Albuquerque, New Mexico
April 23 – 29, 2018

We met a new force during this stay in NM that we hadn’t been previously familiar with – the spring winds. The wind in ABQ doesn’t seem like mother nature’s usual routine based on father time’s queues. It seems more like a mischievous cousin that waits until neither of them are looking and then wreaks havoc on everything around – filling the air with so much dust that the vistas disappear, the dirt stinging like tiny darts against any exposed skin, and the tiny, dry, white petals from the trees blowing around in gusts like a snow storm.

And the tumble weeds…they tend to ride together in the wind currents by the dozens, racing across the open range or along the arroyos in bunches that make them look like a herd of wild jackrabbits racing out of the way of the wind. They blow across the roads with no rhythm, sporadically dancing in the music of the violent air, making it nearly impossible to try to dodge them in a motor vehicle because of their unpredictable movements.

And then, just as quickly, it can all stop. This mischievous Cousin Wind stops blowing across the earth (maybe Mother Nature heard the commotion & turned around to check on him). He puts his hands behind his back & calmly walks away, whistling quietly as if to say, “What? I didn’t see anything…”

Sometimes the wind storms hit at night (which can make sleeping in a trailer a challenge).

But the morning after a windstorm feels like the world has just hatched from its shell. Clean & crisp & clear. All the loose dust and dirt and leaves blown clear to Texas. The dancing tumbleweed rabbits rest as a tangled sculpture against every fence row. Mother Earth invites the birds to fly again, and coaxes the tiny plants to grow again, and the natural processes of all these hearty life forms that make their home in the desert continue on as if nothing ever happened.

I’m working on an amazing project in my part-time project coordinator role that has suddenly thrown me into an education about a world I previously knew very little about – the lives of modern Native Americans. I got to attend the Gathering of Nations in ABQ as “research”. It’s the largest pow-wow in North America.  Dance competitions, craft fair, live music stage (all Native performers – this was a reggae band), and INDIAN TACOS served on fry bread…..YUM! In an arena of 4,000 people, I sat down in between 2 people from different Washington state tribes. When I told her it was my first pow-wow, the motherly woman from the Tulalip Tribe on my right said, “Shame on you…there are many pow-wows in Eastern Washington.”
What started as a small but loud drum circle in the middle of this arena became a slow trickle of Native dancers coming into the center, following a man in full-regalia, feather headdress, and moccasins that did not look like the offered enough support for all the movements he was executing on deft feet. The trickle turned into a march, bodies in mass thrumming to the music, and the spiral grew tighter and tighter to the center to allow over 3,000 dancers onto the floor.

I know next to nothing about modern Native Culture, but if this sight isn’t moving then I don’t know what is. It was impossible not to be drawn in to the humming, electric energy of the centuries of tradition being honored by so many tribal members in this room.

Thanks to the fact that I received mail at our campground, I was able to get a resident library card in ABQ. With this magical card, I could check out the family passes from any branch. We went to the following museums for free with these passes:

New Mexico Art Museum
Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum
ABQ BioPark: Zoo, Aquarium, & Botanical Garden
New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fe
Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, Santa Fe
International Folk Art Museum, Santa Fe


Coral enjoying the coral reef.
ABQ Public Library family passes allowed us to visit the ABQ BioPark Aquarium. I had never seen “Sea Dragons” before! (lower left)
Thanks again to our ABQ Public Library museum family passes, we visited the ABQ BioPark Botanical Garden. The best part was the Children’s Fantasy Garden, where a large dragon covered in vines welcomed us to a world larger than life. We ran from giant insects that buzzed when you passed by, climbed pine cones as tall as me, ran around inside a giant pumpkin, and played hide and seek in a giant vegetable garden.
The ABQ library BioPark passes are the most sought-after of all the family passes. I watched the library website like a hawk & drove across town like a mad woman to snag one during our final week. FREE DAY AT THE ZOO- YES, PLEASE!

When in Albuquerque…

We had an afternoon of art appreciation at the New Mexico Art Museum. The African Exhibit and New Mexico rooms were my favorite. Here are a few gems:

This quote will stick with me forever.
I found the New Mexico Art Museums Africa Exhibit to be really moving.
I feel like these paintings of Carlsbad Caverns do a better job capturing the caves than my photos do.
This coyote seemed ready to jump off the canvas.
“Star Road and White Sun” by Ernest L. Blumenschein, 1920 “This painting addresses issues controversial then and still potent today: differences between generations, the effects of forced Indian assimilation, the political complexities between tribes and the U.S. government, and within Native American nations themselves. Blumenscheins friend Star Road -Geronimo Gomez- seems to almost “eclipse” the older White Sun. The younger man wears distinctly less traditional attire, reflecting larger social changes at work. Educated in US Government schools whose mandate was to modernize and assimilate American Indian children, Star Road was thus alienated from certain aspects of traditional ritual life of the Pueblo. He was an early proponent of the ceremonial use of peyote at the Taos Pueblo, and became an activist fighting the US government for religious freedom for Native people. Peyote was not a traditional plant used at Taos, and its introduction caused bitter conflict there -and elsewhere- for decades. Blumenschein was well aware of these sorts of complex issues facing Native peoples, and unlike some of his contemporaries, actively incorporated this awareness into his work.”

Another fantastic visit to Albuquerque is in the books…

Leave a Reply