Search This Blog

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Taos-The Soul of the Southwest

 About once a week or so, we drive up to Taos, an hour and fifteen minutes away. Our route is a winding mountain road, almost a single lane in places, through a ski resort, the national forest, the road snaking through a canyon until the town appears, the adobe brown dwellings looking like boulders in the desert distance.

Taos is home to around 6,000 residents. Then add a zillion tourists both in the summertime and also in winter when ski season is in full swing. We've learned to avoid peak tourist days and to drive on roads the tourists don't use.

The little shops, galleries and eateries are a fun change from our place, where the food and shopping choices are definitely limited (though I look forward to eating at The Mad Cow Calf-A, a new restaurant in Mora, very soon). Review to follow. The finger therapist is in Taos, as well as Cid's natural food store, Smith's supermarket and Ace Hardware.

Orlandos Restaurant Taos, NM
 Anyway, back to Taos, which has its share of characters, that's for sure. A Shakespearean-looking, white haired man stands on a corner, reciting what might be sonnets to the passing cars. A trio of elderly folk stand on another corner, holding signs that say, "Honk if you pay taxes!" and "Occupy Taos!" A pair of young backpackers, their dog on a frayed rope, trudge alongside the highway. Older ladies lunch, wearing long, purple skirts with silver concho belts, turquoise jewelry dripping from their wrists and necks. For men, Taos headwear leans toward berets and ski beanies. That's not true for everyone, but it is notable. Mora, on the other hand, is a Stetson and ball cap kind of place.

   If I could compare Taos to a city in California, it would have to be Laguna Beach, because they share a bohemian vibe with an emphasis on art and "free spiritedness." The art comes from different sources: local pueblo potters, textile artists, painters, sculptors, you name it. Taos artists are from all walks of life, rich and poor, college educated and self or family-taught.

It's like Laguna Beach in the 1970's, where different people live, work, make art, and whatever you do, it's just fine. Grocery store employees will see someone wearing what looks to be rags, wandering the aisles, talking to himself, and say, "Hey, Ed! Do you want me to help you shop today?" When I bought bird seed the checker praised the purchase and assured me the birds would be most grateful.

I was in a gallery a few months ago and admired a Santa Clara pueblo pot. During our conversation, the potter asked me if I made anything. When I told her about my quilts, she immediately gave me her card and offered to trade a pot for a quilt. I think I will take her up on that deal. That's Taos.

This last photo is of Taos Pueblo, located on the edge of town, one of the oldest inhabited communities in the United States. About 150 people live in the pueblo itself, with over 1900 Indians living on the pueblo's 99,000 acres of land holdings.The buildings are made of adobe with log roofs, supplemented by smaller logs, close together, all covered with mud and dirt. Much time and effort is spent plastering the outsides to guard against weather damage.

Many of the buildings in the pueblo look just like they would have looked to the Spanish explorers when they first arrived in Northern New Mexico in 1540. Archeologists have found ruins in the area pointing to the Indians having lived here since 1000 A.D.

Taos is definitely The Soul of the Southwest: friendly, quirky. artistic, and ready for anything under the New Mexico sun.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, those pictures are amazing. I want to go to Taos now!



I love your comments! What's on your mind?