Bend, Texas Arroyo

Bend, Texas Arroyo

If you choose, you may follow this arroyo for a tenth-of-a-mile down to the Colorado River at Bend, Texas. The above photo was taken in early spring, this year.

When I was ten or eleven-years old, I built two fragile, but sturdy, bridges across the arroyo. They have long since collapsed from my “construction” in the 1950s. Seventy-plus years ago. There’s neither sign of them, nor of the water pump and pipeline used to bring water from the Colorado up to my grandmother’s house in Bend. The water filled a 500-gallon tank that often overflowed when I failed to turn the pump off at night. The house my grandmother stayed in was the Southwestern States Telephone house, holding the switchboard for Bend and surrounding area. Effie Morris Parks was my grandmother’s name, and she had been born and reared in the Bend community.

Effie drove to San Saba every couple of weeks for supplies, and I maintained the switchboard for customers to reach one another and the outside world.

This early spring of 2022, my wife and I drove to Bend, and I gave her a memory tour of Bend. The switchboard has been removed, the telephone lines coiled up, the poles cut down. My little bridges are gone as well. But there’s cell service and a new bridge across the Colorado.

I have memories I’ll turn into stories from the Bend, Texas Arroyo and the spirit of those days will be reconstituted with a “bridge” to my past.

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A Novel of Nature and Tribal Police Investigation

Jack’s novel is released! Sunstone Press of Santa Fe, New Mexico, released Death at La Osa: A Pueblo Tribal Police Mystery on December 21, 2021.

One reviewer writes, “This is an artfully crafted story providing not only the thrill of smart detective work but also portraying the spiritual connection of people to the land, to their ancestors, and to ‘the old ways.’ This book will hold readers’ interest from beginning to end and is highly recommended not only for its literary quality but also for its depiction of life in New Mexico. It is a murder mystery that goes far and beyond to the sacred themes of love and life.” –Review on Amazon book review

Direct links to Jack’s book! AMAZON: https://amzn.to/3zMXWSr.

BARNES AND NOBLE: https://bit.ly/3pmlGsY.

INDEPENDENT BOOKSHOPS: https://bookshop.org/shop/jackmatthews.

Note: if you use Amazon, consider smile.amazon.com to donate to your favorite charity.

(Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org and I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.)

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Book released! Jack Matthews, Death at La Osa: A Pueblo Tribal Police Mystery, Sunstone Press, December 21, 2021

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas!

To all my Sage to Meadow followers! I have a novel of nature with a murder mystery! Or, a mystery novel set deeply in nature!

I am so happy to announce the Sunstone Press release of my novel, Death at La Osa: A Pueblo Tribal Police Mystery! Available on Amazon, B&N, independent bookstores!

Dendrite turquoise as written about in book.
Back cover of Death at La Osa

I am pleased that Sunstone Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico, has published my first novel in a series, Death at La Osa. I am currently editing my second novel, Arroyo of Shells (title tentative), and finishing the third in the series, The Cave of the Infinite Symbol.

You may order via https://bookshop.org/shop/jackmatthews (Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org and I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. You also contribute to a local, independent bookstore of your choice when you use Bookshop.org.) If you order through Amazon, you can use the smile.amazon.com to contribute 0.5 % of your purchase to a charity of your choice. Also order, conventionally, through Amazon and B&N websites.

See my Author Page on WordPress: https://jackmatthews.net for more information, book signings, and presentations.

In front of MoMo’s Shop, Taos, New Mexico, December 21, 2021

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Filed under Adventure, Christmas, Deer, Horses, Juniper, Life in Balance, Nature Writers, Nature Writing Series, New Mexico, Taos

Nature, Sage to Meadow, and my novel

Hopi-tended corn plants. Photo relayed by Kiara Shanice, FB post, 2020

To all my Sage to Meadow followers! I am pleased to announce to you the Jack Matthews, PhD, Author Page for my novels.

So much of my blogging on Sage to Meadow–in fact, nearly all of it–concerns humanity’s relationship to nature on a concrete level: grasses, birds, water, sky, trees, flowers.

I continue those themes on my Author Page.

