A New Dwelling Place

December 17, 2017

Overlooking the San Mateo Mountains

Williamsburg, New Mexico


A New Dwelling Place


A year ago I was looking for a house in Fort Sumner and preparing to make my final move from Nogal to there. I had already quit Mescalero, traveled to California and back and was preparing to begin my new job. My serenity, though fragile, had been restored and optimism ran high. There was a place on the Clovis Highway I was hoping to inhabit, and even now the thought still appeals to me. It was a solitary place by the tracks and the old man who had lived there, though long past, had left a warm greeting at ready for each visitor and passerby. I had felt his presence when I stopped there and his son had affirmed that he had been friendly with everyone who chose to stop, and would stand by their door when they thought to leave. He had done the same with me, if only in spirit, and I had carried the warmth in my heart when I drove away. Sadly, I never got to live there, but the memory prevails.


Today I peruse my life from a new angle, perched on the hillside in Williamsburg overlooking the San Mateo Mountains which tower above my favorite retreat. They shadow the Monticello Box and create a barrier between here and the stretch of the Jornado Del Muerto (The Journey of the Dead) and the sweep of the San Augustin Plains as it rolls to the north towards Datil and Magdalena. I am therefore in close proximity to so much of what I love and the rich memories of one of my most favored adventures in my life. To observe this from the warm shelter of my camper, which has now seemingly become my residence until further notice, is some measure of accomplishment. If the past year has seen so much transition, I have also made good use of it, in spite of a seeming lack of effort to do so. In my inaction I have still moved forward and in allowing things to take their own course perhaps arrived at another good resting place. All this with no real certainty that I will even be employed!


Maybe I will stay anyway, even if I don’t get the job? If there is some reason to be comfortable with the assumption I will be hired, I have no way to know that I will. If they greeted me warmly a year and a half ago I also let them down. They have no reason to forget that and if I have returned with some promise to stay they could easily decide otherwise. If so I will be disappointed, especially since I have already secured a comfortable roost with some measure of comfort, electricity and a lovely view to the northeast. I have even made some friends and found some social outlets that have otherwise been lacking. If my previous visits left this place somewhat deficit of these qualities it has improved over time and in equal measures to my expectations. I am now well prepared to take up residence if they are willing to support that!


There is a green glow to the desert this morning. We have been blessed with rain since yesterday and even now the storm lingers overhead and fills the sky with moisture laden clouds. After months of drought it brings a true blessing, and perhaps snow to the higher peaks. I would guess there is the same in Nogal, one hundred and fifty miles to the north east from here. Instead I look at the rain soaked valley, facing the brush filled banks of the Rio Grande which is a slow and shallow river for the moment. The water is held and withdrawn up stream to feed the farms and the masses who depend on it and then much of it is captured in Elephant Butte Lake, just north of where I sit. The green glow is from the greasewood and other brushy plants which manage to survive in the arid sandy soils. Closer to the river are the salt cedars and cottonwoods who have found purchase in the shallow groundwater of the valley. All told it is a lovely view in the otherwise arid terrain. Even now my stove is warmed by the dead roots I have pulled from the desert, remains of the older greasewood which died in some long ago drought or cold snap. The best of both worlds is readily available here.


As I was just one year past, and nearing the end of this one, I have found some fragile sense of serenity. I have no guaranties, but neither are they required. I might be more concerned but for the moment I am secure in my small shelter, protected from the weather, a pile of wood in the box and electricity connected to my bus. I have some slight assurance of employment and will venture no further until I know otherwise. Even then I can as easily seek alternatives from here as I could from anywhere else. I have to say I am reasonably confident that I will find a reason to stay as my heart feels things are good. If I have then again there is another full circle in my life, returning now to a treasured retreat, secure in my comforts and the gateway to the wilderness in eyesight from my window. There is so little else to ask for.


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