Thursday, August 13, 2015

on the mountain

ok so i'm into a kind of groove - have five children, four of my own and a niece visiting from england - and my wife was unable to join us on this trip to the mountains, specifically, to ruidoso, a little tourist trap high above the white sands. after the first night here, we shot down and saw the grandparents, then hit white sands on the way up, but the niece is in a neck brace from a trampoline accident, and we had to cut back on the wildness a little, no sleds in white sands, and no swimming down the two-story slide in the pool at ruidoso, which happened to be closed anyway.

so that leaves me with five kids and nothing to do, and a lingering distaste for many of the usual tourist traps, though money is not really the problem. i just plain don't like 'em, except for this one, which offered a big bean chuckwagon with a cowboy music show afterward. i covet that lady fiddler's job, i told my kids, and they all got a kick out of that, though they'd never heard the word "covet" before, being a little behind on sunday school. took 'em up the mountain today, and we went twice to a river in the center of town, which is really more of a creek, perfect for soaking the feet in, getting right down in it, and experiencing the mountain waters tumbling down into the valley. the first day, waters were really muddy; today we could see the bottom. it made a difference.

one day my sister came up from las cruces and spent the night up here, high in the mountains, where it's at least twenty degrees cooler than everywhere else. my phone, on the lubbock weather channel, goes 101-101-100-102 but the same week, set at ruidoso, it's not only an hour earlier, but it says 80-80-81-80. those are the highs. at night it's 50's. the niece doesn't know from farenheit, but she's enjoying it too.

my sister, however, said that the whole tourist scene is somewhat offensive. yes, well, ruidoso has these wooden indians out on the sidewalk and you can see them as you climb the long hill through the main road of the town. it also, by the way, has a store that flies a confederate flag, blatantly, right out on main street. but it's the glorification, and commercialization, of the mescalero apache that she really objects to. we traded notes on what we knew about the mescalero apache; both of us had climbed through the reservation on our way up from alamogordo and tularosa. at one hillside, an enormous catholic church dominates the whole valley. the town of mescalero itself has fairly new civic buildings, very classy, being fixed up with funds from inn of the mountain gods, their newest casino. they take care of their woods, though, cutting dead trees out of them so that they're less likely to burn down. there's a little disagreement about the thistle, though. the thistle is an invasive weed, bright and beautiful purple, but it takes over; the white folks in ruidoso want every thistle torn out of every mountain valley. the mescalero, however, introduced some natural thing that was supposed to counteract the thistle. everyone's a little wary about how it will come out. i'm not taking sides. actually, i kind of like the thistle, in its purple splendor, but i have no idea why it would be bad or folks would want to exterminate it. in the past, other purple weeds, like purple loose strife, got a good head start on the humans by being pretty enough so that some people would allow it to survive. who knows, if that's true of the thistle?

so the kiddos are having a glorious week of screens, bars, sugar, popcorn, soda, whatever is not healthy. a little bit of walking in the mountains, a lot of hanging around a closety cave being decadent. i sit out on the porch, watching the stars come out, and savoring the fall of the temp, down through the seventies, and well into the sixties before i go to bed. i drink navajo tea, supposedly made of wisdom and patience, which i pee out, at night, whenever i wake up. last night the sky, which was full of thousands of stars, also had an occasional shooting star, as the plaiedes (sp?) were coming through. the kids wanted to sleep out on the porch, but it was already well down into the sixties when finally i made a deal with them - you wait forty minutes, then, if you want to go out into the cold and sleep out there, go ahead. only one was still awake after forty minutes. he routinely stays up past one anyway, and was kind of interested in the idea of parking himself on the porch and watching shooting stars all night. and sure enough, he saw quite a few. especially saw a few in the middle of the night, when he got up, around four, and gave up on the porch idea. it was the hardness of the porch, he said, more than the cold. but those shooting stars were out there, sure enough.

following day, i was a little out of sleep. i'd peed patience and wisdom all night, and in addition, my sister was here, and she got up, lost, a few times, trying to find the bathroom. i guess she had issues with patience and wisdom as well, but the main point was, i wasn't sure who was out on the porch, and who was not, and this caused the loss of a little sleep on my part. but, as i pointed out to her, it's the total number of stars that you see that determines your overall quality of life, so i picked up a few thousand that night, and the fact that a few of them were moving, was probably worth a few bonus points. in the fresh air i've actually written a couple of stories, though i've gone totally dead on the poetry, and need to kind of get in the groove again.

i feel bad about the trampoline accident, but what can you do? there is risk in such things, and we took the risk, and a bad thing happened. they drove her to the hospital, and did a cat scan, but she was all right in the end. we had to calm down on the rest of the trip, is all. i was thrown off my game, and i have a couple of kids who could still really use a tumble here and there, but hey, fresh air and a few thousand stars, that's a start. one of them took a liking to cowboy music, and insists that the only favorite animal she'll ever have is a horse. i myself feel like i belong in the mountains, and have a harder time going back to the high plains every time i have to do it. the weather is the main thing. i told my sister, who cares about the wooden indians, or the flag, if you've got the high mountains on both sides of the road, and it's twenty degrees cooler than what you've been suffering? i found the grocery store, and already i feel like i know a few folks who live around here, but i'll be the first to admit, my license plates are as texish as the next guy. back in roswell, there were aliens all over the place, but they were kind of goofy ones, not much in the believable department. but there was also a real live lizard at the i-hop, and that fella darted across the front door at just the right time, and he was pretty much from another world as well. the mountains are themselves another ecosystem, different from roswell, different from tularosa and alamagordo, or las cruces - they have their own issues. the deer come right up to our cabin, every night, every day, wondering if more apples have fallen from the tree. we ourselves will be heading back, on saturday; we're just temporary travelers, but we're taking in enough air to last, and we're making plans that involve figuring out how to live in a different kind of climate. right now we're in a cabin village, but we've been taking the tour around town, and i have the kids looking at houses. it's all kind of a pipe dream, but so what? you get up here, and you smell the pines after the rain, or even on a nice day, and you get the harmony of the pines with your lungs - well, time to go. somebody pooped in the hot tub.

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