in Colorado: beautiful but soul-less…the chthonic spirits are absent. ‘Course sometimes a man needs relief from the resonating spirits. They can drive you mad.

One of the few is right, and I deserve a medal. I wrote once that it was like riding an electric eel. I’m also driven mad. Terrible beauty is not a joke. There’s nothing light about this place. I honestly do not get why people come here to retire, but then I have the fucking gift. I need expansion and relief. We need humor, vision, and a home.

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  • Bob November 24, 2014, 5:40 PM

    It was in the 60’s here today, in our new digs in Louisiana. Sixty degrees in late November is a novelty. It sounds fun but July and August always show up which will be anything but novel in Louisiana.
    I kind of miss blowing the snow from our drive in Colorado and our forays to El Norte for the art and the piñon smoke if nothing else. Now I spend my spare time fishing oak leaves out of the pool and wondering why I’m doing this when it’s too cold to jump in. While I’m suffering through the humidity (it’s not the heat so much) you’ll likely be cooling your heels under an aspen somewhere. There’s no adobe down here and I haven’t seen one ristra – I think about that kind of stuff – but you can have New Mexico’s food and take that Tex-Mex crap while you’re at it. I’ll take Chris’s Pueblo Green Chili any day.
    We do have our characters down here. Of course there are the Duck Dynasty boys (you can often run across them on the golf course) and those who wannabe, a few gen-u-ine rednecks but not as many as you might think. Mostly they’re like Danny the electrician who stopped me in Home Depot to ask me if I could tell any difference between these two ladders. “Yeah, one’s red and the other one’s green.” He yacked at me for 20 minutes but I got his phone number, the number of the guy he works for, and the number for the local electrical inspector. It pays to make friends down here and don’t ever make an enemy – they’re what you’d call “clannish.” And no matter what they look like or whether you can understand them or not, they’ve all got a cell phone. “Where yat?” “You be right.” Dat boy dug in tighter than an Alabamer tick, he coo-yon.”

    • JHF November 24, 2014, 6:00 PM

      Wow. I lived a long time off and on in Texas. Louisiana, eh? Wow. I mean, just wow. Such a change from Colorado. Must be a story behind that. Family, perhaps?

      I might be very happy here if I could get away from time to time. Taos is a hellish place to be without an angle or a grubstake. There are always larger issues, obviously, or perhaps one big one. The matter of the unlived life in my case, holding myself back. Good luck in Louisiana, anyway, and thanks for commenting.

  • Bob November 24, 2014, 6:49 PM

    Not much of a story. Kids and grand kids still in Colorado and St. Louis, our jobs sent us to Louisiana. Dang, how I envy you!

    • JHF November 24, 2014, 8:38 PM

      I should probably acknowledge what’s enviable. Maybe when I’m less angry at myself.

  • M.J. November 25, 2014, 8:15 AM

    I think everyone that has lived a very interesting busy life has lots of trouble excepting retirement and choice. Now, that I can do anything I want I can’t figure out what that will be. Don’t want to waste one minute sleeping away opportunity. I spend most of my days trying to find a new place to live even though there is nothing wrong with the one I presently own. Just looking for paradise. As far as I can see through your pictures you live near paradise, but you are still looking. It must be a disease we all have because we are use to looking for what comes next to make our lives full of zest.

    • JHF November 25, 2014, 8:55 AM

      Excellent observations!

      I probably still haven’t recovered from the shock of our original move. It was a complete leap of faith. We’d been here a couple of times and then I had a vision that consumed me. We broke all the rules and just did it. Everything else derives from this, in one way or another.

  • M.J. November 25, 2014, 7:47 PM

    I understand. I have always had fantasies over places I’ve lived in the past thinking it was grand. In reality, it wasn’t so grand! I have stopped thinking what if I hadn’t done this anymore for it was a waste of time. However, I have a psychologist friend that used to enrage me by asking, “What’s your goal?” all the time. Sometimes, I just don’t have one! May you have a nice Thanksgiving with your honey, and may we all be thankful for what we do have and where we are.

  • Terri November 26, 2014, 11:09 PM

    “Everything is so damned over but it never goes away.” Holy fuck, that could be my entire memoir/gravestone. You’re a very talented boy, John! Juicy post. Never heard CO above referred to as soul-less. Had to look up chthonic. Great word, learned a bit there. My mother recently died, and for 4 years before that I’d been in a battle with my brother who I discovered had filched her money from her accounts, run up her credit cards and acted as though POA was a license to be a complete abuser. I believe she now knows everything, the truth and it makes me feel fine. Family members drop dead, others split off, others hide, others try to outrun the family history and stay away from ropes and beams. Everything is so damned over but it never goes away. I wish as I got older it really did all go away to be replaced with something new, different, fresher, but nope.

    • JHF November 27, 2014, 12:16 PM

      Hi Terri! I hope I’m talented, because I sure need to be (thank you).

      One thing about Colorado is that it doesn’t feel as old as here, at least not to me. That may actually be true, geologically speaking, but I’m not the one to ask. The chthonic spirits here are real and very strong across southern Colorado, too. The San Luis Valley is especially weird, also a hotbed of UFO activity like here. You don’t hear much about that these days. I guess people have learned to just shut up about things like cattle mutilations! What gets me and my friend who wrote that is that so many people can come here and never feel this energy, yet it’s so central to the nature of the place. Have you seen this post of mine at Medium?

      Sorry about the business with your brother. I know all about that POA stuff, don’t I, geez. “Stay away from ropes and beams…” I love it!

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