Since our family relocated to New Mexico a couple of months ago, we’ve almost gotten used to spectacular sunrises and sunsets, rabbits nibbling greenery outside our bedroom door in the morning, and the 20 (or so) hummingbirds that empty three half gallon feeders every other day. (It is still so strange for me to purchase white sugar, a commodity I haven’t paid good money for in over 45 years) But the sugar water seems to keep them healthy, sleek, breeding regularly and according to my neighbor Gregg, returning year after year.
The air here is delicious, scented with acres of pinon and juniper. It is quiet, and at night katydids and sometimes frogs serenade us to sleep. Mountains loom behind our house, watchtowers of the weather. I greet them every morning, never sure if they’ll be cloaked in clouds or sunlight
A few weeks ago, my son, his wife and their three children came to join us on our property. There has not been much culture shock at all, especially considering that their last home was in the city of Tampa Florida. The kids, who are still young, explore our acres with impunity and bare feet. They are delighted by our local lizards, so different looking from the anoles that make themselves at home in the semi-tropics. They haven’t yet found a horned lizard on our land, but hopes are high.
I told them about the cinnamon colored black bear I spotted outside my kitchen window before they arrived, and the walks we take on our property always include a careful examination of large rocks overturned, a sure sign of hungry bears. Toward the back edge of our property is a lovely pine grove, and in the middle of it is a bear bed…a circular spot where a tired bear, much like a weary dog has circled and stamped his way to a comfortable napping ground.
So far, the bear has not returned. Our son thinks the ambient noise of his brood will probably keep most wildlife out of sight.
But one of the kids discovered a baby bunny living in the wood pile next to our gravel drive. Now they all watch for it on their way from their little cabin to our house, “the big house” as they call it. The bunny is a bit of a celebrity, and my eldest granddaughter has been working to get a good photograph during one of his early evening hops.
For a family of animal lovers, our property and surroundings are a bit of heaven. Deer tracks, bear paw prints and the occasional cougar or coyote tracks are watched for and eagerly photographed. We all look forward to the winter, when it is said elk sometimes tramp through these foothills. Our neighbor has seen them on his property, so hopes are high we’ll have a sighting of our own.
We are still newcomers to this ancient land, where humans have lived sporadically for thousands of years- many of them also artists. I think about them sometimes when we stretch our legs a mile or two, passing through those places where they camped and lived.