What an incredible Tuesday. Pronghorns, elk, deer, wild burros, a ninety-year-old 28,000 square-foot villa, and lunch at a picnic table under tall cottonwoods in a sea of dark green grass. There was a thirty degree temperature drop coming back from Cimarron over the mountains into Taos in the rain.
I’d planned this trip for a long time. Besides wanting to visit the mansion Waite Phillips built and gave away, I love the relative purity of the landscape, the peace of wide open spaces, the wildlife, and the sky. Taos without Taos, in a way, only greener. We drove for miles on almost empty two-lane roads in perfect ease. One of them follows the original Santa Fe Trail, over hills and grasslands that show little sign of all that’s passed since teams of oxen pulled the traders’ heavy wagons from St. Louis. The connection always staggers me. This time I heard the creaking of the wagons and the grunting of the beasts. Where the highway turned and dropped down to Rayado Creek, I felt the wagon masters letting go.
We needed this, at any rate.
It’s been rough this year in Taos. We haven’t known if we would even stay. I still don’t, for that matter, but most regrets and guilt are gone. If after eighteen years I count real friends only on the fingers of one hand, that’s mostly down to me. People surface and disappear again so often here, unlike the little college town we came from. But driving out to Cimarron (and Philmont Scout Ranch) was a kind of affirmation. It also made me wonder why I’ve always found so much to criticize, no matter where I am, and then it came to me (again)…
Thank you to New Mexico for being so damn beautiful and vital to my spiritual health that I haven’t thrown it all away for no good reason. Thank you Jesus for the nails.