Goin' for wood

chopping wood: splitImage by GodsMoon via Flickr
I love autumn. It’s a time of getting ready for a much quieter season. In that place that I lived it was a time to ‘Go for wood’. Without the wood there would be no way to warm your home come winter. So, this was an event, a coming together of family for one purpose; to make sure everyone had enough wood for the winter and then some. Along with all the other chores of this season, the harvesting, the putting up of canned goods, the brandings and filling the barns with usable hay, going for wood stood out in my mind because it was one of the more physically demanding chores that I participated in.
On the appointed day, coolers were filled with canned lunch foods, jerky and plenty of water. Pickup trucks were readied; chain saws were loaded along with sharpened axes. The ride up the mountain along roads that weren’t really roads was always a treacherous and challenging time but when you reached the top you were rewarded with a sight to behold. A view of the land for miles and miles, with crisp, clean cool air that invigorated you and made you bless the day.
The work begins and the sound of the chain saw echoes through the trees and the only sense of any other person is the sound of the same far off in the distance. As the sun finds its place high in the sky, jackets and shirts come off as sweat drips and dirty hands grab rags to wipe brows. Someone saws the trees, someone splits the wood, and someone picks up the kindling. The city girl in me had to be taught what real kindling was and how much was needed. That same girl had to learn how to split the wood so it would stack in the pickup and eventually fit into the wood stove.
Once the truck was full, it was time to eat and rest before the trek down the mountain began. Sometimes, after some rest, we’d look for pinon nuts that could be harvested. It was on once such trip that I learned how to harvest tremintina sap which could be used for everything from simple glue to a temporary wound covering. Not a bad thing to know about.
With the truck heavy now, it would be slow going on the roads that weren’t really roads. Mostly they were shale, rock, and some dirt that stretched around drops and holes and crags and ridges where shifting sand changes the terrain with each travel through. The work is not done when the truck pulls round the back of the home to where a wood shed sits far enough to keep animals who like to hang around wood piles away from the home but close enough to get wood to bring in when the air bites with cold and snow. It’s just as much work to empty the truck with one person climbing up and throwing the wood down and just as much picking it up to stack the pieces by size inside the covering. The worth of all this effort is in the cozy comfort of a pinon wood warmed home where a sense of security fights off the blistering cold just beyond the walls.
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Sunset in Big Bend Ranch State ParkImage by JWSherman via Flickr

Sometimes we meet a person who leaves a footprint in our life. Sometimes, if we love them, we just have to let them go.
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A different way of things ...

A Santo bulto and a painting of the Dolorosa i...Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr
The sadness had mostly passed. The people in the line had paid their respects in the days and nights before. The men had gathered and held vigil with the box all night long praying long prayers and taking turns napping at the back of the little church. All that was left was for the box to be put low. So on that sun bright and cloudless morning a line of trucks proceeded out to the family cemetery.
The box didn’t have the honor of a fancy car to keep it secure or lend an air of dignity; it only had the bed of a family member’s truck to rest on. A bed too short for the pine to settle comfortably so it shouldn’t have been a shock when the box slid back on that last bump causing the line to stop short and the people following to gasp and grab their mouths. As if it were an everyday occurrence, the boys got down from the truck and lifted the box back into place. It was a different way of things.
The box arrived at the place where it would finally rest. The trucks from the line flooded the small dirt road, causing dust to rise. The men got down from their high seated trucks and crowded a small area where they began the task of digging in the dirt. Under the high sun, their shirts got stained with dust and sweat. Some cussed under their breath. When they had dug enough it was the son that jumped down into the depth of its six feet or so. Perhaps it was to check it was dug right or maybe, he just wanted to see how it felt. The wind picked up just then and the trees rustled their leaves. As the son climbed out and dusted his hands and pants, he motioned to the men it was time. With ropes wrapped around, they surrounded the box, lifted and lowered it down, then pulled hard to bring their ropes back up. Those were ropes needed for all manner of things life brings and couldn’t be wasted.
The woman stood around noticing the other woman, noticing the first wife, the other children. Except for the very old vieja who just leaned against the fence and prayed, there was nothing somber about this event. The men still sweating returned the dirt from where it came, taking turns as the day was getting hotter.
There was nothing more, it was over. Just a wooden box and a hand dug grave.
One by one, they all found their way to a small barn nearby where some woman had set up pots of beans and tortillas, shredded pork, trays of pineapple cake and brownies, Kool-Aid, coffee and beer, lots and lots of beer. Then as if day turned into night, then day again, all was new and what had been was faded into memory.
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The coyotes song ...

