A global guide to LIVING CREATIVELY

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Northern New Mexico

ELECTRIC NEW MEXICO
 ...a unique sense of place
“Poets are always taking the weather so personally. They're always sticking their emotions in things...”  J. D. Salinger
Photo taken from Mesa House land, Ojo Caliente, NM
Facts.
I could tell you that Santa Fe was settled by so and so in the year whatever and you would know something, but you wouldn't really know anything about the texture of the place. What of the fresh scent of cedar, or the electric pink of adobe walls as the sun sets, or the exhilaration of high elevations? How could you understand the fiery dry air striking your sinuses. And the blue sky everyone casually mentions, is not this blue. It is a blue so intense, it defies description.

Those who comprehend the magic of this place have the ability to experience and assimilate space. They sense having lived here before and feel at home.
Many years ago, we met a wizened old woman, hiking along one of the many trails close in to  Santa Fe, who shared, "You either get this place, or you don't. There's no gray. Imagine, there are people who don't feel comfortable here. Incomprehensible!"
Unlike the lush redwood groves of Northern California, the geography in New Mexico is exposed and spare. For those who appreciate its elegant beauty, the land is welcoming and revealing. For those who do not, the land is dry, brown and taciturn. It bristles the skin, while shriveling the senses.
Mesa House land
Seasons here are distinctly different than, for example, the mid-western United states. On a summer evening, as the last trace of sunlight radiates  along the horizon, coyotes and other night creatures materialize. The air is cool and may be carried within a breeze that soothes a night's sleep.
During the monsoon season, thunderstorms, beautiful and dangerous, move across the sky, leaving cloud shadows while barely quenching the desert floor with moisture. At other times, rain falls to earth, moving fast in rivulets and streaming through arroyos with little absorption. Wild flowers pierce the earth, creating subtle patterns of color, shape and shadow.
Snow arrives in winter and surprises in May. It layers itself atop mocha-colored adobe walls. Down and heavy cloth coats are removed from storage, along with colorful scarves and sensible boots. Weather changes clothing.

In spring, river valleys display swaths of youthful green foliage, while in fall they are draped with gold and pale yellow, tinged with red. No matter the season, the sky is almost always expansive and spacious; there to entertain us as we quietly sit and watch it shift and dance.
A sense of place.
We perceive this place as unique. It isn’t. However, we have developed an attachment to it -not only because of expansive sky or captivating weather or compelling geography, but because of the meaning we've poured into it. Call it "sacred", if you will. We call it timeless.
When all is said and done, I think we did not choose this place, it chose us.

"The moment I saw the brilliant, proud morning shine high up over the deserts of Santa Fe, something stood still in my soul, and I started to attend. In the magnificent fierce morning of New Mexico one sprang awake, a new part of the soul woke up suddenly, and the old world gave way to a new." D. H. Lawrence


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