Part Two: Abiquiu
Abiquiu is a place befit for epiphanies. It exists on its own accord, defined by its hard, red earth floor and the cerulean sky that overlooks all below. It brings to mind the Jurassic Age and life of an altogether different kind, though the man-made lake at its center is evidence of our own footprint. Located about an hour northwest of Santa Fe, Abiquiu is an easy trip to make and one I personally looked forward to with great eagerness. I went for the same reason that most people go : to follow in the steps of Georgia O'Keeffe. Once she had discovered the almost mystic spell of New Mexico, she let it charm her better sense for the rest of her life. Abiquiu was her playground, the ultimate environment in which she could realize her full artistic potential. "It's the most wonderful place you can imagine. It's so beautiful there. It's ridiculous," she wrote of New Mexico in 1945. I felt her presence strongly at Ghost Ranch, what is now a retreat center but once was home to the artiste herself. Now the site is dotted with buildings that serve for various educational uses, but it's also covered with trails that one can take by foot or by horse. Alone on the trailway to Chimney Rock, I felt what Georgia must have always known in the years she lived there-a sense of complete liberation from the modern world. The mountains seemed to speak to each other, as if in constant conversation, and I was privy to their chatter. A thunderstorm threatened in the distance, but rain never fell in my path. I never felt so far from my Boston reality as I did in Abiquiu, and the distance was intoxicating, in the way that dreams can be. That red earth, so unabashedly naked, could not have been more different from the shy, dense forests of New England that I hold in deep reverence. I have no doubt that this exhilarating difference was part of what enthralled O'Keeffe. Development is scarce and frankly, it's a relief. It's a relief to know that visitors can still feel the full effect of this great land, and that locals can live their lives defined by it.