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Archive for October, 2011

The Carriage Trail in Charleston

I am at home in Charleston for a whole week—for the first time in more than a month. It feels so good to wake up in my own bed, make coffee in my own kitchen, and take  my daily walk on my favorite hometown path, the Sunrise Carriage Trail. And, luckily for me, there are still quite a few colorful trees on the trail, though the leaves are falling faster each day. These pictures are from yesterday, when the sun was brilliant; today the weather turned cloudy, and the rain was spitting as I made my way down the trail. But, in sun or rain, this is one of the most beautiful trails any city could have.

Below, two more gems from yesterday: a particularly nice spray of vining leaves and a chipmunk, wonderfully camouflaged among the fallen leaves.

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At the end of the afternoon, the setting sun lights up Kitchen Mesa so that it looks as if it were a huge mound of molten gold. It’s so bright that even its reflection glows in the windows of the Agape Center. It seems a fitting image, now that I have made the long shuttle ride from Ghost Ranch to Santa Fe, now that I am contemplating tomorrow’s flight back to West Virginia. Once again, I see Ghost Ranch only in reflection. Of course, I anticipate next year. And, most important, try to be in the present.

Goodbye, mesas and sage. Goodbye, cottonwoods and coyotes. Goodbye, Ghost Ranch. See you next time.

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This picture looks dim because the only available light was moonlight. This is the labyrinth at Ghost Ranch, and two nights ago I had the privilege to walk it under the full moon with Laura, one of my Ghost Ranch pals. After we emerged, we stood and watched our moon-shadows facing west, leading us out of the labyrinth.

Here’s a morning picture: The Agape Center, perhaps the most serene and beautiful (man-made) place of worship I have ever seen. If you are inside, looking through the wide front windows, they frame a view of Georgia O’Keeffe’s favorite mountain, Pedernal.

 

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Coming Home to Ghost Ranch

I have actually quit counting how many times I have come to Ghost Ranch. The number is officially “many” now. And I have quit apologizing to myself for taking the same pictures over and over. It pleases me to do it, and that’s reason enough.

And it thrills me to hear and read the essays my students are writing. In our small group, we have come to tears together more than once and laughed so loud that the adobe walls rang.

And it heals me. This is a protected holy space, ringed by great giants of mesas, where the sky is wide enough to absorb my little sorrows and pains. Where the ravens and coyotes tell stories better than anything I could invent. Where chamisa waves in the wind and cottonwoods catch the last rays of sun. Where dinosaurs rest and where, tonight, a full moon will shine on me while I walk around the alfalfa field without a flashlight.

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Chocolate Heaven

As you can see by the signs lined up beside their door, the Santa Fe’s Chocolate Maven has many fans. Yesterday I joined their ranks, when Vera took me there for a final Santa Fe feast before I caught the shuttle bus to Ghost Ranch. The warehouse-like exterior is a bit misleading: inside, it’s cozy and full of wonderful aromas. There are bakery cases loaded with loaves of bread, croissants, almond wheels, cakes, cookies, scones…you get the idea. And small tables covered with white tablecloths.

The Chocolate Maven has one more fine feature: a gigantic window through which the workings of the kitchen proceed like a complex dance. A huge machine flattens pastry dough, and skillful bakers cut and roll and pull and pinch it into all sorts of shapes, filling them with various good things, including substantial squares of excellent dark chocolate. (I know, because we shared one of those.) I could not resist taking pictures while these cinnamon rolls were being formed.

 

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New Mexico Autumn

It’s wonderful to be in New Mexico! I am so lucky to be able to come here to teach a class at Ghost Ranch this year. I’m not quite in Abiquiu yet, but am spending a few days in Albuquerque and Santa Fe before the class starts. It has been a joyful, restorative few days, visiting with dear friends and soaking up the sights and sounds of the Southwest. Here are a couple of my favorite sights: chamisa and desert aster. More soon.

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