Monday, September 5, 2016

When September Reminds Me I am Rich Indeed

My computer and I have been arguing for months now about this site, but now I can write again.

It is September, when I am most homesick for the New Mexico of my youth.  The mountains are still there, and most of the trees. The skies are still clear. From New Mexico, you can actually see yonder, into the universe. Aside from one atomic bomb explosion, New Mexico hasn't interfered too much with the environment, from what I hear.

We never did have lightning bugs. But I guess you still can see the Milky Way from many chairs in the Tularosa Basin and beyond.

In my childhood, not so many people, and irrigation schedules through the not-too-deep ditches through the population meant we had soft grass to lie on and stare at the moon and stars and that milky pathway in the dark night I learned looked that way from so many, many more stars. If you lay on your back and looked at the sky at night, you did get an idea of exactly how big and important you were in the scheme of things. And you knew, somehow, you still mattered, like the mountains and the trees, the desert and the stars. At least, I did feel that way. I understood the universe was vast, the world was huge, and somehow I was a part of all that.

Apparently, you don't have to live there to experience that oneness with the universe. I will always believe it is easier in New Mexico.

I say "there" because all my adult life, I have lived in North Texas. I have found so much to love in what is, actually, my birth state. But I will always miss the mountains.  It's been a few years now since I have driven that way, but in the past, every single time, several hundred miles from Dallas/Fort Worth when I saw the Davis Mountains, tears would spontaneously spill from my eyes. The first time really startled me.  I expect it these days.  (As I sit here writing, I am about equi-distant to the seashore or the mountains. Either way, it is 600-700 miles. Maybe more. I don't cry when I see the sea, joyful though I am.)

So now I live on the edge of a 9-million population metropolis. I have open fields and ranches around, and the Big and Bigger cities right down the road.

In New Mexico, the air is crisping in mornings and evenings. Later on--are any cottonwoods left? They used to drive me delirious with the deep blue of the sky somehow dipping into the leaves and turning them, branch by branch from the tip-top, golden with the pure blue sky and frosty air.  It was like watching flames take the green leaves one by one and leave them glowing before they fell.

Oh, yes. I loved my home. I loved  the Tularosa Basin. I loved New Mexico. I always will.

I  remember the broken voice of a dear older woman I knew whose  voice was failing her, but she forced out the words. She said, "The mountains, I ...could ...the mountains." She knew where I lived, and she smiled when she asked, voice still crackling," " bear it?"

And I can only answer, I have the people I love most all around me.

Mountains, however omnipresent, cannot hug, say, "I love you", or laugh.  Nor can the sky.

I am far enough out of the Metroplex I can see my favorite constellations. I have the smell of fresh. And if the petrichor of longed wished-for rain on the prairie and trees here is not quite as entrancing as when the rain falls first on the pines, then the cedar, then the greasewood (creosote) bushes that perfume the air like maybe a Turkish harem might have smelled like in our dreams, the smell still is alluring, transforming and delightful. It is the smell of life, and promise of more.

I have traveled widely. It surprises me that I have only lived in two states--both quite large. I have never traveled in the Northeastern states, and that is a wish still hanging. Maybe.  The uncertainty of it makes living so much more attractive.

I have chosen family over mountains, and I laugh. In my mind for awhile, many years ago, at a certain fork in the road, there was a contest in my mind.  I took the richer road.  Mountains don't take much tending. But family takes every part of us. Families take action, love, effort, care, work, and yes, often redemption.

I'm glad for my choice.

In September, especially, I still miss my mountains. I miss New Mexico.

I love my life, and  all the memories that enrich it.


Dawn Ditto said...

Rich, indeed. I'm from the western part of Texas, but, like you, I am in Central Texas because of family. West Texas where the mesquite bushes and cactus are plentiful, not far from your New Mexico. New Mexico has, in my mind, always been one of the most wonderful places... People who visit western Texas don't for the most part understand its beauty. Rugged. Untamed. Rocky. Kick up a little dirt and everyone knows about it! My west Texas doesn't have any mountains (you must go further south to get to them) but we have more sky than almost any other place. I can relate to you when you wrote about looking at the stars. I cry too, when I have the chance to go back there. Thank you for writing this! You always find a way to TOUCH. Even over the digital distance.

clairz said...

This heartfelt piece was so beautifully written. Thank you for the pleasure of reading it and for reminding me to smile up at the Milky Way and the Organ Mountains a little extra on your behalf.

charlotte g said...

Thank you so much! I WISH I knew how to let it percolate and season a bit before I post. I saw editing spots all over the place, but yes, I think the love came through, and I am thankful.
And thank you for posting. Otherwise, I just post into the void, and never know if it was read. It won't stop me--I have to write. But I admit I do so more eagerly when I know some may actually read!