I have quoted several times in this blog from William deBuys’ wonderful book, The Walk, so I thought we should feature something from him on a Wisdom Wednesday. Much from this author has moved me, so you’ll be hearing more about his words and their effect on me, I’m sure. For this first piece, I’ve chosen a passage describing his feelings about the New Mexico sky. I am coming to realize that, like the mountains, the sky anchors me to this place. When I feel lost or scared, no matter how intense my mood, it is this sky that has the power to call me back—the sky and these peaks—they are inseparable in their support of my artist soul. Here’s how deBuys puts it:
“Beyond and above the hills spreads the blue and empty sky of New Mexico, the words of which name enchant me beyond reason, suggesting not only a particular home and geography but an existence and history shared with others, a notion of belonging in time and place, the essence of community. I believe it was Willa Cather who said—and I quote approximately—that elsewhere the land has the sky for its ceiling, but here in New Mexico the sky has the land for its floor.
Another writer, Ross Calvin, captured the essence of the matter in the title of his book Sky Determines. It is a sky that has shaped land and people not by what it gives but by what it does not have and therefore must withhold: water. Lacking a haze of moisture, it is a giant, deep, and expansive sky, a sky so thin and light that distant objects—the far horizon of blue mountains, a high-flying jet, or cranes passing overhead—seem nearer than they are. It is a sky so weightless and pure that one is tempted to believe it places no burden on the heads and minds beneath it, a sky under which it seems possible that thoughts might come more freely and less constrained than in other places. It is a sky of double lightness, of both illumination and weightlessness.
At no time do you sense this more than on a moonless night, gazing from this very window, or better, stepping onto the shallow porch of this two-room, mud-brick cabin to see the stars… At night the blackness of our sky is truly black, the stars stunningly bright. Across the center of the heavens the Milky Way spreads like a smear of butterfat, shining so intensely that there seems to be no dark between the stars.”
I have found myself, often, compelled to leave the light and walls of my home on dark nights to go stand on my land in the stars. The sky is so all encompassing, so near, it’s like being of the stars—of the heavens. And no matter the state of things in the world, in my life, everything comes back to balance in the perspective of the unending cosmos and my place in the family of things.
Love to you all,
This article was useful when looking for:
- Willa Cather in New Mexico (2)