Taos Blue

Clouds over the Rio Grande Gorge at Taos Valley Overlook

Taos Valley Overlook strikes again! And again, and again…

I‘ll never get over New Mexico skies. If we ever move away, I’ll miss them terribly. It’s possible there are others—this is one heaving big planet—but in my perversity, I’ve not allowed myself to wander more.

Taos is a strange place, though. A very strange place. The sky and wonders of Nature are one thing, the rest another. It’s not a “nice” place, either. Anyone who tells you that is mad. I’ve often commented on this. (Just ask D.H. Lawrence.) It’s probably easier to be Hispanic or Native in the terrible high desert; they have community and culture going back four centuries and unknown millennia respectively. Awfully old, for being in the supposed New World. The rocks at the bottom of the gorge predate the continents. Extinct volcanoes litter the vastness. The chthonic energy is strong. Light and shadow are both there in plain sight. The spirit of nature and the spirit of evil stand tied back to back.

“Just look at that sky!”

And in the fourteen years I’ve been here, there was a triple murder at a gas station a mile away, two men kicked a kid off the gorge bridge, someone’s German shepherds killed and ate the lady of the house, an enraged citizen murdered a man by pickup truck in front of a local bar, and others have jumped, fallen, frozen to death, or been executed unseen in lonely places nearby. All this, and we haven’t even gotten to real estate, kickbacks, nepotism, rich idiots, fake hippies, gluten police, green Subarus, marketers, gamblers, and charlatans of every stripe. I’m sure I’ve forgotten all manner of gruesome, horrible things. Someone once even stole the left taillight from my ’87 Ford F-150, possibly for comic relief. The contradictions are stark, at any rate, whether you believe the metaphysics or not!

Doubtless the same kinds of things go on in your home town. Iowa, which I have some familiarity with, is possibly a good example. Things happen in quiet farmhouses and on back streets of the city that no one talks about. People are also mostly white and prosperous and have good teeth, supposedly. But hang out at a highway rest area or your local mini-mart and stay open to the vibes. It’s all there, though some places are darker than others.

So Taos doesn’t bother me in that way. I came for the Nature in any case, and that is spectacular. (Read this from someone who gets it, though she doesn’t live here.)

“Just look at that sky!”

All right, I will. Deep blue and clean and impossibly tall, over lizards and gorges and condos and all.

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John Hamilton Farr lives at 7,000 feet in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, U.S.A. As New York Times best-selling author James C. Moore tells it, John is “a man attuned to the world who sees it differently than you and I and writes about it with a language and a vision of life that is impossible to ignore.” This JHFARR.COM site is the master writing archive. To email John, please see CONTACT INFO on About page. For a complete list of all John’s writing, photography, NFTs, and social media links, please visit JHFARR.ART  

  • Pam in Ranchos September 22, 2013, 2:45 PM

    I, too, am fascinated with the endless “TSM”s, Taos sky moments.
    Have been here (not as long as you) six years, and will never tire of the variety of cloud and sky combinations. LOVE your above photo! My husband responded by saying to me “YOU need to get a better camera.”
    I’ll leave the photos to “experts” and just savor the experience.

    • JHF September 22, 2013, 3:07 PM

      Camera, composition (rule of thirds), and Photoshop for tweaking. But thank you very much. 🙂

  • Marti Fenton September 22, 2013, 3:08 PM

    A number of years ago I read a book titled, “The Beautiful and the Dangerous.” I always thought that was a good description of Taos. Taos is
    not pretty beautiful though. It is a bit raw with the beauty of a dangerous rapid, or the next bend in an unexplored cave. During my first year here I also discovered that karma is delivered instantly. You have a better grasp of the real nature of the place than many natives.

    • JHF September 22, 2013, 3:18 PM

      Why, thank you. And yes, karma is delivered instantly. That’s why anyone who “retires” here is either asking for more trouble than they have any idea of, or doing exactly the right thing, depending on the state of their development.

  • KarenK in Portland September 23, 2013, 11:49 AM

    I suppose you are familiar with Willa Cather’s description of New Mexico skies in “Death Comes for the Archbishop.” I think she sums it up well — almost as well as you do:
    “The sky was as full of motion and change as the desert beneath it was monotonous and still, — and there was so much sky, more than at sea, more than anywhere else in the world. The plain was there, under one’s feet, but what one saw when one looked about was that brilliant blue world of stinging air and moving cloud. Even the mountains were mere ant-hills under it. Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but here the earth was the floor of the sky. The landscape one longed for when one was away, the thing all about one, the world one actually lived in, was the sky, the sky!”

    • JHF September 23, 2013, 5:35 PM

      ALMOST as well as I do? 🙂 “…here the earth was the floor of the sky.” No kidding. And yes, I know the book. We took turns reading it out loud to each other before we moved.

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