Wednesday, November 16, 2005

New Mexico landscapes, with only a little context

My slow scanning of old slides and negatives continues. Every once in a while I find a picture that has some emotional resonance with me, and I try to figure out if it is because of memories it brings back, or because of something intrinsic to the photos themselves. Often it's hard to decide. In this case, I think I just like the pictures. I don't have a specific memory of taking them. One is a grainy photo of a southern New Mexico camposanto, quite different from Mexican graveyards in Texas that I wrote about, and showed pictures of, a couple of months ago. This is very New Mexico, and very stark. You can almost hear the crunch of the coarse sand under your shoes.

The other is labeled as being near Glenwood. Like I said, I don't remember taking it, but I remember the trip. We had been camping out, Kay and Eve and I, not roughing it exactly, maybe eating breakfast in camp before moving on, but more often driving to the nearest town and eating in a local cafe. Hearty American slow-food breakfasts, cooked while you wait a long time and some smoke emerges from the kitchen when the foodserver comes through the swinging doors with your bacon and eggs and toast.

I remember one place where the waiter was also the owner, a little guy wearing red suspenders and an enormous cowboy hat with a feather in it, shirt buttoned at the neck, pants tucked into his tall ornately tooled boots. Mustache. He said he had been a working cowboy all his life, before he decided to invest whatever life savings he had and buy this place. He gave us a card saying he and his wife did a comedy act. I don't remember anything comic, though. He chewed tobacco and was very polite. There were two dogs in the dining room, which had an enormous window looking out across at a cliff across the river. I asked what the dogs were named. The smaller dog, who was clearly the dog in charge, became very suspicious when I spoke his name, backed away stiff-legged and went outside.

I remember near Silver City on the way to Glenwood, Kay became upset, I don't remember about what, and impulsively threw her ice-cream cone out the window as an expression of her discontent The gesture did not come off as planned; the cone and its contents separated such that the empty cone went all the way out the window as intended, but the ice-cream glob had more inertia I guess, and didn't quite make it out but was grabbed by the wind so that half of it went into the back seat where Eve was reading and the other half went out and sort of splatter-painted the outside of the car and the back windows on that side. This ruined Kay's dramatic gesture. It somehow became comic. Later in the trip, a mime-reenactment of it might occur whenever anyone started complaining about anything. Which we found funny; trips do this to people. We did not have cards printed up when we got home, though.

I have notes describing a Blue Front Cafe and Bar that I am pretty sure was somewhere in that part of New Mexico. The bar portion of the place was nearest the entrance, a poolroom was in middle, and a small restaurant in back. When we came in to eat dinner there was one slightly fat, fiftiesh hippie, earring in left ear, cigar in mouth, long gray ponytail, playing pool. A craggy rancher came in and joined his game after we were seated, with real a cowboy strut, accentuated by very tight Levis and possibly by arthritis--highly stylized, you might say.

Young men sitting more or less mute at the bar had multi-day beards. An ultra-grizzled, deranged looking 30 year old guy who in Austin would be considered a streetperson by his appearance, came into the restaurant and ate alone. A hispanic guy with a bemused expression probably the product of alcohol or mota, or both, called to the grizzled guy asking if he had been fishing. Yeah. Hispanic guy went over to confer about the fishing. The waitress was a nice looking 45 year old. Also wore tight blue jeans which in her case accentuated her figure, not her mannered walk. She was very chatty, but I didn't write down what we talked about. The food was good.

Anyway, somewhere near that bar and poolhall, if not right out the door, it looked very much like this.

(click on photos to enlarge)

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