Showing posts with label New Mexico. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New Mexico. Show all posts

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Living Between Two Worlds

As we moved between two countries, we carried with us a beautiful blend of cultures, traditions, and experiences. We know that home is not confined to a single place; rather, it is a tapestry woven from the threads of the people we love and the memories we hold dear. Our hearts now span across borders, and we find ourselves at ease in both Mexico's vibrant embrace and Santa Fe's familiar allure.

In this journey between places, we've come to realize that we are incredibly fortunate to have the best of both worlds. Mexico, with its soulful and sincere friendships, teaches us the value of human connections and endless possibilities for adventure. On the other hand, Santa Fe and Taos, with their cosmopolitan charm, upscale culture, the beloved landscape with its great vistas and soaring mountains, and many dear relationships, reminds us of our deep roots there and growth that came with years of living.

Home is more than just a physical place; it's a feeling of belonging, love, and nostalgia. For Amy and me, “Old” Mexico and “New” Mexico are home. For four decades we made a beautiful life in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a famous city in the USA on the forefront of creativity and cultural diversity. For some of that time, Amy lived in Taos, the place of her ancestors and rich intersection between Spanish, Native American and Anglo cultures. 

Recently for one month, we embarked on a sojourn from Mexico where we presently live, back to our former home, and the experience was nothing short of marvelous.  Amy also visited her family in Minneapolis-St. Paul. She stayed with her sister and oldest son and spent time with her two sons and four grandchildren. We are fortunate to experience the best of both worlds. 

My daughter Sarah and I

We bought our home near Oaxaca about 3 1/2 years ago. It is the reason we arrived in Mexico. The house is soulful, and called us to purchase it. We soon realized the challenges that come with moving into a foreign culture; especially since we live in a pueblo that is poor by American standards. I could write a book about the experience thus far. 

Living in a country with a language distinct from our mother tongue has presented tests, but also teaches the value of communication beyond words. The warmth of a smile, the laughter shared over a meal, and the genuine care and concern for one another transcend linguistic barriers. In Mexico, we find a place where simplicity and genuine connections hold more significance than material wealth.

Stream in the Rio Grande Gorge, New Mexico

Returning to Santa Fe felt like revisiting the past and reconnecting with old friends. The familiarity of the English language was a comfort, and being surrounded by familiar faces was a heartwarming experience. Our sojourn allowed us to reminisce about the years gone by and cherish our lasting friendships that transcend time and distance. We met with so much kindness and generosity. Further, we brought back to Mexico donated gifts of art materials to share with our neighbor children in our pueblo. 

Amy with neighbor kids

Our story is one of love, appreciation, and the beauty of living between two worlds. While Mexico, our humble and beloved home, provides us with soulful and sincere connections, Santa Fe, our former abode in the wealthy USA, offers us the warmth of familiar faces and a history filled with fond memories. As we continue our journey through life, we carry with us the best of both worlds, forever grateful for the unique and cherished places that have shaped us into who we are today.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

A Remarkable Road

In the United States of America, Colorado and New Mexico border each other. I like to think of them as “cousins”. The two states share qualities and each is unique. So when folks from Colorado want to make a quick vacation, they often come to New Mexico, and especially Santa Fe. I have sold much of my art to people from Colorado. In fact, I just finished two large paintings for a physician couple (he is a high-school friend) that live in Snowmass, near Aspen. Now due to the pandemic, my art gallery is practically shut down  so I decided to hand deliver the art and make a 5 day mini-vacation with Amy. 

My van transports artwork, but also can be used as a glorified tent! 

Our first sojourn, we drove three hours north to the magical town of Crestone, Colorado. I have been numerous times and like it enough that I wanted Amy to visit. The Crestone area, with only a few hundred habitants, is a spiritual center with several world religions represented, including: a Hindu temple, a Zen center, Carmelite monastery, several Tibetan Buddhist centers, and miscellaneous New Age happenings. The bed&breakfast was perfect, and we enjoyed being at the foot of 14,000 foot mountains in absolute quiet.

The next day we continued north and climbed uphill to stop at Independence Pass,12,095 ft. the second highest paved Colorado state highway and closed during winter. We arrived at Snowmass late afternoon and my friend Russell gave us a quick tour of the area, which is especially famous for world-class skiing, but also expensive homes. Russell is a pediatrician who now sees patients mostly remotely, using Zoom. HIs wife Mary is an epidemiologist. They both love the paintings that newly adorn the walls of their home. We shared dinner on their deck which has grand views all around the valley and mountains nearby. I have another painting to make for them—which will go in their Virginia home. 

