Spring is arriving on schedule amidst the world-wide pandemic. In the southern hemisphere autumn is unfolding. For Amy and I, living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, we see flowers and delicate green buds on trees as they begin making leaves again.
The deadly covid virus is a result of nature out of balance. Like so many others, Amy and I are staying home. Our art gallery has been closed for well over 1 month. We have no social contact since there are official edicts limiting gatherings, and everyone is cautious about the virus spreading.
Amy and I go for a walk alone in our neighborhood once a day. Seeing the tree blooms turning into leaves, I suggested a drive out of town where we might see apple orchards.
We packed a lunch and drove north toward a little town called Dixon. Passing through the city of Española, Amy remarked that the name means “Those from Spain”. The main road has about seven traffic lights and then the highway resumes across open landscapes. In a short while we were driving in a chasm with the rushing Rio Grande River on our left. The road twisted in the mountain pass with scenic vistas at every turn. Soon we came to the turn off to Dixon. The landscape was not yet green. A few homes stood along the county road but we noticed the fruit trees were either past blooming or not at all. Driving on, we passed a food market and church, then not seeing what we came for, turned around. The Dixon market is a homespun food co-op and Amy wanted to stop there. She put on her mask and went in. “Look for toilet paper!” I said. It is entirely scarce everywhere— all the stores in town are sold out. Soon she came out, no toilet paper in hand but quite happy she had found some bulk beans and other items she could not find in Santa Fe.
I suggested we go further north, since we were very near a tiny village called Pilar and the entrance to the Rio Grande Gorge. At Pilar, I turned off to an area near the river. The air felt balmy and temperate, with blue sky above—perfect spring weather. We got out to stretch our legs and stand by the flowing water. Amy surmised later that it was there that she lost her hand sewn face mask—it must have fallen to the ground from her lap when she got out of the car.
I never tire of the Rio Grande Gorge. The vistas are grand. A small road follows the river which has cut a deep groove in the mountain terrain. Rock is exposed and sage brush grows among the hearty little piñon and cedar trees dotting the earth.
The Rio Grande Gorge State park, extends along the river and we noticed that entrances to campgrounds and picnic areas were closed off, (because of the pandemic). None-the-less, I saw plenty of fishing activity. Folks in waders stood in the middle of the flowing water, fishing for trout. I was surprised to see so many anglers, but surmised they had no work so wished to be outdoors doing something pleasurable and useful.
We found a spot by the river to sit on boulders and eat lunch to the sound of strong currents of water flowing. I wanted to paint a picture so we climbed back in the car and drove further until I found the scene that appealed to me, (see picture at top). I set up and painted while Amy stayed behind and read. My view was looking north through the gorge. The mountains rose from the river banks on each side and colorful sage and other shrubs speckled the earth. I like painting scenes that include a path that starts in the foreground and then gets smaller and disappears in the middle somewhere. In this case the river extended from my feet and vanished in the gorge with mountains behind in the distance.
After painting, we drove a bit further to the end of the paved road and came to Orilla Verde, a small recreation area that has a trailhead. The elevation along the river is 6,100 feet and the steep canyon rises 800 feet from the river to the Gorge rim. We hiked in the early afternoon sunshine and I took pictures. By now fluffy white clouds were arriving to blow slowly across the stretch of blue overhead. Both of us felt jubilant and Amy said, “We must do this twice a week!”
Indeed, nature in balance is the best antidote to a pandemic.