40 – Heliotrope, Reminiscence, Dinner at Robbie and Jim Steinbach’s

Sunday, it is still snowing. I read. A sentence from Chateaubriand in Memoires d’Outre-Tombe: ” “A sweet and subtle scent of heliotrope was exhaled by a little patch of beans that were in flower; it was brought to us not by a breeze from our own country but by a wild Newfoundland wind, unrelated to the exiled plant, without sympathy of shared memory or pleasure. In this perfume not breathed by beauty, not cleansed in her bosom, not scattered where she had walked, in this perfume of a changed sky and tillage of the world there was all the diverse melancholy of regret and absence and youth.”

Heliotrope was the perfume of Catherine and Narda. Absence.

Pamela and Carolyn arrive. We are going to have dinner with Jim and Robbie Steinbach. They live along the old 570 rd, where, at the other end I had met the woman with the dogs. In the evening, with snow falling from time to time, the atmosphere is just the same as the other day, gloomy and bleak. The dark moorland.  Right at the end of the pale pink day, a reddish line draws the ridge towards the west, over there.

The adobe house is triangular and every window frames an incredible view. Everything is beautiful, the furniture, the floors, the photos, Robbie’s works and the paintings, the works of her friends, and other objects … all carefully chosen in this recently finished house.

Before we had visited her studio. Robbie had showed us the pictures she had chosen for her next exhibition. Everything superb.

Perfect evening. Our discussions ranged across the world. Their two big black adopted dogs (It makes me think of Yon and Cécile’s), so happy, seeming so warm and loved, bring us the comfort necessary given (comfort us against) the dreary cold outside.

We leave the highlands late at night keeping, inside the car, the same feeling of being warm and cosy.

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39 – Séverin, Rio Hondo, Valdez, Patrick and François Rabath

Mail from Pascale: Severin died in a suicide attack in Kabul, a week after the cremation of Narda, his mother. We think of Vincent, Colette, Elizabeth, Perle, the children. No, we can no longer think. Stunned silence. The violence of people dying in order to kill others, desperate, but also brutal, without any human feeling, completely depraved. One has a vision of hatred and intolerance increasing, everywhere, albeit to varying degrees.

Death (End) is approaching, it appears that everything is accelerating in a negative direction.

Here some people from Taos village go each week to pray in church or at the « Lake of the First Men » for humanity and the world to restore their balance.

At 10:30 , Patrick arrives.
We go towards Coyote Creek, scout new places.

We go down through Valdez, name given to a cluster of farms on the mesas that surround the banks of the canyon through which the Rio Hondo flows We takes different tracks, get lost, find back the river. We explore different places.
It’s quite beautiful.  On one side there are highlands with boulders which descend down to the bed of the Rio and on the other, sheer dark cliffs. I take a few pictures with my pinhole camera.

Continually imitating my French accent. I told him that in seven months, he should be able to speak French, he tells me he manages to work on it everyday, but can’t speak about his projects etc … in my language. Getting lost, we find two houses he had never seen before. He takes photos as I walk on. He will catch up to me.  The trail now follows the Rio Hondo to its junction with the Rio Grande .

  • “No,” Patrick tells me , ” here everyone says The RIO ” .
  • “OK, Patrick!”.

The weather is so nice that we regret not having brought a picnic.
Patrick, composer and bassist, talks to me about his 7 months in France taking lessons with François Rabath who is considered a bass guru. He tells me that he has a one-year scholarship to write a book in which he would like to use holography and some music he composed to relate to photographs of abandoned houses in northern New Mexico that he took over a period of ten years.

We cross the bridge, admire the fly fishermen who do not seem to catch much. We hesitate to go up by the opposite bank., finally decide to go back up on the same side and take a short track which seems to approach the RIO, probably quite a wild spot, one he does not know.
Here we are in a mixture of snow, ice or mud ! At the end of the path, the cut, the gorges, the vertiginous headlands, breathtaking views on the river down, very low, and in the distance, after the moors and the bushes of grey ash sage, so far away the more or less tapered mountains.

One returns.
The night falls here. The snow so white will not erase the mourning.
In France, it is night and Vincent, Colette, Baptiste and all the others of the family think of Séverin and Narda.

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38 – Tire Factory, Arroyo Secco, DG Nanook

At 8:30, I go to the garage. The wheel is repaired and mounted in an instant.
While everything was finished, I looked around: At least a dozen mechanics, “Anglos”, Hispanics, Indians. A type of foreman who controls the speed of the work. Poverty is obvious. Between repairs, they sit against the outside wall of the building and smoke hurriedly in the sun. No time.
In the office, everything is gleaming, light, desk, advertisements for cars and tires. On the side, there is a large screen TV on the wall with a dozen seats for clients. Detective movie (playing on).
The guy has kept the valve of the tube as evidence and he agrees to write a letter saying that it was defective. I will not have to pay the $ 80.

