My enchantment with this little corner of Northern New Mexico began early. I was born in Taos, delivered during an April tempest just over thirty years ago. It had been a wet winter, much like this one. The mountains were heavy with melting snow and the skies dark with rain and thunder when my parents brought me home from Holy Cross Hospital. We found the bridge over Cabresto Creek washed away, blocking access to our house. The water was a chocolate torrent and the only crossing was a rickety footbridge.
There is a picture of us just after we’d crossed; my mother is holding me close as she ducks under a barbed wire fence. It is my first photograph; the world is wet and green and full of promise. I’ve always thought it was a typical Taos beginning: soaked in beauty and spun from wayward plans.
My childhood around Taos was steeped in natural wonders. Going into the high country with my father when the aspens started to blaze gold, I learned to bugle like the bull elk and get them to answer me. I spent the summers hopping black basalt boulders in the Rio Grande gorge, fishing for trout and swimming in the cool green waters, discovering springs and petroglyphs, spying out bald eagles and bobcats.
I consider myself blessed, not only to be from such a unique and wild land, but also to be part of such a rich culture. We Taoseños have always been a diverse group, and that diversity has enriched my life. I learned to speak Spanish here, to make tamales, to roast green chile and dance the Two-Step. Most of all, I learned to appreciate the cultures of others.
As a family we went to the first Taos Pow Wow ever held at the Pueblo. I was six years old and I wanted to dance but couldn’t, because I wasn’t part of any of the specific tribes. Towards the end, though, the MC called out, “All tribes dance!”, and we all took to the field. After the dancing I asked my mom, “Does that mean we’re part of a tribe?” And she responded, “Yes, honey. We’re part of the Taos Tribe.”
I see the sacred here every day, in a thousand ways. I see it in the pair of Mountain Bluebirds that nests above our door every spring; in the smell of sage and piñon after a rain, in a ruddy sunset, and in the neighbor who is always willing to lend a hand. I carry a piece of Taos with me wherever I go.