high country quiet

I’m headed to a quiet place. Northern New Mexico. Taos, to be specific. Less than 6,000 people call this home, making it more town than city.

Nestled beneath the Sangre de Christo mountains, it is a quiet place. Winter makes it all the more so by a covering of snow. We are anticipating several snow-days. Shh…

There’s a scientific reason for the snow quiet. Snow is made of ice crystals, which have space between them. These open spaces absorb sound waves, creating that serene quiet that happens right after a snowstorm.

When the author and poet, May Sarton, visited New Mexico for the first time, she described the high plateau of northern New Mexico, as leopard land. “I saw it first in December, 1940, the high plateau among the red and purple mountains, the foothills covered with piñons, tawny earth dotted with these small dark pines so it looked like a leopard skin–the leopard land.” I’ve always liked thinking about this description.

Departing in the rain, by the time I arrive in Albuquerque, those rain drops will be replaced by snow drops

The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhertoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.
The silence
is immense,
and the heavens still hold
a million candles; nowhere
the familiar things:
stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from. Trees
flitters like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creekbed lies
heaped with shining hills;
and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain — not a singled
answer has been found —
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one. First Snow,
Mary Oliver

Grab your hat and gloves, and come along. Traveling mercies.

3 thoughts on “high country quiet”

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