“…we don’t know what day we’re on. We just don’t.
So we’ve gotta do all we can to make every one be the kind of day
that helps us become who we are. . .I keep learning how powerful it is to say “yes”
to new experiences, to be brave, to ask for help when you need it,
and to just sing your own song in your own voice,
in whatever way that means something to you.”
~ Tamara Mangum Bailie, songwriter
One of the things about spending so much time with the screen is missing fall in New Mexico. I get doses. Like the luminescent golden-yellow leaves of a cottonwood still in full coat outside my window. But the shadows have turned edgy, the light moved to that quality you know it’s past fall. Now, dark at 5:47, I feel something’s slipped by. And I’m looking for life past the screen.
I drove to Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs a day after wonky sleep last week. Most of the trees through the valley with the best display were bare. A quiet tangle where I usually see light. I have three fav places for that dose of color and light. This valley after the bend, crossing toward Ojo one of them. It dawns on me this is the first time in 23 yrs. I haven’t seen it. But there were still breathtaking gems scattered here and there. As I drove out of Ojo, big trees in fields either side of me lit gorgeously bright in the late afternoon sun. I didn’t want to leave. Like seriously didn’t want to leave. I spun off the narrow rough-paved road, made a U-turn just to see them once more. Pebbles and miscellany from that turn rattled in my wheel wells for a dozen or more miles.
I went to the Dixon Studio Tour with Ken. I met him 23 yrs. ago when he drove out to the middle of open, undeveloped land where we lived for moving boxes. There’s things about that first home in Santa Fe I still viscerally remember – bluebirds and hawks on the large disk birdbaths, snow, how I stood many nights, my head rocked back, my chest filled with awe as I gazed upon the Milky Way coursing across a field of a kerjillion stars. I haven’t seen that kind of sky since. Ken always has his camera, never minds waiting while I chat with folks. Perfect, because Dixon’s not so much about the art, anymore, for me. It’s the community.
Dixon. . .apple country 45 min. north of Santa Fe. The Rio Embudo running beside it. No place flat. The little village so compressed, no need to drive all of it like on the other studio tours. People walk, mill along the road. I love the New Mexican food at the little eatery where you’re sure to wait 20 min. in line. Daughter takes orders at the register, mama dishes ice cream, pours drinks. Even with the bustle, the gal offered a taste of the chipolte pork, with a smile, when I asked how hot it was.
I love the music in the backroom of the Mission hall, too. Tho we don’t hang around long. A trio – violin, guitar, and this year, a drum. Celtic folk in flavor. Wonderful voices. I meant to write their name down.
We lucked out because there was rain in the desert all day and night before. The thick promise of the sky and desert-humidity delivered. And I heard it was rain-rain and mud Sunday. But lucky us. Saturday, just a few sprinkles like blessings.
Driving home, narrow, curvy 2 lanes, double yellow lines, we come to a complete stop. Mountain on one side. Guard rail at a steep drop the other. Six cars up, a big vehicle overturned on its side, it’s bottom facing us. We hear the sirens coming, on their way. First thought’s someone did something crazy, because that’s what I saw driving up. Crazy. But not so. Tire blew, like exploded, front driver side. Threw the car into the guard rail, and flipped a 16-yr-old girl down against the road.
The wait seemed out of time. Eerily peaceful. Some cars pulled out, went the other way. A few people stood in the road. But there was no running up and down or around. No drama or zing of impatience. I commented once about the barky barks down the valley that didn’t shut up. He commented how the cops & rescue workers weren’t very efficient, and expressed gratitude we were on a portion of the road with fencing against falling rocks. We simply chilled. I watched the light change on the valley, and the blinking red lights on the five rescue/cop vehicles. I could only think what terror that girl must’ve experienced. That she’ll have PTSD for a long time. I suddenly felt very tired, and closed my eyes. 1 hr-20 min. later, everything and everyone cleared, including the glass, we crept by.
The railing was badly mangled. Good thing it held, we said. I thought of my husband walking on a gorgeous fall day, struck down by a car, the guardrail he was rolled along. How grateful we were it didn’t give. As we drove past seven miles of stopped cars, I said we were lucky to be so close to the front. To know what was happening. To get moving so fast. Grateful. We heard the girl’s OK.
And then there were Rainbows. A really fat one, rich in color, rising halfway to the sky behind us as we hit the straight-away. We passed a guy beside his car, taking a pic. It was that good. I kinda wanted to turn around, see if I could stand in the colored light that touched the ground. (can we ever?) Then after I dropped Ken, another really wide rainbow halfway to the sky as I swung toward Santa Fe. Newly snow-capped mountains in the background. And then just as I felt the most tired, still two stops to go before home, a tall, spectacular arch. Nothing like a New Mexico rainbow. They’re not like Hawaii rainbows, or Appalachian, or Florida rainbows. Something about the color on that crisp sky, I guess.
How is it that we find our Soul Homes. I don’t reminisce as a habit, but I feel and see my life here like one long continuum, despite the 18 year residence in other places. I remember so clearly those 4 years in the 90s I picked up my friend Jacqueline every other week at 2pm when she got off work. Our drive north and thru the pueblo to Ojo where we soaked & had trout dinners in the little dining room that looks the same now but has gone upscale for dinner. And how the sky looked that night driving back when we saw an UFO. No one believed us, but we know what we saw. Jacqueline is a first friend here, too. I met her on my first Dixon tour 23 yrs. ago.
The Appalachians pull a sense of Home from me when I fly over. I feel a peace and belonging in Hawaii where I glide immediately into the vibe, am calmed. Experience a deep knowing inside when I hear the chants, see Kahiko Hula. But it’s here, this desert. These mountains. This light. This expansive feeling inside me as big as the Universe. The moments I’m so happy just Being. How many times I used the word ‘lucky’ writing this. As if time is on my side tho it flows like a too-swiftly moving river. I think maybe I can find center, again, here.
Another Small Journey. Getting to Wise.
A Writer’s Life.
Tell me. . .what’s time feel like for you right now?
I’ll tell you a secret. . .it 4:11am. The second week I’ve written you in the small hours.
Photo: Apodaca by Lou Malchie, Dixon
I’m writing a book for people living in the real world.
The Writer’s Block Myth
A Guide to Get Past Stuck & Experience Lasting Creative Freedom