There is something deeply spiritual about New Mexico in the quiet of winter. The majesty of this sacred land of American Indians and their mountains, their beautiful Pueblo and coyotes, helped me come to terms with the loss of my Dad. It was like a spiritual shock absorber being there to receive the news, surrounded by the stillness of the winter-stark landscape.
We stayed in Taos which is meant to be so spiritual you could land in Tibet if you bore a hole through the bottom of it. The thickness of adobe walls were like a warm blanket trapping all the heat inside. I felt cocooned by the architecture and the history of the hotel which was originally built as an artists’ colony by a pioneering woman called Mabel Dodge Luhan. During the 1930s, Georgia O’Keeffe, Carl Jung and DH Lawrence found inspiration that would shape their lives’ work there.
In the late 1960s at the height of his career, Dennis Hopper left Hollywood for artistic bohemia in New Mexico. He stayed at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House while editing Easy Rider (1969), prompting Taos’s hippie invasion. The artists’ colony was bought by Hopper in 1970 and named The Mud Palace, which he filled with a collection of interesting and beautiful people. Artsy beatnik women from New York, Hollywood celebrities and starlets, rock stars and artists, producers and poets mingled with locals from Taos’ Native American community. Mabel would have loved it.
We visited the Taos Pueblo nearby, with adobe structures that are estimated to be over a thousand years old. It stirred the emotions and connected me to something ancient and eternal. Dad would have loved New Mexico. He was happiest when connected to the earth with man’s oldest four-legged companion by his side. I learned how the simple act of walking in nature can be a tonic for the soul from him. It’s primal.
As my friend and I were wandering around the grounds of St Francis Cathedral in Santa Fe on Christmas Day, a man gave me a conker. He talked about his love for the tree it came from. He seemed like he was part of the original tribe of artist thinkers who migrated there for light and peace. An old soul. I cherish those moments of pure human kindness from a stranger when traveling. It felt like a life-giving blessing. Like the tendrils from the other side as my father rode off into the sunset for good.