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Friday, December 1, 2006

Our last New Mexico sunset. Oh, how I miss it already. I wish there were a way to be two places at once.
My sweetheart, gathering light in the afternoon.

I found this dipper by spotting his chalky-pink legs all the way across the river. A 12x zoom brought him closer.

Here's what's really cool about blogging. Have you ever taken a bunch of pictures on a trip, and filed them away, and never looked at them again? Me, too. Blogging is a way of reliving the trip. Sometimes it takes until later for me to figure out the best moments of a trip. Then, they get magnified and grow, and I savor them that much more in the retelling.

Of course, writing about anything is a way of distilling it down to its essence, of defining it for yourself as you define it for your readers. And when Blogger works, and downloads the photos I ask it to, it's a pure joy. So I'm going back to New Mexico in my mind, this time in the comfort of my studio, with a noisy macaw on my shoulder, a glass of merlot at hand. The macaw keeps dipping into the merlot. This bird LOVES wine. Just like his momma. His pupils are pinning down to little dots and he's flinging drops of wine with each sip. I know. Wine's supposed to be bad for macaws. He's probably taken in all of a teaspoon. At 20, I think he's earned some merlot. I don't think you could kill this bird with a rock.
So I keep going back to the conflluence of the Red and Rio Grande Rivers in my mind. It was a magic place. The hike was moderately strenuous and really fun; the distances were vast and it was great to look down and see the trail we'd hike thousands of feet below us. Liam announced at the trailhead, "Taking this trail was MY idea." And that was the magic key to his contentment. He set the pace and led everyone else, at only 7 years old, and my main concern was that he took it too darn fast. I hustled along beside him, holding his hot little hand (and I did save him from four or five nasty spills). Though it wouldn't be my preferred way to hike, I was preternaturally conscious of protecting our considerable investment in this little bundle of DNA. Something about having your youngest tripping along next to a sheer cliff face awakens the cavewoman in you. He only pooped out near the top of our climb back up, and then it was for effect. A little dried mango and a glug of water, and he was on his merry way again.
Here are Caroline and Douglas. Caroline's a very talented graphic designer with her own firm in Boulder. She's also a musician, bass and guitar player and bewitching singer. Douglas is a professional rock climber. If you see a movie with a rock-climbing scene in it, or a cliff-hanging scene, or any scene that involves mountains and danger and falling, chances are Douglas was the technical advisor. Vertical Limit was his latest. He's also worked on a Rocky movie. The outtakes we saw from his films make my palms wet. Obviously, Liam was in the best possible hands as he considered his route down from the mini-ascent he attempted. People pay big bucks to get advice like this. Caroline and Douglas, and their two daughters Hazel and Pearl, were ideal company. Caroline knocked herself out to bring plenty of food from Boulder so we wouldn't be at the mercy of restaurants for every meal, and Douglas was always navigating and planning our next adventure.
So we hiked all the way down this amazing trail, which you can see shining on the peninsula waaay below the woman in the red coat, who I photographed for scale. And then we were at the confluence of the Red (left river ) and Rio Grande. I was staring down into the rushing teal blue water, digging the sound and power, when a dipper flew right across my line of vision. The river was roaring so loudly I couldn't shout to Bill, so I just took the little bird in. So round, so firm, so fully packed.
Seeing this little tennis-ball sized bird do a few deep knee-bends and then dive right into the cataract is quite humbling. I know that if I fell in I'd last about five minutes and then give up the ghost. But there he is, swimming underwater, popping up with a larva in his bill, and blinking at me with his weird white nictitating membranes. I'm sure they serve some social purpose, as little flashing semaphors to signal to other dippers. You can just see the white "third eyelid" in this shot of the dipper in its element.
I love this picture. It sums up bird and element. Oh, New Mexico. How we miss you.
William made chicken pot pie and brownies tonight. He did all the hard stuff and I made the sauce gloop that makes it into a pie. I can smell it all cooking. Perfect for a night with a howling gale. We'll fire up the gas logs and stare into the caveman TV after dinner. Poor B. had to make the brownies because he dropped the eggs not once, but twice. So he scraped them off the kitchen floor and added them to brownie mix. I can tell you that when someone is making you chicken pot pie and brownies, dropped eggs are no big deal. Especially when he cleans them up, too. He may be the perfect man. Ladies, can I have a HAYULL YEAH?


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