January 11, 2018
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
What I Would Have Missed
I would have missed
If I had left here
Are too numerous
And the still white cap
On the mountains
Of the wind
Of the sun
On the morning
Of the blessings
This time alone
On the past
And the future
Of the perspective
It has offered
Of years past
From this same roost
And the dreams
I have formulated
Chanced to live
I will be leaving
Of new fortune
But will take
And will be
For having had
The chance to stay
There is so much
I would have missed
If I had not.
What I would have missed if I had stayed to the south, or left sooner! I had not seen the snow this year, but for the remnants of the one, and only, other storm. I arrived here weeks ago to see the last vestiges still shadowed by the trees, the rest having melted. I have waited here for the storms that never came and did not see this one for what it became. I mistook clouds for smoke and rain for mist, and got snow! I watched the ground turn white and then clear again, to watch it snow once more. I woke to the heat of the fire and the clouds on the mountains, all my favorite things, and to write about it also. I reread every entry I have made since 2011 and found my life is good, and that I have followed my heart in the proper direction, even if I am alone. It could be worse you know, and it has been. I greet this day with so much to be thankful for, and I am glad to be here!
I will leave soon? I grow skeptical with the passage of the days and the lack of any changes. If I have been promised a job, neither am I working. Things can change so fast. Instead I have worked for myself and amassed hundreds of dollars of product, some of which I have already sold. I will create more of the same going forward, unless something changes. The phone has not rang and all I can do is wait. I am waiting, or not, and instead I watch the clouds. The sun peaks out, lights the hills, and retreats. The snow still clings to the peaks, and everything above seven thousand feet, or such is my guess. The Carrizo looks frigid compared to here! I will watch the clouds all day, from my window! They are dancing with the sun, lighting and then shadowing the mountains. I am filled with a childlike fascination I hope I never loose! For fourteen years I have watched the same view and it still amazes me!
What would I have missed but for this quiet solitude of my favorite perch? Certainly there are new adventures to be had, but they are waiting patiently. I spent the summer here and contemplated winter. Now I have burned a row of wood, and all of the juniper I had saved just for that. I have plenty more to be used if I need it. If I am readied to leave I could just as well stay, given the resources to do so. I might yet sell all of my art, but must wait another few weeks to be sure. Such incentive I have to create it, and one way or the other I will profit in the end. I would have missed the chance had I left and I am glad I got to stay. Though I bemoan the lack of organization on behalf of my perceived employer I can say my karma trumps that. I am supposed to be here or I would not be, and how happy that I am! They might marvel at my audacity, but you won’t hear me complain.
The sun and the clouds are walking the peaks, mesmerizing my attention. These are the simple joys I would have define my life, and for the moment I am living them. This has, in the end, been one of the better years just lived, and the beginning of a new one. I have begged for such an opportunity, clinging to days off for salvation, and now I have this! If I had worked harder I might have gone a year, if things change I still could. If the phone never rings I will be fine, if it does I am prepared. This then defines a success in itself, and if I had done things any different it would have altered the past. Better to see it to the future. I might have missed this.
I have learned to see delays as opportunities, and so often simple blessings. If I am slow to leave when I might have hurried, I attach a reason to the same. So often I am rewarded with some perceived affirmation, a meeting or a gift of one sort or another. If I had left any sooner or any later I would have missed it. Who am I to argue with the workings of the universe when it is better to follow her lead? I have yet to be led astray! I am seeing this from the same light, and a beautiful light it is. I am being patient, and filling my time as well as I possibly can. I have been rewarded for the effort! What I would have missed surely outweighs anything I might have received otherwise. Instead I am quite blessed!
January 10, 2018
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
A Wind Day
Any other year this would be a snow day! Having lived in this arid climate for so many years I have come to look forward to the cold snowy days that force me to stay inside. They have been few and far between and this year there won’t be any. Instead, so out of season, there comes the wind. It arrived in the deep of night, or maybe earlier than that, as I slept little afterwards. It came in as a steady blast, and remained so. It is the sort of wind that lifts tin and shingles from the roof, breaks branches and tears the tarp off the wood pile. No worry for the last, there is no snow to sweep from the pile so no need for the tarps, not this year. There was even a slight draft in my room, the one secure part of the house that usually has none.
The wind still howls, coming hard from the west. A big white cloud bank looms from the north also, but there is no hopes for a storm. The last few days were cool and damp but the rain will never come, it is far too dry, and windy, for that. I will still take the day, rising late deliberately and dressing for comfort, not appearances. I will stay here today, write, craft and relax. Sometime soon I will be leaving and I am going to miss the long held leisure I have attained since I came home. It is best to make good use of it, all for future reference! I would have it that the rest of my life include far more of such comforts and this time has been good practice.
I had to step outside, the wind called me out. The air is full of moisture, and the clouds boom to the northwest but to the south is filled with smoke, and ill day for fires. I saw its beginnings yesterday, a white plume from the canyons, and today it fills the air. They will not be able to fly it and only the rare moisture will work in their favor, though the wind may supersede it. It would be a bad day to be on the ground also, the wind is fickle, and overly dangerous, they will have to let it burn! Even a dozer trail would be risky, the machines move far too slow, I have watched them. I am grateful for the open plains and fire is the main reason I will never live in a forest. I learned that lesson fighting fires. Trees carry the flame in a way only the tallest grasses aspire to do, and the grass will never crown. A forest fire makes its own wind, though it won’t need to today.
