Showing posts with label Mountains. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mountains. Show all posts

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Nothing Short of Magical

As we bid farewell to Santa Fe, and prepare to return to our beloved Oaxaca, Mexico, our hearts are filled with gladness. We carry with us not only cherished memories and experiences but also the kindness and love of the friends who have embraced us throughout our journey. They have touched our lives in profound ways, leaving an indelible mark on our hearts, reminding us of the power of human connection and the beauty of genuine relationships.

Not once in our month sojourn did we have to stay in a hotel or rent accommodations. Friends provided everything we needed and ensured our comfort.

Amy's mural

I have many life experiences associated with Santa Fe, having lived in “The City Different’ for over four decades. Amy too, but especially the nearby city of Taos where her family ancestry goes back four centuries. This return felt invigorating, especially stepping back into a very clean world with all the amenities and opportunities that do not exist where we live now. 

We went to Taos overnight. It is where Amy spent many years and is the land of her ancestors. While there we visited her enormous mural on the side of a wall at the University of New Mexico. Amy then went north—to Minneapolis-St.Paul for two weeks to visit with family and do some work. After she left, I had the opportunity to see my beloved daughter Sarah who lives an hour away, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We went to the zoo there. The day was so hot that most of the animals were hiding or resting lethargically in the shade, but we enjoyed ourselves and rejoiced in our togetherness. 

I had an opportunity to experience the annual Santa Fe Folk Art Festival that draws artists and craftspeople from all over the globe for one weekend. It is a celebration of cultural diversity. 

Santa Fe has a vibrant summer music scene and many nights are alive with free concerts for the community. We discovered the joy of dancing to music alongside fellow residents, joining in the celebrations at free venues located in the charming rail yard and lively plaza. These moments of shared revelry were a testament to the unity and camaraderie that define this city. Traveling bands come from all around to play. While Amy was gone, I went alone to hear the music and often ran into people from my past that I had forgotten.

Sarah at Albuquerque Zoo

I had time for walks in the National forest in the mountains above Santa Fe, and to drive into the Rio Grande Gorge and follow the river for awhile. The days have been exceedingly hot, so it was cool respite to find a stream where I could sit in a pool by boulders under cascading water.

Generous souls have donated art supplies for us to take back to the children we serve in our pueblo. We have two suitcases full of materials and projects.

During our time in Santa Fe, we embarked on various endeavors that required our attention. Among them was the task of selling items we had been storing, which provided an opportunity to declutter and move forward with renewed purpose. 

The time in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has been nothing short of magical. The kindness and love of friends, breathtaking landscapes, the vibrant community, and the invaluable moments of reconnection have shaped this chapter of my life into an unforgettable tale.  In parting, we acknowledge the true spirit of reciprocity and gratitude, for our dear friends have bestowed upon us gifts to share with our neighbors in our humble pueblo in Oaxaca. As we journey back to our Mexican abode, we carry these offerings as a symbol of the interconnectedness we have fostered during our time in Santa Fe. It is through the act of giving and sharing that we can create a ripple effect of kindness, extending the love we have received to those around us.

With my friend Paul White on left

As I bid adieu to this remarkable city, I am reminded that it is the people and the relationships we cultivate that truly make a place feel like home. Santa Fe will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I carry with me the lessons learned and the love shared as I embark on the next chapter of my fairytale life.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Ocean Of Trees

I stumbled upon a shrine someone made and hid in the woods. Intoxicated with mountain fever and wandering off a trail at upper elevations, beauty had made me drunk. It is in moments like these that surprise comes.

Shimmering gold against a blue sky makes for a sublime dance in the mountains. For a brief span of about two weeks at the beginning of October it’s entrancing to go hiking in the woods high above the city. As seasons shift and autumn arrives, aspen trees heart-shaped leaves quake and gleam golden at the slightest breeze. Each white bark tree is rooted with another close by so that together, they make for some of the largest living organisms on earth and blanket mountainsides.

Amy and I began early—At 7, beginning with a stop for fresh coffee at a local cafe and then up along the winding road to Santa Fe Ski Area. Near the top is a favorite trail called Aspen Vista. We stopped there and to our surprise, although it was not yet 8:00, many cars were parked at the trailhead. It had rained recently so the ground was soft. A mist shrouded the upper mountain. We hiked on the broad path, reveling in the color of the aspens with accents of deep green from fir and spruce trees.