Around noon I have an appointment with Carolyn to visit the home of Dorothy Brett, at the beginning of the road to Arroyo Secco, a hippie village. We picnic a little higher up. The road gets more and more beautiful, tracks between fields, some leading to farms, horses, Charolais, Angus, full sky of crows, magpie , wild pigeons, robins … I will return.

The meal in the car is delicious – spring rolls, very fresh sushi, oranges.  A long discussion drags on about romantic relationships. What is it to live as a couple?
Put up with yrannical immediacy or let time and latency strengthen the delicate (fragile) beauty of desire and develop (weave) an enduring (solid inalterable) thread against boredom?
Boredom? That leads to death, the dulling of life, the forgetting of others, of oneself.
Latency? That would keep alive the pleasure of our days and nights, soften the deep, dark fears that trouble us, lighten that which is so easily tarnished by our mutuality. Let time take its course.
Etc …

This evening I find Robbie, the photographer and Pamela for another SOMOS evening reading at Tazza coffee. While waiting, Robbie shows us two books about her stay in Venice which she had laid out and printed online. One with color photos and her journal and the other in black and white accompanied by quotations about Venice. She lends them to me.

The readings start with an Inuit poet, D. G. Nanook and it is again quite beautiful, this way of reciting in the original language and then alternately reading the English. It gives flavor and strength to words. This makes me think (as James Thomas Stevens did last week), of the replaying of Under Milk Wood, by the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas I had heard a few years ago. Perhaps it is the same shifting between a Celtic poet and his use of English language as between two Native American poets (Inuit or Mohawk) and their use of American to write poetry. A manner for people to reappropriate the conqueror’s language while keeping themselves distant from a civilization that wanted to eliminate or subdue them.

I go to see her and tell her my story of the Welsh poet. She grabs my neck, hugs me and says :
– ” He’s my favorite poet I love him. I read him all the time! “
She speaks then of images, of rhythms, of a way to overlay several images and entangle them with the narrative, etc. The direct simplicity is good, a spontaneous exchange without  sophistication. She is going to send me her book and write something in it for me.

L’attribut alt de cette image est vide, son nom de fichier est L1070793-400x600.jpg.

Return on foot in the cold night, on the eve of the full moon, with Pamela.

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37 – Coming Back, Tires and Valves, «Tokinish»

This morning reading, watching the snow fall, drinking tea. Doing some laundry. Liz arrives. While the machines are running, we talk. Liz asks if I would like to come back for another residency, I told her yes, that to return would help me to consolidate connections. I have always liked the idea of ​​returning to the same places and re-exploring them again and again. Liz, no, she prefers to explore other paths, to discover other environments.

I return for lunch, it’s almost 2:00. I sort photos from yesterday. A little later at the the library I find Carolyn in despair about a bad review. We go to see Michael, we discuss the critique and try to cheer Carolyn up by talking about the play she has begun to write about Dorothy Brett …

I ask Michael if he wants to look at something that lights up on the car dashboard. He explains it shows that the tires are underinflated.
– “Don’t worry, I’ve got what is needed!”
He inflates one tire and as he removes the compressor, the valve comes with it. Now we’re having a long discussion with the man from the rental agency, who finally sends a repairman to put on the spare wheel and to make sure we do not make a mess of it! I return home, tired from not having done much.

I sit down to read the poems of James Thomas Stevens who begins with a quotation from John Donne:
“But yet the body is his book”

“Tocketussaxêitch? What is your name

Tokinish, The live beast.

I try to write. Nothing comes…
Now the sun is setting, over there, behind the trees.

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36 – Okhai Owingeh , Abiquiu , Ghost Ranch, Georgia O’Keefe

At 8:15  Carolyn, Pamela and I meet Robbie in front of the post office of Ranchos de Taos ((Trading Post Café or post office?)). She brings us to Georgia O’Keefe country. We drive for quite some time when, on the left of the highway, we see the peaks of the Sangre de Cristo, highlighted in bright white, a powder trail, almost unreal: snow whipped by the wind?

We reach the village of Okhai Owingeh (San Juan) and its two churches which we visit with Robert Cress, Crow Indian, jewelry designer. The second church is a copy of the Sainte Chapelle in Paris. 

