Two choices of roads from Taos, NM back to home in Colorado. The one, taken in the morning, was filled with anxiety as prairie dogs darted back and forth across the roads. It is also the more twisted mountainous road but ever so beautiful driving through forests, mountains and a stream you can hear from your window. The other more straight, but steeper and desert/mesa. Not wanting to play dodge ball with prairie dogs or witness what I did not want to see, I chose the steep desert road.
The drought has made even the desert/mesa look weary. I passed what should have been grass areas with tiny freckles of green unsupporting of life. The giant centipede irrigation sprinklers stood still and forgotten, their arms reaching out like divining rods finding nothing within themselves and nothing without. Suddenly I thought I saw a prism rainbow. The kind you see when sprayed water is touched by the sun. Like an oasis an area of lush, rich green grass/hay was being watered by a centipede irrigation sprinkler. Its wheels were buried in deep green carpet. As if someone had laid a green plush welcome mat in the center of the desert the grass/hay did not look real. The water rained down creating the rainbows above and life beneath. And then the weary desert/mesa, in contrast, looking even more hardened and weary, returned. The reverie of “how?” hung like the centipede sprinkler misting my heart.
As I pondered, the strong winds both outside and within turned my gaze. A mountain was on fire. Smoke billowed and swirled upward and the flames dared to taunt the cloudless sky. The Spanish Peaks, two mountain vigil landmarks were hidden by the smoke. I knew the area. A small town of less than 500 lay beneath the flames. No, they would not make the national news like the other fires burning but their losses and expectations would be the same.
Suddenly the few cars in front of me flashed their brake lights and traffic came to a stop. I thought perhaps firefighters or some other type crew were up ahead. Sadly, no. An accident was just being cleared. A car so twisted, it look like a plastic toy someone had stepped on. I could not see how anyone inside would have walked away or even carried away still alive. And the smoke continued to billow in the mountains.
Driving down further, the wind began to collide against the car. More flashing lights. The second image was that of debris, but not debris as in trash. It was the debris of someone’s household goods, clothing and furniture. A van and the trailer carrying their possessions had turned over in a ditch. Both trailer and van had obviously rolled crushing both and releasing possessions of home. The people? I do not know. And to the side, upon the horizon, another mountain was billowing smoke.
Prairie dogs doing what prairie dogs do…running and scampering oblivious and instinctual. They seem to not know we have cut high speed roads across their paths and within our steel cocoons we do not see their small bodies. A small community has been evacuated – all forms of mammals are leaving their homes. The mountains, their earth, trees, grasses and plants are being scorched. An irrigation system stands abandoned; a remembrance of what was. For whatever reason, whatever decision or perhaps inattention lives have either been lost or are in danger. Possessions that once defined a home strewn upon the drought hardened earth and manmade asphalt road. And yet, in the midst of all these images, in the middle of all, there was a lush green oasis that looked so soft it almost called you to come and snuggle within its plush richness and abundance. And outside my window, where what was a yard and now is hardened and cracked earth, like the smoke, something has caught my eye. A single stalk. A single bloom.
And the lesson of these juxtapositions? Giggle, I am not so wise. Perhaps only a scribe. A scribe gifted to see an oasis and bloom and with open eyes reflecting their images to draw from the well of my heart and water the others.