Saturday, July 19, 2014

Of Rodeos, Powwows, and other things...

Rodeo grandstand in background
A couple weeks ago we were looking for something to do that didn't include wandering around the vicinity of the Taos plaza like tourists. A notice in the paper announced the Taos County Sheriff's Posse Rodeo (the word "posse" alone, folks on horseback proceeding swiftly with purpose, got me going, the Wild West still lives I'm told, not always a good thing though) and we were out the door in a flash, headed for the dusty rodeo grounds on the southwest side of town. For a measly ten bucks each we sat in the shaded bleachers and enjoyed an afternoon of skilled calf roping and bronco riding (not real broncs, but tamed horses they tie a tight cinch around that pisses the horse off, and voila! a bucking horse).

You have to admire the rodeo circuit folks. For a fee they enter competitions where the odds are wildly against them and hope to rope a calf or manage to stay on a half mad horse doing his best to throw you airborne; performances are timed and judged, I take it, on style points as well. The thing that impressed me most was the sense of cooperation and the incredible confidence of every participant, from the spangled rodeo queens to the calf ropers, when it came to handling a horse in the arena. I couldn't help think if everyone in the US had their confidence and skill with large animals, we all might be in better shape. The fellas who rope and capture runaway broncs after they throw the rider were the stars of the show; they had that sense I witnessed once on a Wyoming ranch, the basis of which is simply to offer the horse the best possible choice in order to get him to do what you wanted him to do. Much like raising kids.

budding cowgirl
Last weekend we spent two days at the Taos Pueblo's annual Powwow, a gathering of various tribes performing in traditional dance and drumming competitions. The color, sound, rhythms, pack a powerful punch in themselves, and the event is held on tribal land spread beneath the shadow of the big mountain. They have to be one of the very few tribes that ended up with nice land for a rez, it's gorgeous out there, only a couple miles out of town.

opening procession
shawl dancer

At the opening ceremonies each day, tribal elders and folks of note in the tribal community lead a procession followed by all the categories of dancers while about a dozen different drumming groups (six or seven singers in a circle, each with a long padded stick chanting in unison and beating out a rhythm on a giant drum) accompanying them from the sidelines. All I could think was if I was an early settler and heard that insistent chanting and drumming, the thrumming bells and jingles of dancing feet, I'd figure I was a gonner. Standing close to the inaugural procession, its power was something to behold, circling the grounds in a ONE-two, One-two rhythm that mesmerized the audience and dancers alike.  I had my favorites, dancers I hoped would win in their respective categories.
jingle dancer

    I loved the gals with the jingle skirts, made from tin can lids I was told, but she might have been pulling my leg.  I should mention the watermelon iced tea was a big hit with us.    
most awesome
the arena

drum circle chanters

It's monsoon season here, every afternoon serious rain complete with hail, lightening and thunder rolls over the valley, drenching the grateful earth. As a result, wildflowers abound. Hollyhocks, Russian sage, wild white desert poppies, blue hazed fields of chicory, daisies, bachelor buttons, pink thistles in profusion fill the fields. The hillsides seem greener, the sagebrush's grey-green more vibrant. It's the best thing about this place, to my mind. The Farmers' Market is quite good. One tires of the endless exudation of brown houses. I'm sure there are loads of rationales for it, but.. sigh...I sense a wee frisson at the sight of a rare two story house. We haven't ventured very far afield, but plan heading west some, to Farmington, Chama, Abiquiu, eventually.

farmers' market band
The days are hot and the nights fairly cool. Lotsa rain lately. Extreme drought here needs the relief. All the county rescue vehicles are housed only blocks from here, so we hear a fair number of sirens, sort of like you might hear in New York City. But some days it's quieter.

I managed to locate the only real nursery and bought some zinnias for the pots of half dead fleurs on the porch. It's Fiesta weekend this weekend on the Plaza, yesterday we enjoyed an amazingly good Tejano band on the bandstand there.

We appear to have a family of skunks living under the garden shed in the backyard. A mum and five absolutely adorable babies who come out to sun themselves and have a frolic in the afternoon sun, tails aloft as they roll and tumble playfully over each other, I watch from the window. I never thought I'd see the day I found skunks fascinatingly cute.

It's turning out to be a Steinbeck Summer. Can't get enough of him. Glad he wrote so many books.

Still...  I feel quite homesick for a place I can't seem to find on a map.

Nevertheless, I thought this had definite appeal....

peace out

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