Near a small stream, we left the main trail to follow the water upward. Amy felt dizzy from high altitude so we found a place along the stream for her to sit. “I am going to explore the woods but won’t go far” I said, and left for a short sojourn into the primitive terrain, looking for the next photograph. Soon I was climbing over fallen tree trunks on the densely forested mountainside. The aspen stood side by side and shot up hundreds of feet toward the heavens. Often they are bare until near the top where foliage grows and receives sunlight. Dotted amidst the aspen are the deep green, sturdy fir trees with their skirts spread. I clambered over fallen trees and took photos, but thought of Amy and turned back after ten minutes. As I neared the stream, something caught my eye. A large shell gleamed underfoot. I had seen mollusk shells before in the southwest, even in desert regions where millennia before oceans covered the land. But this one was iridescent abalone and therefore struck me as unusual. Reaching down, I turned it over and saw that someone had put small symbolic objects underneath the protective cover. “Amy! Where are you?” I shouted. “Here” she replied and I saw her move just fifty feet away. She came and we both studied the tiny shrine. Amy is more familiar with native symbols and began telling the importance: Abalone shell used in sacred ceremonies for burning sage, obsidian stone, also called dragon stone, is volcanic glass and used in making arrow heads and also clearing blockages, white quartz for healing and purification, Native American pottery shard representing first people, and a metal bookmark with shell emblem—perhaps representing wisdom.

Someone had deep communication in the woods and felt thankful enough to make a sacred offering in a private ceremony which for some reason I was meant to discover.

The abalone is back in its place in the ocean of trees.

Amy, with two friends she met on the way home

Sunday, August 05, 2018

The Clouds

When my friend Therese saw the likeness of birds in twilight clouds and showed me the photograph she took, I thought to make a painting. It hung in my gallery for several months. A few days ago a woman from Denver, Colorado became entranced with it and bought it.

Karen had recently moved with her husband to Colorado from the east coast and had left much of her art collection behind, in order to begin fresh. “Our house has been bare because I have not wanted to buy anything unless I really love it."

It pleases me greatly to be able to meet the people who purchase my art. I was able to look into Karen’s eyes and see her excitement. I was there when she took a picture on her phone and sent it to her husband for approval. He replied, “Nice.” She laughed at how when he says “nice” it usually means something much more. Then she looked back at the painting and pointed to a face she saw in the clouds. Therese saw the face too, and eventually so did I.

Pareibiola is a psychological phenomenon that causes people to see or hear a vague or random image or sound as something significant. Some people do this regularly and others don’t. My father admitted he never could see the, “man in the moon.”

I love looking at skies with clouds that shape shift and turn colors. Especially sunsets give me great joy and a sense of awe. I made a photograph of a landscape with clouds forming the shape of a heart over mountains. Even my father, bless his departed soul, would be able to see it.

For more, see: The Geese Are Clouds

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Suddenly Vanished

The most difficult experience in life is separation. At birth, it is the baby being forced apart from the mother, coming from the womb and the umbilical cord being cut. Then the weaning from the breast, and if it is too sudden there is much crying. Later, the first steps away from mother and father, going off to school for the first time. As the child grows, new bonds of affection form with friends, and eventually, another separation unfolds with the leaving of home and family to start a new life of independence.

All the while, special care is taken to maintain the all-important bond of spirit. This way, a certain safety and security is assured. Even when there is great distance, the bond of spirit is beyond time and space doing its work.
That bond depends on trust. If trust is broken, then the bond breaks. This is worse than physical separation.

When my teen-aged daughter died at the age of nineteen, it felt as though my best partner in life had suddenly vanished. As if we had been hiking together on a wondrous and difficult mountain, helping each other along, crying and laughing together, in awe and also some fear, holding to one another and absolutely bonded, when of a sudden, she vanished—as if from a ledge she leapt into thin air, leaving me alone on the mountainside . . . taking some of my joy with her. We both knew in advance the perils, and she spoke of her uncertainty that she would remain by my side; not that she did not want to, but the hand of fate had written to her. If she spoke of this, I would respond that we could overcome even the hand of fate. But the higher powers wanted her and my love could not keep her from going to a realm even more high and mighty than the feeble mountain I clung to. Now, I found myself on the same wonderful and difficult mountain, but without my dearest friend, and nothing looked the same.

And so here I am fifteen years later in the same situation. Through a physical, mental and
emotional bond, in marriage to Heidi of the Mountains, we had been exploring the heights of our existence, gaining perspective from our vantage on a mountainside, seeing the low places below us, and dreaming of higher places, when the journey became more strenuous and suddenly tiresome. She doubted, and began longing to go back down. I held her hand to convince her of the most beautiful places we had been and just ahead, more sublimity and our lofty goal within reach. We must be loyal, and patient, to give each other strength to get there. I worried she was abandoning me, reminded of my experience with my daughter. I pleaded, but she turned away . . . I could not go with her, and though heartbroken, kept to the mountain.

It has secrets and charms that speak to me every day—bringing healing. The angelic winds play all around, with lofty, wondrous songs, the air is clear and bright, the path strewn with wildflowers. I will travel on, and deal with my loneliness. I trust that the longer I stay on course, the stronger I will become and more wise. The mountain will offer up its joy to me because I do not leave it, but remain faithful.

