This past week I went home to Albuquerque, New Mexico to visit family and friends. It was the first time that Shelby had been to my home town and it was wonderful to get to share it with her.
While we were in New Mexico we took a trip down to the Gila Wilderness- the first wilderness area in the US, exempt from cattle grazing and full of wildlife.
The first time I’d been to this area of the state was during college when I was participating in the University of New Mexico’s Land Arts of the American West Program. Twelve Students, myself included, journeyed through the southwest, camping and making (art). The Gila was one of many stops that we made, and on that trip we stayed in Turkey Creek. On this first trip to the Gila there were little herds of Javelinas, little pigs, running around. I never saw them in the daylight – just their beady little eyes in the moonlight, and I heard their snuffling gruntings around my tent as I lay motionless before sleep.
This place is so beautiful, so special, in part because it is so wild and one of the only places you can experience a cattle-less grass land. As an effect of this there are many more varieties of native grasses and plants, many of which are the perennial species which can’t survive in a landscape that is mowed down by either machine or beast. The area is rife with a utopia of hot springs and crystal streams, shaded by sycamore and pine trees. Cacti also spring up in this forest, bringing a sense of the alien to this landscape, a reminder of our own natural need to protect ourselves.
I see myself in this wild landscape, and that is no doubt the reason why I felt such an urge to return to the Gila. It is good to come into nature and reconnect, to re-ground and remember how connected we are to the earth and our surroundings.
Re-Grounding, 2012 (From the Land Arts Expedition)