That night, we slept in our van, nestled in the forest by a stream. Then left for our next destination; Glenwood Springs, located at the confluence of the Roaring Fork River and the Colorado River, threading together the Roaring Fork Valley and a series of smaller towns up and down the Colorado River. Amy and I have new friends living there who invited us to stay. They bought a painting from me last winter. Our initial meeting is a special story! They live on a thousand acre ranch in superb settings. We all shared meals and good conversation, getting to know one another better. We slept in our van by a pond the first night, and then in a cabin on the property high up a mountainside the next. Aspen trees are everywhere around and we hope to return in the fall when they turn golden.

After fond farewells, we left to go to Crested Butte, our last stop before returning home. 

The GPS took us on a remarkable road that was unpaved much of the way, meandering at the foot of towering mountains a winding over hill and dale through aspen forests and along streams and rivers. It started lightly raining as we approached Crested Butte—and that is OK since the region has been in a drought which has contributed to a big die-off of fir trees.

I have been to Crested Butte many times and enjoy its frontier vibe. It is a destination for skiing, mountain biking, and a variety of other outdoor activities. Amy has never been. We stayed in a hotel I like at the foot of a ski area. That night, after dinner in town, as we drove back to our hotel, a marvelous rainbow unfurled itself before our astonished eyes. One end was at the top of Mt. Crested Butte! 

The next morning we drove along the Slate River nearby and stopped to wade in a crystal clear stream. After coffee at a great little local bistro, we made our five hour journey home. Along the way we stopped occasionally. I got a great photo of a rainstorm, sweeping across the plains at the borderline.

A good sojourn for five days!

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, July 24, 2016

Our Hearts Were Light

Nambe, New Mexico. Photo by Jack Gordon
When we climbed over the barbed wire fence that separated the highway from wind carved rock crags that stood like ships on the tree dotted high desert plain, I joked of being arrested. My friend was curious. Actually, I had been arrested once in the same location. Or so I remembered . . . it was long ago and I had been standing off the highway on Indian Tribal property painting the beautiful landscape. An officer drove up and arrested me for trespassing. That is how my memory goes anyway. 

I had not been back until now. My friend Jack from Washington DC is visiting for a few weeks while his wife teaches a writing class. He had seen the spectacular rock formation and wanted to go back in the evening to shoot pictures of stars.

As I drove and he pointed out the way, I realized we were on the high road to Taos, New Mexico, the most scenic route between the northern New Mexico cities of Santa Fe and Taos. Great clouds were forming dramatic curtains as the sun steadily drifted to the horizon. We stopped at an old church and browsed among tombstones, then continued on until we came to the spot. As night came, coyotes started howling, a familiar sound to me, but not to Jack. He asked, “Are there rattlesnakes around here?”
Rock formation, photo by S. Boone
 His equipment was more elaborate than mine, and he was interested in taking long exposure photos to capture stars in the sky above the rock cliffs. He set up and I sauntered in a different direction because I was fascinated with the full moon shining close to the horizon. It hung in the dark sky among massive indigo clouds. Occasionally a car would come along the highway and its headlights would beam light in front. Because my exposure was long, the light would appear as a solid line of incandescence in the otherwise dark foreground. 

Lipstick sunset, photo by S. Boone

Jack and I lounged on the sandy earth, waiting for his picture and talking in the dark. His photo did not come out to his liking because of the clouds. When we climbed back over the fence to go home, it was almost midnight. We took turns holding the fence open while squeezing through. Jack arrived through but I got caught on a barb and fell. My pants ripped and hand cut in three places. When I opened the car door, I could see a lot of blood. Jack came to the rescue with bandages he had with him.

Headlights and full moon, photo by S. Boone
Our hearts were light and we talked all the way on the 30 minute drive home.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Heaven and Earth

“All Heaven and Earth
Flowered white obliterate...
Snow...unceasing snow”
― Hashin, Japanese Haiku: Two Hundred Twenty Examples of Seventeen-Syllable Poems

I live in a place that receives snow in winter, and although it can be inconvenient, it is also beautiful and poetic. When snow falls, the world changes in front of our eyes, it becomes silent, and shrouded, as if a blanket has been thrown over everything, and it is time to sleep.

