Here I am, sitting in a small coffee house (the ONLY coffee house) in Cloudcroft, New Mexico, in the closest zen state I’ve ever been, really. My husband is across the table from me, engrossed in a book called “How to Build a Time Machine,” and I’m drinking an iced Americano and nibbling on a blueberry scone. I’ve never been so relaxed, content, and in a place where I can truly say “This is IT. This is what matters. Nothing else.”
I’ve lived here in Cloudcroft, for almost three years as a matter of fact, when I was assistant editor at the village’s newspaper, “The Mountain Monthly.” I had to move back down to the “big city” for financial reasons, and I still call Cloudcroft “home.” Some people go to church, to temple or to a mosque to pray. My church is the hiking trails in and around Cloudcroft, hiking at sunrise, on trails only I know. Then sitting on the porch of my cabin, drinking coffee, listening to the birds high in the trees, watching the busy squirrels and sometimes seeing the bears and their cubs sauntering down the street. Yep, they’re not too shy.
We arrived here last night, and fell asleep quite early in the comfortable queen bed in the cabin, under thick floral comforters in a room with very retro red cabbage rose wallpaper (thanks to my grandmother, who originally owned the cabin). I woke at 6 a.m. and let Christian sleep in, so I could take advantage of hiking alone and “praying” in the woods. There is nothing like a hike, alone, to think, reflect, use every sense and to soak up nature. It energized me like no other possible thing could.
I returned to the cabin, woke Christian, and we headed on down to the coffee shop for coffee and a breakfast bagel before yet another hike (for me) on the Osha Trail, a medium-level 2.5 mile trail overlooking the Tularosa Basin and White Sands National Monument far down the basin. We took it nice and slow, and admired the lush ferns, columbines, lilacs, daisies, strange fungi and other flora and fauna of the forest. After that, we came home and made fantastic chicken sandwiches with the bread from Mountain Top Mercantile. Garlic cheese bread. Mountain Top has been selling homemade breads, pies and pastries for years, and has been written up in a multitude of magazines and newspapers for its baking prowess. The bread is just sickeningly addictive. And yes, I bought a few loaves to freeze and bring back to El Paso!
So we’re lazying away the afternoon, getting ready to go back up to the cabin to take bubble baths in the old-fashioned claw-foot tub, read magazines like “Country Living” and “The Mountain Monthly” on the porch, and then cook some pasta and salad to enjoy al fresco while watching the nocturnal rodents and birds come out to play.
Yep, I am … as the village markets itself … 9,000 feet above stress level.
We don’t leave until Sunday night, and I wish I could (and I’m very tempted to do so) quit my job and stay here forever. But there’s always next month (darn brother has snagged a reservation to use the cabin next weekend :-((. And the month after that, and the month after that, and …
What is YOUR Zen place? Have you found it yet?