Across the Rio Grande and down the road a piece lies Ojo Caliente, a home away from home going on twenty-five years now. It is as beautiful and restful as ever, and delight of delights, positively resplendent in the light of farolitos. It rained, something new for us, lying in the half light of evening, giant drops falling slow and steady on our faces as we soaked. A perfect ending to our stay, really, a nod to Portland, too.
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This land, this sun, the green gold of sage, tubleweed, and brittle grass is me. As much as flesh, as much as bone. It is love turned to dust to be blown and spread upon the fields. My heart soars at the Zia of the New Mexico highway sign, sign that I am home, faded light of the chambray sky filling every chamber.
This is what the West is to me. Nearly completely unknown until I moved across the country and withered in the wet of the East. The stench of pollution and the sadness of winter bare trees, hills leading to more hills, no snow capped mountains, no turquoise, no pinon. And so I was lost, save for the love of the hubster and my dear, dear friends. Profoundly, oddly. I thought I could live anywhere, my love for the world, my eager limbs ready to root. This is what it is to learn, to listen, to return to where we are called. Here! This place!
Our first stop on this Thanksgiving trip is Taos: choke cherry, chocolate (at chokola – deelicious!!), and colorful cemeteries. Twenty-four years since we were last there, and I, of impeccable memory, don’t recognize a thing. All is new and dazzling, yet again. We stay in the little geodesic dome on the outskirts of town, starlight dense and wild, the universe peering down on our sleeping, our sleeplessness, our laughter, through the triangle of light. The cat will cry at the door until we let it in and it cuddles like it is ours. Dogs do the same, bounding down the path. Coyotes sing us to sleep, a most thorough welcome home.
Grandfather, Great Spirit, you have been always,
and before you no one has been.
There is no other one to pray to but you.
You yourself, everything that you see,
everything that has been made by you.
The star nations all over the universe you have finished.
The four quarters of the earth you have finished.
The day, and in that day, everything you have finished.
Grandfather, Great Spirit, lean close to the earth
that you may hear the voice I send.
You towards where the sun goes down, behold me;
Thunder Beings, behold me!
You where the White Giant lives in power, behold me!
You where the sun shines continually,
whence come the day-break star and the day, behold me!
You where the summer lives, behold me!
You in the depths of the heavens, an eagle of power, behold!
And you, Mother Earth, the only Mother,
you who have shown mercy to your children.
Hear me, four quarters of the world — a relative I am!
Give me the strength to walk the soft earth, a relative to all that is!
Give me the eyes to see and the strength to understand,
that I may be like you.
With your power only can I face the winds.
Great Spirit, Great Spirit, my Grandfather, all over the earth
the faces of living things are all alike.
With tenderness have these come up out of the ground.
Look upon these faces of children without number
and with children in their arms,
that they may face the winds
and walk the good road to the day of quiet.
This is my prayer; hear me!
The voice I have sent is weak,
yet with earnestness I have sent it.
It is finished. Hetchetu aloh!
It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.
We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.
Henry David Thoreau