The reflection of the clouds,on the lake’s calm surface,quiver. The reflection of the forest’s trees, on the lake’s surface, reaches across the lake almost to the bank we are fishing from and look as if they were growing out of the lake right in front of me.
If I had a long enough arm, I could reach down and scoop up these clouds in the palm of my right hand and they would wiggle like the fishing earthworms we just dug up in a close by field.
I know the clouds and forest on the lake’s surface are reflections. The real clouds are in the sky and the real forest and pine trees cover the rugged mountain sides directly to the south of us, across Hermit’s Lake.
If my mind can be even temporarily fooled by nature’s slight of hand, how much more of what I see is not what I see, and how much don’t I see that is right in front of me?
When scientists come up with better measuring sticks, we might start seeing more of the world as it really is, not fooled by its reflections, optical illusions, mirages, black holes, mirrors and miracles..
There will, on that day, as Jerry Lee Lewis sings in his rollicking rock and roll classic,be ” a whole lot of shaking going on.”
An old man with a cane shuffles past us in the grocery, squinting to read the fine print on a box label.Two little children pull on their mom’s dress at the bank as she makes a deposit and reaches them a sucker out of a little bowl on the teller’s countertop. A homeless vet passes our vehicle to take a dollar from a hand reaching out of the window back of us. We don’t talk to the politician rushing past us to hold up a baby and smile for news cameras.
On the road to Westcliff, I pass a black wagon pulled by a black horse, driven by a young man wearing a black hat, black pants and black vest, a white shirt, with a reddish beard. He pulls his horse and wagon towards the shoulder as I go past, and I wave. I watch him in my rear view mirror as he goes another block, then pulls his horse and wagon into a little drive leading to a country house on the other side of a closed gate.
Amish, from Pennsylvania, have come to this part of Colorado and the San Luis Valley for farming, solitude, the ability to worship as they choose, to raise their families in an old way, and drive to town in a wagon pulled by their favorite horse.
This, my first Amish sighting of the season, makes me wonder how they can maintain their traditions in the onslaught of 21st century propaganda, polemics, politics and problems?
The march of 21st century technology, information, control and surveillance, secularism, is crushing.
Seeing a horse and wagon on the road is like seeing an old John Wayne movie on television.
It pictures a way of life, long gone, that some folks still never want to leave.
The mountain range, to the west, rises ten thousand feet plus into the clouds. These clouds, turning dark and ominous,prompt festival help to lower the flaps of our music tent to protect the performers and us, in the audience, from soon to come wind and driving rain.
The mountains are ten to fifteen miles away and there is a time lapse between something forming out there and something reaching here. There is space and distance around us and between us and the peaks, space punctuated by scattered homesteads stuck in the land like fallen arrows from ancient bow and arrows. Neighbors are not within a handshake and going to Westcliff is an activity you do when you need groceries you don’t grow, hardware you can’t make yourself, stuff you want but can probably do without, or the kids just need to get out of the house.
Change happens here, just like everywhere else, but it takes a while longer to get to you.
In the country, you know you are small, tiny, insignificant, a small sentence fluttering in a big book in the wind.
In the country, folks get together on the front porch to watch weather and talk about the harvest.
In the city, folks lock their front doors,don’t get too close to their neighbors, watch news about what is happening world’s away but feel powerless to affect change on their own block.
in the country, the world is what is in front of you that you can touch. You have time to get ready for events to reach you that start way way way out there, in the distance, in the mountains.
Out here, being lost in space, is literally, and figuratively, true.
This little brook gently runs through the Alvarado Campground, following a path of least resistance on it’s way to join a larger river, and then, with that river, rambling all the way to the closest ocean.
Nature’s music refreshes, doesn’t ask for applause, or notoriety, recording contracts, or interviews.
Nature’s songbook is this little brook, wind moving through pine needles in tall trees on a cool clear night, a woodpecker carving his home inside a tree trunk, the rustling of brush as a brown bear scurries off the highway and back into the woods, waves coming into shore as the tide rises, hail hitting the roof of your car in a freak summer storm,deer antlers striking one another as bucks fight for dominance.
In a couple of days, I’ll hear fish songs at Hermit Lakes, breaking the lake’s surface as they greedily gobble dragonflies.
Back in Albuquerque, city melodies will be even more unique,staccato, complex. There will be horns, sirens,bacon sizzling in a frying pan, heavy equipment taking down condemned buildings, nail guns installing shingles, gunshots, light classic jazz in Starbucks, the sound of a well struck golf ball on it’s way towards the pin.
This brook is the music I’m listening to this morning.
Mother Nature, as hear it, is a very good composer.
