Once upon a time. I lived in New Mexico. We lived there after Hurricane Katrina hammered New Orleans. We needed a little peace. Solitude. Quitetude.
I don’t know how long we planned to stay. I thought maybe a year or two. It turned out to be almost five years.
We heard the pounding of the Mardi Gras Indian drums. The noise of second lines. The brass music on the streets.
In the distance.
We returned to the place from which we came.
Now, almost ten years later I have a feeling. It’s not a good one. It’s one that’s been creeping up on me a little at a time.
I made a mistake. A big, huge mistake.
Looking back, we should have just stayed there. Maybe we should have moved from Albuquerque to Santa Fe or even Taos.
It seems like it would fun to return but we’ve got too much invested in the other “new.” Not New Mexico.
New Orleans. I don’t know if I have the energy to move a quarter of the country away.
Ten years in one place means ten years older. Ten years means 67 years old. If I move it would be my last move. Yeah. That sounds ominous. It’s not. But, who wants to keep moving?
As I worked to make my career I moved many times. That got old, but I had a direction. Upward. Ever upward. Now? Not so much.
I have friends with whom I went to high school in Long Beach. A good number of them married their high school sweethearts. Others married a little later. But, they stayed. They stayed for 50 years. In Long Beach. Or, Southern California.
Some days that sounds really good. For some of them, their big trip is to Las Vegas. That sounds good.
For a long time that sounded boring. For me, it may have been. I think you learn a lot by being in a place. I know a lot of cities pretty well. Of course, some of those memories have drifted. But, a little strolling around and I’m right back where I left off.
That sounds fun. But, who’s traveling now?
One more thing. I’m mostly thinking out loud. I’m not going anywhere.
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. That’s where I made this photograph. We lived about five miles from the balloon field.
That meant I photographed it almost every year. I used to scrounge up a letter of assignment from a friend of mine. That got me press credentials which don’t matter on the balloon field, but they give you parking. That matters.
Of course, the great equalizer is the traffic.
There were some mornings when I got tied up in traffic. Those fives miles took 45 minutes to work through. I arrived late so I had to find other ways to make pictures.
New Mexico has wonderful light. Some photographers think that means all day. For sure the light is crystalline even at noon. But, the usual rules apply. Work at the ends of days where the golden light is the best.
Morning balloon lifts are great for working in some amazing light. If I arrived late I just chased balloons which allowed me to make pictures like this one.
A picture that speaks to solitude. To peace. To nature.
Man (the balloon) becomes a tiny speck in the universe.
Isn’t that what we are? A blip. That is reinforced time and again. It’s what brought us to New Mexico. It’s what happened to the people of Texas last week.
So, really. That’s what this picture is about. Man. Nature. Our relationship.
Which isn’t so great right now.
Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know exactly what to do. Enjoy your universe.