"The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?" J. B. Priestley

Today, as I drove to my gallery, I had to detour to take pictures of the magical landscape. It is only ephemeral, this vision, because as the sun warms the earth, the blanket melts away and sharp forms spring forth once again.

Did you know that very light snow is known to occur at high latitudes on Mars?

Here on planet Earth, the world record for the highest seasonal total snowfall was measured in the United States at Mount Baker Ski Area, outside of the town Bellingham, Washington during the 1998–1999 season. Mount Baker received 2,896 cm (1,140 in. - or 95 ft) of snow.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Heidi Of The Mountains is an outdoors type, and this week amidst the whirlwind activity at my gallery, she said, “I have to go to the mountains . . . and soon.”  I agreed to stop work, and today, we drove together to a ranch outside of Santa Fe that is renowned for raspberries.

When we arrived around noon, I was surprised to see a dirt parking lot crammed with cars, and looking out to the raspberry field, about 100 people ambling through the rows, buckets in hand, picking berries. We gathered our baskets and set out io the raspberry patch. A field manager took us to a row, and said, “The field has been picked over, especially since so many people were out on Saturday, but look under the leaves along the way here, and you will find berries.” I asked him about the growing season, and he told me the plants would continue replenishing berries for a few more weeks. “By Tuesday, they will all be back” he said. We stepped into the field, and soon, found ourselves each alone in our own meditative space, looking down, concentrated on spotting the ripe, ruby red berries amidst the green leaves and prickly stems.

While picking the berries, it is impossible not to sample the juicy fruit. To taste a freshly plucked raspberry is wonderful. The soft flesh almost melts in the mouth, oozing sweet and slightly tart flavors. The tiny seeds are all that are left to crunch upon before swallowing. In forty-five minutes, the two of us had gathered about 2 ½ pounds, for which we paid $12.00.

After our picking, we went to the quaint ranch café and ordered a slice of raspberry pie, then sat in the shade and shared.

As the sun moved slowly across the afternoon sky, I took my paints and easel out, and while Heidi Of The Mountains stood next to me making a watercolor painting, I captured a scene of an old adobe warehouse standing along the road. Its weathered tin roof pitched at an angle and reflected the bright sky, while the faded stuccoed whitewashed walls stood accented by deep green shrubs, sunflowers, and a few decrepit windows. A grand old tree grew at the end of the building, almost like an exclamation point.

On our way home, Heidi Of The Mountains massaged my head and neck while I drove, saying, “Oh thank-you . . . I had a wonderful day!”

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Land of Enchantment

When the airplane carrying me from Phoenix to Albuquerque touched down, I felt a familiar delight course through my veins. New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment, and I have an abiding love for this place. During the drive to Santa Fe, my lungs drank in the clean, brisk, arid, winter air, while my eyes reveled in the vast unobstructed views of plains, mountain ranges, and sky.
In keeping with the grace I have felt all along on my journey, my former wife Jean gave me a room in her home for a few days, and then quickly, I found a new place to live that is fully furnished and comfortable. I am relaxed, and moving easily into my new existence in Santa Fe. Many items I bought abroad, are now in my studio, and more are still to come. They must be inventoried and put for sale, so they will find new homes, far from India, Thailand and Vietnam, where they have come from.
I will begin my creative work again, and have a plethora of ideas and wellspring of inspiration. Certainly, my experiences going around the world will inform my art, and I hope to share insights with the greater community around me.
Since Naomi died, the number eleven has come to be a sign of her continued presence in my earthly existence. She was born on the eleventh of January. My other daughter, Sarah, was born the eleventh of November. There were times while Naomi was alive that eleven figured in events, but after her death, eleven seems to be part of a grand design to keep me aware that she is here. Parking spaces come up with numerals adding to eleven, as well as motel rooms, tickets and seats. (Digit summing, as the name implies, involves taking the sum of all of the digits in a number, and repeating the process as necessary until a single-digit answer is produced. For instance, the numerals 1433 break down to 11 if you add 1 + 4 + 3 + 3. So does 29.) My social security number, with its nine numerals, comes to eleven. How fitting, that on the last flight of my trip around the world, I found myself in seat 11E.