Friday, June 24, 2011

Blessing the LLano Quemado 'Ponce de Leon' Hot Springs


June 24, 2011 the Nativity of John the Baptist was celebrated here in Ranchos de Taos today at daybreak with a blessing of the 'Ponce de Leon' Hot Springs in LLano Quemado.
Not very far from Two Graces Plaza Gallery here in Ranchos.
Heading south from the San Francisco de Asis Church Plaza you'll soon take a left turn onto State Road 382/the Hot Springs Road, cross over the Olde Santa Fe Trail Road and continue up the hill past the Capilla of La Capilla de Nuestra Senora del Carmen, continue down the road which eventually changes from paved to dirt at the intersection of Leyba & Vista del Valle, on past the Llano Community Center & Water association buildings. This road eventually takes an extreme sharp left turn park at the turn around at this corner.
Walk around the gate, stay on the dirt road and keep walking, this road will eventually horseshoe turn back keep following it until you notice this break in the trees to the right which takes you to the springs. As I came around the turn a rabbit hopped along ahead of me, a nice sign of John the Baptist in attendance this morning. There is a shortcut across the horseshoe, which is under the water sluice cutting across the depression not quite an arroyo, not recommended to newcomers.
Taking to the path on a cool morning such as this the air suddenly intensifies to a warmth as if you'd just entered your own home. Perhaps this isn't a normal experience but this is what I felt.

You'll cross over a stream of water which is coming from the springs.

There are 5 pools of water, the first of which is currently overgrown with cattails, the next is large enough to swim in with two smaller 'soaking' pools attached to it. Then there is the warm natural spring up against the mountain the bottom of which is covered in smooth stones, with a tree growing out of the rock above.
WARNING: do not drink the water from this spring, the microorganism Giardia is here making it unsafe for human consumption.

And so the Blessing began with Father Deano the new priest of San Francisco de Asis Church saying a prayer with the group known as Los Comanches in attendance.

After a great deal of controversy and turmoil over who would control this spring it is currently owned by Taos Land Trust, which respects the right for Native People to hold Sacred Blessings of their own there. This spring is located on the trade route between Picuris Pueblo and Taos Pueblo, it has been a sacred site for as long as people have been in the area. TLT has now posted signage to remind people of just what a Sacred Place this is and to show respect to those who worship here. I give a strong warning here to all who come to this spring to PLEASE pick up after yourselves and keep noise levels to a minimum.
Shamefully this morning there was far too much trash all around.

Father Deano giving Blessings to the spring and the people, flora and fauna for which it provides. A very fitting prayer for all.
A few years back a white Cross was painted onto the rock face under the bush to the far side.

The great concrete pool is large enough to swim in.
I've brought people and sent people here from near and far, everyone of them has understood the value of this experience, there are many Hot Springs in the world, this one is quite special.

Los Comanches as they drum sounding loud and clear. One drum has a Northwest Coast design, one an elk and the other with an antelope painted onto the top. There were about 8 attending all around the sacred pool they drummed in rhythm with one another. Afterward each man dipped his hands into the water to cleanse their foreheads, I did so as well.

There is a great deal of water coming out of this mountain, part of the Picuris mountain range of the Sangre de Cristo section of our great Rocky Mountains.
It's said that on this day to be cleansed by fast rushing water you will be blessed for the year to come.
As we left the springs walking out of the trees onto the dirt road I once again felt the warm air from the Hot Springs fall away behind me as the cool morning air awaited just outside the break in the path to this Sacred Site.
Thank you to Taos Land Trust, Taos Pueblo & Picuris Pueblo for sharing this place and keeping it open to the public who may enjoy and respect this beautiful place.
This just happened last night at Taos Pueblo PowWow:   
WHEREAS       the springs in Llano Quemado, known as The Ponce de Leon Hot Springs, have been a scared site since time immemorial for Native People, and
WHEREAS       the springs, with 95-degree groundwater pools, were a popular resting spot along the Camino Real and a community gathering spot throughout the centuries, and
WHEREAS       the springs, like many ancient, special land parcels in Taos, have seen ownership, preservation and issues of public access wrestled with throughout the decades, and
WHEREAS       this 45-acre parcel, through the coming together of the Taos Land Trust and Taos Pueblo, has found a steward in Taos Pueblo, and
WHEREAS       through this stewardship appropriate access and a conservation easement to eliminate development have been preserved and will match the wishes of the $500,000
                        anonymous, private donation that enabled this exceptional stewardship, and
WHEREAS       we have all come together today to celebrate this stewardship of the Ponce de Leon Hot Springs by Taos Pueblo,
NOW THEREFORE, I Darren Cordova, MAYOR OF TAOS, do hereby proclaim July 14, 2012 as
“PONCE DE LEON HOT SPRINGS DAY”
In honor of this significant day in the history of Taos, New Mexico, and to pay tribute and honor both the Taos Land Trust and Taos Pueblo for this valuable action that directly contributes to our community and its future. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Taos Friends & Family, or "Here But by the Grace of God am I"

