I sat staring at the rain drizzling down the windows. Long wooden paned glass wrapped around the room at the top of The Mabel Dodge Luhan House. The old wood floors creaked as you'd expect from an old Adobe built in 1918. For years I have wanted to sleep in the solarium room. It's always booked but I finally snagged a reservation in time for a spring break retreat. Marveling at the Sangre de Cristo mountains out to the northeast shrouded in fog, looked like misty Appalachians, not an ordinary scene in New Mexico. To the west lies the Rio Grande River Gorge and the Brazos Mountains jutting out at 11,000 feet. Taos valley is covered in sweet sage and pinon and the giant cottonwood tree that looms over the solarium room is showing signs of tiny green buds on silvery twisted branches. On this first day of spring it seems only natural to sit and listen to the rain. Magpies show their irredescent blue feathers as they fly, then perch and stare at me through every window. I watch Ravens break off twigs and fly back and forth, adding them to their nest in another tree.
The rain has stopped and in it's place comes a burst of sunshine. On the Taos Plaza shop owners fling open their doors and turn their signs from Closed to Open. Reminding me of a scene from the Johnny Depp movie 'Edward Scissorhands', every one of them at the exact same time start sweeping their portion of the sidewalk. I walk by and one man stops sweeping, looks up at the sky, then at me and gestures "happy spring!" I smile so big and return the salutation. That's what I love about being in Taos. Everyone always seems so happy to be alive. World Coffee serves a Sweet Mexican Mocha that cannot be beat, anywhere. It's this tiny little shack on the corner of the plaza, packed with hippies, tree huggers, shining, smiling faces and friendly chatter over a Mumford & Sons song playing in the background.The girl who made my mocha, it happened to be her birthday. When I looked into her clear green laughing eyes, I saw the happiest person on the planet. C and I grabbed our hot drinks and drove out to the Rio Grande Gorge bridge. Another houseguest at the lodge had told us about a white horse she had seen in the sage flats at the bridge just yesterday. I wanted to find that white horse.
There was no sign of a white horse.
We took the meandering road up to Arroyo Seco, a sleepy little artist village with funky shops and the famous Taos Cow where they make their own ice cream. I'm going to tell you something that will probably sound dorky but I always have to stop in the Taos Cow just in case Julia Roberts is in there picking up pastries and espresso or ice cream cones for Hazel, Henry and Phinnaeus. She does live there, America's Boho sweetheart, tucked high up in the mountains above that town. We enjoyed the most delicious homemade cinnamon roll as we sat outside by the creek, waiting for Julia to show up.
There was no sign of Julia Roberts.
Evenings were spent by the kiva fireplace writing and reading. Burrowing ourselves into comfortable old leather chairs and making numerous trips to the kitchen for hot water and tea, C and I would occasionally look up from what we were doing and smile at each other in the silence. This was a good place to come to. Sometimes you just have to go away from home to find your place in the world again.
On a different note, my mom can walk now. Without all the details, here is what we've discovered: honestly, we thought she would never walk again. It did not look good two months ago, what with a broken spine in two places and the long and slow healing process and a lot of uncertainty. An extremely motivated and encouraging physical therapist got her up and walking. My mom got her strength back, her confidence back. My younger brother, Jeff, who is an athlete, stood by her side and showed her some excersizes she could do. He gave her small hand weights for strengthening. She took his arm and he slowly walked her around the kitchen. I'll never forget the day she told me "I walked eleven paces today!" Since then, she's been to see the finest Neurosurgeon in all the land and this is what he said: "It is nothing short of a miracle." Now, everyday my mom goes to the Clubhouse pool and walks in water. My dad is right there with a nice fluffy towel to wrap around her when she gets out. They are really getting back into the groove again.
The weather was perfect. It was sunny and crisp with fine clouds and a soft breeze. Just as we crossed the New Mexico border into Colorado we meet up with the wild horses of the San Luis Valley, also known as Wild Horse Mesa. They had their backs to the snow covered peaks of the San Juan Mountain range. We pulled over and walked out in the field towards them as they drank from a canal. There were ten horses altogether. Bays and Sorrels with white blazes and stripes down their noses. I have since learned from an observant girlfriend that there are a couple of round bellied mares, that foals are in the future. There were a couple of shaggy young ones, too. I kept my eye on one who was caked with mud and walked with a limp. Oh, I wanted to help somehow! Was there something in it's hoof? Was the leg sprained? There was nothing I could do. That is nature. That is the life of a wild one.
The dirty white horse was the ring leader, it was obvious. We could see he had wise eyes. We could see he was older. His dingy yellow twisted and tangled mane hung down to his thigh. He was a very good boy. After an hour, he made a move and the rest followed. They all turned and walked away. We thanked them for letting us spend time with them and then we headed back to the car.
Clomping through Rabbitbrush we stumbled upon a bleached carcass. Wild horse bones. A perfect white skull with nice teeth and a faint smile. C and I looked at each other and smiled. In the silence.