Nature’s Wonders on a Friday Afternoon

New Mexico: Blue sky, white grey mountains, wispy clouds, greenish desert floor.

Ten weeks ago today, upon leaving the office, I stopped by the house long enough to pick up my camera bag and drive out on Dripping Springs Road and its vicinity to look at the west side of the Organ Mountains through several good lenses. A sense of urgency pushed me onward, because beauty in the Chihuahuan Desert changes constantly and lasts far too briefly. The night before, on February 3, a real cold front for our corner of New Mexico crept in on little cat’s paws, as the poem says, and dusted the upper reaches of the Organs with just enough snow to remind us of Mother Nature’s bulldog tenacity to care for Earth. In miniature, the peaks of the Organs could have graced a wedding banquet table or a baker’s display case with their powdery white appearance, but in truth the mighty geological uplift was nurturing its oaks, pinons, and pines with the slow absorption of traces of icy water. The flora residing in the higher reaches of this rocky spine exudes toughness, but even the hardiest of plants and trees need a cool drink of water now and again. In the darkness of the hours before, their wish was granted.

I motored over to a spot of ground stewarded by the Bureau of Land Management and parked at the toe of an enormous geological pimple. Little sounds stirred. It was mostly quiet but for some dude in his car nearby. Admittedly, he was quiet, too, and perhaps wanting to be alone with his thoughts. Quien sabe? Figuring so, I walked about in search of right and honorable vantage points to snap a picture or two of the mountains. All about me stood clusters of the great indicator plant known as creosote, sometimes called greasewood, and a true denizen of the Chihuahuan frontier. I aimed the camera’s lens toward the mountains to include the desert floor and its hardy squatter dotting the landscape, and with the snow in the crevices and on the peaks surmounted by a blanket of clouds, I suspected at least a few of the views would be captured on film sufficient to show someone without discrediting the beautiful views. I’ll trust others to judge for themselves whether memorable scenes were recorded or not.

Moving on. Today is April 15, 2022, and tragedy on the level of the Ides of March has beleaguered this day throughout history. This spot on the calendar is notorious, having claimed President Lincoln in 1865, the Titanic in 1912, and the Cubs on most opening days of the major league season, but on this particular iteration of mid-April, I perused a batch of digitized negatives of the film I shot exactly two-and-a-half months ago.

My composition acumen has rusted somewhat since high school days, but I’m re-teaching myself the art of photography. Armed with a Canon A-1 that’s about as old as I am and rolls of outdated Konica film, I’m rediscovering the things I knew as a kid whose big dreams envisioned becoming the Peter Jennings of photojournalism. Well, maybe I better tone it down a bit, because that bar’s not exactly what I’m trying to achieve, but I remain a student to the art and am fortunate to live amongst a great canvas of beauty to endeavor to honor its lovely features in a humane, artistic way. Andele pues! Quien soy yo? Decide for yourself in this brief but (hopefully) worthwhile gallery of the place I refer to as my backyard. ¡Hasta la revolución!

With respect to the Monkey Wrench Gang, I present the Organ Mountains.