As I have written in My About page on Sage to Meadow, “What I seek to accomplish in Sage to Meadow blog is to write about nature, wild and domesticated living things, people that live with the land and the constant cycles of the seasons that envelop our lives.” In novelistic form, I will continue working with those themes. For example, here is a quote from Death at La Osa, my first novel of the River Who Knows? cycle.

“Quail Looks Away set her pails down and attended the words as best she could understand.  A sudden wind blew dust across the plaza and stirred the cottonwood trees along the river, the leaves rattling softly when green and luscious and filled with moisture.  Yellowed leaves fell with the wind.  Soon all cottonwood leaves would turn yellow, falling in the stream and collecting along the banks.  Quail would swish away the leaves with her hand to get un-leaved water for her kitchen.  Rio Tulona was also called Rio Cottonwood, for along its banks, leaves carpeted the ground.”

I think you can see how I have carried the themes of Sage to Meadow over to my Author Page.

Please take a moment and visit my Author Page and look at Chapter 1 of the novel, Death at La Osa, set in northern New Mexico with its desert mesas and high country of the Sangre de Cristos and Tusas Mountains. Sign up for the Author Page and get new posts and the news.

Best wishes,

Jack

Rio Pueblo at Palo Flechado Campground. Photo by Jack Matthews, 2013.

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Attending Western Writers of America conference, Tucson, Arizona

Compadres!

I am attending the Western Writers of America conference in Tucson, Arizona, 19 June 2019–22 June 2019.

Please see my author’s website at http://jackmatthews.net.

You may also drop me a line at matthewsranch@msn.com.

Thanks,

Jack

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Midnight Star Ladder

“Midnight Star Ladder,” David Gary Suazo, ca. 2018, Collection of Wendy and Charles Needham

The table of six at Ojo Verde Inn began to eat their food and those facing Paseo de Norte looked out of the window next to the street and saw eighteen wheelers carrying logs from fresh cuts in the Carson National Forest. Snow had frozen to the bark of the fresh cut logs…. Those at the table that faced away from the street glanced upward at vigas in the ceiling and at artwork for sale on the wall. The prices for artwork of local Ojo Verde artists were priced to sell and the Pinion-Buttermilk Pancake woman eyed the brilliantly-hued painting of the Tulona Pueblo….

“I will buy that painting and make a place for it in my living room,” the Pinon-Buttermilk Pancake woman said to herself. When brunch was over, she went to the front desk of the Ojo Verde Inn, and out of her billfold she carefully placed seven-hundred dollars on the counter, buying the painting outright. As time went on in her life, she never regretted the purchase and her children rotated the painting amongst themselves after she died…. The Pinon-Buttermilk Pancake woman gave an additional tip to her server at the Inn because she wanted to remember and enlarge the morning at brunch as a generous morning, a time punctuated with giving, and with art.

An excerpt from the novel by Jack Matthews, The Red Aspens.

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Filed under Life in Balance, New Mexico, Taos

King’s Manassa Turquoise

King’s Manassa Turquoise (photo by Jack Matthews)

Some of my current writing involves turquoise extracted from mines close to Taos, New Mexico. I purchased this 25 carat piece of turquoise that came from the King’s Manassa mine near Manassa, Colorado, that is just over the border from New Mexico north of Taos. The lapidary had begun to polish the turquoise and I bought it in this unfinished, but impressive, state. It was not expensive in its unrefined state. The provenance was documented by the jeweler at the lapidary in Taos. Notice the golden matrix (not gold, the color gold) and slightly greenish cast along with the cerulean blue. The Manassa mine is not worked anymore. It was originally a mining site by Ancestral Pueblo peoples. L.P. King in 1890 found stone hammers and mallets about the site. King’s descendants still own the claim on private land.

The purchase of this King’s Manassa turquoise is an object of inspiration for my writing, like an old photograph or piece of music that is played. I think you know what I am writing about, don’t you? When you write a letter or email to a close friend, do you not have a photograph to remind you of your connection?

I have a close friend in Amarillo, Texas, who is in poor health, but when I write him, I have in front of me a group picture of us (with other friends) to remind me of when we were young and robust and had years (we hoped) in front of us.

So it is with this blue-green turquoise with golden matrix that is placed to the left of my word processor when I write of northern New Mexico mining claims. The stone helps me start thinking. Below is a photograph from Joe Dan Lowry and Joe P. Lowry, Turquoise Unearthed: An Illustrated Guide, that shows King’s Manassa turquoise in jeweled splendor.

