The rural urbanite (or urban ruralite), and loving it.

city porchIn the last year I haven’t written on this blog very much. I have been collecting lots of images and stories to post, but my family and I have been gathering our strength (and our belongings) for new adventures that have taken much of our focus, spirit and strength. Transitions are time consuming endeavors. Often exhausting and scary in their unknown beauty. But also just in the sheer number of tasks to get to where we want to go, even under the best of circumstances.

And right now, our adventure is learning to live as a family in two places, in the city and in the country, in one place where we walk to the neighborhood grocery (or Target) and in another place where we “drive into town” to get our groceries. We are learning to live on our own in many ways, and be more independent. It means that I have to do the dishes all the time now, and that Ric has to cook sometimes. I am trying to fill the freezer full of food for him. And I have to do my own laundry too. But it also means other things too, like growing up and appreciating our roles. It means being flexible (oh my god!) and making due. And it means changing (even more OH MY GOD!).

And after a few months, the differences are quite remarkable, and beautiful to say the least. Urban living is glorious in its ease and convenience. A gallon of milk is across the street from me right now as I write, and so are a new pair of blue jeans. And I have bought a couple pair. And even a jog in the neighborhood park where there is no mud and lots of gorgeous grass and picnic tables is right there. People I’ve never seen before are picnicking, playing frisbee, and running their dogs. The sheer beauty and diversity of people everywhere at any point in time is simply lovely. And I am simply one. Beautiful and anonymous as well.

italianos snowAnd at home, in the mountains, I can also run. In the mud, and snow. With a background of magnificent sky, mountain and plains that most people really never imagine. And when I hiked with my husband last weekend, we were alone. Just us and our dog, hip deep in snow for miles, laughing and having the world to ourselves.

These two worlds seem opposing at times. In one I need quiet, and in the other I need diversity, sounds and sights varied and delightful. In one I need space, and in the other I need chaos and busy city noise. And lucky for me, I have both, and can grow full from them both. They seem oppositional, and often in politics they are, but in real life, I think we need them both. I need both. Alone and together.

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Snow in a mountain town

WProcessed with Moldivhen it snows, I mean really snows, our little town totally changes. The atmosphere completely shifts. Our town often has an air of depression surrounding it, but when it snows, that lifts immediately and those snowflakes bring in a feeling of celebration that is palpable. For the last week, the snow has heralded a beautiful celebration in our town. People arrive ready to ski. Children and teens take off to the valley, boards and skis in hand ready to catch new powder. My son brags about the runs he and his friends will do before any tourists even get up the lift. I remember what it was like when I first moved here, before the drought really hit hard. I remember what it is like to live in a ski town. The community that happens when it arrives. I remember that I love snow.  The stories that arrive with the headline “massive snowstorm blankets Taos Ski Valley.”

I also remember that I love making soup, warming up my house and snuggling up with a novel. I prefer to ski after the crowds have gone. I finished two novels this week, and to me that is almost heaven. It is worth celebrating the powder in the ski valley — I get to read! I do a bit of celebrating in the snow too — shovel the drive, chase the dog around and build the snow fort, but I also like to take advantage of town closing down. I can truly hibernate for a bit and let myself sneak away into a good book. And that is a change for me.

However we enjoy the weather, inside or out, it is good to recognize the good. The ease at which we move into and through more than a foot of snow (more the three feet in the mountains). It is more deliberate, and joyful. It is more hopeful even. That certainly makes me hope for more snow!

 

Rio Grande in Winter

My family and I took a short winter walk along the river over the weekend.  We were alone with the ducks and a few other beautiful wild beings.  The photos are not that spectacular, but I did get to capture a few shots of a beaver, a bald eagle and a great heron.  The dog was so pleased to be out for a walk that he spooked everything a bit too early for me to capture any decent shots.  Regardless, it was sheer joy to share the chilly afternoon with beauty.

Rio Grande
Rio Grande
heron
Heron in flight
beaver
It’s a beaver not a mouse!

Oh, the snow….

Taos Mountain on a glorious winter day
Taos Mountain on a glorious winter day
Snow Forts are much better than a snowman . . . You can climb inside!
Snow Forts are much better than a snowman . . . You can climb inside!
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Taos Ski Valley

Winter can be long and cold in the southwest. The sun is glorious during the day, but the evening cold can make you want to hibernate like a bear. When the sun sets at 5pm and warmth of the sunlight gives way to below zero temperatures within minutes, it is challenging to venture out and stay active.

I notice that my dog even faces the challenge of being active in the winter, which makes me laugh. He gets plump every winter, and it gives my niece great pleasure to call him “Sausage” for four months of the year. He prefers to lay by the stove and stay warm, watching us move about for the day. One thing can get him going though — my running shoes. The moment he sees me putting on my running shoes he’s up and jumping around, pleased to go out for a run. Though the snow and ice are a bit of a challenge, as we both slip around for a bit, once we find some solid ground, the crisp air feels good and I think we’re both reminded of how good a run feels.

Whether it is going for a run, heading up to the ski valley or building a snow fort to stash snowballs in, once we get ourselves off the couch, the rest is easy. The snow offers us different opportunities for activity than the summer and it gives me some variety in my life. And it is certainly better to find fun in the snow, then to sit around and put on the pounds in front of the TV all winter.