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I Found My Heart in Magdalena

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Fifteen years ago almost to the day, Bill and I found this spot on NM 107 that bewitched us. Equipped only with a Polaroid and my old film Canon, we took pictures of ourselves standing before the gate that would become part of my mountain bluebird painting, "The Road to Magdalena." Trying to find it again this trip proved a bit more difficult than we'd thought it would be, because the original fenceposts had been moved. The more we thought about it, the more we realized that it had to be at one certain spot that had a funky wood fence, a stock corral, and a spectacular view. Our conviction that this was The Place grew as we walked toward it. And then we saw the fencepost--the funky bent one to the left of the posts, the only one that was unchanged from our little Polaroid photo. All the rest of the pieces fell into place, and we posed for Phoebe to take our picture.We just couldn't get our minds around all the things that have transpired in the last 15 years. Here we were, not young lovers anymore, but accompanied by our kids, who have become two fine and interesting people.
The sky was just as blue, the grass just as golden, the distant mountains purple, the silence just as thick and soothing. But we were more, and we were immeasurably happy about that.

The first time we visited, mountain bluebirds appeared out of nowhere, the first ones I'd ever seen in my life. They sat on the corral posts, let us take in their beauty, and then they flew off. This time, as we stood and looked out on the mountains behind the magic gate, two mountain bluebirds came winging up and landed on the wires overhead. Having spent the last couple of days blissfully in the company of mountain bluebirds, I know that they were motivated by curiosity--they wanted to see what our little family was doing out in the middle of their nowhere. A male and a female, just like last time, maybe the great-great-great grandchildren of the ones who'd sought us out before, the pair that found its way into my painting. I knew I would have to paint this scene again.

Bill found a bit of barbed wire on the ground by our fence, and gave it to me as reference for the painting. "You could bend that into something," I said, and he set to work, bending and twisting it into a lopsided heart.
I had to sit down for awhile then, and think about all this, about all we have done together, about the joy and the heartbreak, and about how much more and different love is in our lives now than there was even then, when we were new. It's not often that your life passes before your eyes, that you have the perspective to compare yourself now to the person you were a decade and a half before. Coming up from the reverie, I held the heart my sweet Bill had made up against the blue New Mexican sky, for all the world to see.


I sure do know where that is-- fly my birds nearby!

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