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...

Early morning walks near my New Mexico home--especially Sunday mornings-- feel like prayer. There's the slight lift of the faint path as I swing onto the main sandy artery that connects to the pecan tree-lined fields below. Farmer's daughter that I am, I like checking the crops: there's the seasonal rotation of alfalfa, lettuce, onions, even watermelon. I stand in the stillness of the moment. And the crows know it. This particular morning, the sky is full of American Crows. At least one hundred of them, a moving cacophony and...

It was what we consider a cold morning here in the desert.  Maybe 41 degrees, a stout wind out of the north.  My partner and I are dressed like snowmen: I at least have two layers on, gloves, two caps.  We often take early Sunday morning bird walks, but this morning the birds were smartly hunkered down in the scrub mesquite or elsewhere. Lately, well since last spring, but particularly now it's winter, we walk wondering: what's it like at Standing Rock where thousands of people are protesting--protesting the...

It was a busy week, with a lead-up to that day we are all assumed to overeat.  There were the plans to go to David and Zita's--friends who invite folks away from family to share with their table (and what a beautiful one it always is); the trip to Tempe to see my 86 year old cousin would follow.  We planned to overnight in Tucson, squeezing in a little vacation time too. But before that, the Tuesday evening before to be exact, I'd been invited to speak about my...

  It was not exactly a wild goose chase, but close.  I drove up to Albuquerque to the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards but visited a dear friend first thinking I had timed it out to arrive at the book awards just in time for a glass of wine before dinner.  Silly goose! It was the Albuquerque of old, shining in the late afternoon light, stillness of autumn buried in the roar of 5:00 traffic.  When I attended grad school here in the late 1970s, a visitor from New York said,...

I saw that long line those many years ago in the Centrum of Warsaw Poland.  On a gray Sunday, it curled out onto the cobblestones leading to one of the cathedrals downtown.  Always on foot, a moving target of sorts, I was alone on a Fulbright teaching grant for seven months, seeking to immerse myself in local culture.  Moving, seeking, always observing.  Weekends, when there was no class I sometimes went whole days without speaking.  My communication was to watch others, a secret sharer. It's Sunday, I thought, as...

There's a trail I like to take back of the small cluster of houses where I live outside Las Cruces.  If I can I walk it early mornings and evenings just before dark.  When I was a kid I did something similar, walking the pasture behind my parents' house.  On good days I'd spot a horny toad or two, ground squirrels, and puzzled over holes.  Did they harbor a rattlesnake? Here, near the Rio Grande, I'm entertained the same way: a prairie falcon one day, a Black Phoebe the...

It's the title of John Graves' 1960 memoir of his trip along the Brazos River before a series of dams forever changed its landscape.  And his. And ours. I'm reminded of what we all share of rivers altered and mostly forgotten when I see the Rio Grande near Las Cruces, New Mexico "turned off" each year.  Yes, the flow from Caballo Dam near Truth or Consequences is throttled usually in early fall, and by the end of October you cross a bridge over a mostly dry sandy river bed--save...

I'd just finished reading Jerry Rogers' manuscript about his big brother lost in the kamikaze hit on the USS Franklin during World War II.  I'm to blurb the book--one of those endorsements you read on the back covers--and I was struggling to find the right words to celebrate Jerry's lasting brotherly love and talents as a historian in recovering Elden's story from the family's cache of letters. And then I checked Facebook, always interested in my nephew's and great-niece's posts--the best way to stay in touch with this long-distance...

I wish I had thought of that title.  Yes, it's i quotes. Yes, it's someone else's--Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times.  My hat is off to Thomas for writing about the threat of extinction, well, not just the threat: the reality of it. One of the most devastating numbers he gives--"The African elephant population is in drastic decline, having shrunk about 30 percent from 2007-2-14." This is unprecedented and reflects a population dropping by 8 percent a year due mostly to poaching.  Go read a book called...