Chimayó, New Mexico

30 minutes north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, lies the tiny community of Chimayó. This morning, on yet another cloudy day in Oxford, I woke up thinking about chile!

When Jamie and I were in the early stages of love, I did not, could not, understand his obsession with “chile”. It mattered not how spicy the briyani or kebabs (both foods he loves very much), it was never the same, even while as hot as New Mexican Chile. I would often say, “Spicy is spicy, I don’t understand.” I didn’t get it despite really enjoying New Mexican cuisine whenever we would go out to eat (which I quickly learned was different than Mexican food which is, as everyone knows, different than Tex-Mex).  However, slowly, I started being able to tell the difference between the chiles. Sometimes it was not as red as other times; sometimes it was a “flat” green taste and other times it was a “fresh” green taste. Not all restaurants did theirs the same. Each time even at the same venue it couldn’t be the same because it depended on the batch.

Well, now I understand completely. Here is more if you want to read and see beautiful photos about it.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, a South African friend of mine who is a healer told me, “You will marry a man from the desert. He will take you to a place that reminds you of your childhood.” I laughed at her and told her that was impossible–I was never ever moving to the desert. And no force of love could ever make me leave New York City, my home of so many years. Two years later, I met Jamie. Of course, leaving New York City was easy because it was no longer the city I had loved for so long, but I left knowing it was not possible to feel “at home” anywhere else. I have never been more wrong.

New Mexico is high desert, meaning it has all the seasons, including snow. It has mountains, sky, green, rain, pinon, monsoons, real diversity, and wonderful people.

Love, real love, shatters preconceived ideas about so many things: where you can or can never live, what the word “desert” means, and where you call home.

 

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“Fifty springs are little room…”

It’s certainly spring. These were taken at the Veteran’s Memorial Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I shared them with my father and he shared a poem he recalled from his childhood.

 

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A Shropshire Lad 2: Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
By A. E. Housman
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

 

 

 

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All that is possible…

Busy days and nights. Reading more and more each day, wishing I had more time to re-read. Any email updates to anyone are fragments wanting to be poetry.

I was awestruck by this plant (see image below). I found it during a hike in the Bandelier National Monument park. The park is located near Los Alamos, about a 45 minute drive north of Santa Fe. As part of the “Nuclear Southwest: Literature and Film” course, taught by Dr. Jesse Aleman, we took a trip to Los Alamos where we visited the Bradbury Science Museum. There is much to process about the trip, the many nonfiction and fiction readings prior to the trip, the class discussions, and the new readings due next week. Besides, once processed, I actually have to do more than write a post about it so I better save my energy for that! After the trip some of us decided to continue the day and went onto White Rock, from there we took a shuttle to Bandelier. Here you can read about the park’s history etc. Here you can see many more amazing photos taken by professionals who specialize in such photography. I have a few to share and will do so later, perhaps via email update (for those subscribed).

 

Besides all kinds of other professional and academic growth, I am keenly aware of how the landscape here is serving as a suture for the past so as to experience the Stillness that leads to the future. I can’t quite articulate any of that for now but it is certainly happening.

 

Awed by that which grows so beautifully in the harshest of conditions, almost mocking humanity, as if it could be any other way. The desert is rich with life, abundant with contrasts, and reminds us of all the impossible that is quite possible.

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“invisible activity”

Today the air is clear of everything.
It has no knowledge except of nothingness
And it flows over us without meanings,
As if none of us had ever been here before
And are not now: in this shallow spectacle,
This invisible activity, this sense.

From “A Clear Day and No Memories” by Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)

What I love about the sea is all the “invisible activity” that no one sees but can definitely sense. You notice how powerless and powerful we all are. You can almost hear your DNA whisper that this moment, like so many before, was orchestrated many years ago to get you to this point. You are pre-coded to be free and your best self.

Very few days in life come close to being classified as absolutely perfect. This particular Sunday, two weeks ago, was the most perfect day I have experienced in California. And it wasn’t even sunny!  My brother was promoted, much deserved and well earned, and his supervisor, a truly inspiring being, invited his family, us, and colleagues on his yacht.

That Sunday, I could only think of possibilities. Despite all that is not right in the United States and this world, for a day I was surrounded by good people, trying to do good in their corners of the world.

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 On the coast. Newport Sea Base, CA. 2014.