A rainy summer evening in Taos, New Mexico. I dismiss the chilly drizzle and join the crowd on historic Taos Plaza to listen to Michael Hearne and his band, South by Southwest.
Jayne, my yoga teacher, introduces me to her friends. “She comes to Taos every summer to write.”
“Why Taos?” a man in black rimmed glasses asks.
“It’s the place to getcha goin’. Or to quiet you.”
“You could write a whole thing about that.”
”That’s what I’m trying to do.”
I open my umbrella. Dancers, undaunted by rain, waltz in boots or sandals, cowboy hats, skirts and jeans, silver buckled belts, long hair and pony tails flying.
“Taos in the rain, the center of the universe, right here, right now,” Michael rallies the crowd. We clap and gyrate as the band plays “New Mexico Rain.”
How do I articulate, much less, encapsulate this experience of place? Where the here, the now, may be a first taste of Taos Cow ice cream, or a moment or glimpse, a lingering to meld. A turn on 68, the Rio Grande emerges at the lower end of its gorge. Late afternoon light and shadow on the Sangre de Christos Mountains bring them closer, lift them higher.
I listen to New Mexican poets and writers at SOMOS (Society of the Muse of the Southwest) Friday night readings, and for me, a highlight, Thursday morning in Phaedra Greenwood’s Craft of Writing class at Café Loka.
I walk down Quesnel Street, past the meadow with riding ring; mountains behind and on the western horizon. Horses graze or play close to the road. I pass a bank of hollyhocks and sunflowers. Yellow and deep pink blossoms on tall, upright, hairy stalks stand against the backdrop of this dusty brown land, wild green fields, scrubby native wind-swept growth, and knotted pine tree trunks. I silently cheer their stamina, absorb the metaphor.
I cross busy Highway 68, Paseo del Pueblo Sur and walk up Camino de la Placita to Café Loka. Who will be there?
Jan moved from New Hampshire to Taos to write a novel. Louise writes about growing up in the Brooklyn projects. Beverly, her rise from fragmentation to wholeness; Lin-lee’s escape from Hurricane Katrina to Hawaii; Amy, her pitch-playing Kansas clan; Carol’s family dinner table in Ohio; Abbie, an operatic libretto.
We sit around the blond wooden table on wire chairs or wooden stools, drawn to this vortex from all directions of this vast country, from abroad, and from nearby canyons and towns, to write. This table, in this café, in Taos, this morning, the center of the universe, right here, right now.
We lean in. Listen and react to words of humor and honesty, experience and imagination, ritual and crisis, of lives full and lives longing. Phaedra reminds us, “Be careful with gerunds.”
The muse whispers to me. Keep linger-ing.
This was Norma Tucker Tucker's second appearance on First Person Plural. You can read her first post, "After the Ballet" here.
Norma, a native of Baltimore, Md., retired after over a twenty-five year career in higher education administration. She served at a Maryland community college, a women’s college, in associations, and in university and international institutions. She is now fulfilling her long-time desire to write short stories, a memoir and essays with occasional ventures in poetry. She has participated in numerous workshops at The Writer's Center.
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