When I moved here I bought these two acres about a mile outside of the small village of Truchas, New Mexico (population 900), basically in the middle of nowhere. My land is backed up by thousands of acres of unbuildable land grant and that was one of the main reasons I bought it. I wanted peace and quiet. I wanted space. Initially people worried for my safety, a woman alone way out here. They all said I needed a gun and a big dog.
But I have always felt safe in this vast solitude, secure even, living in pastureland cut from the old juniper and pinon forests long ago, out here among the coyotes and other wild things. Perhaps it’s offered something soothing to my own wild nature, a sense of belonging where I never really fit overly well within the various societies I’ve sampled.
On those pitch-black nights when there is no moon, with only the stars offering any sense of proportion, all of my nervous awkwardness falls away because I know who I am in those moments. I know where I fit. Standing there in the center of my land I seem to always know well my place within “the family of things” as Mary Oliver, the great poet, puts it.
I read somewhere, in William DeBuy’s Enchantment and Exploitation I believe it was, that outsiders come here for the quiet beauty but, not satisfied with it the way it is, we make “improvements.” Higher taxes follow and the villagers are left poorer as a result.
Back when I came to this village, the outsider stranger coming in from Utah, building on this pristine pastureland, I brought with me change. I buried cables to carry electricity way out here and the internet, phone lines. I cut the road in and ran city water to my home.
Recently I used a quote from Chief Seattle in a blog post: “… the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” I imagined I would be the only person out here forever, not understanding how profoundly I’d disturbed the web.
Without realizing it or meaning to I effectively built a small infrastructure outside of the village proper. So houses are popping up like mushrooms all around me. A classic example of reaping what I sowed. It’s only fair that the families who have lived here for generations are able to realize their own dreams of building houses out on the land where they played growing up. So if I should ever leave Truchas, let that be my legacy, and also my lesson.
Should I go, I want to find a place that has seen less life, that isn’t interwoven with community and heritage but only the wanderings of the wild and the migrations of the ancients. Let me be more conscious of what I do so that I disturb less. Let me tread more softly.
Here is my wish: to find the land that waits for me, if indeed it does, a place where a new history may unfold. Where daybreak and days’ end bring with them a song of the wild reverberating off canyon walls undisturbed.
I’ve been both nurtured and tried by Truchas. There is so much I understand now that I didn’t know then. As I go forward, whether I stay or go, may my eyes and heart be more authentically open than when first I came to call.
Love to you all,