Stephen Capra There is a land which is drenched by the sun, in it, the wind blows often and carries the sands of time. There is a sense in this place of history and blood. It stands on the surface and below the soil and rises to touch the clouds, yielding the chiaroscuro of sunrises and sunsets that are a defining part of life here in this place we call home.
We live on lands that roast in the summer, to deal with the heat, we eat even hotter food. Our ground is more brown than green, so too our people are more brown than white. We treat rain like an old friend and it sooths our soul and brings relief from the wrinkles, that come from life in the desert.
We live in a place where our sky touches the earth and it yields a sense of space and eternity. When you leave the city, the night sky also engulfs our imagination. It is somehow wonderful to live in a place that many Americas do not realize is part of America. It is even more interesting to be a minority, rather than the majority.
We live on lands that have been fought over for more than 500 years. Rather than settle the argument, many remain entrenched in a history than defines them and their culture. There is tension below the surface that feeds into the psyche which defines our place of enchantment.
There are drugs and crime, more than we care to admit. Our education remains lacking and our future uncertain, part of that uncertainty begins with the gift of water, which we treat with careless disregard.
The very water that is life is being destroyed by fracking, being lost to the sun as we cover crops of pecans and cotton. We remain, as so much of the West, locked into a 1920’s mindset that ignores the reality of Climate Change and humans indoctrinated push to treat nature, as folly. But many here are far wiser.
If there is a God, I believe he or she could be found in a remote church here that is the size of a large room, which has beams that were cut shortly after Columbus touched down in the east. With a floor of dirt and stained windows, they have been a place of tears and joy, a place where hardship and the weathered faces of believers, have come for generations.
We have different cars here, they jump, twist and dance, they play their music loud and proud and it often comes with a different beat. The wheels can be small, but they are an art unto themselves.
If you come to New Mexico, please do not leave without a tattoo. It is perhaps the reflection of a culture that covers arms, legs, backs and faces. It speaks to poverty, to life. It speaks of heritage and family, of tribute, fantasy, mystery and joy. Our poetry, in this land of sun, comes with ink.
We paint with zeal and emotion and nature is never far from the canvas, light and its play in our lives remains the quixotic vision of our expression.
If you need a dog, than you must consider the state animal-the pit bull or the chihauhua! We do not do well with mild mannered or more demur dogs, we seem to flourish on those big and small that demand our respect.
We live in a place of generosity, far beyond that which many experience. We see it in giving to charity, we see it in our neighbors and we see it with the respect that many feel for our land.
When I walked from Mexico to Canada many years ago, I never thought New Mexico would one day be my home. I was young and big mountains and raging rivers were the focus and the love of my adventure. New Mexico was big and dry, and frankly dusty. What I could not see clearly was the connection of people, land and place. What my eyes were blind to, was culture.
We live amongst the antiquities that define an earlier people, and in the place of these antiquities is the living, breathing extension of that culture in the form of the Navajo and Hopi peoples. The dry air and sun have preserved not just the relics, but the powerful cultural dimensions that demand of us respect and the ultimatum that allows these people to continue to prosper.
Yet, we also live in a land that is controlled by those that seek to steal our heritage. They seek oil and gas, they control our public lands to make cows, not wildlife, the species of critical importance. They carve up the lands and drain our water; they set out traps and kill the soul of our very wildness.
We are a relatively young state and still have much to learn. But this we can say for certain. We all love this part of the earth we call home. It is for us and the many that visit, a true place of enchantment.
Our connection to nature remains raw and real. We eat and consume a culture that few experience. We fight and argue, we try to share in a place that for many is to dry, to dusty and lacking in the sophistication of many eastern urban centers. Yet, we remain comfortable and confident in our cloths and in our sense of life, and of our coffee.
When the rains do come, often with the monsoon, we do not just hear it, we smell it. We can almost taste it. Many people living with rain weekly cannot understand the sense of relief, the sense of joy that a strong rain can bring to our parched existence. The sun brings us joy, power and outdoor living, but the rain, when it arrives, reminds us of life.
We live in a place that is cosmopolitan in its wealth of people, voices and diversity. It is a land for the few, not the many, but within our borders can be found the lingering smell of roasted chilies and a will to move forward, not just as a state, but as a people, with a unique culture that is the essence of our being.
Living here is never easy, but it remains our challenge to work towards always trying to preserve our connection to wild nature, to maintaining and expanding our cultural heritage and use the power of our people to thrive in this place we love and fondly call-New Mexico.