Oct 23 , 2019
Every once in a while it's good to change things up a little, maybe even get away. Last week I did just that: to northern New Mexico on a road trip long weekend.
With a BA in History- my first college degree- I have always been fascinated with how people lived throughout the ages in various places, and Bandelier National Monument has been on my list for a long time. Finally, Friday afternoon, my roommate and I rolled in for a hike, and we returned to various parts of Bandelier the next two days, reveling in the autumn sunshine and color, along with the ruins and their stories, and all the photographic opportunities associated. Valles Caldera, a massive extinct volcano caldera landscape that is the newest of National Preserves here in the USA, is right next door, so we explored there on Saturday too.
The Ancestral Pueblo people who lived in caves hollowed from soft volcanic tuff were dryland farmers, planting corn, beans and squash on the hard landscape, cleverly using pumice for water holding, and short clay walls to hold in the heat at night, as well as harvesting native plants and hunting, with vantage points high above the land below where wildlife roamed. It all sounds very romantic, but to imagine living that way, scraping out a subsistence on the land hundreds of years ago, is somewhat sobering when you're walking around the grounds of those former homes peering into small caves, climbing ladders, all the while clothed in cotton shorts, wool socks, a down vest... Having eaten a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, pineapple and cantaloup, or anticipating a burger for dinner, and gulping water from a big plastic bottle.
Did people then suffer from food allergies? Would they know if they did, or would they attribute symptoms such as itching skin, cramped stomach, a tight throat, to something else? The petroglyphs found on cliffs throughout the area certainly don't tell that story.
Northern New Mexico, speaking of food, features apples aplenty and colorful chiles in ristras this time of year, along with dried corn and chile spices. We stopped at a roadside stand on Sunday and stocked up. Fresh, local, clean, bursting with color and flavor, how often do we eat like this? I exchanged cards with the stand owner, and left behind a Pumpkin Cheesecake for him and his daughter to enjoy.
Monday morning, back in Trinidad, CO, we stopped so I could buy an artwork from Fumio Sawa Fine Art. A friend had tipped us off to the gallery, and we'd visited Friday before heading into New Mexico. There I had fallen in love with the artist's work, and vowed to return to purchase and carry a piece away for display in my own home. Fumio Sawa is a very interesting, creative, humble and gracious artist. I left him with my favorite cheesecake, Lemon Zest, and cruised home with my brand new American Kestrel print. One of the greatest joys in my life is purchasing art work to help support the wonderful artists who offer their own unique perspective on our world, and to indulge my own appreciation of those people and the visual contributions their work make to my home.
Overall, a weekend well spent, a few days out of the office, connecting with land, history, and the people who live in the area today. Stepping out like this once in a while is refreshing and gives a renewed perspective on our work, our lives, our causes and commitments.