A Breath of Normalcy


August 17, 2020

Nogal House

Indian Divide, New Mexico


A Breath of Normalcy


A breath of normalcy

A sigh of relief

Elk song at daybreak

Clouds wreathing mountain slopes

Bright flowers in the garden

Lush foliage of the leaves

Squash, onions, carrots and chard

Lettuce, garlic, mint and rosemary

I run my hands through the leaves

Inhaling fragrant scents

The drops of water sparkle in sunlight

As I water thirsty soil

The soft breeze caresses my skin

As I turn to greet the day

Sustenance of the purest sort

Nourishing body, mind and spirit

Leaving no room or desire

For anything else

Defining normalcy

With no need for explanation

I am truly blessed.

Thank you, Ixehe, thank you.


There is a breath of normalcy today, the blessings of a cool summer morning, the elk coming into rut and singing through the hills. I woke and dozed, unwilling to break the spell, mesmerized by peacefulness and curled beneath the blankets of my bed. I am camped out in my bus, the door and windows open to the hillside, as close to nature as I could possibly be yet safely perched as well. At night I can admire the stars and at daybreak watch the changing colors of the dawn while breathing in the freshness of the cool morning breeze. My morning prayers are full of thankfulness and there is so much to be grateful for. I wander into the garden and the greenhouse before I go to the house, soaking up the beauty that surrounds me. I have created an oasis here on the hillside and the good graces of the universe herself have beckoned me to stay. For the first time in so many years I have.


I wonder now why I ever left. I left because I thought I should, to make money, to pay my debts, to buy some land. I left in 2008, and returned, I left in 2011 and came back quickly. I left again and stayed gone for years, coming home to visit, coming home to stay, and leaving again. There were adventures, yes, and love, for a while, but I always came back, and in the end so very little changed. I returned this time with an even greater determination to stay and then, as the COVID became such a stark reality, found the necessity as well. What better place to weather the storm than here where the very definition of self sustainable exists? Suddenly my lifelong desire and effort to be able to sustain myself took on a new definition and I discovered I was better prepared than I had imagined. Still yet, the urgency was greater than I imagined and for a moment I saw all the failings in my life. If I had always aspired to feather this nest so I had failed to do so. If there was plenty of wood there was no solar power. If there was a water well there was no pump, even if those items sat clearly on my list. How the years fly by when one is well employed! How the money gets spent when it is plentiful. How the simple things we so desire slip so quietly through our lives, unrealized and unfulfilled. If I ate so well and traveled so far, if I built not one but three campers, if I paid my debts and created new ones, I never bought those basic things I needed to survive. I then scrambled to do so just in case.


What a year this has been! If I had hunkered down to try to get by and stay here out of a pure desire to do so, the effort redoubled in February. It became pure necessity by March when we were advised to ‘stay home’. Maybe I took it too seriously? Time will tell, but in the two plus months that I stayed home I became as focused on my livelihood as I have ever been. If I suffered the confinement as much as anyone else so I turned the effort to a positive. With no distractions or temptations I created a regiment of wellness, one that I have maintained ever since. I didn’t get fat, I already was, so I honed in on my diet and exercise and lost twenty five pounds. In the process I also regained a level of fitness I have aspired to for years. There were no excuses to do otherwise as I couldn’t go anywhere and had little desire to do so either. When two friends of mine succumbed to the illness my fears were confirmed and my efforts at preparedness justified. If I have always aspired to be healthy as possible now is as good a time as any to be so! I have been rewarded tenfold by the effort as I feel better than I have in years and some semblance of youthfulness remains even as my age creeps up as well.


There have been other gains also. I have always tried to make a positive out of everything. Having decided that this is the safest place I can be in the face of so much uncertainty I have bettered my life in so many ways. Staying home led to a deep clean of my house and surroundings. Gone is so much of the stuff I have gathered over the years. Gone is the sagging porch that was waiting to fall, and so is much of the junk it had sheltered beneath it. I had a collection of things I no longer needed or cared to hold onto. In its place there is a greenhouse. If I planted an early garden, another just in case effort, I battled the elements continually. If COVID wasn’t enough to struggle with there was drought. The garden provided sustenance, for every rat and mouse in the yard. There wasn’t a seedling that survived that first round, nor the second. Even as the greenhouse took form, as much out of desire as necessity, the raids continued, rodents and then bugs, and my precious food source remained at risk. It took a good while before it flourished but the effort was worthwhile. The garden is now full and so is the greenhouse and my trips to town are few.


Maybe I have over prepared but I have always wanted to be self-sufficient and I am so very close to that now. I am still concerned about the winter and I will take no chances either. Even if it is clear sailing going forward why not be prepared for the worst? What greater joy for one such as me than to know I can close the gate and stay put and not do without any comforts I require? I now have my solar panels that I always wanted, simple as they are. If I had envisioned a costly array instead there is a cheap set that provides for my needs. I have all the power I need for what little I need it for. So it is with the water well. If I had considered the expense for so long I found a cheap solar pump and need not haul water either. The garden and I are both happier for that and I wish I had found one sooner! A single trip to town for groceries and laundry once a week creates no hardship and all I lack now is a propane refrigerator, though I have done well with the ice chest for years. Come winter that is even less of a concern and the summer days are shorter already. I have my dry goods also and all the greens and root crops I need if I require them. Add in some dried meat and I am good to go. If I never require any of it my life is easier than it has been in years and what effort it takes to maintain that is gone about with a joyful heart. I’ll be cutting wood before the day is done.


There is a breath of normalcy today. The late rains have greened the hillside and my garden now flourishes. The summer days are beginning to wane and there is a cool touch in the breeze. It is a good day for wood cutting. The squash plants are doing their work and having pickled the last batch of fruit they have a few more days to go, or at least one or two. I will pick some tomatoes this evening and gather some greens for my meal. I have planted the seeds for the winter garden, though today I will start more lettuce in the greenhouse. I will plant some collard greens also, to be for sure, for sure. That will be a learning curve for me but years back we had tomatoes in December in a far less resilient structure. I hope to have a harvest well into the winter and there will be a heater inside come the cooler nights. If much of the effort was begun with some urgency the rewards made it worthwhile. My immediate needs have been met, which is all I have ever really cared about. There are more, of course. There is still my debt to society that I have acquired with the years and never seemed to satisfy. I am still concerned with that and sadly it is my greatest challenge. At least I know I will survive to continue that effort. Yep, it seems that at least for the moment things are back to normal. I can’t ask for anything else!

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