Montana Wolf

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Settling Into Taos: Spirits, Drums n Ice

My New Neighbors
My music stand is at the end of a love seat I purchased at the thrift store. I needed more than an office chair to sit in the toasty, radiant-heated living room. I just now finished practicing chords on the guitar, filling the space with strums and hums, foregoing my favorite Mozart cd. The water froze this week at 18-below, but with the help of a friend it was a relatively easy  fix. I slowly integrate my trailer life into the studio where I house sit, establishing rhythms and traffic patterns. I still haven't figured out how to gracefully come down the ladder from the loft around 3:00 a.m. to the bathroom downstairs. The solution, I guess, is to forego chamomile tea before my head hits the pillow. But I sleep deep and sound; you won't hear me complain.

On New Year's Day I traveled to the Taos Pueblo for the Turtle Dance. The images of this dance from the 1800's depict little difference between then and now. Bare chested men at ten degrees, their bodies adorned in pine boughs. Rattles shake in their hands, bells strapped on their legs ring with their steps to one large drum beat. Lacy leggings, white painted chins and head dresses with bright feathers that point to the heavens. Ermine and fox pelts swung from their waists, as solemn women, wrapped in bright blankets stood watch. I watched in a timeless reality, transfixed under the azure sky, framed in the expiration and inspiration of frosty breath.

Yesterday I re-visited one of my favorite hikes. The trail travels down a cliff side to the Rio Grande. Many years ago it was a narrow old highway. Besides stunningly beautiful and offering up the sound of river water, there are the spirits of DH Lawrence and Georgia O'Keefe... myriad old timers who traveled to Taos from pueblos and countrysides. Since I lived here last, Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep have been re-introduced to the sage-laden mesas and canyon cleavages. I see them most everyday, a thrill, since there are no deer and the only sign of elk so far is a calf leg bone.

On January 19th I will do a reading of my book, Drive Me Wild: A Western Odyssey at the SOMOS office at 1:30. I'll follow that up the next day with my self-publishing class, "Going Indie, (also at 1:30 and at SOMOS). I plan to stick close to Taos in January. I'd love to travel up Salida-way in February, across the beloved San Luis Valley and site of my cabin and Dancing Raven days, and do some more readings. Travel south, perhaps, in March.

I'm beginning to connect with old friends, walking the fine line between community and the solitude that writing demands. The plan, to the extent I had one, was to write the sequel this winter. Now I realize I need to sit and take a breath. Yes, prepare. Gestate the next words. But allow life to flow. You can't push the river, the saying goes. Especially in the depths of January, when pipes freeze and ice abounds. And tomorrow is the Buffalo Dance...


  1. Is that a little fluffy rabbit in the snow? And wow! to the colors and patterns in the cliff rim/mountain sheep photo, a sort of now you see them now you don't. A pleasing discovery.
    Yes, it seems like it may be a brooding January, leading to a year of being more present and enjoying the unfolding of much that is good and satisfying to the heart. May it be so! Nance

    1. Brooding January: well said, Nance. A toast to the unfolding ...