Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Blown Away: Spring in New Mexico

Springtime in New Mexico

Today is the first day of spring.  Here in New Mexico this fine morning, high clouds dot the sky in long, drawn-out arcs and I am waiting for the wind to start blowing.  It blows almost every day in March and April, sometimes lasting throughout the entire spring. Most people associate flowers and budding trees with spring.  I, however, as a New Mexican for the past 25 years think of wind and dirt as the harbinger of warmer weather and the summer to come.  Nothing quite tops a New Mexico March dirt-storm in which visibility can go from strikingly clear to non-existent in mere minutes, where your home and every surface within it, including people and pets, become coated in a fine layer of dust, and when the constant buzzing and whirring of gusts blowing around your house never ceases.  One of the more annoying occurrences during a dirt-storm is when a little moisture arrives at the same time.  Instead of water sprinkling from the sky everything becomes covered in droplets of mud.  I am not sure about other states, but sometimes in New Mexico it actually rains dirt.

New Mexicans become used to the taste of dirt behind their teeth, immune to the grainy particles that line their ears or invade their eyes, and hair blown every direction under the sun.  They learn to work around the wind.  Some people keep up the good fight with dusting every day, securing things to keep them from blowing away, and going about their business with a determined mindset that this little breeze isn't going to affect them.  Others just give up until June, hang tight and hold on until the wind stops blowing.  Usually those people are the ones so highly medicated on antihistamines that they don't notice April and May have cruised right on by into summer.

Allergies and sinus problems constitute one of the more unfortunate side effects of the wind.  I have lived in many states, some of which are verdant, beautiful and full of flowers and trees in the spring.  However, none of them hold a candle to the aggressiveness of New Mexico spring-time allergies.  In my opinion, the wind and constant dirt in the air only exacerbate the allergies caused by pollen.  The first full spring I spent in New Mexico I lost my voice for six weeks due to allergy-induced laryngitis.  Some years I fare better than others, but a year hasn't existed yet that I haven't suffered at some point due to allergies and sinus issues caused in no small part by the wind.

Nonetheless, I would really want to live anywhere else.  In the early mornings and evenings when the wind has settled, New Mexico has this stillness, this austere beauty that does not exist anywhere else in the world. The freshness of the air, the amazing blueness of the sky in the day, and the brilliance of the stars at night, make this state a particularly beautiful place in which to live.  I can endure the wind, the dust, and the allergies for those reasons and so many more.  I love my home state.  I love each of the seasons and the way in which they arrive for their own peculiar characteristics.  In sum, New Mexico just blows me away.