We will breathe - of the air
We will drink - from the stream
We will live - hold the line"
I was awake before dawn on Day 4. I had already lost track of what day it
was which is one of my marks of a good vacation. I didn't want to wake buddy
and Irma up too early so I quietly got up, folded the couch up and folded
the blankets and linens. Then I sat for awhile reading and just listening to
the early morning sounds of the house as it adjusted to the loss of cooling
air from the night and the warmth of approaching dawn. Finally the sun
peaked up above the rim of mesas and old volcanoes east of town bathing
everything in golden light. I had a feeling something big was going to
happen that day so I tried to mentally prepare myself.
Finally I heard Buddy and Irma stirring. Irma playing mother wandered out to
check on me and was surprised to see me just sitting there waiting for them.
She smiled her kind smile at me. I told here I was going outside to get some
photos. I could hear her hummingbirds in the feeders outside the window so I
wanted to get some shots.
The hummers were not the only things that greeted me that morning. A small
herd of mule deer were standing around in the back yard and grazing on what
little grass the sparse rain had been able to produce. No bucks that I saw
but several does with fawns still in spots.
When I came back in, Irma was getting breakfast ready. I actually like
sharing breakfast with older folks even though I rarely eat breakfast. And
if I do it's usually bacon and eggs. But on vacation I really enjoy taking
the time for breakfast and good conversation. They eat very simply usually
because of a variety of older people ailments...heart conditions and such.
So it was oatmeal with sliced bananas and honey, orange juice for me. Coffee
for them. And toast. I think Irma just made the toast so she would have
something to put the grape jelly I had given her on. We sat and talked about
late summer activities. Irma talked about her mother and what her week held
in store. Buddy was happy to have a day to himself after running the museum
since Memorial Day. He was going to take the time to paint the porch and do
some repairs around the house. He seemed content. I told them I planned to
go to Albuquerque to meet one of my suppliers and possibly have dinner with
paean if I could get hold of him. Then I would go from there up
to see Chaco Canyon the next day and come back here that night. In the
meantime I was going to go down to the art gallery for my vacation ritual of
a cup of hot tea and a strawberry sundae. Then over to Blue Moon and talk to
Cousin Tracy for a bit, then out to Outfitters in Leather to do some horse
trading with Shirley. Then maybe out to Philmont to see what the ranch
looked like this time of year. See if I could see any buffalo out. Then I
would head to Albuquerque by way of Miami to see where I used to live. They
said it sounded like a I had a full day.
After breakfast, Buddy and Irma, who are Baptist, do a Scripture reading and
a brief prayer. So for some unknown reason, I asked if I could sit in on
their readings. They were happy to let me sit down with them. Actually, even
though I'm not Christian, I enjoy being around people who are devout in
their faith, whatever it may be. And it doesn't take long to see that Buddy
and Irma try to live by their faith. Since I was the guest, Irma asked me to
do the reading. Surprisingly I didn't trip over the words as I often to when
asked to do an impromptu reading. I even remember the passage: Chronicles 16
verses 35-36 though I'd have to look up the exact words. We had a brief
discussion of the meaning and an anecdote about how modern Christians might
apply the wisdom of the words in their daily lives. In all it was a nice
little morning ritual and I felt privileged to have participated in
something that they hold so special.
This is Buddy when I first met him 20 years ago:
He had just retired from a 30 year career with Duke Power in South Carolina
and moved to Cimarron with his wife Bebe, a Cherokee woman. His first week
in town, he met Les Davis, owner of the CS Ranch and Cattle Company. Les
told him they had a building which had been the Old Aztec Grist Mill back in
the late 1800's. Then when the Utes and Jicarilla Apaches were being herded
onto reservations, Kit Carson set up shop in the Old Mill as the local
Indian Agent. The ranch had acquired the property in the 1950's and had used
it for storage but they wanted to turn it into a museum to showcase various
Indian and old west artifacts that would show the history of the area. So
Buddy and Bebe took the job, transforming the old dusty building into a
showplace. Eventually they moved the jewelry design business they had
started in SC into the museum as were allowed to sell beads and the items
they'd made to the museum patrons. And since they were both Indian, it all
kinda fit the theme. Then in 1990, Bebe died. Buddy was pretty distraught
but his minister came to visit him often as did others in the community and
they kept him from getting too depressed. His minister introduced his sister
Irma to Buddy. Irma had recently lost her husband to lung cancer so the two
of them had something in common. They became fast friends and fell in love.
