February 8, 2020
Indian Divide, New Mexico
The Absence of Things
Sometimes it is the absence of things which resonate the most in our lives. Today is one such day. The wind and the deeper chill of winter are absent, having receded as rapidly as they arrived. The air is warm and still, and the cloudless sky is a brilliant shade of blue. The morning sun glimmers brightly as it rises over the hill and its warmth, unfiltered, already reaches me through the east window. It as if she knows that I am writing of her and has altered her angle for my benefit as this is the first morning that her light has touched me so. I am grateful for the blessing.
In this moment of gratitude I have taken note of the absence of other things. It is this stillness in my spirit which also resonates. There is no distraction, no pressure, no looming crisis in my life. Having spent so many years of my life struggling with such things, they are absent. Granted, I am alone, but in lieu of my last relationship that is a comfort also. If I did my best to save his life, he failed to do the same. If his company was worth it for a time, neither do I miss the struggle. He left a constant wave of crisis in his wake, and in trying to intervene for him I allowed it into my own. In the absence of that I discovered a strength in myself I had never fully acknowledged. Through that lesson I learned to fulfill my own needs, and I am content to be alone. In fact, the absence of another person in my life has taught me the means to appreciate the simple things. I might have missed this poignant moment had there been someone else here to fill it.
The utter stillness of the morning after three days of wind is stunning. It is also a reminder of what is to come, and springtime here is lovely but the wind is incessant. I am not going to worry about that for now, but rather pray for more snow. For a moment the dusts of drought are absent, and the ground is soft and wet. It is as if the earth itself resonates with the blessing of the latest snow, having been restored for a moment by the ample moisture. There are even signs of green reaching for the sun with every living thing restored by the melting snow and the warming light. It is just now February but spring is aching to make her entrance. With another storm on the way she will have to wait but even the hint of her presence is worthy of mention.
I see now what I have been missing, though I brought it with me all along. It is in the absence of any pressing need or desire that I have restored my serenity. Of course I am blessed to have a warm dry shelter to reside in, even if it is but a mean shack that I have no ownership of. I have no need for anything else at the moment and I am so grateful to be here. To be perched on this mountainside on a day such as this with no sound but the ping of the woodstove beside me is priceless. I am even aching to go outside to embrace the new day and the hillside is just across the fence. I will never be wealthy for so long as I remain here but I have riches beyond measure. In the absence of any desire for material gain I have again restored my serenity.
I have but one goal for the moment and it is a simple one. If I can but further the means to perpetuate my present existence I will be satisfied. I have never really aspired to much more than that, but I have left here so many times in search of the monetary resources to return. I made myself quite miserable in the process. Not that there haven’t been adventures, there were many of them, but they all came at a cost. I have returned once again, and finally with the devotion required to stay. There will be challenges, as there always are, but in comparison to so many of the previous ones, they will be surmountable. It is in the absence of my willingness to alter my present state of grace that I have found the greatest comfort I have had in years. The serenity I have always desired has always been here and waited patiently for my return. In the absence of any greater reward, poverty is such a good option. The time to enjoy my life is worth more than any riches I might ever aspire towards. I will thrive in their absence.
February 6, 2020
Indian Divide, New Mexico
A Day Well Done
It is just now 9:00 am and it is already a day well done. I woke early with the first light just touching the peaks of the Vera Cruz. I stepped outside into the chill dawn and said thanks for the chance to witness that. Some things never wear thin and the thrill of the new day beginning, the first rosy glimmer on the mountain peaks and the glimmer on the flanks of the Carrizo Peak are my favorites. If I wake too late to witness that progression I feel as if I have lost a precious part of the day. Better to rise early instead.
It was 14 degrees at daybreak and though there were still coals in the woodstove the house was cool and the kitchen colder as I have covered the door to conserve the heat. I stirred the coals in the stove but took a moment to clear some ashes, stepping outside briefly to retrieve the bucket and grateful to have emptied it. Sometimes I forget to do that as I must let the coals cool before I toss the ashes on the garden. When I need it again I must make the walk through the yard first. Of course it is colder at dawn, though I never can complain, it is too beautiful for that! Ashes out and fire built I took a moment to sweep the mantle, clearing the few ashes I spilled and the small chunks of kindling that never make it into the stove.
The fire lit quickly and I placed a pan of water on the stove top to heat. There is a pot full of water on ready also but it had cooled through the night, and the pan heats more quickly. I started my tea, made my bed and dressed. By then the water was hot and steaming. If the room was comfortable it was still cool enough for that! I brushed my teeth, washed my face, combed my hair and had my morning drink of orange juice. I might have stopped there but the cold morning made the thought of chicken soup more appealing. Though the kitchen was still cold I prepared the soup and once it boiled on the gas stove moved it to the woodstove to simmer for the day.
