Kinship in the Wild West

Taos Mountain

I’ve recently read Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations, Volume 1, Planet, edited by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Gavin Van Horn, and John Hausdoerffer.  It’s a beautiful little collection of short essays by ecologists, philosophers, professors, and others sharing information and stories from different viewpoints on our kinship with all of Nature.  There are 4 other volumes in the series that I can hardly wait to read!

The ideas set forth in the book stirred so many personal memories, and caused me to realize that there are numerous others who believe not only that we are a part of Nature, but also that other forms of life are just as important as ours.  We didn’t evolve to decide the fate of those often considered lesser lives such as animals, trees, soils, rivers, and oceans by our short-sighted endeavors.  We are here to protect them as much as they protect and provide for us. Our forgotten ties with Nature are addressed in a particularly touching essay by Robin Wall Kimmerer, botanist & professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry.  She writes that we have always been fed, provided for in every way, sung awake in the morning, sung to sleep at night, and taught by Nature. Since the beginning, she explains, Nature has loved us, but we’ve failed to recognize it.  (For a bit more on this, check out my post Does the Earth Love You? based on Kimmerer’s delightful book Braiding Sweetgrass.)

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs & Spa clinging to the warm high desert cliffs

Another of Kinship’s essays that really spoke to me is by Bron Taylor, professor of religion & environmental ethics at the University of Florida.  He writes about the ways in which we establish feelings of kinship with Nature. Direct, visceral, sensory experiences in Nature – including experiences of awe and wonder at the beauties, mysteries, and sometimes terrors – are a common pathway to kinship sentiments, he explains. 

The Rio Chama alongside the road from Taos to Santa Fe

Spending time in Nature, encountering majestic landscapes & wildlife, was certainly the catalyst for me.  And it all started in the wilds of Northern New Mexico.  The Sangre de Cristo Mountains, in the southernmost part of the Rockies, are found in this region that stole my heart.  Its highest peak is found in Taos Ski Valley, which reaches an elevation of just over 13,000 feet.  Hiking in the ski valley during the warmer months is a visual treat.  Dense aspen trees and conifers hug the trails, and the aspen leaves change from a gentle green in Spring to brilliant reds and golds in Fall.  

My favorite little village in the region, Arroyo Seco

Much of the northern part of the state is either lightly developed or not at all.  Taos Pueblo, a multi-level adobe complex about a mile north of Taos proper, is the longest continuously-inhabited community in the US.  It is said to have been built between the years 1000 and 1500.  Like the Great Pyramids and the Grand Canyon, it is a World Heritage Society site, one of our planet’s most significant historical cultural landmarks. The few Native Americans who still live within its walls have no running water or electricity.  Currently, the Pueblo is used primarily for sacred ceremonies and is open for tours on non-ceremonial days. During my visit, I purchased sage and cedar smudge sticks that had been freshly rolled by an elder. This divine scent is quintessential Northern New Mexico to me.  

Pan, Greek god of the wild, as portrayed by a local artist

There are other aspects of the area that take my breath away.  Unforgettable sunsets over its sliver of Rio Grande and skies with double rainbows. Rivers and streams flanked by mountains, cottonwood trees, and vibrant wildflowers.  Piñon trees growing close enough to the roads that you can pull over and fill your pockets.  And if you’d rather view the loveliness from inside your car, a plethora of scenic drives, including the Enchanted Circle and the High Road to Taos, await you.

Heading north

It’s an area replete with adobe houses, earth ships, and other unconventional set-ups that its residents call home.  It has a long history for being artsy, and there are loads of musicians, writers, painters, sculptors, and artisans to keep that history alive.  Downtown Taos, and the tiny villages in its proximity, have a great many galleries, from the fancy to the simple.  I believe the beauty of the area works to inspire its artists, in the same way it inspires me.

The iconic Taos Cow, serving coffee, lunch, and all-natural ice cream

As a result of experiencing this and other exquisite natural beauty, I know in my heart that we are one, neither superior nor inferior, with all other life.  Like the first Kinship volume sets forth, protecting Nature and allowing all other forms of life to flourish reciprocates the love and care She’s always provided for us.