This is my day to weigh the future, as if I need the option! I am still waiting for a call to go to work, but patiently as I have ever done! I am thankful for each and every day and the simple assurance I will be going back to work is more than enough. I have paid almost all my bills to bring them current, though I will soon slip back behind. I am unworried, they waited this long and I have paid them all just recently. What is another few weeks after all these months behind me? The freedom is as precious as it ever has been, given that I will relinquish it soon enough. I have plied my trade faithfully for the last few days and will do more today, building inventory against the future and some which will sell before that. I am inspired and enthused by the prospects.
For the moment it is a wind day, and mine to do as I please. My pleasure is to write, do artwork, and perhaps organize a little more the things to take along, and the ones I leave here. I am trying to lighten my load each and every day. The things outside I could well walk away from, those in storage are few enough. My studio is clean and holds artwork needs alone and I wish that I could tow it with me when I return to the south. Time will tell if I should move it, cautious now after the last time. I travel light and have no regrets for doing so, I like the feeling it gives me, footloose and unburdened. That, above all else, will define my life going forward now that it has been restored to me. I will lighten that load with every step.
The storm circles and moves in as earnestly as it can. The perceived clouds of smoke to the south were in fact moisture, and the rainfall, if sparse, is all the more welcome because of that. There are rainbows, clouds and sunshine as the storm sweeps from the south to the west and then around to the east, enveloping the mountains and making it far too warm by the stove. It is fifty degrees on the porch and the light draft through the house has ceased, and left behind the warmth of the woodstove. I have opened all the doors and curtains, except for the kitchen, hoping to save the ice in the cooler. The wind dies now to a muffled howl, and then there is silence as the fog blankets the Carrizo, leaving an otherworldly quiet in its stead. Such a blessed day!
It is as if the elements are running the gamut for my sake alone! They are blessing me with all the wonders of nature’s grace that I may carry them with me when I go. Funny but I was thinking this morning about how I might have spent this time if I had already gone south, where the days are warmer than here. I was thinking I might be walking the canyons, or driving back into the wilderness just north and west of Winston. I could be wandering the hills rather than sitting at my desk, but I would have missed the wonders of the sky and the storm. I am so glad that I have stayed, those places will be there for later exploration, and this will be mine but for the moment.
A Rare Tempest
Wind and rain
Coming from the south
And the west
A winter storm
In the throws
Of deep drought
To be smoke
On whistling winds
A rare blessing
And a rarer
There will be
On the desert
Grace the mountains
Against the still
Of the tempest
I think the wind
Will be the winner.
A True Tempest~
What started as wind
Turned to smoke
Changed to mist
And then snow
A true tempest
Of the purest sort
In the midst
Of a drought
To have no end
Who would have
Could do that?
It makes me think
Should run to town
But I have been fooled
And the sun
Through the clouds
As the battle
The first snow
Of the year.
January 3, 2018
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
The dawn came quietly as it always does, with few exceptions. On occasion there will be wind, but it is noticeably absent this morning. Though the grass moves gently in a light breeze there is still silence, except for the crackle of the fire. That, and the light clank of the stove is welcome as it emanates heat as well. If there were few coals in the ashes this morning it still came to life quickly and the warmth is most welcome. It is twenty nine degrees outside, warm for midwinter but still cold. I had to step outside to see the temperature, and paused to give thanks for the day. The breeze touched my palms and my face, reminding me all is well and affirming the blessing. Life is good.
I am leaving again. My morning prayer, amongst all I have to be thankful for, asked that I would carry the beauty and serenity of this place with me to wherever I go, that I may replicate it as best I can. I am leaving because I wish to, but also because I need to, though I could just as easily stay. I could find work nearby, and have done so in the past, and have considered doing so. I am leaving because I am looking for new opportunities and adventures, as I always have in the past. I returned here eleven days ago and have savored every moment but have done so from the outside perspective. If I haven’t thought much about the transition I have been readying for the same.
In my own way I have already transitioned as I have settled to some degree in my new place and my camper awaits me there. If it was intended from the start to provide mobility the resulting transient existence came quickly also! I slipped away twice to the north, staying out another day or two each time for the simple pleasure of doing so. Soon after I went to Three Rivers and quickly settled there. I did the same when I went south and landed in Truth of Consequences. A day or two stay ended over a week later. It is likely my perspective would be different if this place did not remain a constant. If there was no home base to return to I would likely be adrift, but I am not. Instead, given a solid foundation, I can wander as I please, and am doing so freely enough.
I am leaving again, even as I draw near to the sixtieth year of my life. I had once imagined that I would be settled by now, just as most people are hoping to set off on some adventure. I took my adventure first and then, though I settled for my children’s sake, spent most of my life in motion. I am still in motion, and it may be what is keeping me young also, even though I can see I am aging. Granted I had slowed for some years but I am glad that I am free, even if I am again looking for a stopping place. My plans for the future, if still uncertain, include more of what I have here more than anything else. It is why I am leaving, and why I’ve gone before. The serenity is nearly complete but to settle might be a mistake. Until I am quite certain, I will look a little further out. I can always come back.
