Monday, September 9, 2013

Desert Vernacular


As I was flying into Albuquerque last week and we started our descent, the cabin started filling with excitement. I could overhear various conversations - folks returning home, folks on vacation, and some just happy to be off the plane for a while before the next leg of their journey...

Southwest Mesa 
North Valley 
Socorro 

Just a week earlier, I had been going the other way. Toward the Midwest, toward the green and lush landscapes and humid air. A different set of overheard conversations...

Prior Lake 
Eden Prairie 
Northeast Minneapolis 

It made me think about the words we use so often here in the desert. Words that were mostly unspoken by me ten years ago.

canyon 
mountain 
wilderness 
mesa 

Words that were foreign to me at one time and are now so integral to life in the Rio Grande Valley.

arroyo 
bosque 
acequia 

Landscapes that used to seem lifeless and bleak are now familiar and beautiful.

pinon and juniper (P&J) 
cholla 
sagebrush 
chamisa

Even describing our house to Minnesotans is a vocabulary exercise.

adobe 
canale 
portal
viga 

Now I crave chile and posole and sopapillas. I walk my dogs along acequias and down arroyos and climb peaks and vacation on the mesa. I’ll always be a Minnesotan at heart, but I live in New Mexico now.

8 comments:

  1. Aaaand thanks to this post I finally bought myself a copy of Home Ground (http://www.amazon.com/Home-Ground-Language-American-Landscape/dp/1595340246). I've wanted it forever and you (happily) pushed me over the edge.


    (Also, I know I am a Westerner because I say ki-yot and not ki-yo-te and sometimes even use "crick" for "creek.")

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    1. We have Home Ground and I really like it, although I've found that it doesn't have some of the words we use in New Mexico.

      I still say ki-yo-te, and I just can't bring myself to say grande instead of grand when referring to the Rio. A Midwesterner at heart!

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  2. I have no idea what most of those words mean (I'm from Ireland and I've just moved to SC) but I love how beautiful you've made the desert sound.

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    1. I didn't know what many of these words mean when I first moved here and I was only coming from Minnesota. The first few months I lived in New Mexico, I didn't know what people were talking about when they talked about the bosque and arroyos, but I've caught on!

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  3. Your post makes me miss Albuquerque! We had the same adjustment when we moved out there (from the east coast originally). Glad you are enjoying your time there- nice blog!

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    1. Thanks, Krista!

      The adjustment was interesting, and now when I leave, I miss the desert. It's gotten into me.

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  4. i was just in new mexico not long ago! i loved it! so beautiful! so different! and i hadn't been there since i was a kid.

    you'll get this....my parents live on MOJAVE WAY. my mom was picking up something from the post office, and the post office clerk said, "You live on Mow Jave Way?" OMFG!!!! what person in this country doesn't know how to pronounce the word MOJAVE?!?!?!?!???!?!?

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    1. You're hilarious!
      Yes, I think Mojave is part of the general vocab.

      Delete

Hey, thank you!

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