Let your heart be a portal for the songs of the universe.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

High Plains Sunrise

Great things happen when nature and the human spirit meet. Hear the poetry of the prairie. She longs for your presence. Let her scented breath tussle your hair. Find wisdom within Silver Sage, wildflowers, snow-capped mountains and ethereal clouds suspended in azure skies. A heart away from nature suffers. Allow the whispers of lone yucca clinging to white sand dunes and energy of a high plains sunrise to reach into your heart and free your soul. Set your cares adrift on prairie winds.

© Ilija Lukić 2014

Salida Del Sol
(Llano Estacado east of Clovis, New Mexico)

Running Room
(Mr Cooper pauses, relaxes and appears to savor the sunrise)

High Plains Sunrise
(flirtatious beams of sunlight caress golden campaniles of yucca)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fort Stanton Sojourn

Once Cooper jumps aboard our motorized prairie schooner, we head southwest across the Llano Estacado tablelands of New Mexico. En route we encounter azure skies and relatively benign summer temperatures. Ceaseless prairie winds conspire with early morning sunlight and give life to silver islands of cottontop grasses adrift in verdant seas of grass. An abundance of wildflowers thrives in the wake of recent monsoonal rains. Late blooms of yucca and prairie zinnia highlight the revival.

Near Roswell we leave the rolling plain and descend towards the Rio Pecos. Muddy floodwaters of the rain swollen river churn below our bridge passage, which leads towards the bustling town.

After a brief interlude for food and drink we strike out westward. The 10,000-foot peaks of the volcanic Capitan Mountain Range and 11,981-foot Sierra Blanca peak define the western horizon. Their ethereal contours shepherd us into the apple and pear orchards of the Rio Hondo valley. We savor the atmosphere of horses and cattle grazing peacefully in lush, tree-lined meadows. 

In the blink of an eye we breeze through the quiet village of Picacho. Just down the road in Hondo near the confluence of the noisy Rio Ruidoso and pretty Rio Bonito we turn northwest along the latter. Lofty panoramas of the Capitan Range usher us into the sleepy mountain community of Lincoln. The serenity of tourists meandering down streets, browsing at small local shops and pausing reverently at La Iglesia de San Juan Bautista mission belies the bloodletting of a turbulent past.  A stone and adobe fortified tower, the Torreón, continues to bear silent witness to history. Etched upon its rough-hewn exterior are stories of the Lincoln County War over control of the dry goods trade, Billy the Kid’s murderous escape from the courthouse jail and warfare with Mescalero Apaches.

With Lincoln in the rear view mirror the Rio Bonito valley serves as corridor through the Capitan foothills into Fort Stanton. At the fort we discover a multitude of historical re-enactors who create a convincing glimpse into American frontier life. These aficionados of history dressed in period garb bring to life the military garrison, white settlers and Mescalero Apaches of a remote time.

We spend a delightful afternoon connecting with actors and visitors. While I chase images of the old west and post facilities with my camera, Melanie relives childhood days with a successful turn on stilts. Onlookers marvel at her skills. Nearby joyous laughter of kids echoes across the parade field. They roll wooden hoops with sticks in the age old game of hoop trundling. On the front porch of the senior officers’ quarters a group of women socializes and spins wool into yarn. And, just beyond the soldiers’ encampment a traveling theater troupe entertains an engaged audience. Troopers on horseback and afoot mingle with the crowd and relate stories of exploits. Near the enlisted barracks a cattleman relaxes at his chuck wagon and chews the fat with cookie. Their arduous cattle drives replenish meat stores at the fort. Near a stand of tall pines a contingent of Mescalero Apache dancers perform and invite onlookers to join in social dances. Cooper is a little anxious of the hustle and bustle, but manages numerous friendly hellos and kisses.

The sights and sounds on the fort grounds reach into our hearts and minds. Days of yore take shape and affect our essence. Whispers of ancestors borne on mountain winds awaken age-old memories written upon our hearts and brighten awareness of what binds us to one another.

© Ilija Lukić 2014

(Fortified stone and adobe defensive tower, Lincoln NM)

La Iglesia De San Juan Bautista
(1887 Catholic sanctuary in Lincoln NM)

Local Color
(Display at store front in Lincoln NM)

Flag Bearer
(Cavalry standard bearer at Fort Stanton NM)

Infantry Sergeant

Shady Respite
(Side yard of Catholic Chapel at Fort Stanton NM)

Senior Officers' Quarters
(Fort Stanton NM)

(The art of spinning wool into yarn at Fort Stanton NM)

Trooper Encampment
(Fort Stanton NM)

Mescalero Warrior
(Fort Stanton NM)

Kickin' Back
(Fort Stanton NM)

Fun On Stilts
(Fort Stanton NM)

Field Kitchen
(John Deere chuck wagon at Fort Stanton)

Old West Style
(Cowboy at Fort Stanton NM)

Junior Officers' Quarters
(Fort Stanton NM)

Knock And The Door Will Be Opened
(Catholic Chapel at Fort Stanton)

Corporal Dandy
(Corporal wears Hardee Hat Eagle on Shako Cap)

Reach Pardner