Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Candy Kitchen, New Mexico
Candy Kitchen is named after the Candy Kitchen Ranch at the end of my brother's road in the Zuni Mountains of northwest New Mexico. According to legend, in the prohibition era Candy Kitchen Ranch made candy as a front for a speakeasy operation. The candy store accounted for all the sugar they were buying to make booze. The ranch is now a wolf sanctuary, so at night you can hear the dissonant howls of the pack on the hill.
My brother and his partner live in an old Spartan trailer with their three dogs, Hansi, Ogi and Sparky, two cats, Squishy and Thorne and some odd chickens.
I stayed long enough to help them haul water a few times from the neighbor's well, plant a bed of cabbage, chard and kale, dance around a maypole, help install a swamp cooler in their trailer, milk a neighbor's goat, drink the rest of Max's homebrewed honey beer and catch a meteor so bright in the ink black sky that I could see it crackle, break and vaporize.
I left Candy Kitchen for north Texas a week ago. The smell of juniper and the sounds of ravens' wings stays with me even though I'm now surrounded by the lush Texan jungle of this year's rainy spring. If I stayed too long my feet would begin to root with my heart there. Ah, but brother, my heart is a colony...
I do feel more at home out there in the country than in the city. This realization has been dawning on me for a lifetime and is now becoming too powerful to ignore. Yes, I am excited about returning to study at the university, yes, I am in love with the libraries, but as a permanent home, I cannot take the city. Since I was little I knew that what I wanted was to learn food and shelter for myself. The greatest pain in studying history was recognizing that most of the peoples of the world have been subjugated and homogenized by the empires of the earth. To a certain extent the schools and libraries are struggling to replace the learning that we have lost from the oral traditions of our elders. It's not that this education is necessarily oppressive or meant to belittle traditional knowledge. But, separated so far from our native knowledge, this booklearning is the closest we can come to learning again what we have lost from tradition. Closest, of course, next to listening to nature around us, to what the trees and animals have not forgotten, what the stones have held for longer even than the trees.