Since arriving back home here from Taos, I have been reading a bit (in between catching up at work and in the studio and providing flexible, cheerful taxi services for my endlessly busy kids). The first book is Edge of Taos Desert, by Mabel Dodge Luhan herself. It’s a wonderful chronicle of Mabel’s first taste of Taos and how she came to live and love there with the kind of reckless abandon we might all wish to apply to our lives now and then. If my clumsy musings in these recent blog entries have whet your appetite at all for New Mexico and specifically Taos, I highly recommend this book.
The other book I am reading (rather re-reading) is called Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley. This hefty tome is a feminist take on the old King Arthur legend, to put it succinctly. It’s been a favorite of mine over the years, specifically when I feel a brush up against the Otherworld… like recently with this trip to Taos. There’s a play between two worlds in the Mists; the world of magic and the ‘real’ world of then modern day. Only those schooled in how to find it may approach Avalon. It is in danger of being lost forever. It’s precisely this notion, along with a flexible view of time, that brought me back to this old favorite. On some level, being a couple of weeks past now, Taos seems like my own proverbial Avalon. A place away from any reality that I have here. Everything is different there. Time, the weather, my responsibilities, smells, food. Everything!!
The interesting thing about blogging the trip in this ‘bit by bit’ manner is that I am experiencing a falling away of Taos into the mists of my own memory. I have re-learned the lesson that keeping an illuminated journal, at whatever level we are capable, is a way of capturing time in a bottle in a sense. These photographs, while lovely (especially those from Julie!), simply do not do it justice. They never will. And the little drawings that I might share with you here, they will not do it justice either, at least to you the viewer…. but to me, they do. Better than any photograph. I can open my sketchbook and remember where I was, what the air smelled like, if it was a tad too windy to draw. In the Mists of Avalon, specially trained priestesses utilize their magic to cross between the two worlds. There is a heavy level of mystery to what they do. To me it is not so mysterious. Keeping a sketchbook, or merely the act of drawing itself, is capable of bending time and allowing us to travel between the worlds of the ‘real’ (news of war and economic downturn, daily commitments and appointments, weighty adult responsibility) and the ‘magic’ (creating our own news, spinning some fun into those daily commitments, facing our responsibilities with a sense of humor and more and more love)….. I ask you, which world is real?
But we should really re-enter the gates of the Mabel Dodge house one last time before I get back to the daily life at hand (which includes… some new art ideas, getting my Mammoth Cave Quilt tidied up and finished, diving back into some Irish Music…. and a head/chest cold that has me draggin’…..)
When I left you at the last post, we had finished what I consider the Marathon Day of our time in Taos. We had gotten up that morning at dawn and not gotten back to bed until maybe 3 am the following morning (if the math serves me correctly, I believe we were up for almost 21 hours). Wildly enough, I was not tired heading into the next day which sadly would be our final full day of the workshop. The plan for this day included a visit to the ancient Taos Pueblo.
There are many photos and information you can find online about the Pueblo as well as information of the value of it to our world society as a dedicated UNESCO World Heritage Site. I encourage you to check out the websites linked above. Per the request of the woman who sold us our entry tickets to the Pueblo, I will not post any of my photos from our trip here on this blog.
Our amazing Mabel Dodge based pastry chef, Pamela had pointed us in the direction of her sister and brother-in-law’s gift shop earlier in the week and we were excited to track it down. After a lovely tour of the Pueblo with our guide, a young college age Pueblo woman named Kyle, we walked around a bit to see if we could find the Dancing Hummingbird. The Pueblo is not a big place but we did have trouble tracking it down… but once we did, we were rewarded with the best wares we had seen all day and of course a warm welcome from Pam’s sister Esther who treated us like old friends. It is my hope that by next year’s visit, we will be!
I picked up this little pot in Esther’s shop. She assured me that water from this cup would forever taste sweet and pure like New Mexico itself. Sold. 🙂
The weather that afternoon was very different from that of the day before. We went from unbearably windy and cold to perfectly clear with an entrancing sun and clear, bluer than blue skies. A few of my students took it upon themselves to organize that evening’s meal which enabled me a few minutes of time with my own, sadly neglected, sketchbook. There are few things I will do differently next year for this trip to Taos. I will still guard this experience like a Wolf Mama, keeping it sacred and precious and filled to the brim with spirit. I will bring even more suggestions and teaching moments to the table… but I plan to do less in the logistics department. I plan to be a little more organized so I don’t feel as if I am herding cats half the time, especially at meal times! My thanks to Penny, Stephanie and Linda for organizing dinner, and for the class as a whole for the magic of that final evening together. It was a time of tears and laughter and plans for next year.
This group of people, including the three husbands who decided to come along, have become people I now count as friends. They were a part of this amazing inaugural travel sketch trip that has been a dream of mine for years. Thanks to them, other chronic goals and dreams of mine are feeling pretty excited about the possibilities ahead. As exhausted as I (still) am post-Taos, I am basking in the afterglow of a job well done (for a first-timer at least) and already looking forward to the 2012 trip. If you have any interest in joining next year’s adventure-con-sketchbook to Taos New Mexico, the dates are roughly June 17-21 (give or take, still working out the details). Send me an email so that I can get you on the early bird list. I will be cutting it off at 20. We already have 13 potentials on that list. No money or full commitment needed, I just want to make sure I don’t leave anyone out of the loop who is interested at this time.
There are still many adventures ahead for me this summer. I hope to be over this gnarly summer cold soon so I can get some of my normal energy back and get crackin on the studio work that has been neglected in recent weeks.
I hope to have some things to show you on the Mammoth Cave Quilt (fondly called the MCQuilt around here) in coming days… as well as some other ideas I have brewing… I’ll keep you posted.