So it is I prepare to leave, again. I spent the summer, and half of this winter, putting things in order, and I am almost satisfied with the effort. I have pared down again, letting go of things I no longer need. I have cleaned the yard, stacked my wood, and sorted through my possessions. As I peruse what remains I see I could go through it all again, and wish I had the time. Still yet, what remains is nearly all useful, there is just too much of it! The bulk of it is clothes, bedding, and books. I have gone through the clothes but as with the blankets and rugs it is better to have extra, even if they are bulky. There is a pile of jeans that for the moment are too small, but not by much, and I refuse to buy more! I am working hard to remedy that issue, and the thought of lakes and the river come summer are incentive enough.
I think it is the books that trouble me the most, because they are heavy and stored in boxes. If I have gone through them before I will do so again, carefully. They are, as with my writing (another two big containers!) the composition of my life. The books are what led to my adventures, the writing the story of the same, along with the pictures. The latter two deserve more attention also, and I hope to get to them. That is another goal as yet unmet, and worth working towards! I also have leather and art stuff, all raw material waiting to be used, boxes of it. Though I have delved into that there is plenty more waiting for the time I can use it. I am getting there!
After that there is just stuff! If there is too much of that for certain it is also the fabric of my adventures, and the treasures I have saved from them. I keep that, and if I had a ‘place’ of my own it would be the content of a small museum I suppose, there to be admired and studied on. Much of it could go into a garden, and I hope to have the same. If one day I have a gallery, which I am hoping I will do, they can then adorn the shelves there also. They are the one thing my children will have to contend with some day. My youngest will be most challenged as he will likely keep them all! He owns his house, so it will be ok!
All told, in taking inventory, all is well. My storage trailer is filled with the leather and such, and there is a small room in the house for the rest. The room is but a quarter full, as I have pared it down for sure. The books are in there as they are heavy, and of no use unless I have shelves! I hope to again provide those, but if I don’t I pray my grandchildren will read them! Such stories they will tell, of a time gone by that their grandma had lived…………those and my own writings! They already marvel at my freedom and I am still in motion, a legacy in itself. I have another ten, twenty years to add to that, if I am so lucky! If I am still here after that there will be more stories to be told. It could be worse, I tell myself, and have absolved so many concerns in doing so!
I prop open the door as it has grown too warm inside. I savor the rays of sunlight that beam in with the cool morning air and say yet another word of thanks. I have been blessed with such a simple way of life, all of my own making. How different it could have been, and has been in the past! Though the passage of the years and the aging process is moving all too quickly, so my appreciation heightens in the process. I see now the fruits of my labor and there is so little else I require. If there is still some debt it is the final payments on all the things I have. There is no price to be put on serenity and good health, let alone the list of my adventures! These are all the rewards for my efforts. From that perspective it is a small price to pay to return to work for the moment. It also leads to a new adventure, and one I might not take otherwise. There were alternatives but I did not pursue them and for now this suits me fine.
Going forward? It is really hard to say. My goals are clear for the moment, as is my willingness to let go and let God lead the way. He has always showed me well. If I believe in destiny I also believe in choice, and our lives are there to live as we will. Though I pray each day for guidance and direction, and do my best to follow it, I also have my dreams! I still envision a peaceful place such as this that I will someday call my home, just as I do this one. I would also like to have a gallery, a small trading post on a not too busy highway, a place where people will stop and visit as they travel by. I would like it to have a sunlit porch, where people could sit and talk, and a woodstove for the winter, where they might warm their hands. I would have it that there were wagons and horses outside, but those days are long past!
What that one day there will be electric cars instead, and I will have lived for too long!!!! It seems it might be ok to grow old like that, sitting on the porch stitching leather, and telling stories. If I might be a little too alone here, I would never be there. I have thought about that also, that people might become a problem at times, but I have a solution for that. If I didn’t want to talk any longer I could feign senility or deafness and respond with a simple, “Aighhh?? I can’t hear you.” Ha ha, I might even get good at that! It is the longer and deeper conversations I would look forward to, such as have never been as available as I would wish for them to be. I want to share the adventures I have taken and hear about those of others also. If I stay here I may never get the chance, though there are many more books I could read instead.
The books will always be there, the opportunity will not. I am leaving again, as I have done so many times before. I have wandered further, and always returned. I know I can come back here, and will, as often as not. Still in all, I am seeking other things that I haven’t yet found, after all the years I have lived here. Perhaps I will come back to stay, or maybe I will not. I have been drawn to the west for years, and now it is I’ll go. If I have everything I need right here in this solitary perch, there are a few more things I want. None of them are material, except perhaps some land, and I may buy another bus. I want a smaller one, as I have sold the one I had, but there is nothing more I can think of. Instead I will pay my debts, once and for all, and peruse the freedom when it gets there. For the moment, I am leaving, again.
December 30, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
I sit to write and the raven calls me outdoors! I hurry outside to greet him, he who roosts on the power pole to the east. He continues his call, running through his repertoire while I sneak a picture, from a greater distance this time, hoping not to disturb him. He stays a moment longer and departs, hopefully stirred by some other desire than my distant audience. I apologize anyway, hoping it wasn’t my presence that sent him on his way. His call drifts back to me as he flies, and I wonder what he said…………
I am somewhat restored today though still weaker than my usual. I woke at daybreak and was torn between the last threads of a joyful dream and the desire to watch the first light. I was already awake so I pursued the light. As always I was rewarded fully for the effort. The dawn was so beautiful that I was dressed and out the door before I stopped yawning. Wrapped warmly in my jacket I watched the first light touch the mountain peaks and begin her downward descent. I then turned to the east to say my morning prayer, the thankfulness enveloping me with the caress of the cool morning breeze. In answer a plane crested the mountains and the suns light illuminated it as it rose into the sky, glistening with the perfect angle, as the prisms of a crystal will do with the same. I admired it for a long moment before I ran for my camera, ever eager to capture such moments for eternity.
