Sniff the air. You know, the way a puppy does immediately after you open the car window? An earnest plunge nose first into the fresh breeze. My head was not projecting out of a car for I was already standing firmly in the dirt. But, the scent filled up my mind with such power that instinctively, again, I filled my lungs. Pungent, earth, cows, rocks and curiously damp. Then earth once more.
Everything is different here. Go northward one hour up the road that weaves along with the landscape and there is part of the West I am so familiar with. Here...here it is undoubtedly new. This Land of Enchantment is still geographically part of the same region and the mountains are the southern tip of MY mountains back home. Yet here I notice that everything seems news. The light is BEAUTIFUL. I worry my camera and abilities can never fully capture it. It envelops everything like color wrapping around a canvas. It feels like you are living in a painting. The flow of the light waxes and wanes throughout the day and people here follow its rhythm. The bright bursts of ochre and vermilion in the morning and just before twilight bring an energy to me. And when the sun blazes hot, so HOT at times directly upon my sunscreened skin, it implores me to rest. But in this moment I know what is rolling in over the mountain peaks. A summer storm with nature's light show and sound so powerful my 1 year old asks again and again, "Is that thunder?" Yes, I reply.
We were here before. Years ago but in a different world. The same truck rolled along the dirt and through the land but this time our passenger is different. Years ago, we had spent a few days hiking and photographing the adobe, churches, and land with our impossibly energetic Ridgeback but today the back seat holds two impossibly energetic little boys. It strikes me odd how I feel the same connection to a place at two very different points of my life. My first trip in New Mexico I was so excited to capture it all on slide film with a somewhat reluctant canine model in the foreground. I remember not developing the film before our big move; my mind occupied with seemingly endless tasks and lists. And I had a few frames left on that last roll. Everyone knows with film you never waste a shot. Then, with a pair of bolt cutters one night, hundreds of miles from our old home and hundreds of miles from our new one, those photographs disappeared along with my camera and all my equipment. I imagined the people who grabbed it from the back of our U-Haul seeing my Nikon and realizing that there was still film in the back, took it to be developed to marvel at their find. Of course I logically know it was most likely hastily ripped out or not even thought about before being dumped at a Pawn Shop but the beauty of dreams is that I can imagine it as I want to, not as it was.
So here we are again, and this time I am determined to capture a different piece of this beautiful landscape. This time, I will have the photos to see on my computer. My little ones sleep soundly while rain drops play a tune on the windshield.