Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Colors of Enchantment

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

I don't know what it's like now, but when Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall opened in 1982, its architects were loudly criticized for the auditorium, which, to many, was bland and colorless -- a stark contrast to its bold exterior.

The designers countered that its neutral shades were to be a backdrop for the audience.

And it's true. Before the lights dim, the concert hall is itself a symphony of color, with those filling its seats the star attraction.

I thought of this this morning while out for my morning walk in the high-desert foothills behind my house. And I remembered the first time, in 2005, that I drove into New Mexico.

Until that point, the only other place I'd lived in the Southwest had been Sedona, with its thick stands of juniper always green against striking crimson cliffs. When on the wintry January day I first crossed the state line from Arizona, I was shocked by New Mexico's unrelenting dun. "Where's the color?" I cried, determined to hate this place that had pulled me into it so magnetically.

Turns out, they don't call this the Land of Enchantment for nothing. During my next two years of full-time travel, New Mexico was where I spent most of my off-road time. Yes, it was a comfortable driving distance from my daughter, still in Sedona. But there was more: a numinous quality that transcends logic or explanation, a magic that speaks to the soul of anyone open to it.

Today during my walk, yellows, fuschias, magentas, violets and whites spring from the colorless soil, all the more brilliant because of their neutral backdrop. It's as though the land, in a life-imitates-art version of Roy Thomson Hall, has muted itself in order to give its flowers top billing.

I love this place, especially the granite-studded Sandia Mountains that rise up behind my home.

New Mexico lacks the obvious beauty of other places I've lived -- Nova Scotia, Hawaii, Sedona. But, no less than those, it has seduced my spirit and will, no doubt, keep me here until it has had its way with me. And for now, walking among the flowers that always seem such a miracle here in the desert, I pay tribute to the generosity of a land that steps back to allow all that thrives in its dusty soil to be its star attractions.

Photos #1, #3, #4, #5 (c) 2009 Mark David Gerson: Desert flowers, Sandia foothills, Albuquerque, NM; Photo #2 Roy Thomson Hall interior, by Roy Thomson Hall


annettemariee said...

Soooooo beautifully put! As the desert is the canvas for the blooms of your pictures, we are the flowers of Gods people sea!

Mark David Gerson said...

Beautifully put, Annette!

Anonymous said...

Very pretty sir!

Mark David Gerson said...

Thank you (and I think I see through your purported anonymity!)...

Mark David

AnaDrol said...

Beautifull colours. Love it.