Monday, July 21, 2014

More Than A Day

Occasionally, it occurs that a day is experienced so fully, that it seems more than a day—but rather more like three that are condensed by alchemy. The moments weave tightly and seamlessly, full of wonder and excitement, with variation. The mind is exploring while the spirit soaring. I have felt this magic before and it is usually during travel.

Yesterday was such a day. Heidi Of The Mountains and I had drove north into Colorado for a four day sojourn and ended up in Crested Butte, a gem of an outdoorsy town situated in a broad, lush valley surrounded by pristine mountains. In winter it is renowned for skiing, and in summer known as the wildflower capital of Colorado.

To begin the day, we left our condominium apartment and headed to an organic bakery for quiche and coffee. The place bustled with patrons, yet we found a quiet table by a window where we leisurely ate. Then we drove along a river that goes into the mountains. Following the curving path, we found an overlook that revealed the river below and mountains up the valley in the distance. For the next two and half hours we created, making oil paintings while standing in wildflower strewn surroundings with the sun on us and occasional fly bites. Our artwork complete, we clambered down the slope to lay by the cold flowing river on a pebble strewn bank, and let our feet get wet. A beaver dam was only step away. I remembered a spiritual verse: “Cleanse the rheum from out thine head, and breathe the breath of God instead.”

Riding back toward town, the condo-hotel is by the ski area, just a couple miles from the town center. We took our paintings to our room for a review, then napped. Soon, Heidi wanted to shop so we drove a couple miles to where the main street is lined with eclectic shops and restaurants. We walked and I held the dog, Gracie, while she went into boutiques and bought clothing. Plant baskets filled to overflowing with blooming flowers were hung everywhere, and profusions of poppies bloomed along the clapboard house fronts. I snapped pictures.

When the shopping was done, we headed farther up, into the mountains toward a lake, where we parked our car and hiked on a trail up into the primitive and pure alpine terrain. The late afternoon light gave more drama to the breathtaking scenery. We climbed steadily higher, with the landscape becoming more wild and free with each step. To wander off the path was to step into flowers. Although at a high elevation on steep terrain, I commented to Heidi that I felt perfect, without fatigue. The beauty was like an aphrodisiac and remedy. Standing up to my chest in a thick glade of leafy flowers, I felt like a child again in a magical realm of wonderment. I composed pictures and took photos—some will become paintings in the future. 

We turned back and found our car, then headed into town. It is the peak season for visitors, and every cafe was packed. Everyone seemed ebullient, as if just back from exciting adventure; either mountain biking, hiking, fishing, or camping. Our dinner was in a retro establishment called BONEZ, serving a Colorado style Mexican cuisine. Over a big community table in the middle of the cavernous main room hung hundreds of empty white glass bottles, illumined with electric bulbs. 

Sunburned, relaxed and happy, we returned to our room, opening our books to read before sleep.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

I Only Feel Elation

I call my wife Heidi Of The Mountains. When we first began spending devoted time together about four years ago, we liked to hike in the mountains, and she enjoyed it so much that when I looked at her with her blonde hair as she hiked, I called her Heidi Of The Mountains. The name stuck, and at times, she has insisted that is what I must call her—Heidi. It is the only way I refer to her online.
A few days ago, we awoke to a fresh blanket of snow, with flakes continuing to fall from the gray sky above. Not to be stopped, we took our dog and snow shoes and drove along the blanketed road toward the Santa Fe Ski Basin, into the mountains. We parked at a trail head, and were completely alone. Our dog Gracie, immediately began frolicking, thrilled to be in the winter wonderland. Indeed, we all felt happy and lunged merrily into the magical woods. The snow continued falling and the temperatures were below freezing, but we were bundled in winter clothes, together by ourselves in the wilderness, and in silence among the snow-laden trees of the forest.
Following a barely traceable trail, deeper and deeper we went . . . the snow falling gently, everything shrouded in white, and serene. The only sound was our feet crunching in the snow, and our voices as we talked or laughed. Occasionally we would stop just to listen to the silence. Nothing, broke the impasse, not wind in the trees or bird song. Gracie would stop too, and listen.
At one point, Heidi Of The Moutains said, “My hands are cold, are yours?” I replied, “I don't know, because I am so entranced and happy, I only feel elation!”

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Nature's Peace

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”  John Muir

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” Edward Abbey

My daughter Sarah, my ex-wife Jean, and I went for a four-day excursion to Silverton Colorado. Silverton only has about 500 residents, but swells with visitors in the summer because of its spectacular surroundings. It has been called “A gritty little mining town with Victorian pretensions.” The elevation, 9305 feet, makes it one of the highest towns in the United States. Originally it was founded during a gold rush, when silver and gold was being mined in the late nineteenth century.

