Northern New Mexico
Once crossing the state line, the pointed Rocky Mountains of the north immediately flatten into mesas, and the cattle pastures become delicate yellow scrubland. The tree leaves are no longer the green that I have known in more temperate climates, but have become faded silver in the relentless sun.
This place seems to slowly pulse to a distant drumbeat that is steady, thoughtful, patient, like the way the people listen to what I have to say, waiting until I come to a full stop before responding. Their tongues lag in their mouths, their stride equally paused and pensive. I think for a moment that maybe people don’t hear me, or they’re all on drugs, or their daydreams have taken over reality. Or maybe they are just listening to the drumbeat that I can’t hear, the rhythm still woven into the landscape from the Native Americans of old. It reminds me of the smell of freshly baked fry bread from the Taos Pueblos, and the men with long braids down their back standing at the reservation grocery store. It resonates in the symbol of the New Mexico flag, a sun with rays coming out in the four cardinal directions, an icon harkening to the first peoples, some of whom still call this place home.
But now a new culture has emerged. As I sit at a café, I notice the group of men at the next table all wearing spurs as they clink their way to their seats, then begin to rant about the government and how many heifers they have this season ready for breeding. How no politician can understand the moods and individualities of the cattle they call their livelihood.