It’s been something of a rough week for me here.
When I got up this morning after yesterday’s $2,000 hour at the dentist, I wasn’t much better in the mood department, so my wife suggested I go walking at the Taos Valley Overlook. Therapeutic and strategic (downright brilliant on her part), so I headed off. No new pictures this time, since the morning sun lights up the canyon walls and washes out the contrast. But I swear I went.
Walked an honest four miles, too, all the way down to where I heard the roaring of the Rio Pueblo at the bottom of the canyon, close to where it joins the Rio Grande. I couldn’t see it, though, because of the slope at the top of the cliff where I was walking. To get a decent view, you’d have to have someone lower you over the edge with a rope! It’s really quite astonishing how much of the topography in these parts can kill you dead. Excited little kids or dogs running loose at this particular spot could vanish in an instant. It has to happen with wildlife, which tells me there must be all kinds of bones and artifacts down in the rocks along the river banks. Coyotes and ravens can’t eat everything, right? I did see a side canyon that might work for hiking to the rio, assuming it doesn’t drop too precipitously. Next time out, I’ll go explore.
(If that was all I did, I’d end up sane, I know I would. If all I did was walk, write, and see my honey’s smiling face like I do now, I’d be sane and famous…)
Meanwhile, my mother still hangs on. No one has made an offer on her double-wide, which I’m about to sell for junk if nothing happens soon. The anniversary of my becoming successor trustee is May 4, which means I’ve done the job for 11 months now. You wouldn’t believe half of what’s gone on, and I can’t tell you yet, if ever. And everything is drenched with “family.”
I’ve gone through more stages with this than I can count. I didn’t want anything to do with “family” while my mother was still dangerous, and that’s the reason why. It made me dangerous! But even though she’s at the point where even I would sooner just remember good things, it must be said that dealing with her affairs, in particular as they relate to siblings and domestic matters, seems to force a family neurosis on me—or draws one out. It’s like wearing someone else’s clothes that nobody ever washed. They fit just well enough for me to forget I have them on sometimes, except they freaking stink. THIS AIN’T ME! My wife is ready to render me for bearing grease. I’m so tense, I do something stupid every day.
Under the circumstances, four miles isn’t nearly far enough to walk, I’ll tell you that. (The trail I take is a nine-mile loop I haven’t mastered yet, but check back when I do.) That reminds me of a guy we see almost every time we head in or out of town, down here on the south end, a little pudgy, always walking, talking to himself. We call him “The Walker.” Always on the same road, going north or south, in any kind of weather. At first I didn’t know what his movie was, but now I think I’ve seen it.
Here’s the thing, though. When I first discovered the perfect place to go hiking in the desert, I walked maybe three miles, and it killed me. A short while later, I could do that and be fine. The last two times, I went 3.5 miles and still made it back alive. Today I walked four whole miles, and it was even easier. The goddamn thing is like an avalanche. Who knows where this will end, and who says that it has to? The path I take is narrow and meanders all over the mesa. You walk along on auto-pilot and don’t even have to think. While doing so this morning, I saw a flock of 20 piñon jays so blue, they almost hurt my eyes.
What else will I see if I keep walking?
(And what may I be blessed to leave behind?)
UPDATE: Hey, the related posts plugin really works this time. The top hit has a fine description of piñon jays, and more walking, too. And here’s a picture of some on a feeder in the winter, looking way less blue. A matter of sun, season, and viewing angle, I suppose.