If there is some added effort to carry wood and remove the ashes, the woodstove serves me well! I can make a $20.00 bottle of propane last for weeks and still have heat, hot water and a hot stove top whenever I please. I write of this often for it thrills me nearly as much as the sunrise and I have so much to be grateful for. Even once the soup was done I continued on my quest. I slipped back outside, the morning wind cold but fresh and exhilarating. I brought in two armloads of wood to replace what I burned yesterday, a small sacrifice for the heat I enjoyed. I plugged in my cord to the solar, the generator now resting idle, and silent as well. I now charge everything off of the battery, and can run a light come evening, again at no cost! In four months or so the solar will have paid for itself in what I spent on fuel alone, let alone the peacefulness of its operation. That the generator gets to rest is yet another plus as I has started to smoke on occasion. It has lasted nine years, and may last yet another if I run it sparingly. I am so okay with that and from that perspective the solar is already paid for. It was a $300.00 investment I might have made years ago if I had known how simple it really was.
I made one more venture into the yard to toss the ashes on the garden as I was already outside. The dirt is still snow covered so the hot ashes cooled quickly and granted me one less worry to contend with later. I paused and gathered my jeans off the clothes line before I went inside, warmed enough by the sun now to fold them outside. They freeze dried through the night, frozen solid soon after I hung them but quickly dried by the morning sun. I drew pleasure in the effort as the view from the porch, as with every other angle of my roost, is a good one, and I never fail to admire it. It is these simple pleasures which fill my life so completely. I marvel at the years I have sacrificed for material gain while this place stood empty, awaiting my return. It was a necessary sacrifice I suppose, and I have enough to show for it to justify the effort, but it is also perhaps my only regret. I might have lived better if I had stayed here. The direction I have chosen to take might have availed itself sooner, or perhaps it might not have. There were lessons to be learned that had to be taught by the journey I chose. I would not choose to reverse them now as they are already behind me.
Today is a day well done, even though it has barely begun. I have already accomplished so much, and captured the thought as well. The fire crackles happily, the soup simmers on the stove and the remainder of the day waits expectantly for further effort. The wind is up and the air outside is cold, and for a moment there is a real taste of winter. The ground is still snow covered and the moisture is as needed as the deeper cold, preparing the earth and flora for spring. If just two days ago my elm trees were aching to bud, they have clenched tight again against the cold. That is a good thing, and my peach trees have been warned also that spring is still far off. Today is a good day to stay home, and I have the luxury of doing so. I am blessed also to have things to do which will assure of my future being well stocked. I can build inventory today and devote my time to my art, rather than someone else’s bidding. It has been a long time coming to get here, but I have arrived. In so many ways it has been a life well done, and from here each day shall follow suit. It is also a day well done, and it has only just began. I am quite blessed!
February 3, 2020
Indian Divide, New Mexico
The Perfect Storm
This is the perfect storm
Arriving on the heels of a bitter wind
Laden with dust and drought
And having led me to question the merit
Of a life on this windswept hillside.
The winds come in March I thought
And if this is winter
Summer will be unbearable,
Until this morning.
The flash mob of snowflakes
Bursting from a unknown place
Unexpected and enlightening
Became the perfect storm
I am rarely as surprised as I was this morning, waking to snowfall. It rained last night from a clear and star filled sky, so of course it would snow, wouldn’t it? There were clouds, yes, off to the west where the storms now come from. They always came from the east before now, but everything else is awry, so why not the weather? This has been one of the driest winters, and warmest, until today. What was it yesterday but for a minute like summer, until the winds came. We have run the gamut of seasons in the course of twenty four hours, and I am okay with that! I scurried to bring in wood thinking myself a fool, and that it would warm again by noon. Now I am happy to sit by the fire. I have been tricked before, and even the weather man did not predict this. It will be twelve degrees tonight. Last night it was thirty two, and that hasn’t yet wavered since this morning.
The perfect storm, when I had a list of ‘must do’s’ for the day. Instead I can add one more thing to my list of things I am grateful for. There is nothing I wished to do that cannot wait until tomorrow, and no crisis in allowing that to occur. Instead I can fall back on all of the things I wanted to do, and find pleasure in the doing. There is a book to finish, and perhaps another to begin. There are the loose ends I can tie, and a few phone calls perhaps, or not even that. What about the perfect silence of the falling snow? I can revel in that as well, and there will be no visitors either. I have come to treasure the silence as much as I do my solitude, in careful measures. Better that I take the time to ponder the blessing of the snow, knowing that the drought makes it all that more precious. The dust will lay low for days, or maybe even longer.
This is a good day for a slow fire, a big log and a little air, cozy. The stove pings quietly with the flickering flame, and the heat radiates softly through the room. There is a slight draft somewhere, but not intolerable. The breath of cool air through the window frame is a welcome reminder of the cold I need not face. There is a great comfort in that, knowing there is no ice for me to break or chores to be done, even if I miss the horses. It would be worth it, to brave the storm for their sake, as I have done in the past, but for now I have been spared. I would also trade the exhilaration for the comfort, gladly. I will have to consider that going forward, but neither shall I complain. For today I shall revel in the perfection of this storm, unplanned for and unexpected. It caused me to take pause, and I will take full notice of that. Sometimes, no matter how mindful we think we are, we forget the essence of things. There is nothing that I have to do today that cannot wait until tomorrow. Instead I will do all of those things that I had chosen to let wait. Turn around is fair play, isn’t it. That has made this the perfect storm.