Let's start off by saying "Thank You, everyone"
This photograph of me is by Brian Snyder taken just across the street at Martinez Hall, the wall as you can see has remnants of an old sign "Indian Jewelry, Navajo Blankets" with a bit of pink plaster. I'd asked Brian to take a photo of me next to this wall, on his last day visiting he did this, great image, thank you.
Taos isn't the easiest place to get to, it never has been, this story is about my great appreciation of our friends and family that come to visit and of the people that have come here to Taos to make this village in the middle of nowhere their home. If you are coming to Taos from London, the East Coast or Midwest, it's a long day to get here and another long day to get back home. A long flight and then a 2 1/2 hour drive from the Albuquerque airport to finally arrive in Taos New Mexico makes for some very dedicated travelers. Friends from the West Coast may not have such a long flight, but still the drive from ABQ is long for most people. When I first moved out here, I'd overnight camp at the Coronado State Park campground next to the ruins which feature amazing Kivas with mural reproductions. This kept me from driving to the airport to pick people up for 5 hours straight there and back. On occasion some of our visitors will take the train from ABQ to Santa Fe which is easier to be picked up at, the train is a real treat with spectacular views of an unchanged landscape.
If you're new to Taos, please stop by our shop Two Graces Plaza Gallery in Ranchos de Taos, and say hello. Lately people have been doing just that coming by to say they'd found us through this blog and visit.
We have a cabin on our property that is mostly Holly's studio, but a great guest house for visitors complete with kitchen and bathroom. Brian above & Diane below were our most recent friends to visit. They try to come out to Taos every year to relax and decompress, they're not high maintenance guests, they help with meals and even help with customers coming by the shop. Brian is a photographer for Reuters news service, he tends to specialize in sports and politics. While here we all went to Santa Fe for the day, on the way back to Taos he took some spectacular photographs of the Pacheco fire near Santa Fe Ski Valley, within an hour of filing/posting one of his pictures was on MSNBC, it was picked up by other news services even one in INDIA! Needless to say AMAZING, I'm astounded of him.
While here they visited the Golden Willow Retreat run by Ted Wiard, check it out www.goldenwillowretreat.org it's open 24 hours a day when you need a place to say a prayer, the website has directions you've gotta love ie: "You will pass a dip in road with cattails and a dry pond on the right" I first learned of this place from the KVOT 1340AM radio program Breakfast with Nancy Stapp. When I heard Ted explain what he was doing I drove to the radio station just as he was finishing his interview with Nancy to give him a donation to use for candles so that people could light a candle for a loved one at this sanctuary. This to me is an important hidden jewel right here in Taos.
By the way my own time slot on Breakfast with Nancy on KVOT is the third Wednesday of each month at around 9:15AM mountain time, you can listen to it streaming live on your computer www.1340kvot.com
Back in the School of the Museum of Fine Arts days, Diane's office was the one we all hung out in to relax and decompress, (funny how that works, now she comes out here to visit to do the same). She just got a job at Harvard a couple weeks ago and stipulated to them that she'd be taking a trip to Taos. She's great, her friendship means a lot to me and I will never understand what it is she does.
This photo is from a recent gallery opening with Nancy Neva Gagliano www.nevacoloma.blogspot.com & Caterina Giglio www.caterinagiglio.blogspot.com, both terrific people and wonderful artists who also write blogs and inspired me to do so as well.
I may have written this before, but here it goes again, I think of friends as people that you take the time to sit down for a meal with. Perhaps this is an Italian thing, food dinner with family, dinner with friends, the people you love means a lot to me. Renee Howell www.renee5280.blogspot.com, David Hopper, Holly, Caterina, & Neva (who took this photo) at our home having dinner, (homemade Pizza) telling stories, listening to stories, and drinking a bit of wine. Sometimes I think my theme should be 'I could have dined all night', just chatting with people and listening to their stories can make for some magical moments in my life. So, thank you again for sharing.