Kinship Blessings,

Lisa

The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.

39 thoughts on “Kinship in the Wild West

  1. You mentioned Northern New Mexico as your catalyst for great nature appreciation/awareness. My awakening came in the middle of the Yellowstone watching a pack of wolves playing a game of deadly chess against a huge Elk bull smartly standing in the middle of a large stream/river. Remember standing there in awe with the beautiful scenery and realizing that we wanted to spend a majority of our lives in that type of setting. Maybe that is why I like running so much although Linda is pretty sure that is due to a mental deficiency ha. Not versed in the science of it and honestly, tired of the constant barrage of doom hyperbole in today’s lamestream media – just run until I’m too tired to run, rest a bit while nature does its restorative thing before running back to spend the hours in between looking forward to getting back out there. It’s a simple life, but far more healthy than watching the crap going on in the supposed civilized world these days. You always give me things to think about (even when it comes to colorful food hehehe)

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    1. I love your story, Brian, thanks for sharing! I’m sure you’ll agree that a simple life is so much better than the entanglements that often arise out of a not-so-simple one. And I’m with you on our media problem. Hopefully lots more of us will stop watching so much & they will change their tune once their ratings have fallen. We should all have a natural outlet like your practice of running to realign our heads with what’s truly important. Good to see you here, mentioning healthy foods even! Enjoy the weekend! 🌞

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  2. such a wonderful post Lisa and tribute to our mother earth. Braiding Sweetbread was our book club book. It was a logging read but her voice when she reads it is breathtaking and truly lights up with her insights and painted imagery. So good in that format.
    thanks for the tour and pictures my friend! 💖💖

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    1. Hi, mistermuse, I appreciate your stopping by and taking the time to leave your comment! I hope you’ll be able to return to NM and visit the extraordinary part of the state I described. I don’t think there are many of us who have visited all 50 states – that’s an accomplishment! I’ve visited 43 so far, but I’m hoping to see the rest in the coming years! 🌞

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  3. We drive through NM on our way to and from Wyoming and remarked how beautiful it is. Near Raton we found a lovely state park that runs into Colorado and enjoy spending a bit of time there. We plan to visit more in NM when my husband retires and we have more time. This area looks like a place I’d love to visit and I haven’t been to Taos or Santa Fe since I was a child. High time to go again. 🙂

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    1. High time, indeed, Janet! Nice to hear of your appreciation for one of my favorite places! I’ve thought so much about living there . . . we’ll see what the future holds! Hoping your weekend is not too hot. We’re in the 70’s today, so I’d imagine your temps are getting on up there. 🌞

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  4. I totally agree with you Lisa … spending time in nature is what keep the balance in our lives. You give such a wonderful description of Northern New Mexico – the tranquility is almost touchable. Love your pictures – to read your post, is a great start to a Saturday for me!

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  5. Oh, my goodness Lisa, what a wonderful post! Everything you say resonates with me! What beautiful photos too! And now I must follow up the “Kinship” link that you highlight, as Robin Wall Kimmerer just bowled me over with her book “Braiding Sweetgrass.” Kinship blessings to you too! Have a wonderful weekend! 🌹😊🙋‍♂️

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  6. Lisa, such wonderful photos! I have a special place in my heart for small towns. I can see why you like it there. The sculpture is very appealing. The sculptor must be inspired by the beautiful surroundings! ❤ Thank you for sharing this post! ❤

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  7. Though we are often socialized to believe ourselves as separate entities to nature, I agree with you wholeheartedly, Lisa. We are one, with each other, and with all of nature. The sooner we all understand that, the sooner nature can begin to heal from the devastation humans continue to reek upon it. A wonderful write. Thank you for sharing it with us today. Awesome pics too. 😁

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  8. Such a great article. It so true when you say “We didn’t evolve to decide the fate of those often considered lesser lives such as animals, trees, soils, rivers, and oceans by our short-sighted endeavors”.
    And I always think that who gave human rights to dominate and ruin mother Earth. Sadly, there is no “STOP” sign for it.

    Anyway, Thank you so much for sharing such a lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

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