For the last month we have been delightfully hidden at our small (by western standards) family farm high on the Continental Divide in New Mexico. Home on the range here is our 1952 Airstream, perfectly weathered and thoroughly authentic, the product of our hard restoration work and creativity. It is the one possession that most reflects our values. We are remote, in a county with more elk than humans, off-grid and without a cell signal. I don’t leave these 600 acres for days at a time. There is no reason to. Every day is an adventure anyway. When it rains - as it did recently - the two-mile long driveway is impassable. Today it will probably be dry as a cracker again, in a country that splinters boards right off the nails. By midmorning the mud will be dust. So we can then go hike out over the ridge and look for the pronghorn antelope, track the elk or search for ancient pottery shards. Along the way we will certainly see other wildlife. It seems that this season the landscape is especially littered with animal burrows: ground squirrels, badgers, rabbits, coyotes. And the tarantulas are out now also, a gorgeous fuzzy black and rust color. They weigh nothing in your hand.
Of course that is all perfect. The nights with open windows mean singing coyotes, elk and owls. The fall high desert wildflowers just finished blooming but the rabbit brush still colors the landscape yellow. Every sunrise and sunset is a light show on a screen bigger than any IMAX. No need to wait for meteor showers, EVERY clear night brings shooting stars and the milky way. But most importantly … there is no one, either purposely or not, to steal the joy from all this beauty.
Living here is pared down like this: If you are cold, start a fire. Too hot, get in the shade. Use electricity based on the amount of solar power. Drink fossil water from a well in an unshared aquifer. If you want a true desert bath, go down to the windmill. Read a book, lay in the hammock, play with the goats and chickens.
It is hard here, most of the last century’s homesteaders starved out, but apparently half the battle - then and now - is just showing up. You can't experience this by watching the video version. You have to be here, in the largest sense, and that can save your soul.