More than ten years ago, in July of 2004, I still lived in a glen by a creek that runs through Mink Hollow, near Highland, Maryland. Mink Hollow was a magical place: a river ran through it, a forest surrounded it. We danced. Lovely, you say? Indeed! Sadly, familiarity breeds, for me at least, a bit of the wanderlust. Which is why on Wednesday, July 14th, 2004 I found myself solo camping in Taos, NM after my first year of teaching high school. I sought the southwest knowing I could easily find solace, knowing I could truly be alone; seeking, like Thoreau, to get “to the essential part of me.” I needed a salve for the knocks and bruises accumulated during ten months spent butting heads with 130, sixteen year old students. I had learned and felt so much!
Sitting on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Rio Grande Gorge in 2004, I wrote this in my journal: “Forgive me Mink Hollow for wanting anything, any place, other than you. I do not understand this longing for the long view, but it feels so very palpable. Sitting at the edge, here at the gorge, or on a mountain top in Magdalena, seeing the gold and green overlapping mountain ranges before me, or the layers of earth revealed through infinity, I am filled with a lovely peace…the, I am truly “home” kind of peace. Here lies heaven: the smell of juniper and pinon; the rattle of snake and cicada, the whispering trees; the glorious blue sky yet more vivid juxtaposed against white clouds.
I am entranced…………..
To have access to mesas on the weekends, to be able to set out with regularity to the mountains…higher, and higher still…where silence has a sound… To call New Mexico home would be beyond my most imaginative dreams…the senses in perpetual, delightful overload.
I cannot paint a true picture using only words; regrettably: my poetic palette lacks the range. Hopefully, photos and words metaphorically wed to help you see. How does one with mere syllables exalt mesas? or mountain peaks? or high altitude streams? Instead…I return to breath, I bow. I praise. I listen to my soul’s longing.”
Seven years after that journal entry, I moved to New Mexico. I found my Walden. I call the wild places home. Some nights you may see me running with the wolves!
“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” –Henry David Thoreau