I took pictures, yes, but just as I seek to record the wonders of this life, the perfect instance, the soaring emotions, the raven in song, so often they escape me. Even as I watched the plane pierce the clouds in the clear morning sky and bemoaned its presence so I selfishly wish for technology to suffice for my whims. Though I am so fortunate to live so close to the elements and to glory in the grace of life itself I am greedy for more. If I am satisfied with the wonders of this universe and find such complete happiness in its presence I want to carry them with me also. I want and need to surround myself with the absolute silence and wonder of the breaking day. I wish to wear it as a cloak through the rest of it so that the very air which surrounds me be illuminated, twinkling silently with the joy of life itself. I want for nothing else!
I dreamt this morning of five cats, though I am not essentially a ‘cat’ person. But these were special cats, as I was trying to explain, imported from back east and not your common house cat. I was approaching my friend who was surrounded by these cats, who were tumbling at his feet. I was laughing and smiling in complete happiness, tipped back on my heels in total exuberance with a grin spread wide across my face. Even in my dreaming I was marveling at the joyfulness and could see the light which illuminated my presence, clear and glistening with the wonders of the moment. A minute later we were studying on the smallest of the cats, he who wasn’t quite perfect, oddly shaped and with clubbed feet, and expounding on his flaws. He was sitting on a stump and in that moment, after turning to look me in the eye, leapt into the air and turned a perfect summersault before he tumbled to the ground. I commented that he was exhibiting to us his great worth and talent and had seemingly understood every word of our discussion…………..and then I awoke.
It is the laughter which stays with me, the pure light and happiness of the moment. I want to laugh like that again! I want such joyfulness to be as much a part of my life as the joy and wonder I find upon waking and watching the sun make her walk across the hills. Even as I wandered my yard this morning I told myself the same and reminded myself that this is a requirement. If I have never intentionally severed such ties in my life so often I have sacrificed them or simply forgotten the practice. When I am here I have no choice, I am surrounded by beauty and grace. I am drawn out the door each morning and night as much out of desire as by necessity. If I want to have wood I must go gather it, if I want light I must go start the generator, and then turn it off as well. Even in the deepest cold I am always grateful for the requirement, it takes me out the door.
I have a view where I am moving to. I have parked my bus with the windows to the mountains, and the valley where the Rio Grande River runs. It is a lovely spot, for the moment, though the bus is quite confined. I never intended to live in the camper, though it will suffice for the moment. Still yet, I need more space and I will look for alternatives once I settle in. If it will be a challenge to replicate this spot I will look for the like of it, peaceful and serene, that I may maintain my balance as best I can. I know now the cost of allowing for anything less, and can no longer afford the sacrifice. I had to return here to be reminded of that, and will seek the same again.
I have been restored in so many ways, now it is for me to preserve that! If such peace of mind is so attainable here so I need set forth again to preserve that. I am grateful for the tug I feel to go south and west, or it would be more difficult! Knowing I can find the same serenity there, and that it is so in reach, assures me I’ll be fine. I have found some of the greatest happiness in my life in those plains and canyons and they are all within my reach. Even as I write my mind wanders back to an old homestead, tucked down in a draw just off the crest of the escarpment overlooking La Placitas. I am inclined to go find it once again. If the structure is decrepit I recall there were rooms that were still useable, and that is all I really need. The remoteness would suit me well and nobody ever goes there, so I would feel safe. Surely there was a well there also? If not there then somewhere like it, where I would have the same as here. It is something worth looking for……….
December 26, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
‘Do not worry that I have become infatuated, I am too old for that. Rather, I am inspired, viewing familiar things, from an altered perspective. I am seeing the mountains, and my own personal creations, from the eye of an artist, so different from myself. If we learn new things on a daily basis, I have learned so much from you. I have trained my eye from a singular perspective. Now it is as if I turned back to look again on the view I just passed, and see it in a new and different light. It is good to have a friend who paints mountains. Thank you.’
I was sweeping
Out the doorway
When I chanced
At the mountains
I was admiring
Of the hillside
And the way
The morning light
Cast her shadows
On the slopes
As she makes
Her daily walk
It was then
I thought of you
On the same
I rushed back in
For my jacket
That I might capture
So we might share
Which I savor
I am here
And was rewarded
By some pictures
And a slipper
Full of thorns
It was so lucky
Though it still
Made a passable
It was worth it
As I was reminded
Of how wonderful
To have a friend
Who paints mountains.
Having made a new friend I was reminded of him as the sun rose slowly with the dawn. I have for years made a practice of rising at daybreak so as to watch the first light make her walk across the mountainside. I was here to greet it this morning, and wished to waste none of it. Although I am looking forward to my next adventure it is always difficult to leave here knowing I won’t be back for weeks or even months. I have found much completion in this place and the serenity is nearly as complete as my solitude. It is the latter which prompts me to leave. I am almost too content with that also. Knowing I have a friend, amongst several others, in the place where I am bound, makes the transition much easier.
