I do believe that there is something in greeting the raw geology of earth on a daily basis. It feels to me that it must change a person’s psyche if every day you are able to observe millions of years worth of layers. It creates a certain scale from which to put one’s life in perspective.
A few days ago, as I ascended from the Rio Grande, traversing the ridge line of Turtle Back mountain, I was viscerally reminded how special this experience is. Each step upward moves through another layer of geologic history, being exposed and then slowly crumbling from the harsh elements of the Chihuahuan desert.
These mountains hold the bodies of organisms that lived, consumed, reproduced and died - long before the mastodons that now sometimes emerge from the sandy lake bottom, just outside of town, peek their tusks out for another look at the light. One cannot ignore the continuum.
Ooh cactus. Glorious little creatures, perfectly adapted to smile in the face of everything. Their sumptuous spring flowers are a soft greeting to the sun. Brilliant colors singing the opposite tune of their spiny skin. What a fleeting treasure, as all life is, with a frame of fossils as their backdrop.
Vultures. Who are you? Riding thermals just feet above my head. You’ve got plenty of time to size me up as I run down the rocky ridge-line. Or maybe you don't give me a second glance. You’ve seen plenty of us before, and frankly find us all quite strange. You are lucky with your ways. Soaring and snacking. I envy you that.
In a small display box above my studio table I have several small fossilized clam shells that I have found while wandering the hills surrounding my home. On the deck there is a larger stone from which a two inch spiral shell emerges. In the mosaic that I created above our stove and kitchen countertop are ammonite fossils that were found by a friend in the limestone bluffs of southern Minnesota. These are not just beautiful, they are reminders. Reminders that we are all on the same continuum. Humans are still creatures, roaming the earth trying to survive. It's all quite strange and amazing.
There is something about this place that brings things to the surface; hot springs, fossils, human nature. You cannot hide from history, geology or the elements. So I suppose the name is truly apt in some ways. Truth or Consequences.