Morning Tornado Dream

old Taos scene

Morning view from our front door

A large, two-story farmhouse close to the road like our old home in Maryland. Flat terrain, hedgerows and cornfields. I’m in my bathrobe looking out the window: across the highway, a tornado funnel just reaching the ground and coming my way! Very large, swirling, leaves and dirt already flying as it comes. There are other people in the house and outside, I don’t know who. “Tornado! Tornado!” I yell as loud as I can, running down the stairs, through the front door, and out into the yard. There are cars stopped in the road, waiting for the twister to pass. I don’t think it’s going to hit the house directly, but this is frightening. I’m barefoot and can’t escape any farther into the vacant field next door because of the briars and brambles, but I might not be far enough away. As I consider my options, the thing gets really close—and then I wake up. How’s it end, though? Aargh.

The symbolism here relates to fear. To understand, you need to read the dream chapter in Buffalo Lights. Written shortly after we moved here back in ’99, it also features tornados moving across the fields by our old house, though not so close. There’s another dream of actual demons, physical creatures I engage with and disperse. One of the Amazon reviewers smelled the terror in me I had hidden from myself. For all its authenticity, the book is also full of fear on several levels, something I grasped only recently.

A while ago I looked up a house I’d had my eye on, an old restored adobe that was nice except “down in a hole,” as I observed, in a little valley with no views outside the yard. We’d driven by and I’d rejected it but never let it go. Why? Because it was affordable and most things aren’t. Checking back, I saw the sale was pending and felt a stab of guilt. In that light, the listing photos made it look as if I’d been too quick. The interior was clean and shiny, with a requisite large window by the kitchen sink and everything you’d want except no central heat. These old adobes all have propane heaters in the wall and wood stoves in wrong places. It’s always cold unless you hang around the fire, but you get that frontier edge and feel superior to rich retirees. Probably I’d like to be one, though, and there’s the rub.

I don’t know why I dreamed about a huge tornado. We went hiking later in the afternoon and it was glorious, but I wondered if someone had died or just been saved and I would never know.

Callie and the Skunk

ca and skunk

No I ain’t gonna chase it away

Far too psycho to write today, but here’s the cat looking at a skunk eating all the birdseed. Enjoy!

Up for Air

Rio Pueblo gorge

Rio Pueblo just below. Cliffs across the way are Pueblo land.

Fortunately I’ve learned (?) that I don’t have to tell everyone everything, but we’re dealing with meat and bone here. A couple of weeks ago, there was a horrendous rolling crash in the kitchen. I immediately said, “Something terrible has happened,” and got up from my chair in the next room to look. It had. One of the cabinets screwed into the wall near the sink had fallen down, spontaneously, all on its own, spilling virtually all of its contents onto the hard concrete floor. I didn’t take a picture, but maybe I should have: virtually all of our everyday dishes, bowls, glasses, plates, and more had shattered! I’ve never seen so much broken glass and ceramic wreckage. It was apocalyptic.

The next day I went to the hardware store and bought larger masonry screws. The cabinet had been mounted on the concrete stucco that covers what I grew up calling a cinder block wall. After getting the thing rehung and usable, I realized the stucco itself would be the next thing to go. We’re okay for now, but only sort of. The concrete is slowly pulling away from the wall because an apparently unfixable water leak is dissolving the bond. (That same leak had softened the fiberboard backing on the cabinet where the screws gave way.) We have so few dishes now, it’s ridiculous. I don’t want to buy new plates before we move, because they’d only have to go into that same cabinet and be next in line for sacrifice. The gods aren’t going to fool around the next time, either.

I do not understand what our housing dilemma has been about all this time. I honestly don’t, and it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters except right now, the almighty present, where I’m trying to focus and let the past die. Today my wife and I sat down together to look at all the real estate listings in Taos County on I set the price filter for $100,000 more than we could pay (so we’d have something to see), and even at the high end, there wasn’t a single property we were interested in. That’s how it’s gone for the last four years. I check the listings at least twice a day, we drive by anything we sort of like, and almost nothing feels like “home.” I thought our old house in Maryland was pretty ordinary when I first saw it, but the location near the bay was a huge attraction, and I loved the fields and tall green woods on its 2.57 acres. The house was secondary to me, in other words. It really was. All it would take here is that 90 mile view across the Rio Grande, plus surrender. I’m ready to surrender. I simply haven’t found where to lay down my rifle and raise the new flag.

Not a day goes by, however, without one or the other of us saying something like, “The air feels so good!” Or “Jesus, look at those clouds!” Or “I’m so grateful that it stays so cool inside this old adobe!” And at the end of our long, frank talk today, mostly me ranting about cheap housing where neither of us wants to live or go back to, she said:

“I really like it in the mountains of New Mexico…”

Well there you go, jackass.

Live harder.

Break rocks.

Die close to the sky.

Sunday at 7,500 Feet

Mountains north of Taos in fall color

Changing scrub oak thickets light up burned over mountain

For the last nineteen years, I’ve lived within 30 miles of scenes like this. Could have been doing something else, I guess, but hey. To me this kind of space and clarity comes close to peak existence. It ruins you for ever moving to a city, though. We ate our sandwiches at a pristine picnic table looking out at a 90-mile view and there was no one else around. Yes, I say that a lot. But I mean no one. Not another person or car. There wasn’t even a single fly. Air temperature around 75°F, very dry, no wind. Silence. It’s just completely stupefying. I never want to leave. It’s like the landscape of my soul. You want to watch people who say things like that, of course. They end up sucked into the void like moths in a tornado.

My wife is suntanned now and probably doesn’t know it. I see it in her, though, a touch of golden color on her face and arms. But the lady ain’t no moth. Followed me like birds migrating, joy and purpose all the way.

Burning Juan

Burning Juan post image

There’s too much going on and moving much too fast. I’ve written this post at least six times. Each version was completely different and obsolete by dawn.


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