I should be devising a new stragedy for contending with the mobility issue, but I’m not. Everything involves long treks to doctor’s offices, and I just don’t want to go. I want to work on my novel and walk along the river in the winter light. I don’t want to leave here right now at all.
The only word that describes what I feel for the San Luis Valley is love, and I have the strangest feeling it’s requited. Last night (when I was not sleeping because I thought I should be coming up with a stragedy) I thought about how I came here.
Long ago, a decade before I retired, I thought of buying a house in a remote place at a low price. My first thought was Farmington, NM and I killed free time in my office at the university by looking online at houses in Farmington. I thought it was a good bet for me — college town, etc. Talking it over with a colleague, he said it was really a good idea — and then HE bought a house in Farmington, NM and retired there!
Then a girl came to the university to buy textbooks from faculty members. You see, publishers send us books without our even asking for them so we all end up with dozens of books — brand new, beautiful — that we don’t want. Book buyers contact faculty, buy the books (free money!!!) and resell them. Anyway, this girl came to meet up with me and buy my books. She was fresh, open, clear-headed and there was something about the way she talked. As a person who had taught English as a language, I’m aware of even small regional accents. I said, “Where are you from?”
She said, “You wouldn’t have heard of it. A tiny town in Colorado.” (Coloraduh)
“I’m from Colorado,” I said. “I might’ve heard of it.”
“You are? Well, OK. Del Norte. See, you haven’t heard of it.” (Del Nort)
“Yeah, I have. It’s in Southern Colorado. I don’t think I’ve been there, but maybe.”
I started looking at houses in Del Norte. Then I looked at the map to see what other towns there were and I found a house in Monte Vista and I fell in love with it. I looked at it online for two years (property doesn’t sell quickly in Monte Vista). The house lured me to the San Luis Valley.
As my friend drove me from DIA to Monte Vista on August 1, 2014, and we topped Poncha Pass and I saw the Valley, I fell in love. There was an immense sky, mountains on two sides, green cultivated fields and empty fields of rabbitbush. Ponds reflecting clouds. Trees along the arroyos. Old beat up signs from other times. Cattle and horses in the pastures. The huge sprinklers that define circles on the ground. And the sky, always the amazing, changing sky.
I saw the house, but it turned out to be impractical for me. I moved into a house around the corner from it about two months later. I’d never been here before that August afternoon.
If you read my blog, you know how I feel about being here. I love it. I love the animal tracks in the snow and dust and the animals I’ve seen. I love the mountains on both sides of me and the rain shadow they create. I love the sun which shines most of the time, and silvery snow sky in January. I love the summer thunderstorms, their arching rainbows, and I love the slight magic of rainbows in the virga. I love the golden cottonwoods and aspen in the fall, the blue of the Rio Grande threading its way across the valley. I love the farms and ranches, the heavily loaded potato trucks, the passing and staying Sandhill Cranes. The eages and hawks and buzzards afloat in the sky when I walk through the slough along the river. The owls I met last summer. The sound of a fox in the night. The mystery of the Sand Dunes and the beach of Medano Creek. The people around me who are warm, friendly and independent — like me. I love the ancient Hispanic culture. I love the beautiful old churches built by people of every faith. I love the small town that asked me to live here, its annual celebrations and their sincerety. I love the way people on a trail greet my barky, scary black dog. I love the long conversations about the weather and the future and the crops and animals while we look into the sun. For the first year I lived here I wasn’t always sure I hadn’t died and gone to Heaven, seriously.
Anyway, after the frustrating, disappointing and angering doctor’s appointment this past Friday, about which I had been seriously stressed out knowing it would lead — imagining it would lead — to surgery that I don’t even want to have, I drove home. The mountains to the north of Poncha Pass look like the Colorado I knew as a kid and young woman. They are different from the San Luis Valley. Dazzlingly beautiful, but not the same.
I crested the top of the pass and began the descent which is pretty straight down after a windy upward climb. Then there is a curve and then, in front of me spread “my” valley. At that moment a certain song came on my radio. Sometimes I think my car radio has some kind of strange cosmic connection in the way it can show up with the perfect soundtrack for a moment, and that’s what happened. I felt like the San Luis Valley was welcoming me home.