Jungle Ducks of North Pilar

ducks on the Rio Grande

At Orilla Verde north of Pilar in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

Another dispatch from the terrible high desert! Behold the poor female mallards, forced to feed and find shelter on the banks of the Rio Grande. The water was running high and clear on Sunday afternoon. So much water going south, where everybody steals it. The ducks kept to the slow water unless they wanted to split without bothering to fly. In that case all they had to do was paddle out into the current and be whisked away.

That same day I received an email message from a reader commenting on this November 5th post. I don’t think he’ll mind my quoting it here:

“The way I put it at the time was, ‘It feels like I’ve come home.'”

I know the feeling.

In 1992, after visiting NM from NY, I bought a ketchup-and-mustard NM license plate key fob with the word “HOME” engraved on it. Four years later, we moved here. It’s been a mixed bag, but my initial feeling was accurate. It’s home.

I’ve stopped by your blog many times over the years, and I’ve always enjoyed your writing, more often than not, empathizing with your take on this unique place. Keep up the good work.

Regular readers know that “home” has been a preoccupation of mine since we landed here fourteen years ago. The worst thing on arriving was discovering how much less we could buy with our money here than back in Maryland at the time. That’s probably still true. At any rate, it was a shock, and yes, I was unprepared and under-educated, made every kind of “wrong” decision, and drove myself mad for years. I should have been a duck, that’s all. But fortunately, that’s all over now.

That reader may know more about me than I do. He paddled out into the current and got whisked six miles from the mailbox up into the woods!

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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  

  • Rita November 11, 2013, 9:49 AM

    It’s interesting that I once thought of moving to your area, but after following your life there, I am satisfied just to hear about it from you and not join the throngs of new arrivals searching for affordable housing. I would much rather you find it. It would be nice to go see what you are seeing for a little while, though. I do love that kind of wildness.

    • JHF November 11, 2013, 10:05 AM

      It isn’t cheap, but neither is Paris. There’s a reason for these things. Before we moved, I found plenty of less expensive housing opportunities in the Taos News, which we’d subscribed to. I never dreamed those would be so awful, though, or that people would be legally allowed to sell them… “Throngs” are not in evidence, however, so I know we’ll do fine now.

      On housing itself: a single person could do well here. There are lots of smaller places many can afford, places I would jump on if I were young and all alone and needed solitude. For the two of us plus two pianos and a need for spaces for creative work, there’s a higher bar to cross. I also know someone who’s paid $350/mo rent for the same little adobe house for years, so it all depends, then, don’t it? As should be evident by now, “place” has never been the problem, just my state of mind.

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