Wednesday, August 18, 2010

broke my reading glasses on the first flight; i took it as a sign and decided not to read or do the computer for a while. we were after all going way out west, to phoenix then back to el paso, from there by rent-a-car along ten, across the river from juarez, most dangerous city in the americas, and to the far tip of texas where it turns into new mexico, and up into las cruces for a family reunion. there were eighteen at the reunion altogether, including my father, who is getting older and not in excellent health; my mom, however, is doing much better, and i met my new granddaughter for the first time; this was wonderful.

new mexico was dry and beautiful; hot during the day, warm at night, lots of wondrous clouds that rarely rained though one night they apparently opened up pretty well, and the following day it was actually cool. 'monsoon' season they call it, though it's mostly a tease, with all these beautiful clouds and nothing to show for it. the four boys and i stuck to the outdoor pool a lot though we visited a lot with the relatives and also had an excursion. my sister gave a concert with two band members; this was excellent, especially a song she sang herself, little moses.

high in the organ mountains, we went for a short walk, the day after it rained, when it was unexpectedly cool. it reminded me of vacations to minnesota when we'd drive north and north and it would be very hot still, til we'd get far enough north and it would be cool for maybe one day, and that would have to do, because then we'd have to head back south. this was similar. one breath of cool mountain air, way above the mesilla valley, a sunrise lighting up the valley, a small snake and baby tarantula on the path; lots of cacti blooming due to the rain and that fresh high mountain smell. on this day we saw the real new mexico, the high mountain desert and an old cave that had to be the best of all living spaces, for maybe a couple thousand years, until they invented houses. my dad, who loved hiking in the mountains, could not come on this trip; also, though he loves his family so much, we made such a racket when we were all together, that he could only take us in small doses. i and my four boys were a huge pandemonium all by ourselves; when we were all swimming, it was mass chaos. high on the mountain, we had maybe twelve of us; the granddaughter also hadn't gone; but the five-year-old suddenly started wailing uncontrollably, up on my shoulders, and it turned out he had a cactus prickle in his finger, which i couldn't see, because i didn't have my glasses. he was alright, as it turned out; eventually, in the visitors center, we found both tweezers and a bandaid, and he was fine; i'd had to believe him that he was in pain, because i sure couldn't see a thing. we warned him to watch out for the rocks, where the rattlers were; it was an unusual environment.

on the way home the plane stopped in houston, and was full on the houston-to-st. louis run, but we were worn out, and just rested a bit. finally we all had to drive, down through the villes and back home; near elkville a lone fox on the road watched us, as if perhaps we'd brought him something. it's summer; it's night; it's warm out, and down here, it's humid too, enough to make you want to crawl out of your skin and cool off. there are better ways to do it though; one must be patient, and wait for the best moment to swim.

there's no moral lesson here. i scratch out a few days off of work, all i get all summer; i force the family into operating in that little window in august where i actually could take four to five days; we spend one each way getting there; it's wonderful seeing everyone, especially the granddaughter, and we do some cool stuff, enough for the kids to call it vacation and have a blast. we see the parents getting older on the one hand, and still try to contain the boundless energy of the youngest, tearing around, running and jumping in the pool, or on the hotel beds. red and green chiles, old native american buskers in mesilla with the smell of roasted chiles; we come home, and life is steamy and green, and it's back to the grind, back to the frantic pace of a new school year. what can i say? texas in the rear view mirror - this is what they call 'happiness' in new mexico, though it's easy enough to confuse it with all that other stuff.


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