Yesterday morning, I got up at the crack of dawn. Oh, actually around 4:15 a.m., and walked the perimeter of Cloudcroft, with not a single person besides me awake. Just a few cats, a skunk and some overly eager birds. The air was cool, and the pine scent in the air mixed with the faint smell of bread baking down at the Mountain Top Mercantile intoxicating. This is MY time — my early morning walks alone are my church, my meditation. I love taking walks and hikes with my husband, but I must have this alone time before the day starts, when I really can focus JUST on nature, on taking one step in front of the other, and taking every sight, smell and sound in wholeheartedly.
After my walk, I made us some breakfast of scrambled eggs with pico de gallo, a blueberry scone for me and cherry jam on toast for Christian, along with coffee made on an old percolator on the oventop in the cabin kitchen. Afterward, we went down to the Jamocha Bean coffee house to catch up on a “big-city” coffee (i.e. Americanos) and emails at the only free wi-fi spot in the village. Then we took the long and winding road (and I DO mean long, and I do mean winding) to Bluff Springs, a hiking area with a nice little waterfall and trails. The sound of the trickling water and the gorgeous flora and fauna surrounding it are well worth the annoying 35 mph speed limit to get there 😉
After we returned back to the cabin, we made lunch of the last of the Mountain Top garlic cheese bread, again making our “poor-man’s panini” with muenster cheese, jalapenos and chicken left over from the previous evening. Added to that the rest of the salad we had, and a slice of cherry pie for dessert. The LAST slice of cherry pie from the High Rolls Cherry Festival. But we do have our own cherries and I have a BUNCH of ideas for those cherries, which taste 10 times better than the best cherries from the grocery store.
Which leads me to this question…do foods actually taste better when eaten at a place you love, or a place with wonderful memories, like Cloudcroft is for me? I mean, if I took that same piece of cherry pie and took it back to El Paso or even just down the hill to Alamogordo, would it be as good? I don’t think so. I think we all associate different foods with different places, and those foods ONLY taste their best at the places we associate them with. For example, cherry or apple pie in Cloudcroft, as well as potato bread; Schweinebraten and smoked mackerel in Rohr, Bavaria; sushi in La Jolla, Calif.; Lobster roll at a clam shack in Wellfleet, Mass.; etc. There are just some foods I associate with some places, and can’t replicate the experience or the enjoyment anywhere else.
Even the great potato bread and Tigua Indian bread I bought and froze to take down here to El Paso. It won’t have the same mouth feel, the same feel-good factor or the same aroma as it did sitting there in the Mountain Top or on a table under the pinon trees in High Rolls. But at least it’s a reminder of the simple life.
Speaking of the simple life: That is why I adore Cloudcroft so much. Everything is so amazingly simple! It’s just you and nature and the interaction… if you allow it. I really feel so sorry for those tourists (you know who they are. The ones who stay in town to shop all day, eat all their meals at a restaurant, and remain with their cell phones stuck to their ears the entire time) who don’t go up to Cloudcroft and enjoy it for what it’s meant for, and that is to get away from technology, angst and cynicism. It’s all about enjoying the beauty of nature and to get in touch with yourself, not depend on a restaurant, or a shop, or constant contact with the office to validate your existence. To me, I am validated and feel a “part of” just by walking in a hidden meadow, listening to the wind whip through the trees and looking at the minute details of a leaf, a flower or how a shadow can create a word…
After lunch, the carb overload, the cool air and the down comforters beckoned us to take a nap, which lasted almost two hours. Then we packed up and left our little cabin in the woods, back to the flatlands, and to “reality.”
We didn’t want to dig into our stash of Cloudcroft bread too early on, since we won’t make it back up to the mountains for another month or so, so we dug up what we had left in the fridge in El Paso and made some “Everything But the Kitchen Sink” penne, meaning penne with sauteed zucchini, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, olive oil, crushed dried chiles, a bit of ketchup and a splash of vinegar. Oh, and a few spoonfuls of leftover sauerkraut! And that was dinner. God, what I would have done for just a slice of cherry pie. But I knew it just wouldn’t taste the same.