The first day, we drove up to Animus Fork, to the ruins of old mines and miners structures. While Jean and Sarah hiked, I made a painting of an abandoned house with the mountains in the background. In the evening, we went to a restaurant, then came home and played cards. The next day, we hiked a rigorous trail up into the mountains to Ice Lake, a climb of about 3.5 miles from an elevation of about 9,900 feet to 12,000. We started late, and about half way up, hikers were already descending to return to town. Some people are hard-core hikers and even ultra-fit enthusiasts—and its always amusing to find that we are huffing and puffing and stopping to get our breath, when one of these people casually jogs past us. Our efforts were rewarded by late summer colors, wildflowers, mushroom varieties and astonishing mountains, but we were quite sore when we got back.

The other highlight of our trip was a jeep trip high in the mountains on roads only passable in all-terrain vehicles. The day went like this:
Sarah is the last one up in the morning, and when we arrive at the Jeep rental the time is 10:30.  Jim, the owner,  is a rough-cut mountain man who begins gruff but warms up as we go along. He tells us we have to wait until 1 PM to contract a half-day rental and have to return at 5. We look a little disappointed and he says okay, he can give us a new jeep that seats four, with a hardtop (good for rain) and he doesn’t care if we get back late. He plots out a course for us that includes going over mountaintops, visiting Lake City and Colorado’s 2nd largest lake, and then looping back over Engineers Pass and back into Silverton. Clouds are gathering and I ask him if he thinks it will rain, and he looks out the window and says, “Yes, I am pretty good at guessing the weather.” In fact, it did not rain that day. Jim gives me a lesson operating the four-wheel drive gears, and the most difficult part is that I have to have the jeep in neutral and rolling slowly to get into 4 wheel drive low-gear for steep terrain. Well, how am I supposed to be in neutral and rolling up hill when I shift in the mountains? He seems satisfied I will figure it out and then we say good-bye.

We take off driving the Alpine Loop and arrive at our first steep ascent, called Cinnamon Pass. I manage to jam the gears into 4 wheel low and begin the slow treacherous crawl upward over boulders and ravines. For those of us used to driving on smooth roadways, off-road mountain climbing in a vehicle on old mule paths is an extreme adventure. At times, you find your heart in your throat. Jean kept both her hands grasped firmly on the handle jutting from the dashboard . . . a well-placed jeep accoutrement. Occasionally vehicles could be seen coming the other way, but the right-of-way belonged to the vehicle climbing. It could be difficult passing because few places are wide enough to allow it.

At the top of Cinnamon Pass we are astonished at the view from near 13,000 feet in the tundra setting. I get excited and sprint a short ways to a rocky knoll to take pictures but immediately become out of breath and gasp for air. Soon, as we continue the course, Sarah asks to drive . . .  I agree and let her take the wheel—unless we come to extreme driving conditions. She does fine, and I am proud when other toughened drivers pass and notice a beautiful young woman at the wheel of the jeep on the hard mountain roads.

We are continually amazed at the settings we are in. Late summer wildflowers are in bloom and we see marmots, a furry mammal that looks like a prairie dog but is more related to squirrels.

After driving about 3 ½ hours, we arrive in Lake City and stop to rest and eat. Jean is told of a nearby hiking trail and we find it, then hike to a waterfall in the forest. I imagine that in a few weeks the Aspen trees will be golden and shimmering, and determine to come back then. Sarah and Jean take their shoes off and put their feet in the ice-cold mountain stream, giggling and laughing. We revel in the sound of the gushing, splashing water and pristine mountain surroundings. On the way back, Sarah collects wild raspberries. They taste very tart and fruity.

I am a bit concerned about time, and do not want to drive on off-road trails in the dark, so we forge onward along steep narrow passes that hug the mountain side with steep drop offs to oblivion. Switchbacks can be so severe that the jeep is barely able to make the sharp turn. The late afternoon light makes the mountains even more beautiful and we stop frequently to revel, despite the time. Near Engineers Pass we turn a corner and suddenly come to a big flock of grazing sheep. The scene is almost incongruous in such a harsh setting, but about 800 sheep are meandering over the mountain, grazing on the rich fauna. No shepherd is in sight, only two big Great Pyrenees dogs and their pup. The sound of “baaah, baaah” is everywhere.

When we come to Engineers Pass, at 12,800 feet the panorama is breathtaking. We can see mountains and valleys in almost every direction. The light seems to hang in the fresh, summit air. I feel like I am in heaven.

Eventually, we arrive back in Silverton at about 6:30. The owner’s wife checks in the vehicle and I tell her we had a great time.

“Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!” William Butler Yeats