There is controversy whether this is a lighthouse and whether Columbus’s bones are really inside the not so small ornate iron box in the center of this ornate display.
Columbus found the Dominican Republic on the first of his four voyages to the New World. Interestingly enough, he never set foot on America’s soil but set up his family comfortably in Santo Domingo to give them a good life and claim to lands he discovered for the King of Spain.
He was a visionary, as well as a businessman, and having audience with Kings and Queens is no easy task because, being important people, their time is worth more than ours. Mounting an expedition that was going to the ends of the world was a dangerous enterprise.
The big things I learn today are that, when walking, things you see are much further to get to than they look. Whenever you get lost, call a taxi and pay a few bucks to get where you want to go so you don’t spend your entire trip walking in circles.
It seems odd to celebrate a man who discovered America,but didn’t, and odd I’m standing here taking a photo of what we are told is the explorer’s final resting place?
He and his beloved Santa Maria , right now, are most likely somewhere north, northeast of Mars navigating under celestial lights on dark dark seas with only a compass, telescope and good instincts to guide him.
He is doing in the next world what he did in this one.
His bones might be here, but he doesn’t need them for his new discoveries.
In the lobby of the Albuquerque County Line Barbecue, there is a special love machine for testing your love potentials.
This ” Love Machine ” costs a quarter for its diagnosis, and, for your quarter, you can see how you measure up on the love chart by putting your hand firmly around a special handle, squeezing firmly, and waiting for your diagnosis to shoot off like firecrackers, Roman candles, or duds.
We humans like to measure. We hook up our cars to diagnostic apparatus, we use dip sticks to check oil and transmission fluids, we use IQ tests to measure intellectual ability, we use polls to decide who to elect to be our next President.
Whether this ‘Love” test is really accurate ,or scientific, is a different kind of measurement.
Most of our science isn’t as true as we think it is, and humans tend to be more superstitious than scientific. Wearing your lucky socks when you watch your favorite team’s basketball game, in a championship series, makes no sense at all, yet fans swear it makes a difference.
For those in love, people don’t need a machine to tell them how they feel.
A better sign of whether you are in love, or not, is to look at your credit card statement.
Under the ” Home of the Big Rib ” rib, as you walk towards one of several back dining rooms at the County Line Barbecue, is a lucky chair.
We all have our favorite chairs. Yours might be an old recliner that you found on the sidewalk with a ‘ Take Me ” sign pinned to it like a donkey’s tail. It might be an ancient folding chair you drag out of your garage and open up on your front porch like folks did in the old days. Your favorite chair might have a hard back, torn cushions, scratched legs where your dog or cat wanted to get your attention.
My favorite “LUCKY’ chair, this evening, is made from horseshoes. I sit down in it to improve my luck as I listen to the ” Radiators ” slip into a blues tune in the bar.
Some artisan has collected these worn horseshoes and has welded them into a quirky,quite comfortable chair, and, as I sit ,and tap my right toe to the music, I feel my luck coming back in spades.
Barbecue, horseshoes, cattle, branding irons and the Old West go hand in hand and those old time cowboys sure didn’t live on just jerky, pitching horseshoes and playing poker.
You can’t tell me they didn’t fix themselves an occasional barbecue dinner in the middle of a long cattle drive across wild and hostile Indian country and blame Indians for the lost steer.
On reflection, if my new luck starts to weaken, me and this chair are going to have another therapy session.
When I come back next time, I’m going to try this chair again for a luck recharge, eat all the ribs I can, and ask for a sarsaparilla root beer.
Luck, these days, is hard to come by, and I always need luck at the Sandia casino down Tramway near I-25.
If I didn’t know better, I’d think the Indians were still fighting us, but this war they are winning.
Art, in many localities, is given a budget by city hall. Artists are commissioned to produce public art for public consumption. Public art springs up in parks, in downtown open spaces near city halls, by busy streets and intersections. The art is most often not controversial and makes people think about something other than themselves.
This modest sculpture, of kids climbing a rock feature, is close to shops by the business edge of the Fountain Hills park. Over six foot high, it has been positioned in a flower bed,close enough to be noticed, but not so close that it can be tripped over. It is weathered and has the same coloring as the trees and shrubs around it and doesn’t call attention to itself except it is about kids and people either like, or hate kids.
The little boys in this sculpture are climbing a rock feature..The little girl cradles her baby sister below them and admires a flower, not paying the boys efforts much mind.
Boys and girls, for those who would wish otherwise, were never made the same.
We all love to climb, but we don’t all climb the same peaks.
There are plenty of mountains I can scale but does that make me more important than you?
Do women really want their men riding in the back seat of the family car?
What’s abnormal about caring for your baby sister?