"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.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Out here there's the sky--New Mexico

Storm building over the Jemez
"The sky was as full of motion and change as the desert beneath it was monotonous and still, — and there was so much sky, more than at sea, more than anywhere else in the world. The plain was there, under one’s feet, but what one saw when one looked about was that brilliant blue world of stinging air and moving cloud. Even the mountains were mere ant-hills under it. Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but here the earth was the floor of the sky. The landscape one longed for when one was away, the thing all about one, the world one actually lived in, was the sky, the sky!" --Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop

New Mexico gets in your soul. Called the "Land of Enchantment," I find it more the land of the Spirit.
This last trip after a long absence made me more aware than ever, especially the skies, as the monsoon season arrives and the clouds build over the mountains.
Thunderheads building over the Sangre de Cristos.
I wrote, "As dramatic and sometimes "tortured" the vast raw landscape is, the sky and clouds exaggerate, multiply and dwarf it. The mountains are but the blue pedestals upon which they grow."
Three years ago I wrote about not wanting to live in a land of "cloudless day" as in the words of the old Gospel song, "Today's clouds and living in texture." 
Penitente morada at Abiquiu
As a child of the Great Plains and the Southwest, I can think of nothing more boring. Sure, it's a metaphor, but peace and beauty only come from dramatic contrasts, not uniform sameness. Actually, the clouds and skies of New Mexico accent the ancient land and its religions.
Georgia O'Keefe's Perdenal
New Mexico is the land of the sky. There's even a 1948 book, Sky Determines by Ross Calvin, in my New Mexico collection.
For years and many articles I have attributed a quote to Willa Cather, and discovered I'd made it up, and nobody had challenged me. She didn't write it, so I guess it's mine if someone else hasn't already written it, though it summarizes her great writing in Death Comes for the Archbishop.
"Out here there's the sky." 
 This multitude of photos on different roads from last week gives only a small idea of  how and why the New Mexico sky is so powerful in the physical and spiritual world, creating wonder. 
Evening sky looking north from the Rio Chama bosque, Abiquiu


  1. Oh yes, the skies are great, and the vistas and views are grand. I'm getting homesick looking at this post.

    1. Alan, I'm already homesick just posting this