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Monday Photo Meditation: Hot Dry Blue

Our hottest month of the year is at last drawing down to its final days. June is typically the one period when highs regularly exceed ninety, approaching (and sometimes surpassing) the century mark. By July first, the monsoon season is usually well under way, and the first half of that month, so marked by celebration locally — the Fourth of July, the Summer Wine Tasting, the Taos Pueblo Powwow, Las Fiestas de Taos — is also marked by the inevitability of daily cloudbursts.

All bets are off this year.

Oh, it’s hot enough: The mercury has yet to hit a hundred, yet it feels strangely hotter than years past, no doubt to the complete lack of anything resembling a start to the rainy season. Each day dawns a dry arid turquoise, as hard and hot as the gem left to bake in the veins of desert host rock. By afternoon, the clouds have begun to gather and grow, but these are not the clouds that bring the rain, no; these are the white puffy things that drift lazily upon waves of heat that rise from a scorched and scorching earth.

The most such clouds do is conceal the sun for a few moments, allowing our world to cool for a minute or two, or drift in front of the rising moon, tricksters intent upon making us believe there will be no light in the hot dry dark.

It’s not just the weather that has veered far off course, either. The Fourth of July will still be celebrated in typical fashion, but the wine tasting event that used to appropriate space from the powwow in the public consciousness is gone this year; the local tasting room closed up shop at the end of December. The Fiestas are still on, but with a different reigning Reina than the one who was crowned at last year’s event. And our whole small world here was shocked by the news, a scant couple of weeks ago, that this year’s powwow is canceled entirely.

Ordinarily, we can count on at least one good thunderstorm on July Fourth, enough to delay some of the fireworks, and another during the weekend of the powwow, sufficient to delay at least one of the grand entries. The storms themselves behave as tricksters, as though called by sacred clowns purely to disrupt the affairs of lesser beings. This year, though, one such opportunity is gone.

Meanwhile, another kind of trickster has seized the land: drought, leaching the last drops of water from the earth, turning the green to brown, causing the grass to vanish entirely is places, s though touched by some perverse magic wand. In the midst of the waves of shimmering heat, color and life alike are draining fast from the world around us.

What remains is the hot dry vault of the heavens: immoveable, impervious to our pleas and prayers. This year will be, perhaps, the tipping point, that fulcrum beneath which the weights and measures are counted. There is no question that humanity will fall on the wrong side of the balance, that we shall, as another tradition says, “be found wanting.”

The question now is whether we will adapt.

This land at the end of The Dragon’s Tail had long been an oasis in the desert, a place of respite and even abundance. Abundance may soon be in short supply, and respite with it. We shall have to learn how to live with the clouds whose only task is to hide the light . . . in a world of hot dry blue.

~ Aji








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