It was 1956 and I was 8 years old when Dad took Mom and me to New Mexico. The West was not a stranger to my small mind as we had been to Cortez, Colorado earlier when I was age 6. Near Cortez, the glass incased Anasazi mummies at the ancient ruins of Mesa Verde mystified the young boy. This part of the world was a long way from the tropical paradise of South Florida in the mid 1950’s. Dad began building his dream of a business in Albuquerque and every Summer when school was out, my place as Junior was in the back seat of the family car looking out as we drove from the near bottom of Florida and up across it’s panhandle, through the deep South of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, then traversing giant never ending Texas, and on into the Land of Enchantment (at least that is what it said when you crossed the New Mexico state line).

As a young half-pint my view from the back seat and rear window fueled my imagination with the mythology of the civil war South, as we passed by the cotton fields with shanty houses, and the battlefield memorials. It was 3 long days of driving through little town after little town, over rivers with grand bridges, by the oil derricks of Texas, the big flying red horse on the skyline of Dallas, nights in strange towns at Holiday Inns and motels, unknown restaurants, and finally onto Route 66 which was a desolate 2 lane highway with trains wheeling by in the vast deserted distance. Albuquerque by my 8 year old definition was: dust, prairie dogs, snakes, strange new smells, mud houses, big Summer thunder storms sending flash floods down the streets of this in the middle of no where place! The Florida boy was a fish out of water. Basically, I hated it out here. But then, there was the discovery of pueblos, the Indians, the painted pots, the trading posts and watching Navajos hammering out jewelry, the smell of pinon, the never ending blue sky with beautiful floating clouds, and the pink hue of Sandia Mountain at Sunset. Mom and Dad were crazy about something called green chile. I kind of liked it.

Once on a pueblo visit my prized Black Cat firecrackers that I had picked up at a gas station in Alabama were traded to the young Native American kids my age for small pots they had made. I was an Indian trader! I remember looking out the back window through the funnel of dust as we drove off and saw my trade partners cheerfully shooting off their firecrackers in the pueblo plaza, and me looking down at my treasure of little pots. Maybe this place wasn’t so bad after all? If it just had an ocean. Eventually the Florida schoolboy ended up moving to New Mexico after college. Mom and Dad still went back and forth to a now much changed paradise. I married Susan and we lived in one of those mud houses on the West mesa of Albuquerque. Both my girls were born in New Mexico. As the decades went by my understanding of the region, its people, traditions, and the magical landscape, evolved into a love of its barren beauty and the spiritual vibration that comes from being close to the earth. No wonder so many artists and photographers have gravitated here to make their imagery. This view of the Jemez Mountains is a scene envisioned from ground where the real becomes surreal. It is a picture that comes from years of waking, living, sleeping, and just being in this place called the Land of Enchantment. Miraculous things happen here and they touch your soul.

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