I woke up in Abiquiu, in a tent, sun kissed and another year older.
My love affair with New Mexico started a long time ago. I've been going there since the nineties, mainly to Taos, but never spent any time in Abiquiu, a tiny village of Spanish and Native American descendants and where Georgia O'Keeffe lived and painted all those watercolored canyons and the pelvis bone with Pedernal mountain, her mountain, in the background. Pink waves of hills with black creases and grey shadows covered her canvases. The Cows Skull with Calico Roses and how she looked at blue sky through a white circle of bone. Through her eyes, the sun bleached bones were alive. I had studied her art and read every book about her and it was about time to go see what she saw.
When I had first seen the landscape of New Mexico, I felt as if I had come home. I felt different there. I knew I belonged there. And I couldn't quit going back.
I must have been taken in by the same things that Georgia saw. All those deep canyons, the piñon dotted terra cotta hills, the vastness and the light. Oh, the intense light!
"I loved it immediately," Georgia O'Keeffe later recalled. "I was always on my way back."
See what I mean? We both had the same euphoric experience you might say.
Every day I felt like I was walking in and out of a Georgia O'Keeffe painting. Every day I would just stare and stare at the Red Mesa and I'd stretch my neck and fly in the Canyon with Crows.
Every day I didn't want it to end.
There were other places in Abiquiu, forever dirt roads that followed the Rio Chama and twisted landscapes leading to a monestary in the mountains. We spent a few hours there, being still. Places of kalaidescope colors mixed in with Native American ruins and ruddy arroyos. The river water was teal, cerulean blue and jade swirling around rocks like broken sapphires in the sunshine. We saw turkey vulchers circling every Mesa and ravens are surely obsessed with the canyons and cliffs as much as I am.
We visited villages and casitas with brightly colored doors, kiva fireplaces, smooth and rounded architecture, calming, secluded and exotic. Adobes that match the landscape is probably my favorite thing about this part of the Southwest desert. And the green chilie. And homemade blue corn tamales, shrimp burritos, smothered enchiladas and the warm and friendly people, a laid back atmosphere in cozy open patios.
Abiquiu, you treated me right. You are a jewel in those gold and lavender hills. I will see you again soon.
Very, very soon.
My dad taught me everything I know about nature, animals, books, music and respect for all things.
I wouldn't be who I am today if it weren't for him.
It's his birthday.
HE IS 93!
And he is AWESOME!
It's Mother's Day!
So, I went out in it. I took a walk and sang a song to my owl. A whisper, really.
The softest hush of a tune, my prayer of thanks for showing up.
Mama owl could hear me, too. She is hunkered down, deep in her nest, just two trees east of where the sacred male resides. With binoculars, I get a glimpse of the blonde feathered head.
She's heard me sing before. I close my eyes and hum to her newborns. The ones she's taking such good care of.
And soon, there will be new lives to honor. And new songs to sing.
The gray owl had seen us and had fled
but not far. We followed noiselessly,
driving him from pine to pine:
I will not let thee go except thou bless me.
He flew as though it gave him no pleasure,
forcing himself from the bough,
falling until his wings caught him:
they had to stroke hard, like heavy oars.
He must have just eaten
something that had, itself, just eaten.
Finally he crossed the swamp and vanished
as into a new day, hours before us,
and we stood near the chest-high reeds,
our feet sinking, and felt
we'd been dropped suddenly from midair
back into our lives.
"A Sighting" by Connie Wanek