Nature Shock

Looking west from Llano Quemado

The neighborhood today

I couldn’t possibly make the left turn with a big red wrecker truck hanging on my bumper at sixy miles an hour, so I drove another half mile to where I had a turn lane, circled right back to the highway—empty now, thank God—and cruised toward town until I found the place again. There was nothing but a stop sign at the entrance to a gravel road. We turned and found to my surprise that we still had quite a ways to go. The mostly straight road ran steeply up the side of the mountain. There weren’t any houses anywhere until we’d gone about a mile and a half, and then we found a few. The one we’d driven up to see was where they said it was. What the listing info didn’t show was the view that kicked me like an atom bomb.

By that point we were high up in the trees, but to the north and west a panorama opened up to drive me crazy. Imagine a view roughly like what you see above except you’re looking down instead of gazing outward, and of course those houses aren’t there, either. There’s a thing that happens here when you go high enough in these mountains. Maybe it’s the cosmic rays. But something changes above eight, nine thousand feet. It’s like being in a temple. An impossibly huge and limitless holy space where you instinctively lower your voice. The air is clean and cold. I mean it’s really clean. Most people never get to breathe this air. It alters consciousness on the spot.

I guarantee you there are plenty of people right here in Taos who have never felt what I describe. Number one, you have to go there—it doesn’t come to you and will be hard to reach—and number two, you have to be receptive. Not everybody is. It’s not that such-and-such is “pretty.” It’s not. It’s goddamn scary. It’s more than you can stand and yet you can’t resist. It’s wild and beautiful and terrible because nothing human matters. It’s a completely different state of being, like dissolving in the juice of God. You simply never want to leave. That’s important, obviously. How else could you stay? No doubt I’d end up married to the sky, but I’d still risk it.

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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  

  • Judy Copek October 10, 2016, 8:07 AM

    Spectacular view: love at first sight. Did you look at the house?

    • JHF October 10, 2016, 9:01 AM

      From the road. 🙂 Go back to the earlier post that mentions another hundred grand! The point here is reaffirmation of what’s important. (That place has been for sale for a year and a half, BTW.) Unless you’ve spent a lot of time in northern New Mexico, it’s probably hard to imagine how “removed” from normal life living there would be. Similar to consciously dedicating your life to God.

  • Joe October 10, 2016, 9:32 AM

    That’s beautiful but I’m guessing it has its drawbacks. When I was young I spent considerable time in the high country of Colorado. It’s beautiful there too but in winter I got tired of the snow being waist-deep to a Harlem Globetrotter.

    • JHF October 10, 2016, 1:11 PM

      That would be the case in this location. 🙂 The road is maintained, however, whether by the county (unlikely) or an HOA. A killer drawback could be Internet access. Otherwise, it’s really not far from town. Interesting!

  • vicky Zillioux October 10, 2016, 9:33 AM

    dont be afraid to make low bids. Especially when the house is on the market a long time. Bid what you can afford even if its way less than listing. You will be surprised that it will at least start a negotiation. Take it from us, it works. Especially if it has been on the market a long time. I always wonder why people don’t just put a bid out there. They let the listing price scare them off. Go for it when you see something you like!

    • JHF October 10, 2016, 1:19 PM

      I think that’s very good advice. We already missed out on a fabulous foreclosure (a nice one), possibly because we didn’t try that route. Long story there. Our buyer’s agent also thought lowballing was an exercise in futility in that case and might have been correct. Foreclosures are complicated, though. :-/

      In the case of the house we drove by, it would take a 25% haircut to get us into it. And then we’d have to buy two 4WDs! But your point is well taken. I’ve been embarrassed to lowball too much and didn’t realize it. As my wife just told me, “You’re afraid of coming across as someone who doesn’t have much money!” She’s right. From here on out, I’m raising the “maximum price” in my searching. I think this is the only way something good is going to happen.



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