Monday. A few days into our Adventure and everyone has settled in beautifully. One of the nicest aspects of these weeks is not just that they are suspended in time, but the friendships that develop rather quickly. The knitting yogis that join us are without fail generous, friendly, ready to make new friends and explore new places, ideas, and try to new things. Some in our group were new to knitting, never had a massage, never practiced yoga or meditation. We’ve all taken a chance by coming on this trip…going to a new unknown place in most cases, alone, without knowing who would be there, trying new foods and new experiences. I don’t think anyone has been disappointed or has felt anything other than cared for and included. These are lovely ladies who are so warm and generous towards each other, it’s as if we have always been friends.
Yesterday Alissa took us on a hiking tour up into the hills. She pointed out the amazing countryside of mesas, rivers, and described the local agriculture. One of the most amazing things she showed us was the remains of fire pits and ‘work shops’ left by the Natives Indians that had lived on the very land we were exploring. Circular areas of stone chips left over from tool making have survived for centuries undisturbed and left exposed by the winds. Amazingly they were also undisturbed by visitors out of respect. There is a palpable spirit here that creates this sense of quiet calm and respect for nature. I don’t think there is anyone in our group that has been unaffected by the beauty of this place.
One important thing that I have learned over the past few days is about the people here and the blending of their cultures. To a visitor such as myself, my first inclination is to consider them all ‘Mexican’ given we are in New Mexico. That however is a gross generalization that can be offensive to many who live here. There are so many cultures of different people, to name only a few: Pueblo, Teva, Tova, Mexican, Spanish,…and even here I am certain I am not conveying this properly. So as Armando so graciously described his family background to us, he said the proper way to refer to the people and the food of this region is ‘Spanish’. Thank you, Armando.
Today a small group of us took off for the afternoon and headed north to Los Ojos. We had the most spectacular drive up I84 into the mountains. Mesas, bluffs, huge rocky cliffs that were ‘painted’ with bands of red, yellow, white, brown, black and dotted with green trees beckoned to us to pull over for photos. I photographed the same mountains repeatedly because I couldn’t resist wanting to savor the beauty. We pulled over the side of the road numerous times.
Los Ojos is a tiny little town in the mountains. We visited Tierra Wools, a well-known weaving cooperative that has been in existence for about 100 years. The wools are raised by the cooperative and hand-dyed both with natural plant dyes as well as some commercial dyes. And though we had not scheduled a visit, we were able to explore the weaving and dying rooms and were graciously given demonstrations and explanations of their processes. We were shown big vats of black walnut dye, an herb drying room filled with walnuts, rabbit brush, and sage all collected from the surrounding areas. Their wools that were so beautifully colored were primarily for weavers though there was an area of knitting wool, all spun from the fleeces of their own sheep.
We considered taking another route home but were told by Mr. and Mrs. Valdez who own the local gas station, that the road was closed as it was still filled with snow and unsafe. Life in Los Ojos must be pretty nice, when I walked in to pay, they had been kissing! Hmm, maybe the long winters in the mountains here isn’t so bad after all.