The day started like any other Sunday. Wake up, drink some coffee, get ready for church and go. The sermon was based on Mark 7:14-15 … about it’s not the things that go into us that make us unclean, rather the things that we say (or come out of us) that indicated an unclean spirit.
I enjoyed the sermon and the minister, yet was intensely glad that my home is at Highland, where we have a robust congregation, varied in age. It pains me to visit a church with empty pews and the members at retirement age.
After church I returned to Canyon Street and visited a few more “modern” art galleries, specifically the Waxlander Gallery and Sculpture Garden and Jane Sauer’s 13 Moons Gallery. Of the two, I appreciated the art displayed at the Waxlander the most.
Leaving gallery row, I stopped at Los Potrillos for lunch, then returned to the hotel and checked out and began my drive down to El Paso, Texas.
Leaving Santa Fe, there was a big storm brewing to the west. The clouds were dramatic – and I was sorry I was going to miss the show. Reaching Albuquerque the National Weather Service interrupted NPR to inform me there was a possibility of tornadoes spawned from the high winds and heavy rains. I was glad to miss the action – though I longed to re-experience a desert storm.
Gazing into the distance I wondered how to make the vistas before me real to those who’ve never been here. The gently slopping desert floor abutted the valley carved by the Rio Grande River. The tumbled volcanic building blocks of rock were stacked in terraces demarking the boundary between river, banks, and flood plain. Back in Santa Fe, the valley had been was rimmed with stark and craggy mountains, their summits shrouded in clouds.
When Thomas Jefferson’s geological surveys teams were first sent out first explored this land one of the most difficult tasks they faced was relaying the immensity of the spaces they traversed back to those back East. If you’re from the land of trees, the idea of seeing a hundred or two hundred miles across a valley seems impossible. Yet that’s exactly the panorama that unfolded before me.
Continuing my trip south – the desert was amazingly green and verdant. Uncharacteristically the mountains had the sheen of green velvet on them, much like the antler rack a young stag.
I tried to pin-point all the colors; Martini Olive Green, Palo Verde Spring Green, Dusty Creosote Bush, celery green … but the more I tried to find descriptive words – the more I puzzled about the landscape before me. I wanted to use the word “spring”, but this is August. I should be searching for ways to describe brown, not green. Looking again it was apparent the recent run of unseasonable rains had transformed my summer desert into a spring beauty.
Crossing from side to side of the Rio Grande River, the earth peaked through the multi-colored green velvet collage. I saw red; a subtle shade – not that of a tomato, but more like chili powder mixed with sugar; or paprika. And browns, cocoa powder, ground coffee, cinnamon, coriander, and cumin … the variations were too subtle to pin-point.
I pulled into Truth or Consequence for gas because I could see quixotic Mother Nature was rehearsing for a grand entrance. Back on the road, approaching Hatch New Mexico, she gathered every shade of gray to her cloudy skirts. Gunmetal, battleship, white smoke, silver and slate billowed next to each other. She spangled the sky with lightening and hung veils of rain from the heavens. She came rushing up the valley to my left – like a fighter jet zooming under the radar. Although the cars around me slowed down to a cautious crawl, I zoomed forward to embrace the show, as if she were giving me a private viewing of her most spectacular art.
Novice connoisseur that I am, I shouted “bravo” in my car and clapped my hands with glee at her performance. Without warning the spectacle ended just outside of Las Cruces and within a few more miles only the steel blue swatch of clouds in the mountain V behind me gave indication of the extravaganza I’d witnessed.