From Joe Dan Lowry and Joe P. Lowry, Turquoise Unearthed: An Illustrated Guide (photo by Jack Matthews)

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Sage to Meadow Shalakos and a little more news

Shalakos and Mudheads, Pop Chalee, Taos Pueblo, Ca. 1930. Exhibit at Millicent Rogers Museum, Taos, New Mexico. Photo by Jack Matthews.

Pop Chalee’s Shalakos and Mudheads is a large painting, about eight feet in length. I saw this painting a few months ago. I’m not for sure it is still on exhibit. You need to email or call to find out if it is still displayed. I am currently in Taos and may go to the museum today.

I retired from teaching in 2015 at Cisco College. I had been teaching college students since 1965, starting as graduate assistant at Texas A&M.

Currently, I am conducting research and writing historical monographs relating to acequias and Old Spanish metrics of measurement in the 16th and 17th centuries as applied to explorations in New Mexico.

I am also writing fiction and have an accumulation of finished short stories as well as some longer pieces.

I spend a lot of time writing and conducting research in Fort Worth, Texas, and Taos, New Mexico.

When I can I will post photographs and posts on Sage to Meadow.

Several ceremonies are scheduled at Taos Pueblo over the next few weeks. Consult their website for more information.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

–Jack

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Citing ‘Inexcusable’ Treatment, Advisers Quit National Parks Panel – The New York Times

My understanding is that federal land that is designated “monument status” is closed to extraction of natural resources.  Reducing federal land protection with monument designation of this scale (two million acres) is abominable.

Is it oil, minerals or a combination of that and other uses (housing, golf courses) that propel this change?

The resignation of the National Parks Panel brings public awareness to the exploitation of natural resources.

I read the other day in The New York Times that some political awareness group of the left or center-left has a group of 180,000 or so individuals that will go to a protest site to demonstrate.  The protests were of issues NOT dealing with land use, monuments, federal land protection.

I would sign on to protest issues dealing with saving forests, rivers, land from corporate exploitation.  I would pay my own way anywhere in the United States to protest the exploitation as demonstrated in this article.

The advisory panel has shown light on the problem with the Trump administration’s land policies.

Sitting Bull often walked barefoot on the earth at dawn in the morning.

“And in December, the administration reduced the size of two national monuments in Utah, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, by some two million acres, the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history.”

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Truchas Peaks, New Mexico

 

Truchas Peaks near Mora Pass

Looking westward toward the Truchas Peaks, New Mexico, November 2017.

I have been traveling to Taos, New Mexico, several times in the past year.  I stop at this spot near Mora Pass that is up in altitude from Sipapu Lodge in order to look back at the mountains before I head down the Mora Pass to Holman, Cleveland, Mora, and Las Vegas.  The valley you see in the foreground is the starting valley and surrounds for Rio Pueblo that flows eventually into the Rio Grande near Embudo.

I have climbed two of the three Truchas Peaks, encountering Bighorn sheep on the trail to the summit.  I was in my twenties when I climbed; now I am seventy-five years old and I stop and look back on the mountains and my life, the near and the faraway.

Lately, within the last few weeks, I have seen near my home in Fort Worth the most beautiful coyote poised and stationary alongside the Chisholm Trail Tollway, its coat shiny and tail bushy and full.  In my frontyard, two racoons ambled by and climbed into the trees.  A bluejay in the neighborhood warns others of my approach as I walkabout.  At my Far Field near Mingus, Texas (the source of most of my posts on this blog), I have heard the Sandhill Cranes in the sky, but failed to see them catch the thermals.  But, I hear them.  I see the turned soil of wild hogs in my field, the voles that run away from my tractor when I shred mesquite.  When I was in Lubbock at Thanksgiving I heard and saw flocks of Canadian geese in the air and along the playas of the region.

Magpies fly across the backyard of my daughter’s home in Taos.

I am looking and I see the wild on this earth.  I am having a conversation with the wild.  And, I listen so attentively and look so closely that I am beginning to grieve as I never had before.

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Filed under Adventure, Life in Balance, Life Out of Balance, Nature Writing Series, Sandhill Crane