I wakened to peacefulness, huddled deep in the blankets in a familiar bed that I haven’t slept in for months. My Nogal House, perched on the slope of the Vera Cruz has become a distant haven, rarely visited and begging for my presence. I went there late last night, arriving after the sunset had faded and the sliver of the new moon lighting my way. I told myself I would stay if the generator would start and it did but with some difficulty, the gas is getting old and it has been idle for too long……….Lights on in the house I then built a fire, the paper and the wood damp from the plentiful rains and the moisture in the attic, the roof is still leaking and a panel of the ceiling sags. The roof has always leaked but it so rarely rains! After the ten years of my residency the need for action has never been more evident and the repair is long overdue.
The fire sputtered and smoked, presenting a rare challenge for one such as I who always has dry wood and kindling. I even had some pitch wood from a pinion tree to better start the pine I stacked on top but it took two tries to get the flames going. I put a pan of water on the stove for my bath and stepped back out in the darkness, unloading the truck full of wood which had brought me there in the first place. Junk wood all, odd pieces of pinion and pine, some olive wood and a few chunks of juniper, all more suited for the big woodstove which warms this house than the small firebox in my other. The sound of the wood as it struck the other pieces was a comfort and the ensuing stack assured me I could come here safely and always be warm. Even if I live an hour away this is still my haven and the knowledge I can retreat here is a true comfort, I will always be at home.
I bathed in front of the stove and read a few pages of a book before I stepped back out to turn off the generator. The stars overhead twinkled brightly as I walked back to the house and found my way to my room with the flashlight; I need more kerosene for my lamps also. Sleep came easily, even with the occasional car speeding past on the highway and the howl of the wind in the eves, it is always windy there. Although I have become accustomed to the comforts of my current dwelling the contrast is clear, the realm which surrounds the shack on the mountainside is in great contrast to the other. Both are surrounded by wilderness but somehow the Nogal House is further removed, I can see lights but the neighbors are more distant. There is also the memory of happier times which draws me back in, the hours of writing, the creation of my art, the garden and the wood, simplicity at its best. Even the solitude is a comfort, there are so few distractions and the temptation was to close the gate and stay, but I could not. Morning came quickly and with it the necessity of work, an hours drive away.
The contrast between the two realms is a clear as it has ever been. I sit at my work desk, hoping not to be discovered at some personal effort but beyond caring either. The sense of futility I have come to have in my workplace has never been so clear and I have become uncaring. I would be blessed if they would fire me because I cannot bring myself to quit, I am paid far too much for such foolishness, not now, not yet. I reflect on the peacefulness which greeted me at dawn, the soft pink clouds, the quiet whoosh of ravens’ wings, their familiar call as they flew to their daytime travels, heading east toward the rising sun. I had to leave before the first light touched the Carrizo but recalled the thrill instead. I drove into the dawn and marveled at the plumes of moisture which rose from every canyon and shook off the chill of the dawn, winter is looming closer and it feels like fall, one more summer has passed. The traffic was sparse until I hit the main highway to Ruidoso and from there it was a mini rush hour, making the thought of returning to my haven a little less appealing, it is part of why I don’t. Even if I take another route it is still an hours drive and it just isn’t practical. Still yet it is almost worth it, there is something there I so need and the reminder is clear. I need to come home, if only on occasion, to replenish my spirit and focus on my goals, the path is so much clearer from that vantage point.
I would that my life was as it was before, when things were more simple and my days were full of grace. There was never enough money it seems but I always survived and between my ventures to the Plains and my ranch work I always made it work. Those jobs are behind me now and I am gainfully employed but the emptiness is maddening, a means to an end but the end will come first, it simply must. Will I return to Nogal? Maybe not, necessity rules I go somewhere else but it is there just in case. For the moment it is the contrast between the two realms which is most important because it serves as a reminder of everything which has the most value, and which is more lasting. Money may be important but serenity is more meaningful and for me a far greater necessity, it has always been that way. It is the reason I have always returned to Nogal, it waits for me now.