Crazy Wind

raining yonder

It’s Spring, or what masquerades for spring in northern New Mexico. In reality, we go from winter to summer around the 1st of June. In this in-between time, in a typical year when warmer temps melt snow covered mountain slopes to swell the rivers, perma-frost is still frozen a foot under the soil. When snows melt the resulting water has nowhere to go. It can’t seep into frozen earth below. We call this quasi-spring Mud Season.

When you’re at Trader Joe’s in Santa Fe and spot the family with mud caked on their boots, the cuffs of their jeans, smeared all over the kids you can tell they’re from up north. Probably Taos. Folks are tidier in Santa Fe. Not as much mud. More paved roads. 

Oh yeah, crazy wind. Crazy-making wind that began to blow a couple weeks ago. It blows and blows, sweeps madly across the mesa, blows and blows and blows…Wind chimes are chiming. Tumble weeds, tumbling. Dust devils, dervishing. Chile ristras are being beat to death on portals across Taos County. I had a lovely, bright red ristra hanging by my front door. It only took a few weeks of this crazy wind to decimate it. Charming, eh?ristra2

This is the time of year I want to travel, away from mud and wind that won’t cease until June. This is the time of year I want to declare war on wind chimes, shoot every last one of them to end their cheery, incessant fucking chiming. It’s the price we pay to live here in this little slice of paradise, lost or found. Sometimes both.  

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How Old Is “Old”?

Beth face

I woke up this morning feeling old. Nothing in particular bothered me; my joints weren’t aching, I didn’t have to pee, I could reach the water glass on the nightstand without using the ‘grabber’ (the grabber is one of those as seen on tv tools, you squeeze the trigger-handle and pinchers on the end of a long metal extension grab things that you can’t reach…). Why did I feel old?

My birthday is in two weeks. I’ll be sixty. How the hell can I be turning sixty? I was thirty two yesterday. Sixty sounds very old to me. I remember twenty-nine like it was last week. I remember being the youngest person at, pick one: the bar, the conference, party, game, meeting, workshop… No more. Now my ‘bosses’ are usually at least twenty years younger than I am. I get asked if I’m fifty-five, then receive senior discounts at theaters, coffee shops, casinos and other establishments that believe those of us who’ve survived this long on the planet should be compensated for being no longer relevant to the rest of you movers and shakers, techies and makers, hackers and slackers and trendy bare-backers.

It’s weird, being old. Am I oldI accept my age. I accept that all-nighters out on the town are (probably) a thing of the past. I’ve finally realized that no, I probably won’t ever be a grandma because, silly me, I never got around to having kids. I’ll never again be the first to strip off all her clothes and jump into the river, pool, office party conga line… That’s OK. I’m fortunate to have friends who are in their thirties, forties. Really. Friends, not because I’m friends with their parents but because we enjoy each others company, share similar interests, can talk to each other about anything. Sometimes they ask for my advice. I’m flattered when they do as my advice hasn’t always been what any sane person would would want, much less ask for. I consider myself lucky to have these folks in my life. What a lovely gift!

If I’m feeling old at almost sixty, how will I feel at sixty-five? Seventy? Eighty? I never imagined I would live to be this age. Sixty. How the hell did it happen? Like life itself, it just happened. And, as strange as it feels sometimes, it’s OK.bamboo face

Finally Freelance

Safari in South Africa

 

Leaving the peaceful confines of South African Air flight 204 from JFK to Johannesburg, I emerged from the walkway into the cavernous O.R. Tambo International Airport and was engulfed by a cacophony of sound. Languages I didn’t understand spoken in dialects as foreign to me as if I had landed on Mars, surrounded me; streamed around and over my head, tapped out new percussion on my ear drums. Eight forty-five a.m. and I had time to kill before my short flight to Nelspruit. After exchanging a small sum of American dollars for South African rand, I bumbled my way through jostling hordes and found a spot where I could sit, get my bearings, and observe my fellow travelers. Settling at a table in a bustling coffee shop, I sipped a frothy cappuccino, indulged in some belly-deep breathing and took in the sights. I remember being so very grateful that English was spoken by nearly everyone, whether I understood it with the lilting foreign accents was another story.

I was headed to the Kruger National Park to go on safari. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! No tigers in SA. No bears either. The lions were there. As were the elephants, rhinos, hippos, giraffe, zebras, kudu and antelope, wildebeest, hyenas, leopard, buffalo along with wild creatures I’d never before known, like the genet and civet (I saw both). I never did spot the illusive pangolin. Next time…

 Kruger National Park covers 7,580 of land miles and sits along the NE border of the country, between SA and Mozambiqu and Zimbabwe. The SANParks website, www.sanparks.org informs us:

Sighting the “Big Five” has become something of a quest for many people when on safari, and the Kruger National Park has more than its fair share of these, with an estimated 1,500 lion, 12,000 elephant, 2,500 buffalo, 1,000 leopards and 5,000 rhino (black and white). It should certainly not be a pre-requisite of a safari to see these or even a priority, as there are plenty of other fascinating animals and birds in the African bush.

The National Park system in SA is extensive. It includes nineteen parks that span the country from Kruger in the North to Agulhas, the southernmost tip of the African continent. I purchased a Wild Card, good for one year. It gave me access to all of the national parks in South Africa. I put it to good use and visited seven of the nineteen while I was there.