Friday, August 12, 2011

Rocktail Cocktail

For the next two weeks I am house and dog-sitting for my friend Derek in Taos, NM. It is a place I've visited many times in my life and where, when I was 10 years old, I wanted to live. When I was 16 I wanted to live here too, I wanted to live in the mountains and write books. Now after 45 years, I live in the mountains of Northern New Mexico, and I write. I just don't live in Taos.

In some ways I wish that I did. It's so open and lovely, with tall mountains rising in the east, then that rolling flat expanse of desert to the west through which the Rio Grande cuts an enormous gash, a deep dark and dramatic chasm called the Gorge. To watch the weather come through from on high, to see the clouds coalesce into blue bottomed monsters just itching to burst open and flood the landscape is the subject of long poetic dissertations.
Rare standing water with
reflections.

Derek lives two blocks from the famous Rancho de Taos church, probably the most photographed church, maybe even building, in the world. Intentionally, I did not bring my camera this trip. I didn't want to be distracted, now I regret it. However, I will return home briefly this weekend, and I'll fetch both of my Cannons. Meanwhile, readers will have to be content with photos taken at an earlier time.

Since I'm here for 2 weeks, I plan to see and do all the things I never do normally. Most of the time, when I come here, it's to see friends, and of course we spend time hiking and just sitting around in outdoor cafes having drinks and enjoying the usually beautiful weather and people watching. Derek has a beautiful old adobe that he has remodeled into a home with all the modern accouterments you can imagine. The kitchen has stone countertops, under counter sink, french door refrigerator, wood floors and a skylight with latillas so that it would appear that there is a hole in the roof, light is filtered through the poles. The ceiling is classic viga and latilla construction, giving the house an earthy feel. Other floors in the house are either dark pine or stone, the walls are a foot thick, covered with a silky plaster that I'd fear to put a nail into to hang a painting.  It's so pleasant and pretty, it's almost a shame to leave every day to go out and explore Taos. I could live here if it were in this house!!

Stairs on the side of the church.

So the first full day I went to the plaza and parked in front of Governor Bent's home, now a museum. I'm so glad I read Blood and Thunder, the biography of Kit Carson, by Santa Fe historian Hampton Sides. I can just imagine that house and its occupants under siege by the Taos Pueblo Indians and the local hispanic people. He was murdered by them and left dead with his family still alive, locked up inside the house, freezing without food or fuel for several days. His wife was was of Spanish descent and of a prominent local family, which is probably why she and her children were spared. It was a long and complex story, having to do with many generations of bad feelings and a crowd mentality. Still. Knowing the story made the house take on a whole new feel and meaning. Kit Carson would have been killed too, if he'd been in town at the time. If that had happened, the book would have been a lot shorter!!

Kit Carson's house is a museum too, and I may go visit it again, though I've seen it many times. Today I purchased a 5-Museum pass that is good for a year. I want to see the art museums like the Harwood and the Millicent Rogers. I plan to eat at Dara Thai and a couple of other places, like Wired, that my friends have recommended. But tonight, two writer friends are coming over for dinner and we'll get to enjoy Derek's wonderful home on a full moon night.

Yesterday, not having eaten lunch and suffering from summertime thirst, I stopped at Coffee Cats to get a fruit smoothie. It's a small cafe across from Monet's Kitchen, a delightful cooking shop. Sometimes I wonder just how much of being human I've missed out on. I cannot for the life of me find that "place" in my mind/heart/soul where I can "feel" and understand what so many others chatter about as if it's as common as blue sky. I'm talking about feeling vortexes, swirling energy sensations while standing in a certain spot, or tasting the difference, the radical difference, in a drink after you've added a piece of quartz or amethyst. At Coffee Cats, for a dollar extra, you can pick from among an astonishing variety of rocks to add to your coffee or smoothie, and experience the difference each rock makes. It's even got a name: Rocktail

Good grief.