Making Peace With the Desert

This is what it's like in the high desert where I live.

This is what it's like in the high desert where I live.

It’s been a year and a half since I left my home state, Texas, for good, and hauled 17 animals and myself to our new abode in the revered Galisteo Basin, on 40 acres just south of Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’d been looking at properties  for over a year when our new home practically fell in my lap through a series of what I can only call miracles. But you can call them syncronicities if you are more comfortable with that  (and, if you care to, you can read about what happened HERE).

Everything about the place seemed blessed; perfect for my lifestyle and family. Then, the first three months here, I was put to the test.

My brother, a decades-long resident of Santa Fe, had warned me. “Leta, are you sure you want to do this?” he asked with a grave expression on his face. “I’ve seen people move to the Santa Fe area who have been dying to do so for years, only to have their marriages fall apart, their businesses fail, and all kinds of hell break loose in their lives. They buy million dollar homes and then they flee as soon as possible.”

“Yes,” I’m sure, I said.

So we arrive. A month later I have a break-in and burglary and all my jewelry and laptop are stolen. Nothing like this had ever happened on the property before.  One of my dogs developed a raging cancer and was gone within weeks during the second month. Two of my cats were carried off by coyotes, one on the first day after arriving (I didn’t even know how he got outside!). And there was more. Very strange things happened in my house and on my land, as if the spirits that abide here were truly putting me to a test.

I remember during those first few months confidentially stating to a dear friend that I really didn’t know if I would be able to stay here. I couldn’t believe I was even saying it out loud, after all the anticipation of relocating here, but I needed someone to know. I was having trouble bearing the weight of it all by myself.

I look back now and find notes I wrote in my journal during those first three months:

The high desert in Northern New Mexico is truly a force to be dealt with. At 6000’ elevation and higher, with vast stretches of arid terrain and jagged mountain peaks visible in every direction, the elements frolic together as recklessly as the drunken, cloven-hooved Bacchus of mythology. One moment the sun is blasting down mercilessly upon the land and all upon it, the next towers of writhing black clouds are pouring across the sky, pushed by winds full of portent and power. Sometimes rains come with, sometimes not. Sometimes in mere sprinkles, sometimes in torrents causing the myriad dry arroyos that lace the land to become miniature rivers in flood.                    ………….. and

After the harsh, sec winds of what seemed like an interminable spring, this season is more than welcome. Those winds swept the landscape with a fury, moving so much dry, red dust with them that it was often impossible to see any of the mountainous horizon. We had such winds in Texas too, and I’ve always hated high wind, but somehow the winds here seemed more alive and full of not just mischievousness, but malignant overtones. Perhaps it’s because there’s no real shelter on the desert, no large shade trees to block and redirect the wind currents, no creeks or pools of water to soften their impact. Seedlings and blooming fruit trees shudder and often dry up permanently. The horses stand with their backs to the west, the direction from which the winds come tearing –  heads down, looking depressed and miserable.

That first one was an unusually windy spring, I know now. And afterward, whatever spirits on the land were testing me finally decided it was okay for me to stay and ceased their malevolent “pranks.”

I adore it here, is the bottom line, and have ever since the passing of those first three months. So do all my animals. We have not only all adapted but feel blessed and special to live in such spectacular surroundings. It is not only the land here that is awe-inspiring and grand, it is the history of the area itself. This is one of the most hallowed places in North America, with its countless sites and remnants of ancient civilization.

They say this land is watched over, by the spirits of all those who came before. I believe it. I think you have to pay your dues and really understand the energy to be successful here, and I am thankful that I’ve passed the test.

I feel like I’ve belonged here forever.

The view from my courtyard -- how could one not love being here?

The view from my courtyard -- how could one not love being here?

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1 Response so far »

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    […] I moved from Texas to the high desert of Northern New Mexico two years ago, I never dreamed how truly at home I would feel. Not that I didn’t love my old […]


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