89 – Driving George to Santa Fe, Tesuque Flea Market, a Russian Jeweler, High Road to Taos

I doubt I’ll leave tomorrow. The ash cloud still isn’t clearing. No need to spend the night in Albuquerque if there’s a 98% probability the plane won’t take off. But I had promised George I’d drop him at his friends’ house in Santa Fe.

We leave at 10 am. While we’re on the way there, he and his friends decide it would be easier to meet up on one of the ramps.

Here we are, waiting for them. George, who is taking a train to Baja California, has two huge bags and a suitcase. I make fun of him because he can hardly lift the larger bag onto his back.

His friends arrive. We say goodbye again and promise to meet up for a few road-trips.
– “I’ve rarely laughed as much as on our excursions!”
he says with exquisite American politeness.

I set off back north and stop at the Tesuque flea market, where Cecile and I had met a photographer of horses and buffalo. We had talked a lot, and Cecile had finally chosen one of her horse pictures. I was interested in seeing her again. I also wanted to find some beads for Pascale, who had liked those we brought her. I find the same merchant. He sells magnificent beads that could have arrived here when glass beads were used as currency to pay Indians. I buy some.

It’s cold, and many stands are closed. No photographer, but in her aisle, an “art brut” painter. He is currently painting. Canvases cover the three walls. The studio is wide open, I enter, tell him that I like his work, we talk.

A little further on, a seller is showing beautiful Navajo and Zuni silver-and-turquoise bracelets, etc… to collectors. He consults a Navajo about the origin of each turquoise and which mine it comes from. He also has some antique jewelry. Other people show up. I listen in. He buys the contemporary jewelry directly from the artists, whom he knows well. There are bracelets inspired by Spanish art, very elaborate, stunning when I see them on the buyers’ wrists.

The Zuni bracelets are often figurative and ultra-fine, and the Santo Domingo bracelets are very geometric and abstract, each telling a story. He especially likes the very delicate ones made by two brothers and a sister.


Little by little, people leave. I ask him to explain some things.

I see one piece that’s very similar to the depression-jewelry of the small Two Graces store in Ranchos de Taos. I ask him about it.
– “No, not this one,” he tells me, “but it’s exactly the same inlay technique, or rather overlay because the stones are not inset but laid on top. The depression-jewels, yes, very interesting, very inventive, alas they now cost a fortune.”

He shows me the different turquoises, some whose shapes and colors suggest geographical maps, others of a solid color, and then the red or pink coral, the black jet, the Utah jade with colors that range from yellow brown to green, the lapis lazuli, the white gypsum, the mother-of-pearl shells.

I ask him where he’s from.
– “From Russia; my grandfather settled on the East Coast. We sold clothes and jewelry. Then one day I came to New Mexico by chance, I liked it and came back to buy jewelry from the Indians. I knew that when I retired, I would move here and sell jewelry.”

He also has a belt buckle with a horse and thin little figures on the silver, a marvel he very much wants to keep for himself but thinks may be too feminine. He tries it on in front of the mirror, and I tell him I think it looks great on him.
He adds:
– “Besides, I know someone who makes beautiful belts, so…”

We go on talking for two hours. I buy earrings and a pendant. We exchange cards,
“But don’t go to my website, I don’t take care of it. Goodbye.”

I return by the High Road of Taos, unrecognizable with the snow now melted, the grass growing, the trees turning green. Water is everywhere, sometimes overflowing and flooding the lowest fields. The church of Truchas is closed. I forgot the phone number of Nora, who opens the church. Nobody in the streets.

After the pass, still covered with a bit of dirty snow, Highway 518, Rio Grande del Rancho, and the surreal vision of two motorcyclists bringing home a huge turkey, or something… 

I finally get home.

L’avion n’est toujours pas annulé. Liz et moi dînons ensemble. Elle propose qu’on prenne le petit déjeuner à 6h30. Je lui dis que

The flight is still not cancelled. Liz and I have dinner together. She suggests we have breakfast together at 6:30. I tell her that’s too sweet of her and really too early.
– “I’m awake anyway.”
– “Okay then, that’s really nice!”
– “Sweet dreams, sweet night!” 

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