I ask myself in this moment why I tend to recluse here. It isn’t that there are not places to go or people to see. It is that I am so content when I am here that I prefer to busy myself with the things I find to do. By the end of the day I have little desire for anything else, and have become quite good at that. Even now, in the silence of this room, there is the soft clank of the woodstove, the chirp of birdsong and the gentle hum of the wind, and I am content. There is a pile of artwork on the couch, and the keyboard beneath my fingers. I have the sweep of the mountainside, waiting to be climbed in the warmth of the suns light, the endless canyons I have yet to find, and others to revisit. I would be remiss not to mention the few boxes I have yet to sort through. They are there waiting also and there is more to do if I look for it.
If I have filled years of my life with these simple things, and a garden in the summer, so I could do so all over again if I chose to. I can also go to the ranch and cut wood, wander the fields and in the summer mow and water. It is not such a bad way to spend ones days, or a lifetime, and I have certainly done worse. I have also done better, and I have found the equal to this in the depths of the canyons and the sweep of the plains in the country I am retreating to. There are also things I haven’t done, soaking in the hot spring bathes, floating on the river and drifting on the lakes. I am looking forward to those, and any other adventures I have yet to find. I am also looking forward to friendships, and spending time with others who are something like myself.
It is good
To have a friend
I can share
As I hopefully inspire
For the same
As the sun
Is still wandering
Shedding her light
As she does
And every morning
If I have watched
The same thing
I have never
This same light
Things always change
When you have
To share them
For the new
It makes me
Want to paint
To my list
December 25, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
Even as I reread my thoughts from yesterday I consider the blessings of my being here and make myself a promise. I promise to return here as often as I can, even knowing that I will be content where I am going also. I have learned to make those adjustments over the years and my happiness is equally balanced between who I am as to where I am. If I am content with my life I will fill my time well, though I must say I am nearly always happy when I am here. The essentials of that, the sun and the sky, the mountains and the hills provide for so much of that. I have the equivalent of these where I am going and the lakes, the river and the portal to the wilderness are all within my reach. Still yet, there is an essential factor of myself which I am surrounded by here which I want to keep close to me. I am reminded of it now.
If I bemoan my solitude here so I treasure it also. I have grown and learned so much from this solitary perch, and rarely have I shared it. There has only been one man in residence in all the years I have lived here. His dominance cut it short, though he still has my blessings, wherever he may be. When I have otherwise shared my life it has been elsewhere and even then the years I’ve lived alone outweigh the partnerships. It is something I have come to recognize as a matter of choice, and I will return here as much for that as for the beauty and serenity it always has to offer. It is the same reason I have chosen to leave, at least for now, as I have become too familiar with that way of life. I am seeking the company of others as much as I am the financial gains the new job has to offer.
I promise to return here, so as to never forget the basic foundation of who and what I am and have aspired to be. This place reeks of me-ness, who I have always wanted to be, the mountain woman, the self-sufficient, creative, inspired and grounded person I have tried to be from the start. It is filled with singleness and ambition, my nest feathered with art and the efforts of so many years of life and living. There is the house, humble and cozy, the artwork on the walls, mine and others, the mementoes of my travels, stones, skulls and artifacts I have carried home to stay. There is the garden spot, ready for the next planting, the fruit trees still ready to blossom and bear fruit, and the woodpile, at ready to warm the house. And there are the mountains and trails, familiar to my feet and to feast my eyes upon each moment I am here.
All of this is an integral factor of my life and my person, the threads which comprise the fabric of my life, a part of me, even when I am absent. I can walk away knowing how easily I can return. I need but key the lock and I am home. It is good to remind myself of this as it makes it easier to leave, as I can always come back. I know this as I have done it before! How many times I have left here, only to return, again, and again. I have left and thought I never would come back to stay, and as of yet I have not. I have returned and been determined to stay, and left again anyway. I have lived here, for days, weeks, and months, but I always leave again, just as I am now. I was here for seven months this time, though even then I came and went.
If things go as I hope there will be no garden here, though I will fix the windmill. I will come home to water the trees, and perhaps to harvest peaches. I will not plan on the latter, there has been only one crop in fourteen years, but that was this year, and in plentitude. This coming year may offer the same? I pruned the trees hard so they might survive another dry winter, and if I am lucky they will also bear fruit. I need to water them so they will and that will be amongst the first order of business. I will grow a crop in T or C, though I have yet to be sure where I will be. I am settled in for the moment but still looking for alternatives and it would be nice to have a house, even if it is in town. The winter will be fine but I need shelter from the heat. The confines of my camper are good when it is cold but will be too cramped for the summer.
A promise. I have promised myself that no matter where I am or what I am doing that I will preserve the serenity I have come to find and the life I have lived when I am here. I promise to remain true to myself, to the universe and the path I have been led to, that I can best contribute all that I can to the greater good of mankind. I promise to live my life in a good way so as to remain in harmony with the workings of the earth and the sky, that I may do more good than harm. I promise to live in such a manner as to be an inspiration to my friends and family, that they will all be reminded of the simplicity of a life well lived, and the subsequent balance that can be attained by that practice. I promise to remain open to the guidance of the powers greater than myself that they may flow through me and into others, by my thoughts, my words and my actions. If I have lived a solitary existence everything I have said and done still affects others and I wish for that to come about in a good way. I will do my best to assure of it. I promise to do my best.
