Sunday, March 16, 2008

Adventures in Ice and Mud--Taos Day 2

Taos, Day 2—the Search for D.H. Lawrence

Today was much better than yesterday—I mean, I felt so much better, verging on normal.

I type this sitting in Spud’s room, looking straight out the windows at the mountains. Somewhere up there is supposed to be a cross which Georgia painted, but for the life of me, I can’t see it. I always seem to forget to bring my binoculars. Spuds was Mable’s secretary, a cowboy writer and printer in his own right, with a press of his own in town, called Laughing Pony.

Today (Saturday) started out bright and sunny, with much less wind than yesterday. I took the road north to find the D.H. Lawrence cabin (ranch). It was much farther away from Mable’s house than I had anticipated, almost 20 miles, the last five of which were on a dirt road that got increasingly smaller as the snow banks encroached, and muddier as they melted. The road winds back and forth through pinon forests, switch backing across gullies and cattle guards, with sudden bright vistas of the Taos Valley miles in the distance.

I met only one car as I drove up the mountain side. As the ruts got deeper and icier, I was certainly glad I’d rented something with high clearance and 4-wheel drive; I’d never dared try to get up there otherwise. Or, if I’d tried, I’d still be up there --since my guess is even Verizon doesn’t reach that far.

Once I arrived at the property, I was dismayed to find it utterly deserted. The snow was almost two feet deep around and on top of all of the buildings, and I guess they thought nobody would be stupid enough to drive up there under those conditions. Very little was marked, so I took a bunch of pictures of various buildings, hoping that I could use the books I have to identify them later. It was eerily silent, the only sounds an occasional crow calling, and one little calico cat who stepped delicately across the snow and looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. In my long skirt and low shoes, I was not exactly dressed for climbing around snow banks.

I tried to make it up the concrete path to the memorial chapel, but that was even icier than the gravel paths. I slipped once and only saved myself from falling by plunging my arms (and camera) into a snow bank up to my elbows. Cold, wet, and not a little freaked out, I decided it was about time I used my better judgement , and so I picked my way through the frozen patches of slush to my car.

I do have a sense of how beautiful it is up there, but wonder how in the world they ever got in there with supplies etc. Talk about living primitive! Only one step up from camping. Of course, they mostly didn’t live there in the winter—still, Brett’s cabin (which is marked) is a tiny square, just big enough to fit a single bed across one wall. I would guess 8’ by 6’. There’s a stove in there, but the cabin is so small that the door bangs on it.

Having fulfilled my main agenda item for the day, I came back down to Taos, stopping at the Millicent Rogers Museum on the north side of town. This is a neat little place, full of odd stuff collected by this society woman who settled here. She was a great collector and designer of jewelry; my favorites are the “running star” designs she adapted from Native American pottery —there is a nice collection of pots and textiles as well. One of my favorite parts of the museum was a whole room devoted to the art of local children.

Apparently I have pretty good taste in museums because Jamaica Kinkaid was also there. I am sorry—I am not as good as Mark about going up to famous people and talking to them. I wanted to tell her about the twins, but never found a convenient moment. I think they (the famous) deserve their privacy, for one thing. The woman at museum reception gave me one of my favorite compliments—she asked me if I was from the area, and when I said no, she said I was dressed like a local. I packed pretty much all aqua, and that seems to be THE color of about everything here that isn’t that distinctive red-brown ochre color: Santa Fe rosy-orange. Of course everyone around here dresses like an old hippie, so I fit right in.

Spent the rest of the afternoon puttering in stores and galleries. Had a nice lunch and some pleasant chats with gallery owners, but found little I was moved to buy, other than some handmade paper. Can you believe I went in and out of a very nice bookstore without buying a thing?

However, I did find a WONDERFUL yarn store for Sue.. .
I‘ve opened the window in my room and it is starting to get chilly. Better run down to the wood pile while it is still light… Ah, the perks of being up in the main house: a wood pile by my door.

Apropos of nothing…. I think I may have found my totem. I’ve always liked the idea of magpies, and often describe my research methodology as a magpie-like gathering of shiny objects. But, if I’d ever seen one before, it didn’t register. They are all around the back of the house here, foraging for stems and bits of fruit tossed out in the compost pile. They are just gorgeous. As big as crows but starkly contrasting black and white, with a flash of deep cobalt blue when they open their wings. I’ve tried talking to them, but they seem rather skittish. Now want to find out all I can about them.
Well, I promised last time I’d only write every other day because it was so inconvenient (that was supposed to be the last word of yesterday’s blog). But I had so much to set down about today. I’ve also read about half a book—a memoir of Taos. Amazing how much one can get done when there is no TV, radio, or telephone, and limited Internet access. (Of course I do have my cell. Has the weather been particularly bad in Clemson? I’ve gotten about 4 or 5 lightening advisories on my phone today.)
Almost 7:00. I am going to run out and find some dinner. Then I think I will start my fire and curl up and finish my book. Tomorrow is Sunday. I’d planned it to be a quietty, mostly reading day. There are a number of resources here—books and articles etc. –which I want to take notes on. I am also planning to go to the famous Taos Church tomorrow, and see the exhibit of Lawrence paintings at La Fonda, the big (relatively speaking) hotel on the Plaza.
Hope you are all doing well.
Mom and Dad, I will call you Sunday as usual: 11:00 your time is noon here.
PS: I now have mud splashed up to the top of my bumpers—getting a little more authentic every day!

1 comment:

CP said...

These posts are great--so much wonderful detail, and of course, the pictures! Very generous of you to share all this.

Andy yes, there was some bad weather here: a nasty system dropped tornadoes in Atlanta, and then more in SC as it cut its way across the state. There was several hours' delay between the barrage of lightning text messages and when the storm reached the coast.

Hope you're having a ball!