“One cannot be pessimistic about the West. This is the native home of hope. When it fully learns that cooperation, not rugged individualism, is the quality that most characterizes and preserves it, then it will have achieved itself and outlived its origins. Then it has a chance to create a society to match its scenery.” –Wallace Stegner
For the Fourth of July, Mai and I took a camping trip in northern New Mexico. The weather is perfect there this time of year. The landscapes of New Mexico are so diverse, and so large, you can get to just about any kind of scenery, place, environment that you would like to be in.
We stayed near the Santa Barbara river above Llano. From our campsite we could hear water percolating down the mountainside, making a whooshing sound tumbling over rocks. In the morning we hiked up the trail into the wilderness until we heard a bear snort ahead of us. Then we turned around! It was about time to turn around anyway.
It was beautiful. The grace of the aspen groves rising. The verdant mix of trees. At 8,000 feet the air has an especially ethereal quality to it, unique to this mountain valley.
Being in this place gives you a sense of renewal. The air so clean for the trees, the water filtering down through the fine soil. We camped lightly and left no trace but ash from our campfire in the fire ring. Sometimes the biggest positive impact we can make is by leaving things intact and unmarked. Our time here then had no visible results, unless we look past ourselves and across time to a larger scale where our wholeness is part of the land’s health for self-renewal.