14. You musta gone crazy out there

From the high deserts of New Mexico

Night rider’s lament:

Why do you ride for your money
Why do you rope for short pay
You ain’t a getting’ nowhere and you’re losin’ your share
You must have gone crazy out there

There are some things I just can’t explain. Like –

Why did you leave the Bench, your role as a Judge? Why would you walk away from a secure position that paid very well, with incredible power and prestige?  Before retirement age, long before the big benefits kicked in? You didn’t have to go! Why would you get rid of everything and ride around the country, alone, in an RV?  Why don’t you go back? You can make good money doing mediations!

          Where do you live?

          When are you coming back to Florida?  Where are you going next?  Where will you be in February? Where are going when you leave here?

A motorcycle friend had a T-shirt with the emblem of a Goldwing.  Under the Wing, it read “If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand.”

This is the best I can do today to “explain.” Right now my RV is parked in western New Mexico at City of Rocks State Park, south of Silver City, NM. This is the view from my kitchen window.  Early yesterday I saw several jack rabbits; the low rays of the sun illuminated their ridiculously large ears that rotated like large radio antennas. (Very Large Array on not so large rabbits). This morning, as Misty and I were out walking, we visited with a delightful Canadian couple who had stopped here for a few nights as they travel in a conversion van.  Gordon and Ginny are close to my age (I’m 70).  They are bright-eyed, engaged with life, and enthusiastic about their shared passion for birds.  And they are respectful, humorous, and gentle with each other.  Still – after 20 years!  Gordon volunteered that they share “a great partnership.” Shortly after we talked, they rode away, heading to southeast Arizona to look for more birds, as they amble back to British Columbia.  We swapped contact information, and I hope to visit with next summer in British Columbia. Check out his amazing photography at his website, www.f8at125.com

“Why do you rope for short pay? “ Why do I prefer to ramble, observe and listen, instead of being fully engaged in the legal world?  Maybe I’ve gone crazy out here.  But it’s a good crazy.  Sunshine to saunter in, in this forever-changing  wide-open world of the high desert.  A world in which I can see forever.  Further than my eye can see.  So from the mesa top, I look southward til my eyes get tired; then I like to pretend to mark that furthest spot.  Take a break, then begin looking southward from there. Each morning I sit to watch the sun rise behind the mountains out the rear windows of my small motor home. The west side of the mountains is black/purple as the sky behind it begins to lighten.  Soon above the mountain peak, there’s a subtle plume of blue in the orange/pink sky.  Something like a cloud wisp in the cloudless sky.  As the sky gets brighter with the sun inching closer to the edge, the blue/purple plume undulates slightly.  It looks too magical to be real, but I can’t blink it away. Then the plume disappears as the sun pulls itself up over the mountain, throwing light daggers and quickly changing everything, But I have another appointment tomorrow, just before sunrise, to see that the plume reappears.

Last week, I spent time with special friends, Marion and Jamie Newton as they worked on the annual fund raiser for KURU, the small, local radio station in Silver City, NM.  Jamie interviewed on the air a fascinating couple – Phil and Kathy Dahl-Bredine – to discuss their book, Milpa, from seeds to salsa, and their vital work of sharing with the world the wisdom of the indigenous people in the Mixtec region of Oaxaca, in southern Mexico.  Like the book, the interview was bilingual – Spanish and English.  Marion and I listened to the interview on her car radio, parked in the shade with the windows down. Yesterday I rode back into Silver City to meet with Phil and Kathy.  They have lived in southern Mexico for 17 years, and their respect for the people and the culture is palpable.   Over a glass of iced tea at a restaurant known as The Toad, Phil and Kathy talked of their work with the team who wrote Milpa.  Their book, of coffee table size,  explores through a blend of essays, recipes and documentary photography how the ancient agricultural knowledge and the wealth of 1000 year-old seeds and planting practices still in use among the Mixtec peoples of southern Mexico can help meet the worldwide ecological and food crises of today. I’ll do a separate post with more details about the book. This is their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/milpafromseedtosalsa and their blog is at http://sustainablemilpa.blogspot.com/

Like me, Phil and Kathy are no spring chickens.  They have seven grown children state-side, and they have lived primarily in the Mixtec region of Oaxaca, in southern Mexico for 17 years. They leave the U.S. in two days, going back to southern Mexico, near the Guatemala border.  They will travel by bus.  Not a big motor home or a chartered bus.  They will take the ordinary bus that ordinary Mexicans use to travel across their country.  Like the people they will travel with, Phil and Kathy are both ordinary and extraordinary.

City of Rocks State Park is one of my favorites and I return here almost every year. The views are varied – long vistas across rolling plains, punctuated by mountains.  Nightly, there’s a jaw-dropping star party in the ink-black sky.  Silver City, a 45 minute drive to the north, is a fascinating, eclectic place with a wide range of people.  I have close friends in the area. The Gila Cliff Dwellings can be a day’s outing.  Yet as I sit in the quiet, writing, I hear rocks crunch under the tires of a lone truck heading out. The sounds of leaving piqued my interest – where are they going? My intrigue with the sound suggests I’m getting ready to go, too, to see what’s around the bend.

OK, but – really, “Why do you rope for short pay?” Every day I speak with kind people and experience Mother Nature. Every day I have time to sit, without words, and look out the window.  I write and most days I take a nap. Misty and I spend time outside, exploring.  Yes — expensive things break, I get stranded, I get lost.  Some days I get down on myself for not “accomplishing” something.  Yet life is good, people are kind, and Nature is awe-inspiring.

She asked him why does he ride for his money
Why does he rope for short pay
He ain’t getting’ nowhere and he’s losin’ his share
He must have gone crazy out there
But she’s never seen the Northern Lights
Never seen a hawk on the wing
Never seen Spring hit the Great Divide
And never heard Ol’ Camp Cookie sing

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