I can still remember Dan Black Coal and I standing in the museum in the
summer of 1991 when the two of them, arm in arm told us they were going to
get married in October and wanted us both to be there. Well Dan and I both
got there and it was the nicest and quaintest wedding I had ever been to. So
now Irma helps Buddy run the museum. That's the both of them down at the
museum. And yes, that's a gun on Buddy's hip. He's a deputized peace officer
so he carries a long barreled Colt Peacemaker on a daily basis:
I think they both look great for 78 and 76 years old. Of course Indians age
better than the rest of us. In my mind Buddy hasn't changed that much except
for getting his hair cut short. He used to have his silver streaked raven
black hair down to his waist and tied into a long braid. But he gave that up
after Bebe died.
We got Irma on the road and Buddy and I looked at his new garage and talked
about the various things they'd had to give up because of the drought. Water
rationing was the big thing and they had needed to let their flowers, which
they take special care with, take care of themselves. Buddy said, "Those
darn deer. Even if we had enough water for the plants, those critters would
eat everything in sight!"
I took my leave of Buddy after that and headed into town. I hit the Art
Gallery first an had my requisite tea and sundae....mmmmmmmmmm! And looked
around at some of the Art and jewelry and bought a couple post cards. Filled
one out for Deb and walked down to the post office to mail it. Here is what
the outside of the Gallery looks like:
The coffee bar is a recent addition but I guess everything must change
eventually. The tourists seem to like it anyway.
Next I wandered over to see Tracy at the Blue Moon and admire her new mural
on the side of the building and the painting she has done on the front
Back in 94, Tracy started Blue Moon as a candy store and a BBQ. It only took
one summer to see it was too much trouble to do both so they dropped the
BBQ, cut back on the candy and brought in pottery by local artists and Zuni,
Hopi and Navajo jewelry. Now it's a really nice little store with great
atmosphere. We didn't get to talk too long because she had to run to Raton
for lumber and supplies. That's Tracy there.
So I walked over to the Chamber of Commerce and gave Marjorie the copies of
my ghost story they'd been wanting for the tourist. She told me the St.
James Hotel (the subject of the ghost stories) had new owners. I told her
I'd heard that and I'd go over later to see what changes they'd made in the
Next I drove over to see Shirley. She was ready to do some trading so I got
out the turtle shells, turkey and goose feathers and trade beads. After a
little bartering we finally arrived at a figure of $110 it was all worth.
Then I brought out the long fetish necklace Deb had made and her eyes lit
up. This drove the worth up to $160. So I went through the store picking out
the items I wanted within the $160 limits. I got A Taos Pueblo drum made of
pinion pine and rawhide, a Cochiti Pueblo turtle shell rattle, a gourd
rattle, a vest for me and a long apron for Deb. The last to are made of old
flour sacks and I got them to compliment our period costumes for when we do
rendezvous and Heritage festivals. I still think I got the better end of the
bargain on that one but we were both happy. We sat around for a long while
talking about Indians and rendezvous and craft making. She told me she
needed a good supplier of stone fetishes and 12/0 glass beads in old time
colors. I told her I knew just the right places and I'd mail her addresses
when I got back.
Then I drove over to Shelly's old house on Coca street where all our
memories had started. I could feel the old familiarity of the place even
though the new owners have completely refurbished it. I could feel something
being released from me and I realized what was going on. I was back in
Cimarron to release all that crap I had been carrying around with me
concerning Shelly for so many years. It was like I was saying, "I'm putting
all the good and bad stuff back. I know where it is if I need it but it's
too heavy to carry around with me." Almost instantly I felt better about
myself and lighter too.
