Growing up I liked to think about how my home-town region had been called "a sea of grass."  Riding out to our farm where there was still native grass stretching to the horizon, I imagined the Spaniards' and American Expedition leaders' apprehension as they tried to lay track across the llano estacado. But years later, the weight of that epithet really came home to me as I gazed at the ocean surrounding O'ahu near University of Hawai'i where I was teaching.  When the local swimmers took off unfazed into...

I'd seen pictographs before.  West of Vega at what we call "Paint Rock," what archaeologists call "Rocky Dell."  It's an important pictograph site (pictographs are painted on rocks rather than incised like petroglyphs).  In fact that site is the only Panhandle painted rock site cited in Kirkland's The Rock Art of Texas Indians (l967), based on field research done in the l930s. Turns out Kirkland, an artist himself and amateur researcher, made watercolor renderings of other major cites in Texas, the most stunning and prolific in the Lower Pecos...

Mornings find us surfing the news.  Same ol'.  A tweet a day keeps the real news at bay.  I somehow think of Robert Benchley, time-worn member of the New York Algonquin group, along with Dorothy Parker and others.  I once reveled in that brand of humor, so sly, redolent, and droll.  Parker could wound with a feather and Benchley, well, Benchley never went over with my college students.  Too effete, maybe just too silly? Still.  I xeroxed copies of his "Decent into the Alimentary Canal," and "The Tooth, the...

It's time.  The fire lanes, I hear, have been ground; there are red flag warnings on the weather site.  California may be wet this year, out of drought threat, but the Texas Panhandle remains dry. It's time to go home.  To check the farm.  It's been on fire twice, once because the highway department truck dragged across high grass in the nearby bar ditch igniting the pasture. The other fire was on the land near town.  Someone apparently tossed a cigarette.  There are blackened out patches all along this...

When I discovered I was on the short list for the Sarton book award for memoir, May flashed in my mind.  Eighty years old, shock white hair, owl-eye glasses that looked probingly out at the world.  It was l992, on the occasion of her birthday; I'd been invited to Portland, Maine for a conference and reading in celebration of her special day.  It turned out that this was the last reading she would give.  She died in l995. The May Sarton book awards are given annually for memoir, contemporary...

Somehow, a couple of evenings ago, I thought of the word, "hue," as I looked at the fading sky beyond my neighbor's house.  We live in a small cul-de-sac (which we affectionately call "the sac") just west of Las Cruces, New Mexico and west of the Rio Grande river. Hue--I had to look it up--in art terms is in fact a color on the color wheel.  I would rather think of it as one of the sometimes bright, but shifting (as if drifting one into another) colors in the...

Saturday's marches, across the country, around the world--the so-called Women's March--was brought home to me in the small city of Las Cruces, New Mexico.  I wanted to go to Santa Fe where I knew the crowd would be large, the speakers more well-known, but when I thought about it, it meant more to support local efforts, networks, people. This particularly was apparent when I took the photo accompanying this blog.  A toddler, a little girl, in a stroller, holding a sign which said: "Women March, 100 percent beautiful." And...

We're often asked to examine our "own backyards."  That is, to check out what's closest to us and perhaps not noticeable, to admit to our own glass houses when we're poised to throw rocks. And so it's particularly disturbing to realize that some of the most grizzly and unethical "hunting" activities take place in "the land of enchantment," New Mexico. Wildlife killing contests.  Have you heard of them?  Many, maybe most, people have not.  They occur in most states in the U.S. with the exception of California which recently outlawed...

Is it by the least expectation or the most that we discover beauty and joy?  I realize my blogs have taken shape through a series of walks, mostly in the same area.  How daring is that?  No trams nor trains, no underground or light rails; my financial advisor pushes me to take at least one international trip a year, to jump at the chance of last minute destinations.  Enjoy while you can, he almost threatens. Right. And so I've rambled--both physically and as a wordsmith--along the same sand-packed trail, really...

Last week here in Las Cruces we had two horrible weather days.  The local media dubbed the blotting out of the Organ Mountains a "sand blizzard."  Other parts of the country were experiencing or readying for a polar blast; a friend of mine in upper New York state rhapsodized about their first real snow.  We had a "sand blizzard." Walker that I am, I bundled up, including sunglasses to deflect sand particles, and leaned my way into probably forty mile an hour wind gusts.  Later someone told me that...