I woke to the true song of the robin.
All alone he sang, a brave voice in the darkness before dawn, claiming his rightful territory.
He sings of spring, a mate, rain, old berries yet uneaten, insects wakening under dead leaves. Of sunlight flooding through bare tree branches and twiggy nests earthworms wriggling forth from the earth to drink of its cold moisture.
A week ago in Santa Fe, the air smelled of dust, pinon smoke, apricot blossom, and juniper.
I still feel a slight sense of dislocation, a neither-here-nor-there. A ghosting feeling, as if my body arrived but some part of me (my spirit?) is following more slowly, maybe migrating northward and on the wing like the robins, not yet at my destination.
Air travel is especially abrupt when traveling between such dramatically different landscapes, with bare time to transition from Southwestern spring to Northern spring.
There: A high desert clarity. A sea of dry air that steals away all moisture from one's nose, in which skin takes on a map-like texture, an atlas of lizard trails and pebbled riverbeds and beetle-traced tree bark.
We walked through arid gardens of soft sands, yarrow, dusty gold, sage and subtle greens against the backdrop of pine-dark mountains, under vaulting arcs of cloud...
Down streets so quiet one could hear the gentle patter of blossoms hitting the ground...
House finches with rosy throats warbled their songs in the fruit trees, plucking blossoms one by one and drinking their nectar before discarding them to flutter to the stones below, and the adobe walls were painted by soft shadows.
We followed in the footsteps of ancient peoples, through the canyons, cholla, cottonwoods lining the small river (like but unlike their eagle-eyried kin along the Mississippi River), dusty paths, vast walls and fortresses of ember-lit and golden limestone towering overhead, glowing against the blue sky.
We climbed into cool-shadowed cliff dwellings, blew dust from our noses, carried water for the journey, rested in the shade, rested in the quiet, the quiet of an ancient place. All wild places are ancient, and sacred, but some strike one so more than others, like this one.
What would it be like, getting to know even one mountain? To watch such an eternal being through every shift of light, season, weather? Calming, I would imagine, an object of contemplation, meditation, inspiration, like Pedernal Mountain to Georgia O'Keeffe.
Oh how beautiful the paintings, but just as much the life of an artist following her vision, the photographs made of her working in her kitchen and garden, a life all of a piece, making sense.
Maybe that is what lingers most of all, a calling I have heard before and hear again. My true song. Will I listen this time?