I feel like I just got here. I feel like I never left. It is the nature of this place I have called my home for nearly fifteen years. From the start I have kept my most precious belongings here, and it will remain so. I leave with only the things I require for my immediate needs, the comforts stay behind. Each time I return I sort through what I have left and lighten the load, and this time was no exception. As I ready myself to depart once again I have reduced the space I will live into one small quarters,(and have sold the bigger bus), thus I will travel light. I will bring more art supplies than anything else, at least for the moment. At some point I will either find a house, or a bigger bus (LOL) to live in. I will decide once I settle in.
My needs are few and I will carry most of them in my heart, and a few in my hands. It is what remains here which is most important, though I can live without most of it. It is the promise I am making to myself and the world around me which carries all of the essentials. As long as I remain true to myself and my greater purpose all will be well with me. I have work to do and I will do it well but I will never again allow myself to forget who I am when I am here or the reasons for that being so. I have surrounded myself with the greatest treasures of life and there is so little else I require. In the end it is that which makes it so easy to leave, knowing it is here whenever I need or want to access it. That will remain the one constant in a life so full of change.
Even as I ready myself to leave I am as close as I have ever been to being able to stay. That is less a contradiction than it is a certainty. A year ago I was starting a new adventure on the eastern plains of New Mexico. I am now poised to venture to the southwest instead, and ever closer to the fulfillment of my dreams. As with so many of the places I have landed, I have been considering this one for years. I am looking forward to the prospects. I might have gone there to stay even if I hadn’t been employed, but the job is a plus. If I have spent so much of the last many years trying to resolve my debts, I am now on track to doing so, having learned so many lessons! Coming to be so at peace with myself was worth the cost in the end, and it is all I have ever really wanted. I promise to remain true to that going forward.
December 23, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
I was greeted so graciously this morning, first by the blushing pink of the dawn, the cool air upon rising, the still hot coals in the fire, and the first burst of flame and smoke from the stove as it broke into a new flame. I extended the same greeting when I stepped out the door into the twenty degree morning, forgetting the cold as I raised my arms to say my morning prayer as the sun broke over the mountains. Minutes later I was greeted again when I went back out for an armful of wood to feed the fire. The raven called, as he so often does, this morning from a perch on a pole to the east, watching me as I walked out the door. I went inside to get my camera, zooming in so as not to crowd him, catching him with his wings puffed in the midst of his call. Selfishly unsatisfied I stepped closer, and captured his image as he flew, twice before he turned and disappeared to the east. I called after him with an apology, he being so gracious and myself crowding his space in return.
The raven, friend and messenger, and if I honor him in so many ways I also discredited him with my camera. I respect and appreciate him and am grateful for the greeting he so often offers me, yet I always hope to capture the moment, which he cannot understand from his singular perch. He lives here, I visit, and we share the common ground. I am, in the end, a trespasser. This is his domain, not mine; I come here for shelter, it is his territory. If neither of us has ownership it is I who has been granted the fleeting chance to rest. Still in all, I have pictures and a story, now preserved upon the page, and meant to be shared.
What of this haven I reside in? I will never tire of this place even if I am too often alone here. Even in considering that I am loath to share it and though my thoughts went out to my newest and dearest friend, I hesitated to bring him into that space. What would I do without the mornings silence and the time to search my thoughts? Would I have missed the ravens greeting? Would I, even if I hadn’t, have sat to search the joy and the serenity which allowed it in the first place? Would the clank of the fire in the stove be quite as poignant if there were another presence in this room, or this house? Or would we be sitting on the porch beneath a warm blanket, savoring the last dregs of the coffee pot and watching the new day take form, savoring the peacefulness, together. The thought warms my heart and I send it off to my dear friend who is miles distant from here. I will share the same with him one day, should he chance to visit.
For now I am alone and content to be so! Knowing I will be here for just a few days and then depart once again makes this all the more precious. If I herald the beauty and the peacefulness every moment I spend here, it is always even clearer in such instances. I burn whatever wood I wish to for that reason, grabbing the juniper joyfully, for its sweet smell and the rapid warmth offers. I break a sprig from the rosemary bush and place it on the stove to breathe its sweet, sage like aroma, and close my eyes to enjoy it more fully. I sprinkle a little of the sacred sage onto the stove and wash the smoke over my body, taking in the blessing of the same, stepping away dizzied by the smoke, and the heat of the stove. It is a little cooler where I sit, and I wrap my robe around my shoulders, taking comfort in its closeness. Every activity is as tender as a warm embrace and I am surrounded by emotion, and contentedness. I am, for the moment, truly at home, though I can find the same elsewhere as well. This place is, and always will be, my fallback. It is where I can return to at will, or in necessity, for so long as I am allowed to do so. It would be nice if it were my own but it is close enough, for now. It is all I require for the moment, and I am most satisfied with that!
It is this very sacredness and serenity that I live for. The call of the raven from the distance is a constant reminder of that, whether I am here or in some distant place. The smooth path of his flight, the sound of his voice from a distance, or the soft whoosh of his wings as he flies all carry those blessings. His image resounds from the page, a light pencil sketch, inspired by the artists’ hand I have watched in motion. It has the same fluid movement of the ravens’ flight, but with an added flourish. It is the same swirling motion I will occasion to observe when the raven pauses in midair to twist and turn for the pure joy of doing so. If the action reeks of spontaneity so it has the same study and discipline as the artists’ hand, steadied by vision and purposefully executed in a clear line of flight, through the air as on the canvas. The resulting poetry flows like the words onto the page, the imagery preserved in memory, vision, or thoughts, readily shared on reflection.
