My God, it’s like I never saw this path before! How long have I lived here, a dozen years? And my wife for ten? But it’s never resonated as a symbol until now. Remembering the track my grandmother scuffed across the carpet in her thick old lady shoes, walking from the bathroom to her chair, it occurs to me that if I’ve worn that in the dirt at a shaggy-dog rental over Indian bones, it’s probably time to move. It’s certainly time for something!
The path leads around the corner of the kitchen to a cobbled-together platform feeder nailed to a two-by-six I propped up with rocks and roped to the base of an old trellis. At least three times a day, every day, I walk out the front door with a bucket of bird seed and a plastic scoop. When the ground freezes hard, I step out into single-digit mornings in my bathrobe before I’ve had my coffee, even in the snow, to give the birds a chance. They come straight out of nowhere then, emerging in ones and twos and threes from wherever they fluffed their feathers up to make it through the night. No shame here, I note. Just the path, reflecting something older and invisible.
As a warning, when you finally leave this place it will continue to haunt you. There is something about the memory that clings to these old adobes. I left mine nine years ago. It was gradually sinking, and bind weed grew up the inside of the kitchen wall. The glass on the front door broke because the wall was in slow motion. However, I have some great memories and something about that house will never let me go. The soil and the history it held both good and bad soaked up through its sagging floor and left a permanent impression on my soul.
Oh, we’re not out of here yet. This is more about the rut, anyway.
I was very lucky that the landlord lived and worked in Rio Rancho and loved an excuse to come back to Taos. A plumbing or wiring problem was a good excuse. The wiring was OK if you remembered that everything was backwards. He helped his dad build the casita when he was a kid. He is now retired. The whole family of 9 lived in it growing up (one bedroom) and a cousin and then sister also lived in it for awhile. She now lives next door in a nice manufactured home. He kept threatening to take it down and build something better but I don’t think he had the heart. Instead he built a garage behind it that keeps morphing and now has better wiring and plumbing, two bathrooms and two bedrooms plus a carport. I’m a painter and didn’t have any place to paint except the kitchen table and the kitchen was the only cold room in winter (it was a later ad-on). I heard many stories about the characters who had lived there. Not too surprisingly, there were spirits and strange happenings that added to a unique Taos experience for out of town visitors who stayed with me. I was used to this so found it one of the perks. However, I also lost most of my fascination with the unique enchantment of Taos while living there. Oh yeah, I lived there for 14 years.