Monday, October 17, 2011

Terrific, Torrid New Mexico


I love New Mexico, but it has been an acquired tasted, which is one of the many reasons I love it. The journey to loving New Mexico has been a learning experience. It has been challenging and fun and scary and so rewarding.

I reluctantly moved here seven years ago for graduate school and planned on being in and out in two years and on my merry way back to Minneapolis. The truth is, I not only never intended to love New Mexico, I was pretty set on not even liking it. So, it’s kind of crazy to think back on my state of mind seven years ago and compare that to my life here now.

When I moved here, I don’t think I had ever been on a dirt road (at least not one that wasn’t graded), and I certainly had never been in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, Andrew brought me to all sorts of places that I would have never gone to on my own –mountain tops and deserted desert roads and chacoan outlier communities and national forests and the great rivers of the southwest. As I’ve learned about and visited these places and developed a deep love for being outdoors and in nature, I’ve learned a lot about myself.

One of the themes we included in our wedding ceremony is knowing yourself through knowing a place. We chose this passage from On the Loose, a book written by two brothers and their journey to find insight and understanding of themselves through the natural world. I think it perfectly explains how I feel about New Mexico and the life I’ve made here.

“One of the best paying professions is getting ahold of pieces of country in your mind, learning their smell and their moods, sorting out the pieces of a view, deciding what grows there and there and why, how many steps that hill will take, where this creek winds and where it meets the other one below, what elevation timberline is now, whether you can walk this reef at low tide or have to climb around, which contour lines on a map mean better cliffs or mountains. This is the best kind of ownership, and the most permanent.

It feels good to say “I know the Sierra” or “I know Point Reyes.” But of course you don’t – what you know better is yourself, and Point Reyes and the Sierra have helped.”
-Terry and Renny Russell, On the Loose

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