Such a greeting I received this morning, setting the theme for the day. I have already sang so much poetry and am surrounded by the same. I felt to coolness of the dawn on my skin when I rose. I was warmed by the fire, embraced by the dawn, greeted by the raven and put words and pencil to the page. Inspiration surrounds me and I will allow it to guide my day, painting my thoughts on the paper and the leather, honoring its presence to the fullest extent. Greetings, good morning, and thank you! Hanza, I hope that you can hear me.
December 22, 2017
Overlooking the San Mateo Mountains
Williamsburg, New Mexico
A Good Day For A Fire
It is a good day for a fire. If it is warmer here than it is up north it was still cold last night and I woke to pull an extra blanket onto my bed. After that I slept better, though not as well as I would have wished, and then sleeping past the sunrise. I woke to a slight chill in my small shelter but got up quickly to build a fire. Though I have a heater it is slow to heat and I had turned it down the night before, so as not to be too warm. One never knows here in the desert and the weather changes hourly. Yesterday’s winds brought the cool air and the clouds which linger this morning, enhancing the beauty of the mountains to the east.
I am now burning mesquite since my last wood gathering effort. I had thought to venture back to the mesa overlooking Monticello, as much for the vista as the greasewood roots which are so readily available and burn so well. Instead I was drawn to the side road off of Highway 51, closer to Elephant Butte, and stopped there. I found dead mesquite in plentitude and in easy reach, if full of thorns. I broke the fallen branches with my foot and gathered all I wished to in just a few minutes time. Aside from a few sharp prods to my hands I was content. A few handfuls will serve my needs for days and even now it burns hot. I spent the rest of the day in that very same place, doors and windows thrown open to the wind. I sat at my desk and did leatherwork, and was content.
I need but a small fire in the morning and a little bigger for the evening when I warm my water and then bathe before the stove. As in Nogal I am content with the simplicity and most grateful for the readiness of my comforts. I had to laugh at myself this morning as I had to be careful as I picked the branches for my morning fire, hurrying just a little because of the chill. The mesquite has thorns such as I had never seen on a tree before I came to New Mexico, and they are sharp and effective, a good defense in the arid desert where fodder is so often in short supply. It is also an aromatic hardwood and greatly treasured for barbeque and smoking, thus making good fire wood. As I am living in roughly ninety square foot, a few sticks of wood heats the space in minutes, and a pan of hot water soon follows.
It is a good day for a fire and even now I am savoring the heat and the incense from the smoke, some of which invariably fills the air when I damper back the stove. I must be thankful for the limits on that also, as it is windy and the stovepipe cap has served its purpose, dampering any backdraft that would otherwise fill my room with smoke. It seems I have now, at least for the moment, addressed those sort of issues. I am, as I am so fortunate to be, satisfied with my current circumstance and ready to go forward with my life. Though I will return to Nogal for a few days, and regret having to leave, I am now beginning to settle into a new and different living place, at least for the present.
The fire reminds me of my necessities, and I am grateful for the woodstove, and the wood which is so readily available. I have, for years, allowed the fire to be the center of my comforts rather than seeking easier fare. I might have rented a house rather than building my campers but I am pleased by the results of my efforts. It is not just the mobility, or the savings, thought I treasure them both. It is the simplicity, self-sufficiency, and immediate comforts I so treasure, in company with the practice. I am ready to find my knees each morning and there is a reverence in the fire making that escapes all other means. The turning of a thermostat, no matter the subsequent rewards, will never equal the glow of a crackling fire. Nor must one kneel to accomplish it, unless of course the pilot light has gone out for one reason or another. I need not worry about that either, so long as there is a lighter in reach, and some kindling to start the fire. In the absence of the latter I can always step outside…….
The green of the greasewood is bright in the morning sun today, refreshed perhaps by the recent rains and gathering all the energy it can from the light. I am calmed by the beauty of the vista and drawn to wander the not so distant hills. There will be plenty of time for me to do that, as I have been offered employment and have opted to stay here. Being graced also by the visit of a traveling friend I have begged a ride back to Nogal to get another vehicle. I will go home to put my affairs in order, and to share Christmas with my family. I will then return here in short order to begin settling in and getting ready to work. I hope to spend much of that time creating more art and wandering the hills of the wilderness. I want to fill my spirit with as much of that as possible, and keep it full as well.
If I have found a good campsite for the moment I have yet to return to Placitas or Monticello, and may yet relocate there. I have come here as much as for the wilderness as to return to earning a living, and would like a good balance between the two. If I have learned anything over these last six years, and the past six months, it is that I need to have my peace of mind and creature comforts at ready. If the building of the fire is a huge part of that, so is the serenity of the star filled sky and the utter silence of the not so distant canyons and plains. Both are familiar, and filled with precious memories! If I am comfortable enough to stay where I am there is a distinct absence of them both, in spite of the view out my window. I can adjust for now but my life must be in balance for me to be truly content. I will not settle for anything less. As I have already said, today is a good day for a fire.
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.
