More than that, I revere mountains. I grew up near them and have always had a great awe and respect for them – they’re so huge and beautiful, possessed of an ancient power that is usually benevolent but sometimes dangerous and terrible. I live in a hilly area, but it’s just not the same, and I miss mountains—so when recently I visited New Mexico and had a chance to go up Mount Taylor, I couldn’t resist. (This is a view from high on Mount Taylor.)
Also known as Turquoise Mountain, it’s one of the four sacred peaks of the Navajos—so this was a special mountain among mountains. I had driven up Mount Taylor once years before, in the summertime, and I longed to go there again, particularly since I had recently published a book, Heart of Constantine, with a half-Navajo hero. Years ago, when the seeds for that novel were germinating in my mind, I wondered about putting a scene on Mount Taylor, but in the end the entire story took place in Louisiana like the rest of the Bayou Gavotte series, so that didn’t work out. Still, I wanted to visit Turquoise Mountain again—there are always more stories to come.
Officially, it was a spring day, but the weather was windy and cold—and colder and windier the higher we drove. There were plenty of snowy patches on the way up, and the road got rougher and more slippery. My heartbeat ramped up at the steep drops beside the road. I pondered the dangerous aspects of mountains and wondered guiltily if I’d been crazy, not to mention inconsiderate, to ask my host to drive us up there. But it was too late to do anything about that.
Oh, but it was beautiful. I love mountain trees. There were pines and other evergreens, and groves of still-naked aspens. We drove and drove, surrounded by glorious nature, and finally parked near the top. Admittedly, the concrete building and various metal towers at the summit aren’t beautiful at all, but I managed to ignore them last time and did so again. We got out of the truck and began to walk.
Oh, my God, the wind! This picture doesn’t do it justice, but you can see how tightly I’m hugging myself against the wind. It felt as if the elements were trying to throw us off their sacred space. We toiled upwards (well, I toiled; my host, as you can see in the picture, was way ahead and entirely at ease with the wind), first on a rocky path and then, at the end, steps to the top. I had to crouch, legs apart, buffeted by the freezing gusts, bracing myself the whole way up the stone stairway, almost at a crawl—perhaps an appropriate way to navigate a sacred space!
What can I say? It was awesome in too many ways, and I almost enjoyed nursing my frozen ears on the way down. Mountains fill my heart and make me want to cry, and I was thankful to this one (and grateful to my kindhearted, undaunted host).
Now, about banana cream pie.
I’ll be blogging here again in a few days, this time to announce the release of my new novella, Back to Bite You, a prequel to the Bayou Gavotte series (of which Heart of Constantine is Book 3). It’s a little murder story with a vampire heroine, some Mardi Gras history, and a food fight club.
A food fight club, you ask? Yes, with banana cream pies!