Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Yes, Paradise

The birds are beside themselves. After a long winter—snow that persisted throughout March and early April—spring has come to northern New Mexico. I’ve been away for the last two months, gone to Texas to peddle my wares, repair the damage of my absence, dig in the dirt, and of course, to spend time with my family and friends there. After three years of living most of the year here in this high desert place, I guess I’ve become a little complacent about paradise. But as I was reminded by my oldest sister, Joan, as she and I visited with a friend in my garden just before I left for the return here, “you have the best of both worlds”.

This spring, because the Texas winter brought lots of cold and generous rains, my garden there is lush. The first showing of old roses—count them, 31, shrubs and climbers—was spectacular. And the local birds were already beside themselves as early as the end of February. I smile in understanding that in my absence, the redbirds, mockingbirds, black-capped chickadees, and their feathered cohabitors rule. Over the last three years, the cottontail rabbits have become downright comfortable. They give little notice to my presence in the garden. Joan told me this time that she sometimes brings a soda down to my garden and sits a spell, soaking up the sights and sounds. It doesn’t take much abandon to sense the sanctuary in the heart of this place in rural Leon County Texas.

The magic of my return trips to New Mexico over the last three years always kicks in just west of Clovis, once the panorama of eastern New Mexico reminds me that I’m headed to the high desert and the mountains. This year, not so much, as I gnawed on the recent past and, of course, the future, which demands to be unresolved. A heavy rainstorm between Santa Rosa and Cline’s Corners, where the temperature dropped from 65 to 49 in a matter of minutes and driving insisted that I be in the present, managed to wash away some of the monkey mind that wanted to have its way with me. I had been listening to CDs, everything from crooner Michael Buble to the soundtrack of “Hairspray” to the feisty lyrics of Shania Twain, and it was in the latter that—Bam!!—I got the message I needed to hear, wanted to hear. As I exited to Hwy 285 and the last leg of the trip to Santa Fe, she let me have it: “Find your self-esteem and be forever free to dream” (“Black Eyes, Blue Tears”). I hit the replay button, and I said, “thank you”.

So along with the abandon of the neighborhood birds celebrating the true beginning of spring at 7000 feet, the scent of evergreens on the walk from my tiny patch of real estate here to our little gym—one of the amenities of condo living—gave substance to one of the things really going on here. Yes, it is that other piece of paradise my sister reminded me of last week. It’s time to shift gears. It’s time to lavish in the lilacs, head to the mountains and my favorite stream crossing at Big Tesuque, get out my pueblo drum for Wednesday nights at the place where I nourish my spirit in the company of others, to sit over coffee with friends—the same ones who lovingly called me while I was in Texas to tell me that they missed me—and, yes, to jettison that which would rob me of the beauty that lives inside me, at times waiting, waiting, but always patient for me to claim my splendor. And so it is.

Yes, Paradise—Santa Fe New Mexico (April 21, 2010)
R. Harold Hollis