December 16, 2017
Camped Out/Greasewood Drive
East of Monticello, New Mexico
Living Outside the Lines
I am living outside of the lines, camped in the desert and reluctant to return to town. The thought of any sort of civilization is unwarranted here, though I will eventually go back. If I am well prepared for the basics I have a few more improvements to make. Mostly it was poor planning on my part. If I had every intention to camp out and even spend a few days in the wilderness I neglected the most basic requirements. What that I have been spoiled at the Trading Post, sharing the kitchen and the shower, I might still have thought ahead. Instead I stopped in Nogal, off loaded all but my basic necessities, and hurried along my way. Now, having decided to camp for a day or two, I see what I have missed.
I might have brought another cooler and some food, so simple in the end! I also needed my solar phone battery, but again I forgot. Most of all I need a means to charge my laptop, which has now reached the top of the list. I can so easily slip off onto the wilderness but defeat my purpose if I cannot write. That and a gas stove, the basic wish list I have had from the start, now nearing necessity if I am to continue on my quest. If I am to truly live outside the lines I will do so on my terms, as I always have. I have yet to find a good reason to do otherwise and this place lends itself to that choice. That the dirt roads are familiar, even in the darkness, makes it a simple place to retreat to. I will return again tonight unless something better offers itself, which seems so unlikely at best.
Outside the lines, just where I am. I left Truth or Consequences last night and had dinner in Elephant Butte, with the old folks. There is a great buffet there which draws all of the locals, and I too have chosen to return there. The food is fresh and nourishing, and also well prepared. I ate my fill and departed, considering another evening on the town but opting for the solitude instead. There will be plenty of opportunity to mingle with the locals, and the night was already getting cold. There is a brewery which I visited on my last trip here and I had hoped to rub shoulders there again, but it will have to wait. The allure of solitude, the thought of a warm fire and a good night’s rest rose quickly to the fore.
Leaving town I drove west, watching the roadside for other dirt roads, but finding none to my liking. The road signs pointed to the airport and I25, familiar markers from the past many trips I have made here. Crossing under the highway Route 181 turned towards Cuchillo, just miles to the west. I considered it also but the place I might have gone was by a cemetery and the old house there seems haunted, so I passed. If I am in need of solitude and respite, such a place is not ideal. Even if it deserves further exploration that is best done in the daytime! Instead I swung north on the road to Monticello and then slipped back to the west on a dirt track that crosses to Highway 52. Finding a lesser road into the greasewood spotted desert I drove a ways before I pulled off and parked.
The first order when one camps anywhere is to close the curtains to block the light. In rapid succession is to build a fire, though the heater on the bus warms it well. I left the engine to idle to use the heat and the light and soon had water warming on the stove. Then I ventured back outside into the brilliant star lit night. As I so often find, once I have braved the cold for the moment, it becomes the least of my worries. Finding the ground scattered with the ancient roots of long dead greasewood bushes I quickly gathered some wood, and then went back for more. If I have carried a supply with me, what little I have is precious and best replenished when possible. That the roots burn hot and make good coals is also a plus. I kicked around a bit and then sat on the step of my bus to admire the evening. It was only then that the silence and the solitude became complete and surrounded me so quickly. I breathed in the stillness.
If I have always been a solitary person I have denied myself so much of the same! It is only in returning here, to the place where that solitude became perfected, that I recall the necessity of it! If I thought I would miss the camaraderie of Three Rivers, I do, but the solitude is just as welcome, and necessary also. It is only here that I can reach deep into my soul and find that which remains buried so much of the time. In this place she can arise and blossom, unfettered and unafraid! The freedom is in immediate reach here and never more than minutes away. I have thought to return for that very reason. I am here now, hoping I might stay.
I am in no hurry today and have no plans to meet. I discovered a part of myself that I have missed, standing alone in the starlight. I need to go visit with her today and rather than break camp I will walk from here, at least for a while. The canyons are close but the high mesa suits my needs. I need to see the mountains in the distance and feel the breeze as it caresses my face and lifts my hair. I have no need for anything else! If my list of things I’d like to have is short my own personal is shorter, and far simpler. I want only to replenish my peace of mind and serenity. It is in as easy reach as all the others, and in this instance, right outside my door. Just kicking the dried roots from the sand was almost enough, but I will wander further also.
It is the absence of boundaries here which appeals to me the most. The cattle wander unfettered and could walk for miles without fences. I feel much of the same, with the press of humanity miles away and no visual evidence of their presence, less the dirt two track and some tire tracks in the dust. The most recent are my own, and will likely remain that way unless someone checks the cows. I will likely follow those same tracks back off to the north just for safety, rather than walk across the sand. If my sense of direction is good I need not trouble myself with the effort of tracking it. Instead I will allow my thoughts to wander and give them the freedom to do so. I learned many years ago, in this very place, the joys and the comforts of that practice. Nothing of the present will change in my absence but my mind will fill with the joy of forgetfulness for as long as I allow it.
When I return it will begin where I left off. In considering that statement it becomes the definition of simplicity, all outside the lines. If I so often wander about the maze of my life, albeit less than most people, when I step away it becomes clear lines. Here, whether I walk out across the desert or follow a familiar track, there is nothing else to distract me. I have the endless sky above and the mountains in the distance, all of such comfort to a woman such as I. There is even little desire to share it, the solitude is too complete for even that. With a like-minded other perhaps, but they are few and far between and a human voice would break the silence. I am content to be alone. The weight of the stillness astounded me last night, having retreated fully to its realm in the darkness. If I take pause each evening, no matter where I am, to acknowledge the same, it is never so complete. One can only find it when they live outside the lines………..