On the outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico, I was driving slowly this afternoon, exploring. I was winding along small rutted trails of what I imagined were roads, since my GPS told me so, with dust from my tires making thirsty whirlwinds behind my truck. The lack of houses disturbed me, for I felt I was on private property somehow, but I had no way to turn around while driving such a large vehicle.
I turned at one such a sharp turn as I’d rarely met and saw a humble abode, against the color of sand dirt, stark white in and out, even with the endless proliferation of dust. A homemade broom leaned against the wall. There was an intricate hand-crafted crucifix above the wall inside, prominently displayed as if it were the most important thing in the home. The floors were dirt, with a wide doorway, so clean and cared for. Above a large raw wooden bed frame, was the crucifix and no other adornments graced the walls. The openness of home spoke of no electricity, but rather a way of allowing air to flow. Delicate white lace curtains adorned the windows, but were pulled back.
An elderly lady sat inside, on a single wooden rocking chair, with a fan against the heat, watching me with an expression I can only describe as if she were viewing a foreign creature risen from the scorching hot mirage of a land without water. Her black-shadow wrinkles on dark Native skin were as many as the cracks in the dry basins across the mesa. Her long grey hair was pulled back and she then smiled at me with a peacefulness one only can obtain from an elderly grandmother, Abuela, and slowly nodded her head. I wondered what grandmother meant in her Native American language. This entire experience unfolded in complete silence.
I have long since wondered if I should have stopped to speak to her, but her eyes, for all her peaceful actions and facial expressions, said, “No, move along, child, you do not belong here.” She was beautiful.