Some friends here in Taos & Santa Fe we don't see all that often, Rick Aragon is an artist, filmmaker, musician who I'm looking forward to seeing play at Taos Plaza Live on August 11, 2011. He's one of those people that everyone loves and can light up a room. We don't see much of some friends, but we know they're there, like Rudy Funk. Or, like the other friends from Santa Fe who stopped by for a visit yesterday, they headed to the Harwood Museum to bring their friend to see the Agnes Martin room, (she was friends with Agnes). Once there they discovered a leak in the roof had forced the museum to close the room while it was being repaired. The paintings were now stored in the basement archives room, one of the curators asked them if they were pleased with their visit, when they told her about why they had come to visit the Museum she took them to the archives room for a private viewing of the Agnes Martin Paintings. That's a pretty great thing to have happen, they stopped by on their way back to Santa Fe to tell me all about it! That's the Taos I know and love! By the way next year Taos will celebrate the "Remarkable Women of Taos" the Harwood Museum will be featuring an exhibit of early Agnes Martin Paintings, which should be AMAZING.
Two Graces Plaza Gallery has a few things in the works with an exhibition of paintings by Taos Modernist Adeine de la Noe (she too was a friend of Agnes, but is now gone), and some other great exhibits that we're keeping our fingers crossed and we'll keep quiet about for now.
As you can imagine Taos must be a very special place to attract so many terrific people, a couple we know from Taos Pueblo just stopped by offering to help us with our move. People young and old have offered to help as well. Last time we moved Two Graces from across the street we had a dozen friends help carry everything across the Ranchos Plaza, this time it will be carrying everything into the space directly next door, which Holly has been running as The Plaza Gallery www.hollysievers.com and will soon be Two Graces Plaza Gallery. We hope to make the shop better and still make it affordable, interesting and exciting for visitor and local customers.
Holly's sister Rebecca with Holly & I.
My wonderful wife Holly Sievers, she makes me a better person.
There are a whole lot of people I'd like to tell you about here, but that would end up being a book. This is more about the idea of friendships and family the people I love, and sometimes people I miss. Although I may have gotten sidetracked a bit from the original concept of what it is I'm trying to say, there have been a lot of really terrific people coming by today to chat and the fact that I'm still frazzled from staying OPEN last night until midnight for Summer Solstice. Yet, that's just it we have to remember to take the time to visit with the people around us and hear their stories too. The author Frank Waters wrote a wonderful book about people in Taos "Of Time and Change" he's still listed in the local phone book although he's been gone for about 10 years or so. Recently I brought some of the memorial items people had left behind in front of the door at Dennis Hopper's house across the street to his grave site, David had asked me what to do with it all and I told him I'd take care of it, which I did. The cross I believe was probably carved by Leo Salazar who is a good friend of their family. Photograph by Cris Pulos, who had recently asked me if there was anything he could do to help me out, when I said: 'coming over to make dinner tonight would be a huge help' he and his wife did just that!
Yup, Taos = GREAT friends.
A few things have happened lately that remind me to slow down and take the time to appreciate the people I know and love. I've written about people who have died, which is not easy, as we get older more and more people we know have, and will pass away, including me. As for me I hope that someone will have a nice little story to tell of an experience, a remembrance they had with me. Hopefully my ashes will be spread over the ground out at Abiquiu, where I hope someday you'll visit. For now, please 'friend me' Robert Cafazzo on Facebook, I try to keep updates on it, it's been a great way to keep in touch with friends and family.
I hope you kept reading, Thanks, R