I made my way up the back streets and up the water tower hill to where the
old box car stood that I used to call home. I was not too surprised to see
it had been hauled away and a newer trailer house put in it's place. But I
was able to release some memories and old conflicting feelings there too.
releasing is good but it's kinda sad as well because I was left with a bit
of emptiness where all that stuff had been.
I drove out to Philmont and to my mesa perch overlooking the ranch but in
sight of the granite outcrop known as the Tooth of Time that was once a
landmark on the Santa Fe Trail which passes nearby.:
I sat on the hood of my car and took photos for awhile before a couple in
their mid 50's came walking by. I recognized the man as Mark Anderson,
general manager of Philmont so I called him over. He and his wife Linda were
out for their daily walk. I talked to him about the fires earlier this year
and he told me in the end it was 28,000 acres of Philmont that had been
burned. I told him a couple days earlier I had been up on the Vermejo Park
Ranch in the fire zone an he said that he felt most of Philmont didn't get
it that bad but soil erosion issues would be the same. He gave me permission
to take the Ponil road up and get out and see the fires. I thanked him and
they were on their way again.
Since I was up high and the cell phone seemed to work better from up high, I
called my supplier in Albuquerque and found out he was out of town. So I
didn't have to leave as early as I had thought. I wondered then if I should
even go as Bear's voice was telling me I had other things to do. Still, I'd
told paean I'd try to have dinner with him. So I needed to get
hold of him and see what was up.
Since I'd planned to go out to Miami anyway, I headed that direction. That
way, If I decided to go on to Albuquerque, I would be part way there
already. As I drove the 22 miles out there, I noticed smoke coming up above
Johnson Mesa. I heard later there was another fire burning on White Mountain
on the UU Bar ranch. Bad year for fires. It looked like there were rain
clouds coming in so maybe they would get some of it out there. I passed the old Spanish church at Rayado where Kate had wanted to marry me back in 95:
I stopped at Miami lake and noted it was lower than I'd ever seen it before.
But still there was enough water to get this nice reflection photo with the
Tooth of Time off in the distance.
A few minutes later I pulled into the tiny village of Miami, NM which had been my home for a little over a year in the mid 80's. Almost the first thing you see in town is the old boot and saddle shop which was the first place I ever rented.
As rental houses go, this was probably to coolest house I ever rented. $150 a month, utilities included. The front part used to be a store but I was turning it into a studio. It was also a cafe at one time and of a morning, you could hear the ghosts of old conversations at the old lunch counter just inside the front doors. It had a huge kitchen to the rear with three wood cook stoves and lots of counter and cabinet space. The part you don't see is in an L off to the side. It has two bedrooms, a full bath with an old clawfoot tub, a sitting room and a glassed in sunporch with warm adobe bricks on the floor. Each room had a small potbellied wood stove for heat. I spent a delicious Winter and Spring there until the landlord decided he'd rather live there and made arrangements for me to move into another property across the road. Tons of memories of Shelly and I here. Mostly good but not things I needed to be hauling around with me as they just tended to make me sad. It was here that our momma dog Sugar Magnolia first showed up as one of 9 puppies. I agreed to take her in and the landlord lowered the rent from $200 to $150. Casey Jones and Wild Mountain Honey were later additions that showed up as well. Then Sugar had her own litter later on and we kept the two boys, Copper and Rebel (for Tom Petty's Born a Rebel). So at the beginning of the summer, Shelly and I and our horde (including her two cats) moved into a nice two story all wood house on 27 acres across the road.
At one time I could have had this house and the land for $27,000. The present owners paid $125,000 for it. I kick myself everytime I think about it. This house was the site of many a good late night party with huge crowds of people. It was also the scene of my dabblings in peyote and other hallucinogens. And really, it was the place where my calling to be a healer first was heard. For it was there I first discovered Shelly's multiple personalities and was asked by one of them to intercede on her behalf. Lots of things to let go of here too.
