Around 2 pm, I leave for the Rio Grande hot springs. As I pass by, I see that the small store, ANTIQUES FURNITURE etc., is open, with lots of stuff out front. I’ve been wanting to stop there for a while, but it’s often closed. The owner, Taja is outside fixing a chair. I enter. There are vintage clothes, paintings, furniture, tableware, and lots of folk art. I like some things a lot. We begin to talk.
She explains that she started selling this local folk art somewhat by accident.
– “It’s a traditional thing here, and for me it’s a nice way to help all these artists, who are often despised, to continue creating.”
Behind a counter on the far right, I see small ex-votos that look like the ones I saw at Ranchos de Taos when the dog scared me so much. I tell Taja the story and how much I had liked his ex-votos.
– “Oh yes, that’s Pablo Flores you’re talking about, he’s exhibiting in several galleries.”
And just like that we’re off on a three-hour trip. Taja tells me the lives of these artists, the history of the paintings, of the sculptures. Then she suggests she call Pablo Flores and ask him to come over. She tells him about the dog… they laugh.
– “I’m not free right now, but Monday would be okay.”
There are larger works, by another santero, whose scenes are incredibly vivid. He paints on wood using the grain, knots, and other features of the wood.
Today I choose some small “santos” and a metal fish. Gifts? Souvenirs?
– “See you on Monday, and if I find room in the suitcase, I’ll buy one of the paintings on wood.”
I leave and find the track we took with Patrick, along the Rio Hondo to where it flows into the Rio Grande. I cross the bridge and drive up the opposite bank.
At the first hairpin bend, I see two parked cars and the beginning of a path. I get out and continue on foot.
After about half a mile, a dog comes towards me. I stop when it starts barking. I see a man’s head and then torso:
– “Don’t worry, he doesn’t bite.”
A young woman is sitting up. I can guess there are two other people with them. They’re sitting quietly in the hot water pool, drinking beer and smoking.
I decide to come back one morning next week.
I leave the canyon driving west and find myself on a moor that stretches as far as the eye can see. Some ranches. The trail continues dead straight and seems endless. I’ve just noticed that I don’t have much gas left. A car approaches, I wave, it stops, and I ask the driver if I’m on the right road to Highway 64.
– “Yes, it’s not much further on.”
Almost reassured, I still think:
– “What does ‘not much further on’ mean out here?”
The road veers in the right direction. I see the Earthship houses.. . I know where I am, I stop, admire the details in the light of the coming evening.
Just after the tanks, I turn for Taos and see these 2 drifters, vagabonds. The two words say the same wandering, the same uncertainty.
Reminds me of Louise Erdrich:
“In the beginning when you wait for someone, every shadow is an arrival. Then the shadows become the very substance of dread.”
The Plague of Doves