Hermit's PeakImage by jimmywayne via Flickr
In the shadow of a mountain, I learned to respect what is plain to this world, the land, the weather and the wildlife. It’s hard to even believe as I sit here just 23 miles north of New York City that I was ever dug down in the canyon, work clothes and boots under the high sun. What I remember most vividly is the cattle coming down the road pretty fast and O flying across the pasture on his bay. My heart beat faster than I knew it could. It was the first time I had seen such a sight being just a transplanted city gal. I ran as fast as I could to get back to the house, over the fence without a care for my being, just wanting to get out of the way.
When I first went to that place, I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t know that I would have so much learning to do, about life, about myself. I thought I knew it all, after all I had been around the block a few times and finding myself in the high country of New Mexico was a choice. But learn I did and now I hold those lessons dear as I look back and wait for the moment when I can return.
I learned to wave at every truck that came down the road ‘cause that’s what you did and ‘cause your neighbors were important people. I learned it was too far to town to forget something at the market. I learned which wild weeds and herbs were valuable, what could be used in teas and cooking. Incredibly, I learned how to pull sap from a pinon tree. I learned it was called tremintina and that it had more uses than you could imagine. I learned how hard it could be to keep up with a quarter acre garden. Just wasn’t as easy or as pretty as Martha Stewart said it would be. But food grew and I learned how to put up for the winter and share with the ranch ladies nearby.
In giving, I did some receiving. I was taught how to make fresh tortillas from scratch and how to cook a pot of beans to perfection. I learned how to roast chili and preserve it till the next harvest.
I learned that you don’t mess around when the sky looks fierce, better to head on in or run the risk of being stuck in mud. I learned that chopping wood is back breaking work but worth it to heat your home. The warmth that a wood stove gives is like being wrapped in a security blanket.
I learned that some things in life are free, like the Christmas tree you cut from your property or the snack you have right from the apple tree down the road. The best thing that was free was the view, the beautiful mountains, the horses running in the pasture, the sunsets over the mountain, the way the dark just slipped down the canyon, the stars in a completely black sky and the song of the coyotes at night.
Being in that place was purposeful and even though I sometimes felt isolated and often longed for the lights and the doings in the city, it was good for me. I remember that place fondly and on most nights if I listen hard enough, I can hear the coyotes sing.
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Start doing things you Love!!!

I came across this great poster today compliments of a Facebook friend. It really does say it all!

Five reasons to be in Albuquerque now! But there are more...

The Sandia Mountains and Rio Grande at sunset,...Image via Wikipedia

1. The Sandia Mountains – In Spanish, ‘sandia’ is the word for watermelon. The mountains were named as such for the beautiful pink cast at sunset. Sitting just east of Albuquerque, the Sandia’s are a directional guide for anyone driving. Find yourself facing east at sunset in the city and behold a site you won’t forget.

2. Green Chili – you haven’t eaten until you’ve added a healthy dose of green chili to your meal. Its perfect heat is a wonderful accompaniment to many meals. If you are in NM in the fall, you’ll enjoy the smell of green Chili roasting throughout the land. Mmmm!!! Green chili on eggs, on burgers … for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

3. Albuquerque Little Theatre – A delightful cast of characters with talent worthy of the finest theaters performing such classics as ‘James and the Giant Peach’ and upcoming ‘Chicago the Musical’.

4. NM State Fair – Featuring the PRCA Rodeo Concert series with great musical acts like Mark Chestnut, Tracy Lawrence and Clay walker. Every year a new state fair Queen is chosen, the rodeo brings out the Cowboy and Cowgirl in everyone and it’s the real deal with a Grand Entry, Bareback Riding, Steer Wrestling, Saddle Bronc Riding, Tie-Down Roping, Barrel Racing and Bull Riding. You can’t pass up the fun to be had on the Midway and the cultural shows in the Indian Village and Spanish village. Boys and girls show off their hard work at 4-H and a good time is had by all. This year the fair is September 10 ~ 26.

5. International Balloon Festival – There is nothing better than waking up early on a cool October morning to colorful balloons floating by as you relax with a hot cup of NM Roasted coffee . This year the Festival is October 2 ~ 10.

Source: Wikipedia
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