Saturday, August 9, 2008

Levavi oculos meos in montes
I lift up my eyes to the mountains.
Ps 121

Out here at Ghost Ranch, everyone knows Georgia O'Keeffe's famous quip about Pedernal, the mountain whose portrait she so often painted. When asked if she thought she owned it or something, she replied: "It's my private mountain. God told me if I painted it enough, I could have it."

Pedernal rises in misty gray majesty to the south here. While the mesas scream for our attention with their craggy textures and simmering colors, Pedernal just keeps its noble cool. As the mountain's name reminds us, the ancient inhabitants of the region used to climb to its flat top to gather chert, a type of flint. So Pedernal doesn't need to prove its grandeur with showy blasts of fiery color. It knows that it is fire's very substance.

(above: Pedernal,1942)

Every year around April or so, I begin to hear the call of Pedernal and the mesas. Like O'Keeffe, D.H. Lawrence, and so many others, I fell under the spell of this savage New Mexican landscape and am drawn irresistibly back again and again. I always take a seminar of some sort while here, a writing course or something scripture-focused. But what I like to do best is just sit somewhere and gaze up at Pedernal, distant and aloof, or one of the more extraverted mesas that encircle the ranch... and whose contours make me think of the muscular arms of Michelangelo's Cumaean sybil. For innumerable eons they have stood observing tiny humans scurrying about at their feet, attending to important business before eventually fading from the landscape. Pedernal and the mesas remain. And as my eyes are magnetically drawn to them, I try to absorb a bit of their imperturbability to take back with me to the frenetic existence I will resume all too soon.


  1. "I will resume all too soon"

    we are waiting ....


  2. Vous attendez ... ?

    Ben, j'espère que le temps passe agréablement au moins !


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