I was feeling pretty light hearted after this house so I drove down to the farm at the end of Miami where Shelly had lived with Trudy Knox for a time and released some things there too. Then I drove up to the end of Miami Lane and called Deb to tell her I really loved her. I called paean and finally got through to let him know I hadn't left yet and probably would not be down. I asked if tomorrow would be better but he had a conflict so we decided to try it some other time. I left Miami and headed into Springer to get a cold drink and wash the car as it was getting pretty dusty. And what do you think happened to me as soon as I spent $3 to wash the car? Of course it started to rain! In fact it rained all the way back to Cimarron which was good, because they could use it. Once back in town, I headed out to the Ponil Road to see what the fire was like out there. It was bad, but as Mark had told me, not as bad there as other parts where I couldn't get to by car and I was not really in the mood or shoes to go hiking for miles. I took some shots of the burns and a big Caterpillar feller-buncher they had up there taking out some of the burned trees. I was pulled off the main road and onto Philmont property when Bob Ricklefs pulled up looking all official. He obviously didn't remember me even though Shelly and his wife were friends once and I used to see Bob all the time, not to mention working 3 years at Philmont. But that was OK. I reminded him who I was and he finally remembered.
From there I drove up Cimarron Canyon to see if I could see any bears. Well I didn't have to go far before I saw my first one. Right there in the mouth of the Canyon. So I pulled off the road and got my camera out, shooting through the windshield which will hopefully turn out because it was a sweet shot. 20 feet away from a cinnamon tipped black bear who weighed about 500 pounds near as I could tell. Afterward I went up the Canyon to Ute Park. No deer were about so I headed back until I got the feeling I needed to pull off the road. Bear wanted to tell me something. I locked up the car and headed through the trees to the river. It didn't take me long to figure out why I was there.
This was the place where Shelly and I had come to picnic when we first got together way back then. A thousand memories came flooding back to me. A campfire with Shelly and my best friend Dave Summers where Dave and I told each other how much we loved each other. Sort of like the old Bud Light commercials, "I love you man!" I think ole Jack Daniels had something to do with that. Then there were visions of Shelly and me on a blanket making love. Or the times we came down to go swimming by the big rock. Standing there, I could actually feel the warmth of her naked breasts pressed against my chest and smell the scent of her hair. It smelled wonderfully of sage and juniper. Man, I hadn't realized I was hauling all that shit around with me. I thanked Bear for bringing me here and allowing me to get rid of it all.
Feeling emotionally spent, I drove down to an old party spot in the Canyon and sat there in the car studying my map and trying to figure out how I would get to Chaco Canyon from here the next day. But everytime I would try and concentrate, I would get this bad headache so finally I reclined back and took a nap. While napping, I had this bizarre dream where my mother came to me and said, "Don't you think you should seek some professional help because of the way you still talk about Shelly all the time? It's been 8 years now since your divorce!" And I answered rather tersely that I don't talk about her all the time. It was people like her that brought it up all the time and I just reacted to what they were saying. I woke with a start and realized what my dream Mother had said was true. I am the one who always talks about it. I had deceived myself into thinking everyone else was talking about it. They were just talking about divorce in general and I always threw my two cents in so not only could I feel sorry for myself, I could get others involved in feeling sorry for me too. How fucked up is that? I resolved then and there to cease being a victim. I had no idea I had been doing that. Think of all the stuff I've put between me and Deb doing that. Thanks again Bear!
So I got back on the road and headed back to town. About 5 miles down the Canyon, I saw a group of people pulled over. I thought they were watching the awesome sunset but they were watching a group of 6 black bears playing in the field. So I got some more photos. Then farther down the road, a big guy ran out in front of me so I pulled over and got some more photos. Afterward, I went and had dinner at the St. James and drank my one requisite Shiner Bock draft at the bar and made friends with an old local and his wife who had moved away long ago and recently come back. The bartender and staff got a kick out of the ghost photos I'd shot back in 94 and everyone wanted a copy so I told them I'd leave a few autographed copies at the Chamber office the next day.
After the beer, I went back up to Buddy's house where we talked into the night.
End of Day 4