Friday, February 7, 2014


I’m tired of winter and while waiting for spring, I’m depending on nature to do what it has always done. But, has nature really been that predictable? We are in a big melt on a world scale and it is going to change everything.  Maybe we civilized humans need to be reminded that we live here by the grace of Mother Nature. No matter how innovative we of the so-called developed world become, we are still dependent on Mother Nature. The incongruity of this topic is that it is a topic at all. We humans, especially those of us who consider ourselves to be members of the developed world live in the delusion that our world is normal and stable. By choice, we live much of our life in the equivalent of a zoo enclosure. I suppose the people wiped out by tornadoes or forest fires feel the same sense of safety in their comfortable living rooms until nature shows them the reality of their circumstances.  

Have you noticed that the homes built along Tornado Alley are frequently two-story wood frame homes perfectly designed to blow down. Or else, they are fragile mobile homes also easily airborne.  Then there are the homes built within a forest just waiting for the fire, and all are homes built for a fantasy of comfort and prestige not safety. Next, there are the coastal cities that are essentially doomed, but billions of dollars are going to go into resurrecting them each time a hurricane comes to shore. Our modern world doesn’t take nature’s processes seriously yet. It’s as if we believe that eventually nature will tire of fighting us and go away.  All that steel glass and concrete made for looking grand and staying put parades our confidence in our power to rule, if not now, eventually with better engineering.

This morning during my reading time on the old green rocker, I heard squawking, chirping and scratching coming from the bathroom. At first, I was startled and then recognized the sound of our Starling couple coming home again.  They didn’t stay long, just checked the place over (bathroom air vent) and took off. There are probably some repairs needed before they settle in for the season. They have been nesting in that bathroom vent for eight springs. Usually, in early March, we begin hearing high-pitched chirps from the new brood. I remember when they first moved in. I was alarmed. I started thinking of ways I could get them out of my house. My dad would never have tolerated birds building a nest in the bathroom vent. It was important to maintain the division between nature and us.  Somehow, I didn’t get around to evicting them. In the beginning, I didn’t want to throw them out while their kids were still at home. Later, I acknowledged that their family activities were quite entertaining and it gave us something to follow, like Facebook for wildlife. The downside is that I can’t grow zucchini because they eat the young sprouts. This would be worse if we depended on our own garden. This small lot makes that unlikely, and so for now there is no conflict.

In most ways, life has been at a standstill. Venus planet of love, beauty, balance and money is retrograde, and so is Jupiter the planet of expansion, generosity, discovery, and overdoing.  Perhaps this explains our lack of movement and the bleak dry weather, while back east they have way too much. I am expanding internally but have nothing visible to show for it.  The stillness outside is unsettling because I sense that it is an illusion. Already this year we have had several shocks. One of our dear friends passed away suddenly from a heart attack. He was in his prime, and always positive and encouraging. He seemed healthy, anticipating a good future in a new house, and his life plans were moving forward. Then, this week a motorist ran down one of the iconic figures of Taos.
Melody Romancito's photo of Dave on the wall
across from the Taos Inn

 Taos’ loss of David Salazar has affected me more than I would ever have expected. Long ago, I considered writing a book about the walkers of Taos.  Most of them are gone now; David was one of the last. He was Schizophrenic, held conversations with people that the rest of us couldn’t see, often wore shorts and a down jacket in winter, and sometimes in summer. He was an authentic Taos walker. I’ve known him since he was in his twenties. Two of his brothers are well-known carvers of traditional Santos, and my previous employers regularly bought their art. When Dave died, he was 44 and his beard was beginning to grey though his face kept a certain childlike freshness even as his eyes focused on a different dimension. He always asked for money and I usually gave him a little.  The exchange wasn’t really about money it was more a personal gesture of acknowledgement. I’m sure that people who didn’t know him thought he was homeless, but actually, he lived with his mother and had many friends. Several times a year, he would travel to Santa Fe where he also had friends and contributors, and then back to Taos.  One of his brothers once told me, “Dave makes more money than I do.

I suppose, if there is a lesson in any of this it is that the future is a surprise beyond our imaginings. For this reason, I read all doomsday predictions the same way that I read utopian plans. We can never outguess a future that never can be nailed down either by hopes or fears. Even though January is an invented beginning, the very act of designating the start of something seems to unleash change. The ice begins to crack and melt as the world wakes up. I’m both interested and cautious about melting ice, since we can’t choose the outcome only what we do with it.

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