Robert shows us his beautiful jewels


We continue to Albiquiu, a tiny village where Georgia O'Keefe lived. Marvelous house. 


Then we walked around all the places she painted: Pedernal Mountain, the White Lands and especially, Ghost Ranch where she retreated from time to time , away from everything.

Beautiful drive back. Arrive at night
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35 – Narda, Footprints, Icy Cold, White Weather.

Temps blanc.

Narda is dead. Remembering her makes me think of Eloise’s memory:  “Narda had sent us a four leaf clover for her birth that we later gave to our daughter Eloise. Although she had not seen her for years she insisted on accompanying Jean-Pierre and Vincent, her godfather, and all the others, family and friends to the cremation, at Père Lachaise Cemetery.

I think back to those years when we gathered at the “Moulin de Narda” where we laughed so hard and did many things, including kayaking, making pizza and bread in the wood oven, played games of all kinds, ate sausages and black pudding, turned crème fraiche (to accompany the blackberries ) into butter by just twirling a spoon on a plate while talking through the night.

Narda who sent us a long and lovely letter every New Year in which she reconstructed our lives from photos I had sent her and gave us some news. A surprising and loving story. Always family.

It is already 5am. The bright sunlight drives me out. Obsessive, I return to the tablelands again today, brilliant and under a thick snow. I went there earlier than usual and decided to walk further, as far as another shining cross I had noticed the other day. I came across many animal tracks. Some human footprints. Icy cold . Narda.

Tomorrow we leave early with Robbie Steinbach who takes us, Carolyn, Pamela and me to Abiquiu.
This is where Georgia O’Keefe lived and painted.

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34- Gloomy weather, Exoticism, Mirroring the World

It snowed all night. Cancel the ride with Patrick to Coyote Creek, on the other side of the mountain. Hole up inside to read and sort through photographs. The snow is thick, the weather, bad. It snows again.

I read through some very old notes. Ah! The exoticism, a concept that refuses all notion of attachment, because as soon as it is familiar, it has lost its exoticism. Free is the path of one who cherishes the exotic.

What about the words describing the flavor of the world, the exaltations, words that express love, promises?

It would be good to recapture the quiescent times of adolescence when one had the time, the painful time to regain the color and the grief that arise to disturb the moments of love and beauty. One reflects the world anew. It should not be forgotten that one magnifies that which one loves.

Gray outside. Warm inside. I begin to connect bits of text with the photographs, those that can be better understood through writing. At work.

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33- Cold wind, Soft pink towards the South.

Sunday.  The sky is blue. The sun slowly disappears.




A thick fog arrives pushed by a cold wind. Violent wind. I hear it rise up and then diminish. The fog continues to advance.


In the openings, the sun softens, while over there towards the south, it turns the ridgeline pink. No more than a minute it lasts.



Pink even softer, at ground level, so white the snow, so black the bushes. Sublime time of contemplative solitude.









While returning I think to myself that this evening I would like to stay quietly at homerather than dining with neighbors. But, I had not warned them. It is 6 oclock and I had promised rice with sauted vegetables. So I arrived at 6:30 with the casserole. In the end, I had a good time and a delicious dinner.

Staying in my mind, the spun pink of the morada.

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32- Aztec dances, Maze, Sighing on the Grasslands

Quick meal and I’ll take a walk around the plaza.

Some Aztec dancers have finished dancing. The drums fall silent. They chat with the audience while packing up their instruments. A little boy is making big balls with silver paper which he brings to his parents, who are having a picnic nearby.

I take the Morada Lane to go and “do” the Labyrinth. Apparently, if one follows in silence the spiraling road towards the center, one reaches a state similar to meditation: shifting continuously from the right brain to the left brain while approaching and then turning and moving away from the center. No meditation for me, too busy looking around probably. On the rock at the center I see a necklace, some coins, tickets, and papers bearing messages of peace, of love or poems, stuck under carefully chosen rocks it seems, often folded into 4 to protect them from the snow.

While passing beside Mabel Luhan Lodge I realize that one can probably reach Indian lands that continue on for a long way.

I go. Traverse a ditch.

Yes, in the distance I see the cross painted by Georgia 0’Keefe.

The wind rises, covering the blue sky with white clouds that thicken, growing more and more distant.
I feel a storm coming. The mountains appear and disappear. A strange sighing swells over the land.

I look all around, convinced that animals are spinning in front of me. Nothing. Sudddenly the wind drops, the storm has passed, now far from here.
I return to the town in peace.
Two little girls run along past the
façade of the church. Time to get out my camera.


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