Monday, July 14, 2014

The Annual Taos Pueblo Pow-Wow — 29th Edition

It is cool and cloudy, the sun a silver ball rising behind the mountain. At 5:36 coffee, and soon we are on our trek, up and over the mountain headed to Taos, a about an hour away. We climb. On the way we see a hitchhiker and stop. He is from Boston, hiking all the way, to see a friend in Taos. His name is Shenandoah. He is as sunburned as a summer berry

We drop him off at the Taos library, get coffee at a cofee shop, and look around. It is a beautiful day — a beautiful day for the 29th annual Taos Pueblo Pow-Wow!

A couple of muffins later we are at the admissions gate. The sky is deep blue above us and the gathering crowd of early arrivers.

Warrior or Dancer? 
Gourd dancing is first, a warm-up to the later serious dance competition that will follow in the afternoon.

The drums beat a steady rhythm.

"The drum is the heartbeat of the Earth," the announcer says. "The mountains, streams, forests and trees, all of nature are her Bible." 
The drumming rises into the air above the crowd from a half-dozen drum circles, groups of five or six men sitting around one large drum, pounding in unison. Later the drummers will sing, traditional pueblo songs, in high rhythmic voice for the competition.

Two dancers confer
The grand entrance begins

Colorful costumes

Dancers carry numbers 

Color guard and entrance into pavilion
There is a magic to the dancing it seems to be. As the afternoon builds so do massing clouds in what had been a clear blue heaven. The power of dance?

Younger dancers ...
... embrace and expand on tradition

With the closing of the dancing, dark clouds amass and soon the rain begins
We drive back the next day. In the rain the mountains glisten. Fir trees are likes Christmas trees with light reflecting water drops as ornaments. The land is timeless and tired. Ranches are struggling. Condominiums on the slopes are out of place. 

I remember the dancers. Old ways, new ways collide in eternal regeneration. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Spectacular Sun Rise — Return of the Pocket Gopher

Coyote Creek, NM

Here at the state park the sun has to climb a high hill or small mountain before it sheds its light on our creek below. At first there is only a faint glow in the sky. The clouds floating above the mountain are tinged with pink. But the mountain and the valley are dark. The sun climbs.

Then just before 7:00 the sun scales the eastern slope and burns an arc-like light at first through the trees. Within minutes it climbs higher shining brighter and brighter like a white hot star.

It does so until bright star-like light wakens the camp.

The normally shy southwest Pocket Gopher tunnels in the soft ground here throwing up mounds of black earth. The one at my campsite, however, is not so shy. Perhaps other campers before me have fed him.

Our new friend pops his head out into the sun
At breakfast this morning he broke through the earth and looked around. That was our cue to bring out the walnuts, cashews, basil leaves and a cinnamon cookie or two and approach. He seemed undeterred by our presence.

Nibblingly, he takes a gift or two from our fingers. If it is small, like a nut, he eats it. If it is larger, a cookie or a leaf, he carries back down into the bowels of his earthen home.

Fearless, he sniffs a gift of basil leaf

...and claims it for his own

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Much Catching Up to Do

am at a small state park campground, Coyote Creek, in Northern New Mexico.  It is cooler here than down south. I am camping with a friend, Jennifer, who has her own van, a red Dodge Caravan.

Leaving Minnesota in late June I made a hurried two-day 1500 mile journey back to Truth or Consequences. Didn't see much, but Kansas was green, Texas gold  at sunset. Billowy clouds welcomed me at the New Mexico border. It was hot.

In TorC dropped off my friend Jeff at his house, took a few days to gear up and pack, and on June 24 left at dawn to meet Jennifer in Las Vegas, NM -- but not before stopping at Walmart to pick up an hydraulic jack. During the trip to Minnesota the bus developed an unpleasant clunking sound from underneath. I needed to do some looking.

The Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas NM
Las Vegas NM is overshadowed by its Nevada cousin and namesake. But it is an interesting town with a bloody wild-west shoot-em-up heritage second to none. The town is still fighting -- against gas and oil and fracking. Last week the county commissioners moved forward with a bill to make exploration and drilling here prohibitively expensive -- until they can get a total ban.
It is a rural way of life. They want to keep it that way.
I met up with my camping buddy and we set up camp at Storrie Lake, a state park just outside Las Vegas, open and rolling with, sadly, blood thirsty mosquitoes.One the last night a humongous storm broke. The bus sounded like it was in a fire-fight. For an hour hail the size of moth balls pelted and soaked the park. From there it was on the way farther north to Coyote Creek.

Jennifer at Coyote Creek
Coyote Creek is a very small campground. It used to be bigger, that is to say it had more camping sites but some were washed out in a flood and have not been reopened. We were lucky to find a small site nestled among trees on a busy Fourth of July weekend.

The weather pattern here is the same every day. Cool nights give way to cool and clear mornings. The sun rises over a mountain to the east and floods the camp with icy white light. The four or four hours of sun charge my batteries. The billowy dark clouds begin to mass.

Billowy clouds begin to mass
In the afternoon it usually rains and the clears just before dusk.

Fortunately the cool temperatures put little demand on my refrigerator.

While still a Storrie Lake I jacked up the bus. I found a bad right front wheel bearing. Sometimes I think I carry too many spare parts, but this time I was glad to be able to make the repair.

On Friday it is off to Taos for a weekend Taos Pueblo Pow-Wow. That should be fun!

Early today a truck pulled into the park and stocked the creek with rainbow trout. It is difficult to describe the simple beauty. I'll let one photo of the creek at morning speak.

Oh, and this little fellow came out of the earth at lunch to say hello.