Nogal PorchJune 22, 2017

Nogal House

Vera Cruz, NM




Those who don’t know me might laugh when I say I need to retreat. I am back in Nogal at my simple perch on the mountainside, the sweep of the valley pocked with but two houses for next many miles. They would ask how much further away I wish to get, and what else I am willing to live without. There is only the generator here for electricity and the windmill has failed so I carry water. I do have propane, though I looked longingly at the hearth this morning and I want to build a fire.


Still yet! I want to be where there are no houses and I could build a fire and not worry about smoke. Of course the wood here is dry and the fire is so small that even when there is a burn ban I can still heat water. The hearth is secure and the stove pipe has a 90 degree bend so there are no sparks, and the fire is quick and hot as I burn walnut there. That is not the concern though. If Fort Sumner has a 50 mile buffer against the crush of humanity and even here I feel safe, I want the wilderness. I need to forget for a moment that there is anything else except the trill of the wild bird and the sun and the sky. I want to kneel on the earth with no witness but God himself and thank the universe for this life. I need the reverence of such moments……….in utter solitude.


I know now why I love the wild places so much better. I can feel the freedom of the same and even here my step is a little longer and my muscles more taut. I want to restore all of that, and never again release it. If I am still bound by some measure of necessity to work and live as I have, I am also freer to retreat. Even as I mingle with those of my stocking trade and teach classes for the same I am seeking the counterbalance against it. Not in a negative way, but rather one which offers me both aspects of a life well lived. I can always return for a day or three, so long as I can leave for the same.


The drain leaks in the kitchen sink so I wash up outside, though I ought to fix it. I stood in the morning breeze as I brushed my teeth and listened to the sounds of the dawn. I splashed water on my face from the tin bowl and wet my hair carelessly. I let the rivulets drip down my neck before I dried my face and laughed at the pleasure of it. I looked out across the mountains and breathed in the stillness, yearning for more of the same. I felt the wildness start to course through my veins and wished I could walk up the hillside. I will return here soon enough and wander deep into the hills, it is what I love about this place. If I am careful to avoid the plowed roads and instead follow the arroyos and the rougher slopes, I see no signs of modern man. I could walk for days if I chose, and never cross a road. And then from there, I could retreat.


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