"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Dawn at Taos

Watercolor, 8 x 11
Fabriano Artistico 300# paper

From John Nichols' The Sky's the Limit

Every morning for thousands and millions of years, the  sun "comes up," over the holy mountain of the Taos Pueblo, inhabited by Americans for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years.

On the Mesa west of town, the sky gradually lightens, silhouetting the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. In between is the Rio Grand gorge, dropping hundreds of feet through lava rock in a rift valley.

The mountain is majestic because it arises so abruptly from the mesa--Spanish for table --land, but it majestic for many other reasons. It is off limits to all but the prehistoric Taos Indians who live in their pueblo and the iconic multi-storied adobe great house that was typical of many pueblos before the Spanish intruded 500 years ago, bringing "civilization," Catholicism and disease with them.

But Taos has survived them, and will survive the late-arriving gringos as well. This is a people and land of contrasts and invaders and beauty. The beauty will remain. All others are temporary and short-lived.

Note: the current photo at the top of my blog is one sunset view from that mesa.

When I think of Taos, I think of my 18-year-old Dad, who wanted to join the art colony here in the 1930s, after he'd lost his leg trying to jump a freight in Tucumcari inthe Depression. I think of the cold, clear northern New Mexico air, the smell of pinon smoke, the cottonwoods, the artists, the light that draws artists, and the sacred mountain that towers over town and pueblo at dawn, at sunset and in between, season after season.


  1. Wow...great shot & great story, until I read the last paragraph, then blown away.
    Thanks for sharing Terry.

  2. Ronald, thank you...as with you and Carbon County, certain landscapes become a part of you

  3. Beautiful! You really captured the Taos I knew as well. I always think of the shiver of cottonwood leaves along the arroyos and always, always the smell of pinon from an early evening fire set after the sun has gone too quickly.


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